How lumber is “made”

Sawmills are great places for woodworkers and carpenters to buy wood,  You can have more choices, buy matching boards from the same logs and even order your own dimensions.  This video looks at two sawmills, a traditional mill with circular blade and a more modern mill with a bandsaw.

First is the Bailey Mill in Pennsylvania.  This is a modern mill, the logs arrive at the mill and then are put through a debarker before going to the bandsaw with a six inch blade.  The blade has teeth on both edges so that it cuts in both directions.  With this mill the saw blade travels along the stationary log and then the blade is then lowered to the required thickness of the next plank which it cuts on the return. The cut boards are stacked for air drying which takes approximately 1 year for each inch in thickness.

The lunber is kiln dried which takes about 1-3 months.  some of it is shaped to make flooring, mouldings and even billets for baseball bats.  most is measured with a log scale and the board foot calculated and marked on it, then stacked in the wood shed for sale.

At the Heacock mill, also in Pennsylvania the mill is a more traditional mill.  It uses a 58 inch circular blade with insert teeth which require sharpening three times a day.  A small blade works in tandem with the large blade to cut logs up to 20″ wide.   With this sawmill the blade is stationary and the log travels past the blade.  It only cuts in one direction so the log has to be returned to the start and adjusted into position for the next cut.

About 20 – 30% of the timber is air dried which takes about 1 year for each 1″ of thickness.  This timber goes to local cabinet makers.  The lesser quality lumber goes to make laths, survey posts, forms for pouring concrete and fence posts.

As Jeff Day says in the video,  If you want to buy some good quality timber go to your local sawmill.  you also save some money by cutting out the middle man and most mills will allow you to select your own.