Our sawmill service business was borne from our own home’s needs. After purchasing our home, we quickly decided that the green indoor/outdoor carpeting (reminiscent of Astro Turf) needed to go. Researching hardwood floors online was a wakeup call. For recycled barnwood flooring, or what John calls “engineered hardwood” flooring, we were looking at a minimum of $7 per sq. ft., or about $14,000, before installation for our 2,000 sq. ft home. Installed, the cost was about $20,000.
Combine this sticker shock with the fact that we live in 50 acres of Beech – Sugar Maple forest, and you have the seeds of our plan for using our own resources to realize our dream of hardwood flooring. Trees naturally fall in the woods all the time, so we saw no need to cut down trees for the flooring.
The idea for a milling business started with research into what it would take to go from trees in the forest, to logs on the ground, to finished flooring in the house. This involves felling the tree (if otherwise necessary), bucking the main stem, or trunk, to length, milling the logs into 1-inch thick boards, air drying, kiln drying, planing the boards to the final 3⁄4 inch thickness, putting the tongue and groove on the boards, installation, and finishing. It became apparent that even when buying most of these services locally, we could still realize significant savings, and take great enjoyment in having furnished our home with the product of our woods. The trade off is time.
Ours is a portable sawmill services business. The mill will be taken to customers who have logs, and the logs will be milled at the customer location. Moving big logs around requires heavy equipment, and it is expensive relatively speaking, especially if the quantity is small. Customers can be, but are not limited to, homeowners, farmers, artisans, tree service companies, etc.
Eventually, we expect this business to incorporate a stationary mill, kiln drying, and planing services. In keeping with Permaculture principles though, specifically “use small and slow solutions,” we will start small, and learn. John has apprenticed with another local sawyer, Jim Hoover of Hoover’s Mill, and he spent a full day with Jim Birkemeier at Timber Green Forestry in Spring Green, WI. (Also, have a look at Spring Green Timber Growers Store, and their store on Etsy.)
We can and do saw every kind of tree in a variety of lengths, widths, and thicknesses. This includes rafters • floor joists • plates • studs • purlins • ridge beams • headers • blocks • knee braces • king posts • trusses • facia boards • soffit trim • support girders • sills • beams • siding — lap, clapboard, board and batten, • chairs • desks • tables • clocks • dressers • beds • nightstands • chests • jewelry boxes • hutches • china cabinets • stereo stands • entertainment centers • shelves • vanities • casing • baseboard • chair rail • cove moulding • half round • quarter round • crown moulding • doorstops • doorjambs • and wainscotting • etc!
Your imagination is the only limitation.
Sawmill Services Primary Equipment
Our tool of choice for milling dimensional lumber is a WoodMizer LT40HDG35 Hydraulic; it is probably safe to say that this is the industry standard, and Wood-Mizer invented the portable sawmill in 1982. The mill includes several optional features, and is powered by a 35 hp Kohler engine.
For slabbing of logs larger than 24 inches in diameter, or to breakdown large logs for further processing on the Wood-Mizer, we have selected a 48 inch Granberg Alaskan MkIII Milling Attachment, paired with a Husqvarna 3120XP chainsaw powerhead.
Sawmill Services – Testimonials
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I initially contacted John Newell from Primal Woods over a year ago when I first started looking for someone who could bring a portable saw mill to our property. Our forester was putting together a timber sale for our property with a primary goal of habit management, and we knew we were going to have some nice oak and maple available for milling. We had not done any logging or millwork before, and John provided some valuable advice along the way regarding the types of trees to select, how the logs should be sealed, where they should be staged, etc., which was greatly appreciated.
The loggers finally came this past winter, and John drove out last weekend to mill the logs they set aside for us. John did an outstanding job with the millwork, taking great care with the set-up of each log and providing solid advice on how to get the best type of lumber from the logs. He milled plain sawn red oak, white oak, and red maple as well as quarter sawn red oak and white oak from twenty-two, 10+ foot long, 15” – 22” diameter logs. My wife, son, daughter, and I all pitched in to help move the lumber, broom the sawdust off, sticker it, and stack it, and even with all of this help, we could often barely keep up with John.
After two solid days of work, we had 2,190 bf of some really nice hardwood boards. I have purchased a bit of rough-sawn lumber over the last twenty-five years of woodworking, and John produced some of the best milled lumber I have seen.
Not only was John great to work with, but he was also a delight to talk with and get to know a bit over the course of the weekend, and I hope to have more logs for him to mill for us in the future. Thanks, John!
My friend had several large trees cut down on his property. He was willing to give me the logs if I hired somewhat to cut them into boards. There was some huge red oak logs, two smaller white oak logs, and three smaller maple logs. I didn’t know how to go about getting these boards cut up. I found the Wood-Mizer website, which lists sawyers with a Wood-Mizer mill around the state. I called a few and there was no response. Then I called John Newell at Primal Woods, LLC. He immediately eased my anxiety by letting me know he would be able to come on site and saw them up for us, no problem. This was in March. He was making maple syrup for his other business and couldn’t make it until the season was over some time in April. This was no problem. We were in no hurry. As the season ended, we worked out a date in mid-April that turned out to be a cold, sleeting, snowy rainy day, and we all agreed to put it off a few days. We had a very beautiful Saturday, in mid-April to say our logs.
John came on site, set up his portable sawmill and was sawing by 09:00. I requested he saw the white oak quartersawn and gave him the cut list for the thickness I needed. He was very easy to work with, and provided the boards as requested. We cut up the two large oak logs, too. By then, it was getting late in the afternoon and we decided to do the maple logs at another time. There was also another large oak log to do.
John worked hard all day. We could barely keep up with him, cleaning the boards and stacking as they came off the portable sawmill. John really knew what he was doing regarding how to mill logs into boards. His mill was in good condition and had some optional bells and whistles to make the milling more accurate and productive.
I was impressed with the whole experience from the beginning when I first called. I sent him an Xcel spreadsheet of the log sizes and my calculations for board feet. He welcomed the information and confirmed my calculations, somewhat, and corrected as necessary.
I highly recommend Primal Woods for any sawing needs you may have. This was a very quality experience right from the start. John was a pleasure to work with.
I was faced with the difficult task of having to cut down two mature Sugar Maple trees that my great-grandfather planted 70+ years ago. These were located near a house and other trees, so they had to be taken down carefully. I wanted to put these sentimentally-valuable trees to a higher use than just firewood, so I knew that Primal Woods’ portable sawmill service was the way to go.
John was an absolute professional, he showed up early, laid the trees down with care and precision, then cut the tree into pieces based on the optimal use of each portion. The trunks branched out fairly low, so they weren’t ideal “saw logs,” but John was still able to maneuver them onto the WoodMizer and milled up a bunch of beautiful slabs that we’ll use for tables and other furniture, and 1x maple that we’ll use for hardwood flooring in the new house we’re building. The WoodMizer was an awesome machine to behold, buzzing through hard maple with ease and with a much cleaner cut than a circular-saw or chainsaw type mill.
John worked all day in the summer heat (90+) and was on-site until dusk, making the best use of the mill in the time that he had there. I would heartily recommend Primal Woods to anyone and look forward to having them come back to mill up some other trees that I have to remove!
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