Massive Tree to Quarter Sawn Wood Using a Portable Bandsaw Mill. Thomas bandsaw mill
TimberKing Owners Speak
My TimberKing 2000 is the first saw I’ve owned. My goal is self-sufficiency; doing the best I can to be able to live and survive off the land I have.
For me, buying my first sawmill was not a leap of faith. I really wasn’t worried. It was more like taking an opportunity. I know what my skills are and that I could work it out. I knew that if I do this right, it’ll all work out. I looked around a lot, visited the TimberKing site. and watched the videos. All that helped me decide on TimberKing.
I chose the TimberKing 2000 because that’s the industrial standard… It’s very user friendly and has a lot of great features like full hydraulics, log loaders, a digital readout for the setworks. That computer makes everything easily adjustable. Yes, you can adjust the cutting manually but the computer setworks are more precise.
The whole buying process was simple. We talked awhile, they had all the components I needed, told me what was in stock, and so on. By far, the sales guys knew their stuff.
A TimberKing tech drove it from the factory in Kansas City to where I am in Virginia. The truck arrived and the tech helped me get it set up and gave me good information, tips, and pointers. He offered to stay and help me as long as I wanted, even to stay for days if I needed it. But I only kept him a few hours. He helped me set it up, level it, showed me how it works, how to operate it.
Dennis Mi ller. Gloucester VA
I started looking at mills while my wife was pregnant with our first son. This was a big decision with a baby on the way! We decided to go with TimberKing because of its heavy construction. First of all, its heavy construction. Second is the quality of the customer service. I drove to Kansas City and watched the TimberKing staff demonstrate the mill. That was a great experience. I chose the 2000 because it has full hydraulics.
They make the mills right in the USA, right in Kansas City. So if I need repair or service parts I know exactly who to go to — the same people who sold me the mill. Everybody we dealt with at TimberKing was just great. I’m proud to own a TimberKing and thankful to be part of TimberKing’s family.
Adam Scardamalia, Spanish Fort AL
I always wanted to live the country lifestyle like my grandparents did. I sold everything I owned — house, furniture, vehicles. I turned it all into cash and paid off some debt. I left my driveway with just my dually pickup, two dogs, and a camper. I moved to Texas where my folks have a ranch.
I had to have a different way to live and earn a living. I’ve built things of wood all my life and I’ve always found it deeply rewarding. It’s not about the money — it’s something deeper. Maybe it’s the creativity. Or seeing the grain inside a tree when you open it up. I’ve worked hard all my life with heavy equipment, and done a lot of building, and I knew I could do this.
The more I researched, the more I realized I could do with a sawmill.
I looked at sawmills for two years. I watched guys sawing lumber and I searched online. I started looking at chainsaw mills but you have to physically lift logs to load them….I talked to other sawmill owners and eventually found TimberKing.
TimberKing’s design is important to me because I know I’ve got something that is true and will last. I’ve sawn 40” diameter logs on my TimberKing 1600! Some up to 42” and 44” if I chainsawed off a bit of width first. I’ve definitely taken my TimberKing to its limits!
I called TimberKing 10 times or more before I bought. I talked with Matt and did my research. I talked with a lot of sawyers. I’d ask them, ‘Why’d you get into sawing? Why’d buy this mill and not that one?’ I got a real education.
I bought the TimberKing 1600 because it was the only one I could afford at the time. I asked TimberKing to put computer setworks on it and they did. That computer is a great investment. I’ve thought about trading up to the TimberKing 2000 because it has more hydraulics. I’d love to have a 2000 but I know my 1600 inside and out and I’m happy with it.
New 2000 Owner “Very Pleased” and Getting Busy!
We were so pleased to receive this unsolicited email from Ken Bourquin of Ohio:
I am very pleased with my new TimberKing 2000 that I purchased. I bought the 2000 to build my kids a timber frame barn and to put a timber frame addition on my house. Everything is working extremely well and I have already began cutting the logs for my barn. I built a 18′ x 24′ timber frame pavilion for my Boss so I could learn the machine and the timber framing process before tackling my larger projects. I am very happy with the ease of using this machine.
Timber frame pavilion cut on TimberKing 2000 Sawmill
His TimberKing’s 20 Years Old, 4500 Hours, Runs Like a Top!
“I own an older TimberKing sawmill. What really impresses me about this mill is it how it lasts and lasts. When it was 20 years old, with 4,500 hours on it, I went through and reworked the hydraulics and the engine. That gave me a deep understanding of the mill so I can maintain it myself without having to take it somewhere.
I’m extremely happy with my TimberKing. And their customer service and tech people have been very responsive. I can call them any time and they spend as much time as needed to help me.”
Tom Berryhill Dardanelle AR
Carpenter with Passion for Timber Framing
I’m a carpenter but my passion is timber framing. I still build stick-built houses but my goal is to make timber framing my main gig. I bought my TimberKing 2000 in order to supply my business with timber framing material. I shoot for bigger sized stuff — 6 x 6, 6x 8, 8 x 8 — so I’m not the guy sawing 2 x 4’s or 2 x 6’s unless it’s for strapping on a roof. We cut trees or have logs hauled in, depending on the customer.
TimberKing works hard to make sure their customers are happy. Your tech guys have given me incredibly good service and have been unbelievably helpful. Service is 10 out of 10. ….Whatever problems I’ve had, we’ve worked through them with TimberKing’s help. I’ve come to appreciate this sawmill. It cuts quickly and efficiently and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to run.
81 Year-Old TK Owner Cuts 8,000 Board Feet a Day!
We were so pleased to receive this unsolicited letter from Hilton Cox of North Carolina.:
I am writing to give TimberKing a praise report on my 2200 Sawmill. I have been an operator and owner in the sawmill business for over 25 yrs. My first mill was a circle saw M-14 Foley- Belsaw. I have been a long time customer of TimberKing …
I am writing to you regarding the 2200 mill to say I am very satisfied with the neatness, quality and placement of the dials and gauges and instruments engineering. I especially like the way you can swing the operator station so you can see your cant from either side…
I am 81 yrs old and can cut 8,000 board feet a day with just my equipment and one man. I like the fact that it is fully hydraulic.
I had a [well-known competitor’s mill] for 11 years. I had to work on fixing something on it every day.
I just wanted to write to you let you know how satisfied thrilled I am to work own such a fine machine as my TimberKing 2200 mill.
Hilton Cox, Sr. North Carolina
It’s my wife’s fault I bought a TimberKing Sawmill!
I went online and compared mills and decided on TimberKing. I started watching their videos and I liked what I saw. I never saw a TimberKing mill in person, just online and that was enough for me. It has features other mills don’t. Two main features attracted me: the four-post head, and the stationary command post. I liked that I can stand in one place and operate everything without having to walk up and down the log.
Originally I was looking at a bigger TimberKing but I wanted an edger, too, so I dropped back to the 1600 and got my edger at same time. That was in ’05 and I ran it for 10 years. Then we had a fire and everything burned to the ground but I wasn’t done building! I called TimberKing and bought another 1600. This new one is upgraded from the older 1600 I had and has the features I wanted in a bigger mill. It has everything I want including the ability to take up to a 20-foot log.
TK Ultra Max Blades Aren’t Designed to Cut Metal but…
We were so pleased to receive this unsolicited email from TK 2000 Owner John Agnew of Gum Spring, VA:
“One of your TimberKing UltraMax blades cut through a bolt not once, but twice. Although the blade lost some serious tooth height, it didn’t break. Blade cut through the eye of the bolt, thereby cutting through the same bolt twice. The bolt was in a 36″ sycamore log. After we cut out the offending part with a chainsaw, we made some beautiful boards. Thanks for the blades, and thanks for making a great machine!”
Note how wide the cuts were that John was making — you’ve got to have a big TK-sized cut throat to make cuts like that!
Kind Words from Arkansas 1220 Owner Doug Hyde
We were so pleased to receive this unsolicited email from Doug Hyde of Winslow, AR.:
My 1220 is the best mill in the world to me. I just love it I have sawed around 10 thousand board feet with no trouble what so ever thank you.
Alabama TimberKing Owner Jerry Stanley Strikes Again…
If you look down a ways you’ll see pictures of Jerry using his 2000 mill to cut some big logs. Well even the 2000 couldn’t satisfy Jerry, so this summer he traded up to a 2200! And as you can see below he’s taking advantage of every bit of the 2200’s capacity and power!
TimberKing Owner’s Business Grows through our Sawmills
Thanks for providing such excellent equipment. It has been integral to building our business since we first bought a 1400 in the fall of 2013. The 1400 was a really good mill but I started cutting bigger, 24” diameter logs so I got a TimberKing 2000 last year. I had a great time with this mill on outside construction projects, cutting beams, board and batten siding, and more. I sold everything I cut.
But I needed to saw logs longer than the 2000 handled so I traded up to the TimberKing 2200. And I got a lot of equipment to support production. These days, I’m clearing woods into pasture. I saw the logs and turn the tops into firewood. I set up a production center in a corner of the pasture. … One thing leads to another! I was hesitant to get all this going but as you grow your business, you want to be as productive as possible.
Sawing with the TimberKing is the fast part. You have to figure out how to get the logs to the mill faster and how to make your operation bigger and better. What’s great about the TimberKing is it doesn’t take long to turn logs into lumber. Three hours of sawing can give you enough material to keep you busy for two days of building.
