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.


Anonymous said...

Can't seem to see your pictures for this post.

Mike H in IN

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Mike, I'll look into it. Sometimes the good folks at Google flip a light switch and all hell breaks loose!

tko said...

am new to your blog, i think its great. i've made about a dozen chairs so far and appreciate all this information. one question i have is how do you line up the mirror for drilling, i've tried but failed to get a better result than just eyeballing.

Peter Galbert said...

One mirror should be parallel to the sight line and the other perpendicular. For visual reference of the correct set up, check out Jean-Francois' blog at
He did a couple of good postings about it, thanks for checking in

Krijoga said...

I have long wanted to be able to cut my own lumber. Beautiful piece of wood.

Anonymous said...

I'm setting up my chainsaw mill this week to saw up some old trees we had taken down in our yard. (I know... there might be metal in them.) One of them is a white pine... about 18"diameter at the base. I was wondering if this wood would be useful for seat blanks. If so, how thick should I cut it? Also, do you use dry or green wood for the seats?

Peter Galbert said...

Yes, it could be good wood for chair seats. Cut it a hair over 2" thick and set it to dry for a year or so and then it should be ready to bring into the shop to acclimate and use in a chair. Good luck and watch out for metal!(I just had to say it)