Five poplars, two weeks, and a portable sawmill

Two weeks ago, after many talks while we walked through the woods making our decision about what to cut and where from, the trees were cut down.  Our neighbour, a woodworker/blacksmith/silversmith by trade though not by definition, has been working with us on this project.  He sawed down five tulip poplars, and a cherry tree, all of which stood roughly on the perimeter of the woods and were nowhere near the trillium, lady’s slipper, cohoshes, or myriad other wildflowers whose home is deeper inside . . . this was a big concern of us: to disturb as little as possible on the ground floor.   These poplars either had old bottoms or were split and water was seeping into the space between the two trunks.  They were close enough to the edge that when they fell, they fell into the open and could be easily dragged by jeep to the mill site.  Our neighbour has a portable sawmill, which he positioned on the closest level spot to the fallen trees to do the mill work from.  And so with the resounding crash off enormous trunks and a timber ho!, the first part of our building project began.  We’re building a cabin with the poplars and the cherry, well he’s going to mill that up and let it season for a year or more, then craft us kitchen cabinets to replace the ones that were in the house when we moved in . . . . the drawers are inhabited by mice and unusable, the doors falling off the hinges, and they’re in extremely sad condition beyond ‘repair’ what with the sawdust bulging out from under the plywood counters and countertops shifting around when used; that said . . . I’m still happy we have the few that do work to hold our pots and pans and dishes, crowded as they might be!!  But for now, timber up . . . .

First the logs were sawed into smaller lengths, then dragged to the sawmill with chain and jeep, then ramped up onto the mill track.  The bark was smoothed before he began working so the blades didn’t get damaged.  The mill was powered up and pushed from one end to the other, cutting off the bark on top.  The log was then turned on its side and more bark removed.  The log kept getting turned until no bark remained and instead of a round log, a square beam sat on the track.  These beams were sliced up by setting the thickness on the mill and pushing it from one end to the other.  We have a mix of posts, planks, boards, and beams of assorted sizes, twelve feet long, layered on shims in the garage where they are drying/curing until we begin the next phase of our project :0)

Every day the buzzing sound of the chainsaw, cutting the trunks into workable logs, or the sawmill have been singing around us.  We’ve made many trips with wheelbarrows of sawdust from the mill site to the garden, where the dust is being used as mulch.  And now, at the close of two weeks, what’s left is all the extraneous limbs and branches, which we’ll cut into firewood for the winter or throw in a pile for campfires.  So we literally have our work cut out for us for the next month or so!  There’s a nice pile of ‘scrapwood’ . . . . . planks with curves, bark, or splits (making them unsuitable for milling) and trim offs . . . . that are perfect for playing with.  Let’s see what’ll happen with that pile.  Right now it’s home to a jumping board that the children use while they watch the sawmill hum.  It’s going to be awfully quiet here now with no hum, buzz, grind, and of course the ride down the driveway on the back of the trailer, as our neighbour heads home, will be missed too.

4 thoughts on “Five poplars, two weeks, and a portable sawmill

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  1. Wow! What an amazing job. I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and liking it. It gave me the chance to explore your site. You might also be interested in Blotanical. It’s a search engine of sorts for garden blogs — and so it is a garden blog community. Here is the link:


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