Jon Heltzel, Hood River, OR
Virginia TimberKing 2000 Owner Cuts Huge Walnut Log!
We were very pleased to receive this nice email from Mark Wood of Virginia about his TimberKing 2000:
Here are some pictures of the Appalachian Black Walnut I have been sawing. The logs make some beautiful lumber. I had no problems sawing the big log in the picture, it measured 34 inches on the big end and 28 on the small end. From beginning to end my mill sawed perfect, square, sharp edges.
Louisiana TimberKing 1220 Owner is Thrilled with His Mill and TK’s Staff!
We were very pleased to get this email last week from new 1220 owner Harrell Alford of Kentwood, LA. Harrell’s owned about every mill out there that you can own and we think it’s fair to say he’s thrilled with his 1220:
I have had mills of all sorts since the mid sixties and now that I am older and somewhat slower, I decided too give Timberking a try and I found out that even though I haven’t had my mill but about three weeks now the people and company have been great. As you can see by the picture I have been cutting some big poplar boards for a custumer too wall up the inside of a new room. The mill works great for me and my dog Bingo as you can see. Thanks for a good honest company.
Georgia TimberKing 1220 Owner Makes Mill Pay for Itself!
TimberKing 1220 owner Arney Herrin Jr. has done a lot with his mill including building a large addition to his shop, a shelter for his mill and two amazing cradles for his grandkids! Top photo shows his shop addition and the shelter he built, as well as his mill! Bottom photo shows amazing cradle he made for his granddaughter from wood he sawed on his 1220!
South Carolina TimberKing 2000 Owner Cuts Huge Southern Yellow Pine Logs
Laverne Ard of South Carolina has been cutting Railroad Ties from HUGE SYP Logs. This log yielded two ties 15″ x 8″!
Alabama TimberKing 2000 Owner Cuts Log Home Pattern from Huge Logs
Jerry Stanley of Alabama used to use a competitor’s mill. He’s loving that huge TimberKing 2000 cut throat as he tackles these massive Alabama logs!
Virginia TimberKing 2000 Owner Cuts 38″ Log “No Problem”
We were very pleased to receive this nice email from Mark Wood of Virginia about his TimberKing 2000:
This log measured 32″ on the small end and averaged 38″ on the large end. Handled it no problem. I normally don’t get logs this big and I admit I was a little nervous when I started to saw this log. But I was gentle and took my time and had no problems.
Idaho TK Owner Cuts Big Rocky Mountain Timbers
This is just one of the huge logs Floyd Thompson of Idaho has sawn with his TimberKing B-20. He’s rightly proud of what he’s done with the mill, including cutting the wood for raised panel doors and cabinets!
TK Owner Makes and Sells Alligator Juniper Furniture
We just sold this queen size platform bed out of custom sawed Juniper lumber on our own mill for 695. And made these two coffee tables at the same time because we’d sold all the others from 169 to 279 each depending on size. Every piece of juniper is hand finished with teak oil (about 20 coats). Marge is the one with patience for the finish sanding and oiling. We are now taking orders for custom one of a kind furniture while the Alligator Juniper lasts. Of course we’re also raising and selling turkeys, ducks, chickens pheasants. Just call JD the Bird Whisperer. He spends hours talking to his birds. The turkeys follow him around like dogs and come to the sliding glass door every morning looking for treats and leaving BIG poops on the porch. The garden is fenced to keep out the birds and seeds are starting to come up. It’s in the high 80’s here every day. We had one spitting thunder and lightning day but no monsoon yet. Hope you are all enjoying the summer.
Kind Words from Proud TimberKing 1220 Owner in West Virginia!
We were very pleased a couple of weeks back to receive this nice email from Wyatt Reed of West Virginia:
I would like to take this time to tell you how pleased we are with the TimberKing 1220 mill, the planer/molder, and the other accessories we have purchased. We are still doing a lot of learning but have made some beautiful oak cabinets for my brothers house. We done everything from the tree to hanging them on the wall ourself. Its a great feeling of satisfaction. The mill is great. Easy to set up and saws great… We learned early on to keep a sharp blade on the mill to get the best lumber. In fact something we noticed that we kinda guage by is the roller that is behind the blade. When we start to see that roller turning we change to a sharp blade. I like to push the mill when possible because it gives me a feel for what is going on. The molder/planer makes some beautiful molding. The tooth setter was easy to set up and to use. Two thumbs up on it as well…All in all we are very satisfied and you have life long customers here…Sorry to be so long winded but I have a lot of pride in what we are doing and accomplished.
A Logger in Southern California?
Yep and he owns a TimberKing 1220 mill and a Kenworth logging truck. What can we say? Cam Berloger has good taste in equipment!
TimberKing Owner Builds Incredible Barn!
TK B-20 Owner Jerry Huffman has built a couple of amazing buildings. He was kind enough to share his photos with us! Click HERE to see more!
B-20 Tackles Monster Log
Thought you might enjoy this picture of me and my TimberKing sawmill tackling a HUGE poplar log. I had several of these logs off of a neighbor’s farm and I cut them all on my mill. I cut all the parts for this pole building out of these logs. The building is 95 feet long by 58 feet wide. The mill works Very Good. All lumber is very accurate and smooth to work. The best mill I have ever used.
“Smooth Sailing” with TimberKing
Just wanted to drop a line and say hello. I picked up that 1220…last July. The mill is working fine and it’s been smooth sailing. I am now mowing through some beautiful red oak. Those Ultra blades are nice. Thanks for your help and it was sure nice meeting you and your crew. You guys did a fine job!
1600 Bandmill “Enriches” Life
I want to thank you all for enriching my life with the 1600 bandmill …Our own President Carter will be hunting out of a goose blind built from lumber cut from our 1600. I also cut lumber for the lodge that he will stay over in during his hunt…I have also made parts cut lumber for one of the last skip jacks that harvest oysters on the Chesapeake Bay…I want to thank you for [helping me] get a good start in this life. Thank you all very much.
“Truest Lumber I’ve Ever Seen”
My TimberKing saws the truest lumber I’ve ever seen come off a mill.
Praise from Leading Trade Publication
Looking at the TimberKing 1600, it’s easy to forget that this is a middle-of-the-line mill – the heavy construction and hydraulics give it the appearance and many of the functions of a full-sized production mill…the 25-horsepower motor provides plenty of power for cutting and hydraulics, and all controls operate smoothly and consistently.
Dave Boyt Sawmill Woodlot Magazine
“Keep up the good old American hard work.”
I am so totally satisfied with my mill…I did a lot of research before buying my mill and decided on the TimberKing … mainly because I felt it was more heavily made…than any of the others. I know it weighs more than the others I considered. I also chose TimberKing because [my sales rep] was professional, courteous, willing to listen and answer my questions, no matter how long it took…You have a great product and a great company. Keep up the good old American hard work.
Proud to own the BEST mill made
Your mills are truly a first-class product. I drove over 1000 miles to pick up my TimberKing sawmill and Talon edger and am completely satisfied…I am proud to own the BEST portable saw mill made. Once again, thanks and tell the guys and gals building your mills they are the BEST!
Aerospace Engineer Prefers 4-Post Design
I help design and build spacecraft for Lockheed Martin for a living. From an engineering standpoint, the 4 post head [is a] clear winner over the competitive design.
Twice the Mill for Half the Money
I just received my new TimberKing portable sawmill. This is the best mill ever. I have owned and operated other mills…The TimberKing portable mill is twice the mill…for just a little over half the money.
Thoroughly impressed, Jeff Bogie, VT
Pays for Itself 20 Times Over
We work our TimberKing six days a week and cut around 200,000 board feet last year. The mill has paid for itself about twenty times over.
Thanks for a Great Machine!
Thanks for building a great machine! Although I’m new to sawing, the lumber I cut on my 1600 comes out straight and true with virtually no inconsistencies in thickness or width. The added hydraulics is a life saver!
Treated Like a King
I am so happy with my mill, I have already delivered and sold an order of lumber. I was treated like “A KING” at the factory – by [my sales person] who answered my questions and had my order ready…I love my mill.
Prompt and Courteous Service
I’ve had my sawmill just over a year and a half, and it has kept me busy custom sawing for other people. I’d like to thank you for the prompt and courteous service when I call for information or assistance. All of my customers have commented on the quality of the lumber.
1220 Saws “Clean Through” Massive Oak Log
As you can see, I get some real logs. This is a red oak board, sawed clean through by my 1220 mill. I have a 3 foot six inch hard maple up to mill next. Got to drill a well today, but I’d rather be sawing.
Best Mill on the Market
I want to thank all of you folks at TimberKing …You have done more than sell the Best Mill on the market, you have stood behind everything you said and more.
Your instructor did a wonderful job explaining the mill and took his time. Thanks to all of your people for a fine job in helping me decide which mill to buy.
Every Stick Sawed on a TimberKing
Every stick of wood is this log house — all the timbers, logs, sheathing and rafters — was cut on my TimberKing sawmill. It’s a heck of a machine.
Easy Set Up…Excellent Cuts
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know [about]…my satisfaction with the 1220 …. I was able to set it up easily and it produced excellent quality cuts from the first time I used it. Having dealt with many companies over the years, I appreciate TimberKing’s thorough process from sales to delivery.
