Thursday, May 24, 2007
Tool Buying, Extreme
After sitting around my shop unassembled for two months, I finally took the time to get my chainsaw mill up and running. The idea of buying one had been on my mind for a couple of years, but one of the things that I love about green woodworking is not having to mill lumber. Cherry changed that. I am fortunate enough to live in an area with abundant cherry and have enough falling on my own property to keep me busy. The problem came when I went to split the billets. Thinking it would be as well behaved as maple was my first mistake. A long story short, I was sickened to see the splits run out uncontrollably. To see a pile of "almost" parts that would only serve to heat the shop, and having orders to fill, finally drove me to buy the mill. I figured that the material saved would soon pay for the mill and the joy of seeing the tree better utilized would make up for having another gas burning noisemaker. So with my helper Josh King, I ventured to into the woods and got to it. Because I am working with a small tree that fell on its own last year, I decided to rip it down the center and do all of the final cutting on the bandsaw. We set up the runners, set the depth of cut, hooked up the auxiliary oiler and proceeded to flood the engine, of course.
But once we got it started, it literally glided through the cut (about 6 feet long) in about 3 minutes. Below you can see the result. I don't know that I would use this tool to mill anything thinner than 4 inch planks, the wasteful kerf and time eating sawdust would be too much, but for chairs it works great. By milling thick planks and crosscutting into a lathe ready length, I can easily get the wood to the shop, and cut it down with minimal waste on the bandsaw (with which I can follow the fibers just like a split). Do I wish I could avoid this extra work, yes. But the cherry has captured my imagination and working a tree from my own land is truly gratifying.
I owe a special thanks to Rich Pallaria for his help finishing the grading and drainage around the shop and to Josh King for not laughing when I flooded the chainsaw.