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The AikiHomestead

Our Lifestyle Blog as We Create a Homestead in Northern Ontario



Man clamps rough slabs to sawmill in winter.Stack of rough hewn boards.Slab pile in the snow.Man aligning a board on a slab pile.As a side effect of spending the winter milling beams for my sauna and workshop, I ended up with a huge slab pile. As well, I had just roughly piled up a rather impressive pile of 1″ thick boards off to the side. They weren’t properly stacked though, just basically laid one atop the next with no room to breath, and no great concern for being flat or level.

Once the last log was milled though, Grandpa initiated a programme to ensure that these boards would be useable.

First he shoveled off the snow nearby until he was down to a rather large, flat area. We then cut down a nearby poplar tree (one that was rather close to the driveway, and more a nuisance than an addition to the natural landscape).

I cut the tree into 8′ lengths, and milled one side flat.

We lay these lengths down in the newly cleared area, and shimmed them to be flat, with no pretense towards level.

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, as weather and my work schedule permitted, we worked together and transfered my pile of rough cut boards to the new area. As we did this, Grandpa eyeballed up each plank and would sort them into piles, based on the amount of useable wood vs. the amount of bark still present. When we had a stack of about five or six good boards, I would put them back on the sawmill on edge. Clamping them gently together, I would run the mill down first on one side, and then flip the stack, and remill it again on the next. This gave me a nice, clean edge on both sides of my boards, creating something much more useable again than just a slab of wood.

For example, to create a 1″x4″ board, we generally were starting with something closer 7″ including the bark. We would place a stack of these on edge on the mill, and do a pass at about 5 1/2″. This would take off most all bark on one edge of the stack. I would flip the stack over, and mill again at exactly 4″. This took care of most of the remaining bark, and would give me a very useable 1″x4″ board. These measurements were obviously not hard and fast – often we were shaving just an inch from one side, and three or more from the other. You just tried to keep similar boards together to make yourself more efficient.

It was surprising how quickly we made short work of my rough pile, and came up with a very large pile of lumber, ready for future projects. Having this mill has been a real blessing around here, and I look forward to many good years of future use for upcoming projects.

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