44 Foot Ridge Beam with 1220
Thought you might be interested in what my husband is doing with the Model 1220 mill we purchased from you. This picture shows a 16 inch square ridge pole 44 feet long. As you can probably guess, he loves [his mill].
Excellent Product…Excellent Service
Many thanks for always being so friendly…It is your excellent service along with your dedication to an excellent product that makes TimberKing such a joy to own.
Looks Forward to Many Years with TimberKing
I want to commend you on building not only very good products but also putting together a very excellent and professional staff…It is easy to speak to other people who are interested in your products because of the personal support that I and everyone else who own your products have received…I am looking forward to many more years of doing business with TimberKing.
Retired Military Man Starts Business with TimberKing 2000
When I retired from the US Military 10 years ago, I had a wish list: to live in the country, enjoy four seasons, work outdoors, have good health, and enjoy what I was doing. The Good Lord has provided!
Today, I run a complete wood material business, Maple Grove Mill. To make it possible, equipment became a priority. I did a lot of research and TimberKing rose to the top. You had a promotion, ‘Go tree to trim with TimberKing.’ We took your idea and added some twists. I bought TimberKing and Woodmaster equipment based on their features, warranty, and price.
I talked with Will Johnson, president of TimberKing quite a bit. He was very patient! He always sent me his best pricing. I got the 2000 mill with hydraulics, log turners, toe boards, and deck extensions. Everything was at better than other mills. There are two bigger model TimberKing mills but, for what we’re doing, the 2000 is perfect.
Bob Manaugh, Lexington, IN
Excellent Resale Value
Just a short note to let you know that due to some health problems, I had to sell my mill. I owned it just over 2 years and really enjoyed turning rough looking logs into beautiful boards…I made pretty good too. Over all it was a great experience, great mill, great service and got a good price when I sold it.
“Extremely Reliable and Durable”
Attached is a photo of me with one of my smaller logs on the mill. Its a piece of mesquite that started about 24″ round x 11′ long and weighed an estimated 3800lbs. The saw cut it with no problem and the same blade was used on two other smaller pieces. The biggest piece slabbed out so far was Pecan that measured 30″ in diameter and 14′ long. It yielded close to 400 bdft. As soon as it finishes drying it will become furniture …[ One friend] has used the saw to cut over 100 – 6″ x 6″ and 8″ x 8″ cedar timbers, some 18′ in length, to build his barn and house from and [another friend] made several custom pieces of furniture with the wood he has cut…The saw has been extremely reliable and durable.
Loves to Brag about his TimberKing
So far just about the only thing I like more than turning logs into lumber on my TimberKing bandsaw mill is to tell other folks about it. I can hardly get the mill warmed up when a neighbor will stroll by or a local contractor will stop on the roadside just to look at my mill and of course I invite them on in for a little bragging session, most fun I have had in a long time ….have a good day.GOD BLESS AMERICA…
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you. I just retired after a 26-year career in the US Air Force. With your help my wife and I turned my previous woodworking hobby into a very profitable full-time business. I have owned a TimberKing 1220 for three years now. Last year, we sawed 800 logs we received with help from several tree companies we partner with here in Phoenix. I build customer Southwestern furniture and also sell live edge slabs and dimensional stock to hundreds of customers. They have fully embraced our urban logging and milling operation. TimberKing has produced and amazingly accurate and bullet-proof sawmill. It has helped us exceed our income projections. Your customer service is excellent. You even know me by name when I call for…blades.
I cannot begin to tell you what it is like to wake up every day and love my job!
Todd Terri Langford, Phoenix, AZ
Massive Tree to Quarter Sawn Wood Using a Portable Bandsaw Mill
In this article (and in the video above) I share my experience of hiring a local portable bandsaw mill owner to help me transform a fallen 155 year old white oak tree into gorgeous and affordable quarter sawn wood, like this:
Quarter sawn white oak lumber is one of the most beautiful lumbers for furniture because of it’s lovely figure. In this video and article Todd Horne and I share great advice for turning your trees into great custom bandsaw mill cut lumber, at a reasonable price.
And after you finish reading this article, be sure to also check out my article titled: “How to Choose Wood Lumber for Woodworking: 7 Easy Steps“.
Finding my Massive White Oak Tree
Before I jump into how we used a portable bandsaw mill to make quarter sawn white oak lumber, I’d like to explain how I got this massive white oak tree for free: My friend Jeremy invited me to scavenge free white oak firewood from a “big” tree that had fallen across his friend’s driveway in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. I jumped at the chance for free oak firewood.
When I arrived at the site I wasn’t looking at the twisted 2-foot wide firewood branches that Jeremy had started cutting. I was staring at the lovely, mostly straight base of the tree. I measured the tree base and my eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
Four feet wide! I just knew that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to get a bunch of very wide quarter sawn white oak lumber for cheap. So I called my friend Todd to ask him to bring his portable bandsaw mill so we could create some quarter sawn wood so I could make some lovely furniture (see the figure below).
If you don’t have logs for milling up your own lumber, there are other solutions. Oftentimes portable bandsaw mill owners will have a great collection of logs that they’ve piled up over the years. If they happen to have the type of log you’re looking for, then this is a great option, because you’ll avoid travel fees and extra hourly charges.
But if they don’t have what you’re looking for, then you can find a log of your choice at a local log yard. Last time I checked, you could get a nice oak log loaded onto your trailer for around 100. You can read our article and watch our video titled: “How to Choose a Log at the Log Yard with Elia Bizzarri.”
Woodworking DVDS and Digital Videos
Browse our traditional woodworking video classes available in HD Streaming / Download and on DVD.
Preparing the Log for the Portable Bandsaw Mill
In preparation for Todd’s arrival, I decided to work on extracting the best 10-foot section from the base of the tree. My old Husqvarna chainsaw had given up the ghost the day earlier when I was cutting the branches for firewood, so I returned the next day with a much better new Echo chainsaw (here’s my Timber Wolf model). My new chainsaw turned out to be a formidable foe against the tree’s wide trunk. (Tool advice: this Echo chainsaw model is the highest you can go in the consumer category, but it has the pro chainsaw engine, along with the best warranty…5 years…that’s what sold me. Years later and it’s still working great).
It was funny that the most challenging part wasn’t cutting this 36-inch wide relief section with the chainsaw, but getting it unstuck!
After I got the relief piece unstuck, Todd arrived with his portable bandsaw mill, and we worked with our chainsaws on the last cut; cutting out the 10-foot section that we planned on milling into boards.
Once the final cut was made, the 10,000 pound log thudded to the ground, and the trunk roots shot straight up!
After counting the rings on the tree, I discovered that the tree started growing 155 years earlier, right during the Civil War! Soldiers would have been marching right near the sapling tree.
Now that the huge log was free from the tree, it was time for Todd and I to safely move the very heavy log down the slope of the yard, being extra cautious so it wouldn’t crash into cars or a house. Getting the huge log down the hill was no easy feat, but suffice it to say that we had a very difficult time safely rolling this 10,000 pound log. We set up stumps to prevent the log from rolling into the street, and then got to work.
I had used a log Cant hook before, but never on a log this heavy. I was amazed at how leverage can be so efficient in moving such a large object! At one point we had to hook a chain onto the log, and I used my pickup truck to pull one end around so we would have a straight path to the portable bandsaw mill:
In the end, it was a beautiful site to see the 10-foot log gone from the driveway and at the base of the bandsaw mill.
Peterson Sawmills Compared to other portable sawmill types
Since the invention of the swingblade mill by Peterson Portable Sawmills, many people have tried to replicate the technology. The ease of use, amazing versatility and the machine’s portability all make Peterson’s swingblade the best portable sawmill available. Replicas on the market offer some of these things also, but they do not have the quality of the original swingblade mill, nor do they show as much innovation in their designs.
Peterson mills and blades are built to last and are made of extremely durable components; this makes the re-sale value high; most owners only lose about 10% from what they paid for it.
Handling lumber, we’ve made it easy
No log-turning required, a Peterson mill cuts dimensional lumber straight away and you can grade as you go. A Peterson swingblade can handle large, abrasive logs with ease, you can load logs over or under your tracks.
Petersons Hi/Lo track set-up comes standard on the ASM models, and as an optional extra on the WPF. The Hi/Lo tracks allow the operator to either load logs over the track on the low side, or roll logs under the high track, giving the utmost in versatility for mobile or fixed site applications.
Double cutting like no other
Double cut wide boards and slabs up to 10″ x 20″ easily without having to turn the mill around like other brands. Simply remove two bolts and take off the sawdust deflector (or make no adjustments at all with the Junior Peterson) and you’re away!
Bill owns both, what’s his pick?
We can explain the benefits of purchasing a Peterson all day long. Literally, call us we would love to teach you!
But, if you want to read an unbiased opinion from someone who owns both a Lucas and a Peterson 8″ Swingblade, check out what Bill Shore has to say.
World’s fastest portable slabber?!
The Peterson Dedicated Wide Slabber is not a swingblade sawmill like the rest of our range. The sole purpose of the DWS is to cut logs into high value wide slabs using a chainsaw slabber style bar. This makes light work of the toughest hardwoods. And it’s fast.
