Milling Timber

Peter Cherry, Maple, Milling, Walnut 4 Comments

During the course of the year, logs are collected from fallen trees on the property, from neighbors, and from utility companies.  In most cases, this is the result of storm damage.  As we collect them, the logs are cut into 9′ lengths and the ends are painted to reduce and splitting and from drying out too quickly.

In the early spring, while it’s still cool they are cut into slabs.  We have our friend Joe come with his bandsaw mill.  It’s a lot of serious work but we have fun doing it.  When cutting into the logs it is much like opening a Christmas present to see what is inside.  Imagine grown men saying “oh wow, look at that” with each cut.  🙂

Here’s a maple log in the bandsaw mill:

Joe at the controls of his Woodmizer Bandsaw mill:



A stack of maple and cherry slabs:

Walnut in the solar kiln:

A stack of cherry:

More walnut:

The slabs are heavy.  They are cut into 2-1/4″ thick slabs and weigh about 100- 300 pounds depending on width.  At the end of the day, we know we did some work.

~ Peter


Comments 4

  1. Very interesting post. I wondered how that was accomplished on a non-commercial scale. It seems to me that you can get the best grain pattern this way.

    I understand that air-dried timber is superior to that of kiln dried. Is that true?

    Beautiful and professional website. Well done.

    1. Post

      Charles, thanks for your visit. Milling your own timber allows one to rotate the log to achieve the best grain pattern which rarely if ever gets done in an automated industrial mill. Their time is limited to volume. They do produce timber with great graining but it’s usually a coincidence.

      Correct. Air-dried timber is much better than forced dried timber. Commercial forced drying case hardens the exterior of the board or slab (like baking bread). It’s ok for framing lumber in houses and cheaper furniture but not for heirloom pieces. Air-dried is so much nicer to work and it takes a finish much better. I believe the graining to be superior to that of kiln-dried and ultimately a better end product.

      It is important to place timber in a kiln for a while to kill any insects and larvae. We place our timber into a solar kiln for that purpose. It’s a slow drying process and temps only reach 160-180 degrees on the hottest summer days.

      Consider that the rule of thumb for air-drying is 1 year per inch of board/slab plus 6 months. A 2-1/2″ slab will take a minimum of 3 years depending on the species of wood. Our solar kiln speeds that up to 8 months and we get no case hardening plus the bugs are dead. Conversely, commercial kiln-drying is only a few days.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      1. Thanks for the reply and for sharing your vast knowledge. I hadn’t even considered insects. I agree there is a big difference between air-dried and commercial kiln dried. The air dried is much nicer and stable.

        1. Post

          My pleasure Charles. Air-dried stays flat too and has less internal stresses than forced dried. You’ll notice less twist or warping in the pieces when cutting or milling boards.

          When thinking of forced dried commercial kilning think of bread being baked. The outside gets a crust while the inside remains soft. Wood is fiberous thus acts much the same. Air-dried (or slow solar kiln) allows the wood to fully dry uniformly and no case hardening.

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