Click here to watch the time trial between Peterson Clip-on Slabber (fitted to WPF) and the Dedicated Wide Slabber (DWS)
Highly satisfied all around
I went to a demo of the Lucas and was about to buy one when I saw an ad for the Peterson in Sawmill Woodlot, called the 0800 number and they sent me a DVD. The quality of the machine was very clear. The winches both at the head end of the mill and no overhead cross link to duck under as the Lucas had. So I bought the Peterson. I have sawn a 32 x 36 barn for myself as well as assorted other lumber for the farm. Altogether a very nice basic portable mill and the people at Peterson are outstanding to work with on any problems or questions.
(Additional feedback, received after David has been milling for over 12 years:) I think anyone who looks at both Lucas and Peterson will buy the Peterson mill. I know that I have never regretted buying mine. It’s a good, solid, well-engineered machine. Easy to set up, tear down and move. I mostly work alone and can set it up in about one to two hours, depending on how level the terrain is.
David Emerson, New York, USA
David Emerson, New York, USA
I went to a demo of the Lucas and was about to buy one when I saw an ad for the Peterson in Sawmill Woodlot, called the 0800 number and they sent me a DVD. The quality of the machine was very clear. The winches both at the head end of the mill and no overhead cross link to duck under as the Lucas had. So I bought the Peterson. I have sawn a 32 x 36 barn for myself as well as assorted other lumber for the farm. Altogether a very nice basic portable mill and the people at Peterson are outstanding to work with on any problems or questions. (Additional feedback, received after David has been milling for over 12 years:) I think anyone who looks at both Lucas and Peterson will buy the Peterson mill. I know that I have never regretted buying mine. It’s a good, solid, well-engineered machine. Easy to set up, tear down and move. I mostly work alone and can set it up in about one to two hours, depending on how level the terrain is.
I could very easily cut over 1,000 bd ft of hardwood lumber in a days’ time when I had just one helper. If I had the luxury of having one person to feed me logs, and a couple more people to off-bear the lumber, there is no telling how much production I could have achieved. I’m really amazed at how little waste there is with the Peterson. Petersons are GREAT people to deal with from before the sale to way afterwards! Even after I had owned my mill for a year they were still calling me just to chat and see how it was doing. Several of my friends own Lucas Mills, and since they had a chance to see them both and compare, they were sold on the Peterson sawmill.”
Ken Hodges, Florida, USA
Sawmill From 12″ Bandsaw and a Mower
This will be my first Instructable, seems I never take a picture until the project is done ;-(
PLEASE comment and ask questions of you have them.
I have a camp property 29 miles from the edge of civilization, and therefore need to use my resources instead of driving back and forth trying to get just about anything. You plan ahead before going. Not enough beer? 58 miles. No propane? 58 miles. you get the idea. It gets worse when you have to hook up the trailer or take the big truck because you need more lumber to make some small project or build a barn. So, having access to plenty of logs, I need to make my own lumber. I have seen a zillion ways to make a Band saw mill, but why not use something that has almost everything I need instead of building from scratch? The saw I am going to hack is a Craftsman 12″ Band saw. That means the wheels holding the belt are 12″. It already has all of the rollers, alignment adjustments, pulleys, etc. we’ll need. I’ll also be tweaking them a little for strength and longevity. I will be converting to a gas engine, so we’ll remove the electrical equipment and save for another project.
The truth? I’m cheap. Well, maybe frugal. Wife says nuts (and brilliant depending on when you ask her). Still need a mill though. My best friends? Junk shops, junkyards, yard sales. The whole premise of our property is to do almost everything ourselves; learning about and understanding every phase of a project and the equipment, for as little money as possible to create a nice working farm. We are proof that you can do it while still staying out of debt. I found an almost free double wide home that needed work for a temporary camp while I build my barn and living quarters at one end of it, a backhoe and grade tractor, as well as a dump truck all for very little money. I could purchase a new mill for a few thousand, use someone else’s design for a couple thousand, or design and build my own for a few hundred bucks. So:
Lets see: a workshop Band saw is already. a Band saw, so.
I’ll have to make a rail system
An adjustable carriage to hold the saw; able to raise and lower to cut different size boards.
Somehow attach the gasoline engine to run it.
A handle system for control and safety.
Step 1: Gather a Bunch of Stuff
I purchased a used 12″ Band saw from a yard sale for 100.00. but remember, we aren’t using the electrical so if it doesn’t work you can find cheaper ones. just make sure the wheels and stuff are good, otherwise you’ll spend money fixing before you ever use it!
I found 2 used end braces for commercial shelving 16′ for free (if it’s free it’s for me) Scavenging skills are definitely handy!
I have a 13hp Honda 2 cylinder water cooled engine from a lawn mower I will tear apart. it’s a 2 cylinder, electric start, and amazingly quiet. The mower is going to supply a bunch of parts, an engagement system for the Band, throttle and electrical controls, a ready made engine cowl (way cool for a saw!) and maybe even a drive system for the carriage. I bought it for 50 bucks because it needed a starter that from Honda is EXPENSIVE! (I found a used one on e-bay for 40 bucks)
About a bazillion feet of good stout angle iron, and some lighter duty for bracing, etc.
Box tubing for saw cradle
4 jacks to raise and lower the saw
Various pulleys, nuts, bolts, etc. which I will describe as I go; remember your build will be unique so be ready to “junkyard dog it” a little
A good friend with talents and a strong back 😉 (Mine was my buddy Scotty and I can’t thank him enough for his help).
Step 2: Tools and Equipment
I’m not going to list all of the tools I use, this thing would be 40 pages! You can never have enough tools, but here’s a start
Hand tools. ALL OF THEM! Oh, and you’re probably going to borrow a few also.
Welder. I use my MIller 200 wire feed, but a good stick welder is fine.
Various grinders, cutting tools, etc.
Good straight edges, levels, squares
Gloves, safety glasses etc so you don’t have to use said first aid kit. safety first (or second if you like trips to the E.R. Band aids, loss of sight, etc.)
Step 3: Overview of Build
Here I go. A wood working Band saw is a vertical saw and although I could move the log to make it work, I need to turn it on its side.
I’ll get rid of all of the table and stand stuff.
The actual working space is only about 7″, so I’ll have to widen that to fit a fairly good sized log, say 16-18″, the depth of cut is fine at 12″ so I could in theory cut a 12X12. Here in Florida I don’t get logs or poles larger than that, so why go bigger.
Once lengthened, I’ll go to a larger blade designed for lumber cutting, not finish work.
I’m going to have to figure out how to mount the gas engine. The reason I cannot use the electric motor is twofold. One, I am off the grid and why run a gas engine on a generator to power it. Two, my blade is much “badder” than the finer one, the teeth will be almost an inch apart and huge! the original 3/4 horsepower motor would just give up.
I have to build a solid rail system.
Build a log mount/roll set up for leveling, holding steady, as well as assisting in turning the log.
Build a cradle for the saw which will roll on the rails and be designed to raise and lower the saw.
Mount it on something or add an axle so we can move it around if I so decide.
Step 4: Scrounging Tips and Build Tricks
Your local lawn mower shop is a great place to look for small engines. Although you can buy Chinese clones from places like Harbor Freight, once you get above 6-7 HP they get expensive. Many riding mowers are scrapped because the deck rots, but still have a perfect 10-20 HP engine. They are electric start, and can be bought for next to nothing. Even if they are horizontal shaft instead of vertical, you can make one work. Most shops have a lot more than they can stand; be nice, smile, wear your oldest clothes and look needy! While you’re there, ask if you can look through their old mowers, you may see a pulley, lever, or who knows what. Remember to write down makes, model numbers and any other information you can from your donors though; it will help down the road if you need a replacement part.
Yard sales, local Craigslist ads, even pages have great deals. You won’t think your wasting your time when you find the deal of the week!
When trying to keep a box tubing rail straight when extending, cut only opposite corners first, then clamp angle iron and weld to each of those corners on one side only! Then, wiggle your blade through the slot and finish cutting the other sides. This acts like a jig when you cut through. When you finish weld, remember warpage. Weld opposite corners a little at a time to reduce it.
A great source of 1″ angle iron is old bed frames. The old ones were made of angle iron. Newer ones are just stamped tin.
Remember everywhere you look during your build you may see a solution for a problem you’ve been fighting. While writing this, I came up with the wheel idea for the rail system.
I’ve seen a bunch of Instructables and YouTube videos that are filmed after the build, and they have had to cut, modify, re-design to finish. Mock up, tack, lay it all out BEFORE you weld it all up. Think ahead, it will save you headaches later.
I am cutting lumber here. If you find pieces of junk laying around that will work, remember they may wear out, break or destroy something else. I want all of this to be easily and rapidly repairable. All of the parts I acquire are readily available and easy to repair. Don’t get some old junk, work your butt off building it, abuse it and then have to redesign the whole contraption later to fix it. If you start with a shoddy set-up, you can’t expect it to live!
Step 5: The Saw and Mower Hack
My first step is to hack up a perfectly good saw, which in my opinion is much better than jumping from a perfectly good airplane for fun or getting slapped in the face with a dead fish.
I’ll remove the electric motor, blade and the wiring as we are going gas.
I’ll then remove the table.
I’ll leave it on the base because it is heavy, and to make it easier to plan cut for extension parts.
As you can see, using an existing saw comes with many advantages. The wheels are perfectly sized and carry sealed bearings, it has the alignment adjusters already designed and even has a blade tension adjuster with a gauge. Plus, it has an adjustable blade guide, so when cutting smaller boards you can close up the blade exposed length making your cut more accurate.
When you plan this part, plan your overall cutting area, as well as how your guide will move, how much “meat” you have to attach your extension to, and then sit and rethink it all 10 times before you chop it up. As you can see from the picture, I didn’t use my own tip #3 from the previous page. That was because I have a metal cutting Band saw. I cut it after making sure the tube was straight and chopped away! This particular saw has a box tube as its “backbone”. The size of the tubing is an odd one, not available so I just used a slightly smaller piece I had and then added angle iron on the outside for added strength.
Because I used an existing saw with a spec tag on it, once I extended it 12″ it was easy to go on line and order blades. I just added the 12″ we extended (times 2) and ordered blades from Spectrum Supply:
Length. Feet: 9. Inch: 5- 1/2″Width x Thickness x TPI: 1″ x 0.035 x 1.3T
These blades are reasonably priced (about 15 bucks each) and can be made in any length you need, and with a variety of configurations.
I also have to cut up a mower; be sure to have a drink and think this over for a while first, you don’t want to cut it up wrong and then try to figure out how to fix your screw up. As yours will probably be different, I won’t go into a lot of detail on the mower. You will see in the next steps how I cut and used a lot of it.
Step 6: The Rail System
My rail setup will consist of a 16′ section of shelving support. These are the type the large box stores use. The ends are reinforced, and very strong. They are also already square, so no worry about tracking to start. I’m primarily going to be cutting wall studs, 2×4’s, 2×6’s, 2×8’s, some 4×4’s for fencing, and just maybe 6×6’s for barn posts. All of them will usually be less than 12′. My one section will allow a cut that long, but I want the ability to cut to 16′ so I’ll make an attachable extension for longer boards.
As I made no modifications, I failed to take a good picture of the actual rail. It is; as you will see a standard end for commercial shelving. The reason I chose it was because it was free and luck had it that it had a channel that was facing out, thus allowing me to place a wheel on top and a guide wheel in the slot for straighter tracking.
Well, sometimes even the best plans change. A local boat dealer was modifying their building and I scored I-beams that will be much stronger and also longer. So, hundreds of dollars worth of I-beam that was going to the scrap yard is just better. Because the logs I will be cutting are so heavy, I was planning on reinforcing my rails, but now I can use these I-beams and not have to. Also, they are longer, so I won’t have to make extensions.
Step 7: The Cradle
Here is where you have to play around with your design a little. Or a lot. Many beers were found empty before the final ideas started to gel. Here we go:
Your cradle is going to carry everything, the engine, fuel and water tanks, battery and of course the actual saw. That adds up to a bunch of weight. I have seen a bunch of home built saws using two lifts, or a cable and pulleys, but remember the weight you have to move? Well four is better than two. I chose to use trailer jacks, with a 17″ lift, so if the saw weighs 300 pounds each jack is only lifting 75. less wear and much easier to turn the handle. I purchased these new for about 70 bucks each, because I wanted them identical so that they moved the same amount with each revolution of the handle. Plus as they are going to be welded on I didn’t want used ones that would wear out too soon. These are from Tractor Supply, and have a 17″ vertical travel. I am going to have one handle control all four jacks, attached together with chains. This way all will move at the same rate and maintain level. For wheels to ride on the cradle, I searched for strong wheels that could take a beating, but most of the wheels I saw with brackets and bearings were ridiculously priced for the job. Here is where a little shopping is important. I found solid hard wheels at my local lawnmower shop for 8 bucks a piece; just deck wheels for a riding mower! I then chucked them up in my lathe and cut a flat surface to true them so they glide on the rail smoothly just in case they weren’t perfectly round. I then took a piece of 3″ angle iron and welded two nuts on it, then slid the bolt through the wheel and ta da! Not only did that work for the vertical wheel, but it also worked for the guide wheel and pad for the jacks! Be sure to keep the shaft greased and no problem! Another beer! The guide wheels are just inexpensive 4″ wheels with brackets from Tractor supply, remember they carry no weight so they don’t have to be crazy expensive ones.
The actual cradle has to be strong, but also reasonably narrow so as not to use up too much of the rail. I decided to mock the saw on blocks on top of the rail and see where it sat. As you can see in the picture, the cradle in its first mock up is on the rails, with one set of jacks in place. We also installed a temporary brace at the front of 2×2 box just to keep square.
Step 8: Fitting Everything on the Cradle
OK, I have a cradle that rolls, a saw laid on its side. now I have to mate them and start to figure travel height, fitment of everything. I started with milk cartons and boards to get the saw level, then I tacked the engine in place to plan drive belt and jack clearances.
You must make sure your saw is level at all times during your build BOTH WAYS (side to side and fore and aft), or you will have to adjust it later somehow. If it is not, your blade will either climb out on your cut (up) or down, thus you will never have a true board. Easier now than trying out how to change it later. Yes, you can level with the jacks, but then down or all the way up they will not match, so travel length will be affected.
I used thick wall pipe to attach front and rear jacks making sure there was room for chain and gear clearance.
Now that the jacks are in place, I need to attach the chain drive between them to raise and lower the assembly. I’m doing my best to over build the entire machine for longevity. so I purchased #40 chain at Tractor Supply and gears, gear hubs all too heavy duty, but should last a long time. I purchased the chain in bulk, two 10′ rolls, and bought a chain breaker also to make it easier to size them. I used master links to connect the ends once cut to length for each section.I removed the handles from the jacks, which is where the hubs will fit. I slid the gear on for the drive jack, and on the other three slid two on spaced for chains to clear. I then welded the gears to the hubs and slid on the jacks. They are held on by set screws. After they were all in place, I welded the handle assembly on top of the drive jack. After the first turn, I realized the crank was either too short or just too hard, so I cut the mower steering shaft, and removed the handle, replacing it with the steering wheel. What a difference and once again used another part from the mower! I also used the old bag attachment bracket from the mower for our push handle.
Note. It is easier to make the chains up prior to mounting jacks, as if you are 1/4″ off the chain can be too loose or so tight you cannot turn the handle. OOOps! Thankfully, I was able to cut the tacks and adjust the jack a little to tighten chain. Because there is very little stress on the chains, stretch should not be a problem, if so I can adjust by taking out a half link is needed.
Notice one picture with dash, one with tank. mocking it over and over. or is it mocking me?I still have controls and more to add. The engine sits with the exhaust facing rearward, in the middle of the saw, so I will put the fuel tank as far outboard as I can. I will put the battery next to that, with the control panel in the middle area so I can use the existing wiring harnesses and control cables for throttle and clutch. I am even going to use the mower cowl for sound deadening and it will look cool too. I made a mount for the fuel tank from scrap bed frame angle iron and used the mower battery tray by just adding a scrap of box tube to weld it to saw frame. For both comfort for the operator and safety, I added a 3/4″ piece of conduit for an exhaust extension, diverting down and away from the control area.
Step 9: Engine Controls, Pulleys Turning
My mock up allows me to adjust distances, etc. so I can hopefully use the original engine and clutch controls. The clutch and throttle are controlled by a cable, so I really don’t want to search for aftermarket ones. I moved the engine cradle close enough that I can use both factory cables, once again making replacement easy. Because the engine is facing the opposite way from its original configuration with the controls, I did have to extend the wiring harness. Don’t be afraid if you have to do this. There were 7 wires, all color coded, so after I removed the electrical tape, I cut them and just spliced in a couple feet so everything would reach. You can do this one wire at a time if you are afraid you’ll get the connections wrong. Because this was a riding mower, if you were not seated, the blades would not engage. So, I easily converted the electrical seat switch to a kill switch. I used a boat kill switch connected to a tether so you can attach to yourself. In the event you trip, or need to walk around the saw, if you go too far away from the controls or close to the blade the entire saw will shut off. SAFETY FIRST.
OK, so I’m going to have to make a system of belts, pulleys and bearings to convert engine motion to move the blade. I removed the original pulley from the electric motor. I then took measurements from the motor to figure out depth through the hole in saw housing.
I wanted this part to be strong so I opted for 3/4″ pillow blocks. I machined the end of the bar stock down to fit the original drive pulley off the motor. We then tacked a piece of angle iron to the housing once we had the approximate alignment of the belt inside.Once we had that in place, I purchased a pulley that would allow my blade to move at the right speed with plenty of throttle adjustment. I want my blade to run at about 4000 feet per minute (yup, 45 mph!) As the electric motor ran 1740 rpm and my mower engine can run 3600, I reduced my rpm to around 2000 and went with a pulley that will turn the pulley inside at 1740 easily which is 3000 fpm and I can adjust throttle up to find my sweet spot for different wood densities. Mower engines are throttle adjustable governed, so whatever rpm I choose the governor can keep it there unless load becomes to much to compensate for. The old belt from the mower was cut to length so I could go to the mower shop and buy the perfect length belt. A simple tensioner from the mower deck set the tension.
As you can see, I tried different placement for controls and failed at first. mock up is invaluable!
Step 10: Bringing It All Together
This could go on for ten more steps, but your design will be different so I’ll jump forward some.
It’s amazing that I could use so much of the mower and the saw, and although it looks complicated, it actually keeps it quite simple. The mower supplied the tank for the coolant/ lubricant, the controls and electrical, the engine, and cowl. The saw had all of the bits I would have to otherwise engineer from scratch and both are well known brands with replacement parts readily available from the manufacturers. This means almost everything on this saw can be bought simply as replacements, instead of having to make a new whatever it is if something fails.
I added a small air compressor I had from a set of air horns to blow off the sawdust and with that included the coolant connected with a “Y” so air forces coolant, under pressure to cool and clean blade at the same time sort of like a mini pressure washer. The coolant flow is adjusted with a simple valve in the line from the tank.
I set up a temporary log cradle under the saw, and threw a 10″ power pole 6′ long on it.
My first test cut tried to climb out of the log, which was caused by interference when I aligned the blade. I found out how sensitive the blades are to metal parts. in ten seconds the kerf was gone. Thankfully I bought more than one blade, so lesson learned. Ya need some clearance, Clarence! The interference took the kerf out of my blade in less than ten seconds. After changing the blade and re-adjusting the tracking, I had success, my first cut perfect flat, and my second EVER 9/64″ thick (that’s thinner than the diameter of a pencil) 6′ long. Less than a quarter inch thick from a bandsaw and a mower. The accuracy is amazing, performance flawless. and for less than a good sized TV costs!
My final rail system will be in another instructable.
My total cost is less than 750.00, not bad for a strong, easily repaired sawmill.
Please note; I could not have done this without the help of a great friend Scotty, whose help mocking up as well as heavy lifting made the project fun.
Hope you liked my first instructable! Please be kind, and vote for me! I don’t know if I am able to fix typos, or anything else after I post. I’ll let you know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев!
Thomas bandsaw mill
Hull-Oakes Lumber may be the last steam-powered commercial saw mill in the country, and they’re one of the few mills capable of cutting large timbers up to 85 ft. long. The mill has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1996. Large long timbers are still used in railroad trestles, the restoration of historic structures, and for the spars and masts of ships. By coincidence, the day I arrived the mill was cutting an 80-ft. long timber for the restoration of the C.A. Thayer, an early 20th century three-masted schooner used to transport lumber along the West Coast.
(Click any image to enlarge. Hit your browser’s “back” button to return to this article.)
In 1934 Ralph Hull went into the sawmill business by leasing a mill which had been closed since the beginning of the Depression. Hull started building a plant on the current site in 1938. Right up until he passed away, in May 2002, he continued to check in on operations, but his grandson, Todd Nystrom, now runs the mill, located about fifteen miles south of Corvallis, OR.
Operation of the Mill
Trucks arrive loaded with logs.
The waggoner, a log-handling machine, grabs the logs before the binders are released, then lifts the logs clear of the truck.
and the waggoner drops the logs over the log brow…
|Then the truck backs up under the A-frame hoist, the driver releases the trailer…|
|and the trailer is hoisted “piggy back” onto the truck.|
The waggoner operator also doubles as the “pond monkey.” Back in the early 20th century, a pond man walked the logs in the pond, arranging them with a pikepole and stacking them at the log lift. But today, a pond boat quickly shuffles the logs, picking and ordering them at the base of the lift, so the boat operator is often called a “pond bronc.”
|The bark that accumulates in the pond is lifted on a conveyor up to the mill, where it’s transported to the chipper. All debris goes to the chipper.|
Once the logs are ordered and ready to be lifted, the boat operator goes back to off-load another truck of logs.
|The log-lift hoists the logs individually out of the pond…|
|and drops them into a chain-driven conveyor, called the “long transfer,” which transports the logs through…|
|the barker, where the bark is stripped off and conveyed to the chipper.|
The logs continue on the conveyor to the “short transfer,” or log table, where they stack up. The sprocket-and-chain-operated table moves the logs individually to the log cradle (see photo, below) which holds each log in preparation for a short tumble down to the log deck and the log turner.
The log turner lifts, rolls, and shoves each log onto the carriage. The heavy steel arms—operated by steam cylinders—can throw a six-foot diameter, eighty-foot-long log. At the extreme right side of the photograph (below), the next log is held by the cradle.
This 80-ft. log (see photo, right) is carefully rolled and positioned in the carriage prior to making the first cut. All the cutting operations are powered by steam.
Now the log has been rotated to minimize waste. The first cut removes mostly wane—the round and bark-covered edge of the log.
The off-bearer (right side of photo, below) secures the fall-off until the log clears the blade, though large logs require more help. Here the ratchet setter lends a hand, too.
The carriage rides on tracks, like a railroad car. The movement of the carriage is controlled by the sawyer. The sawyer looks at his order board then motions to the rachet setter, who operates the carriage, racheting the log closer or farther from the blade. Hand signals are the only way to communicate with all the thunderous noise. Everyone wears ear protection.
The sawyer and the rachet setter must be sharp and quick, as the carriage moves the log past the blade quickly. Two fingers means the log must be moved out for a two-inch cut; a fist or a connected finger and thumb followed by four fingers means a 14-in. cut. In this way, the rachet setter knows that the carraige must be returned to the log turner so the log can be rotated before the next cut.
The Sawyer controls the movement of the carriage with the wooden-handled lever on the left, while simulataneously controlling log-loading and log-turning with the control on the right. The control on the right also operates the “short transfer” chain conveyor and the log cradle.
|The rachet-setter is seated behind controls that operate the movement of the log on the carriage, and controls that secure the log to the carriage.|
This log now lies flat on a clean cut, ready for another pass through the Band mill, which squares the timber in preparation for making a new mast for the C.A. Thayer. The mast is so long that transporting the log required a truck-and-trailor with stearable rear wheels. The finished timber will be transported by barge to the ship restoration project in San Francisco.
|The off-bearer works right beside the blade, as the mill squares up the timber.|
|The off-bearer relies on an assortment of tools to help move both slabs and sawdust away from the headrig.|
|Long timbers become a hands-on operation when they’ve developed a slight bow.|
|Hull-Oakes specializes in cutting long logs and big ones, too, over 6-ft. in diameter.|
|The off-bearer guides the second cut onto the rollers,|
|and helps pivot the slab slightly. Gravity does the rest.|
|The slab is shoved tight against the straight-edge fence of the edger table before going through the edger.|
|The edger cuts wide slabs…|
|into narrower beams and boards.|
|All of the fall off—the bark, the wane and waste—goes into the wood chipper. Some of the resulting material is used to fire the boilers, but most of the chips are shipped to Toledo, a nearby paper company.|
|After cross-cutting for length,|
|timbers and beams are hoisted to a pallet, loaded on a lumber carrier,|
|and stacked for shipment.|
|The over-sized bandsaw blade runs around two wheels in the headrig. The headrig includes the blade, pulleys, and protective housing.|
|The blade is removed for sharpening every two hours. The doors on the blade housing swing open and a carraige moves the blade off the pulleys…|
|then lowers the blade to the ground. The saw filer, with assistance,|
|guides the blade onto a long dolly.|
It only takes two men to position the blade…
into the sharpening station.
|The carborundum grinder must be dressed before sharpening each blade, then the saw filer calibrates the machine for the stone, adjusts the travelers, and starts the machine, which…|
Though the saw filer still has to keep an eye on the process.
|The shark-size teeth on this blade are a little larger than those found on most Band-saw blades.|
|This old boiler, now used to store water, has the doors removed, revealing the inner tubing.|
|The heat from the fire below circulates through the tubes, boiling the water within the tank.|
|The fires are fueled by a mixture of sawdust, planer dust, and bark,|
|transported on conveyor belts from the mill,|
|and fed into the furnaces. Two boilers supply steam to the steam engines.|
The headrig, carriage, edger, and log-table are powered by steam engines. The main engine, an Ames twin-cylinder, built in 1906 and still operating, powers the headrig and edger. A second steam engine powers the carriage, which is drawn back and forth on its tracks by a cable-and-pulley system.
The steam engines have fewer breakdowns than any other equipment at the mill. The larger engine has two 16-in. cylinders, an 18-in. stroke, and the pulley is 8 ft. in diameter. The engine is 13 ft. long and 10 ft. 5 in. wide.
But it’s an assortment of chains…
and gears that provide the fine tuning power of this mill.
|In this photo, Bill Oakes adjusts the steam pressure feeding the engines. Bill’s family, like many employees at the mill, has a long history of working at the mill: his father, Ken Oakes, felled timber in the logging woods for forty years, providing logs for the mill. Ken retired at the age of 71 and passed away in September 2001 in his 90th year. Today, Bill’s grandson pulls and sorts lumber at Hull-Oakes.|
|The operation of the mill is dependent upon the millwrights, who repair everything from hydraulic lines, to steam engines, to boilers.|
|The millwrights have to know every inch of the plant, and how to operate nearly every aspect of the mill.|
Finished timbers ready for shipment
(This article originally appeared on GaryMKatz.com)
183 Responses to “Hull-Oakes Sawmill”
- Wanda February 25, 2011 I was fortunate to receive a link to your article on the historic Hull-Oakes Sawmill in Corvalis Oregon from my friend Bud. What a wonderful piece. The photos and history are great. I was born and raised in Siskiyou County, McCloud, California. Our timber industry has fallen on hard times I (and the trees grow like weeds). McCloud had a steam powered mill, then electric…now gone. May I please post the link of the Hull-Oakes Sawmill on the McCloud, California page? It would fill an empty space for a lot of us who grew up there. Reply
- Gary Katz February 25, 2011 Post away. Reply
- Clay guinard September 22, 2018 Where is this sawmill ? Name and contact info or town and state. Thanks Reply
- Gary Katz October 2, 2018 Google Hull-Oakes Sawmill for directions and contact information. The mill is located south west of Corvallis, OR. Here’s an awesome video from their website: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=idDUEYIyijQReply
- Jamie August 14, 2012 This mill is not located in Corvallis OR it is located in Bellfountain, OR but is under the postal code of Monroe, OR Reply
- Vickey Winn November 12, 2015 Just looked at this post and read it for the first time. I have heard of it many years ago, but have never had the time to go visit. It warms my heart to see such a great business still around. I will share this with all my fb friends and family as well. They will love this too. Reply
- Dick February 25, 2011 Gary, A friend forwarded the internet address for this mill article. I don’t know when this was done but what a wonderful article. I grew up around sawmills not far from this one and my dad built/rebuilt a number of small independent ones, including a steam powered one out of Wauconda, Washington. This was in 1947 and it probably isn’t there anymore. I was in grade school at the time and being small I earned my spending money crawling inside the boiler and knocking the mineral scale off of the tubes. OSHA would have us all in jail today but I thought it was a good way to live. No electricity or radio but lots of fish in the beaver ponds and no lack of adventure. I worked summers at my dad’s mill out of Newport Washington right on through college, Grad school and the first summer of marriage. My new bride and I had a bunk house with an electric plate, small fridge and mice. She made me run the trap line before she would get up, just a city kid. Dad’s mill has been gone for some time and my bride and I are nearing our 50th anniversary. Dad lived to be 97 and he blamed it on “sawmilling.” I still have many of his tools and do a lot of woodworking, mostly furniture using hand tools he passed on to me. It was a wonderful life and I’m going to make a trip to the Hull-Oaks mill early this summer just to smell the sawdust and hear the sounds. Regards and thanks again! By the way, the “off-bearer” was known as the “tail sawyer” at our mills. Reply
- Gary Katz February 25, 2011 Thank you for the terminology!! I’ve received a few ‘corrections’ and additions–like most industries back then, before we had a Starbucks on every corner of every town, there were regional differences in terminology. Too bad we’ve lost so much of that unique regional character. Reply
- Kes December 21, 2013 What a beautiful piece. I can smell the steam, the wood dust and feel the noise of the machinery. Well done, now that was a Band saw blade! I am from UK we don’t see timber this big. Reply
- Tony February 25, 2011 Gary, I found the Hull-Oakes sawmill website very interesting and would like to show it to a group if it is available on vhs or dvd. Could you let me know if it is? Or perhaps give me a contact at Hull-Oakes. Would really appreciate it. We are a hardwood mill in Pa., but of course, have an interest in speciality mill operations anywhere. Thanks, Tony Reply
- charlie September 27, 2011 I just toured the mill last week – September 19th. They have a dvd and a booklet describing the mill’s operation for sale. – charlie Reply
- Joe February 25, 2011 Good Morning Gary, Sadly I only found out about your great Hull-Oakes presentation on line today. I am wondering if you have this available in a published book form as I really like to sit back and enjoy reading material like this in that form. Our daughters family operates a small Trim Moulding Co. in Durham Ont. that has been in business for more than 25 years and has 8 full time employees. They have had to go high tech to stay in business and our Grandson and their Son-in-Law are well trained to carry on a small town business that looks after the custom needs of high end home builders in their area. Originally started out with a 1929 – 36 in. 440 volt Tanowitz Bandsaw that was used as an online rip saw but eventually it could not keep up to the new moulders. They mill all scrap to usable square dimension and glue up for special balusters etc. It takes one full time employee to make this a profitable part of their business, rather than high percent raw material loss. I applaud your obvious fine effort to keep the woodworking trades professional and profitable. Hope you can answer my question and can order video if that is all that is available. Thanks, Joe, Ontario Canada Reply
- Gary Katz February 25, 2011 Sorry, I haven’t published this article in any form other than online. I hope to return to the mill this summer and add some video to the story. Reply
- TamiFebruary 15, 2020 There’s a book which includes this particular mill in it: “Modeling a Steam Powered Sawmill, Hull Oakes, McLean Sturgeon’s Sawmills” but I only found it on E-Bay, not at my local library. Reply
- Dwight G February 25, 2011 Very interesting article about the Hull-Oakes Sawmill. A question about the saw blade…. What is the function of the “scallops” opposite the shark teeth? Do these engage some kind of mating roller in the over-arm and lower guide? Thanks, Dwight G Reply
- Gary Katz February 25, 2011 The ‘teeth’ on the back of the blade seem to be used only by the sharpening system, which registers and automatically advances the blade to the precise location for sharpening each tooth. Reply
- Clayton Wingerter July 8, 2011 The teeth in the backside of the saw are usually called sliver teeth. They are there in case a broken piece of wood or a sliver hits the saw as the carriage is being brought back to make another cut. Insted of the saw possibly being pushed off the wheel the sliver tooth will cut through it. These teeth are effective and alot easier to maintain than the swagged tooth on the front side.From my knowledge as a sawfiler. I haven’t seen them used as a means to locate the blade during sharpening. Reply
- Lance Jones March 20, 2013 The Weyerhaeuser mill I was at in Klamath Falls Oregon had a full set of teeth on both sides of the Band and the rig cut both directions. Our rigs were steam shotguns, those were the longest cylinders and rods I have ever seen – we could take a 25 foot section if I remember correctly. Reply
- Alec Milstein February 25, 2011 Loved this article Gary – and what a fantastic treasure of woodworking “Americana” you have displayed here…a road trip may be in store!! Alec Milstein, Venice, Ca. Reply
- Dave cohnFebruary 25, 2011 what an awesome telling of a really cool story. If I ever get back to Oregon, I would love to tour this mill. Thanks again for telling a story of the great work we are capable of doing in this country. Reply
- robert February 25, 2011 Nice article, interesting story, but the claim to the last steam-powered mill in the US is off. Southern Maryland has several Amish run steam-powered sawmills. Those are large commercial sawmills. Reply
- Gary Katz February 25, 2011 Robert, I searched online for thirty minutes and couldn’t find a steam powered mill still in operation in Maryland, let alone a commercial mill run by the Amish. Please send me more information. I’d love to visit those mills, too! I’ll be out there next week. I also changed the text of the article and it now reads “what may be one of the last”. I’m so sorry for making such a ‘claim.’ Please send me information on the other commercial steam-powered mills you know of. Thanks, Gary Reply
- David TuttleFebruary 25, 2011 WOW! What a cool place to visit. Thanks for sharing your trip. What Make/brand of camera do you use? I’ve not invested into the digital beyond point and shoot. Reply
- Gary Katz February 25, 2011 David, I first visited that mill in 2006, I think, and wrote the story and published it on my website in 2007. Fine Homebuilding also published a version of that story: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/how-to/article/steam-powered-sawmill.aspx. We decided to re-publish the article on TiC because of recent interest in the story. But back then, I think I was using a Fuji digital camera, one of the first good 35m versions. Then I returned to the mill a year or so later with a Canon 1D. I’ve since sold that and moved up to a Canon 5D, which I’d love to take back to Hull-Oakes. It’s very dark in there and there are also shafts of daylight coming in from the front of the mill. So lighting is really difficult. I had a tough time and had to do a lot of work on the photos in Photoshop to make them presentable, but with the 5D I know I could take superb pictures even in that hostile environment–and video, too. But that equipment isn’t for everyone. I’ve been hooked on photography for years and rationalize the expense because of all the articles the cameras help me photograph. Reply
- Pat Baker February 25, 2011 Great article. I live approx. 35 miles from Corvalis.I didn’t even know this mill existed. I grew up in Cottage Grove a major logging town south of Corvalis. My Dad worked in many sawmills and also set chokers. I remember him talking about it often. But, at the time, I didn’t have any idea, how dangerous setting chokers was, until I started watching that reality show “AxeMen”. Thanks again for the great article. Pat Reply
- Ben O’Connell February 25, 2011 Really cool stuff, Gary! I love the picture of the saw filer overseeing the sharpening process. I’ve enjoyed sawmills since I saw a water wheel powered mill at Old Sturbridge Village when I was a little kid. Please do a video follow up when you get back to the mill. I would love to see that blade in action and the guys coaxing the logs to adjust for bows. –Ben Reply
- Mark February 26, 2011 Wow… Loved the article… My shop is full or wood working machinery dating back to 1910 but this just puts everything into perspective. Great story, where is the Discovery Channel when you need them? Reply
- Bruce February 26, 2011 Very nice article! Brought back memories of a fully operational steam powered mill museum my wife and I visited 15 years ago on a trip to Nova Scotia – the Southerland Steam Mill. Two floors with all the cutting/shaping tools belt driven off of a working steam engine. At the time, everything was fully functional, and once a month a crew would show up, fire up the boiler and manufacture trim off of the original templates. The ground floor was the working saw mill. Lumber stacked above the boiler to dry, the next floor had all the cutting /shaping tools. It’s amazing to see the thought that went into building the place, right up to barrels on the roof that were filled with water from the boiler tank below to keep the roof shingles wet to avoid fires! Couple of links for you: http://museum.gov.ns.ca/ssm/en/home/whattoseedo/default.aspxReply
- Paul February 26, 2011 Great article. The language of the mill was probably the most fascinating. I think there are several challenging final Jeopardy questions there ie ‘What are pond monkeys best at?’ Reply
- Richie Poor February 26, 2011 This is easily the most entertaining article I’ve read in a long time. Very informative. I especially liked this particular caption: “The shark-size teeth on this blade are a little larger than those found on most Band-saw blades.” Ironically, the movie “Sometimes a Great Notion” has been on cable TV this month. Great cast and I watch it whenever I can. articles like this, Gary! Reply
- Lars Jensen February 26, 2011 Spectacular article! Here’s a link to some great photos about the CA Thayer restoration: http://www.nps.gov/safr/historyculture/thayerrestoration.htm My bus to work takes me right past this boat. One of these days I’ll hop off and see how the project is going. Reply
- Mike Mathias June 28, 2014 Thanks so much for including the link to the restoration of the CA Thayer. That really ties in so well with this story. Awesome to see that magnificent ship rebuilt! Reply
- Joel PorterFebruary 26, 2011 GREAT article, in depth with such vivid pictures that you feel like you’ve worked in the mill. or could with information presented ! Thanks for exploring and sharing. Reply
- Joel PorterFebruary 26, 2011 YouTube clip of Hull-Oakes http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=kpwzTtxLjvsReply
- Rob DunnFebruary 26, 2011 Gary, A wonderful article on a sawmill our business, Dunn Lumber Co., Seattle, WA. has ordered timbers from. One very minor correction: you state that in 1934 Mr. Hull leased the mill that had been “closed since the depression.” In fact the country was in the depth of the depression that lasted throughout the 1930’s. So it was an amazing feat of optimism for Mr. Hull to decide to go into business in that year and a testament to his business skills that he prospered! Thanks for the great story! Reply
- Gary Katz February 26, 2011 Thanks for a great correction, Rob. You’re right. I should have said “closed since the beginning of the depression”! It was a heck of a time to stick your neck out. I was particularly impressed by the ‘family’ connections at the mill–how many family members worked there over the years, and not just the families of the owners. That business is a wonderful example of the way life used to be, when people grew up and never moved far from home, worked for the same companies, until the companies themselves became extensions of the ‘family.’ Gary Reply
- Tim C GibbsFebruary 26, 2011 That is a big Band saw!! So cool Gary.Thanks for the pictures and info. Reply
- Bill HillmanFebruary 26, 2011 Gary Great story. There is something captivating about old machines and systems. I love taking tours (some not so legal) of old factories and mills. Bill Hillman Reply
- Jim Powell February 26, 2011 Most people who visit this old sawmill consider it to be little more than an interesting holdover from the past. In fact, we may be looking at the future as many manufacturing facilities go back to steam power when oil becomes too expensive. Although the mill doesn’t power itself with the scrap it produces (it’s used to make paper and particle board) it has done so in the past. In effect, the product provides the energy needed to process it. Reply
- Gary Katz February 26, 2011 Jim, From what I learned at Hull-Oakes, they power the main milling operation with steam generated from sawdust, bark, and waste. The other parts of the mill are not powered by steam. Gary Reply
- Chris March 21, 2018 Gary you are correct about the Hull – Oaks mill, the generation of steam in the boiler is from burning the scrap wood that is not pulp chip material. The mill does use electrical power for the machines down stream of the edger. As an OSHA inspector I visited/ inspected that site3-4 times from one end to the other. The Hull-Oakes management and employees are great people, You mentioned the Bull Edger being upgraded to remote controls. One of your photos in the above section has a shot of the edgerman ( in a green sweatshirt) getting a large cant lined up to go into the edger, if you look to the left of his knee there are a number of handles sticking out of the edger, that was the old manual set works where the edgerman had to step in between the cant and edger and set the edger saws to the cut they wanted. much safer now with remote setworks. chris Reply
- Rich February 27, 2011 Great article. It’s a shame that more great engineering and history is no longer available. Sometimes the price for progress is too dear. When I was much younger I worked a small hardwood mill in PA. It was hard work but I loved it. I can still smell the different scents of the logs we cut. The beauty of the grain of the boards was unique to each log. I design and build furniture now and I’m still fascinated by the beauty of wood. For me it’s nice to know where it all starts. Reply
- Robert RobillardFebruary 28, 2011 Great article Gary – I loved your use of the photos, really well done and informative. Reply
- Sharon A February 28, 2011 I think Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) needs to take a trip to Hull-Oakes! 🙂 Reply
- Jean Thisius February 28, 2011 I was there about 1998 or before. We parked along the road and stood totally fascinated watching the off-loading of the logs and the “pond bronc” putting all the logs into order with the pond boat that looks like a minature tugboat. We did not try to go near the mill, not wanting to be in the way of their progress. Thanks for a great article and look forward to the update. Reply
- Howard Wiles February 28, 2011 Wonderful memories brought back. In the mid to late 40’s I spend a few years on the farm in WV with my granddad and grandmother. Granddad’s brother had a steam powered mill and I spent a great deal of time ‘helping’ there. On Sundays, I would help ‘Uncle Charlie’ sharpen the 4′ round saw blade by hand. It too was a family operation and I remember in the winter time he would arrive early and have the boiler heated for us to stand by while waiting for the school bus. As of a few years ago, there was still a steam powered mill in operation out the road about two miles. Reply
- Richard WilesDecember 4, 2011 I worked for Weyerhauser for thirty years in Klamath Falls Or as a lumber grader and sorter operator. This site brings back lots of memories good and bad. We had double cut headrigs and a sash gang that cut the “cants” into 4/4 lumber. At one time it was the largest pine mill in the world. It closed in 1992 for lack of trees thanks to the spotted owl scam. Was wondering who Howard Wiles is and where he worked and when. Thanks for the story it was great Reply
- Dirgster February 28, 2011 Thanks for a great documentation! One thing I don’t understand is why these men don’t wear hardhats, protective eyeglasses, or in most pictures no gloves. This appears to be dangerous work! Reply
- Chris March 21, 2018 Dirgster, In Oregon unless the employees are exposed to an over head hazard a hard hat is not required by OR OSHA and the same with the other items, however if the company is experiencing recordable injuries in those areas then they could be required. Their are companies such a Weyerhaeuser who require hard hats and many areas safety glasses as a criteria of employment. I worked the last 20 years for OR OSHA after 22 years with Weyco in logging and plywood. Chris Reply
- Joe Brewer February 28, 2011 Very interesting. I never realized where the timber comes from that I buy at HD or Lowe’s. I really appreciate the skill and family connection linked to the old, old machinery. And it works so very well. Sincerely, Joe Reply
- david gettsFebruary 28, 2011 Great article Gary, I love this stuff. Would you notice if I was a stowaway during your next visit :)? Reply
- Gary Katz March 1, 2011 David, You’re welcome to join me. In fact, I’ll be going up there sometime near the end of July, either just before the 17th or just after the 19th. I’ll keep you posted. And anyone else that might like to join a tour is also welcome. Gary Reply
- Don Proctor March 1, 2011 When I saw a similar, but smaller Band saw many years ago; I was led to believe that the logs were sawed as they traveled both directions on the carriage. That would explain the “shark teeth” on both edges of the Band. This is not “fact”, just speculation. Reply
- Gary Katz March 1, 2011 Don, Nope. In this case the ‘teeth’ on the back of the bandsaw serve only one purpose–registering the blade for the sharpening system. The saw cuts in only one direction. Gary Reply
- Jeff Scott March 3, 2011 Gary, If you ever find yourself in Northwest PA I’m sure you would find the “double cut” Head rig at Endeavor Lumber in Endeavor, PA very interesting. The bands have teeth on both sides giving the ability to cut as the log carriage travels each way. Your pictures took me back to my teen years of working at Endeavor as the old mill(destroyed by fire in ’73) cleaning fly ash from underneath the boilers very similar to the ones shown here. jeff… Reply
- SawDoc58 January 9, 2015 This Band is a single cut with sliver teeth. The sliver teeth are for chewing through stray bits of wood that might get dragged through the saw when the log is pulled back for it’s next cut, if the sliver teeth were not there the saw would heat up and potentially cause alot of damage to the blade itself or the machinery or even the workers who work around it. The sharpening operation does not use the sliver teeth, the saw grinder feeds the tooth being sharpened through the grinder as it grinds up the back of the tooth and then pulls away to let the stone sharpen the face and gullet. I’ve done hundreds of these bands both double and single cut. Reply
- Jeff WardMarch 3, 2011 Don, What you saw was a “double cut” Band saw in operation, that actually does cut in both directions. In the case of the double cut Band, the shark tooth design is almost exactly the same on both edges of the blade. Gary is right, of course in that Hull-Oakes is a “single cut” blade that cuts in one direction. Sometimes less sophisticated sinlge cut bands have a smooth (non-wavey) edge. Reply
- Gary Katz March 3, 2011 Jeff, Thanks for the clarification. By the way….Why haven’t we done a Roadshow with Ward Lumber? 🙂 http://www.KatzRoadshow.comGary Reply
- patrick harman March 1, 2011 My son and I and our wives toured this mill last December and thanks to our guide, Don Oakes, came away with a profound appreciation for an industry that was once nearly ubiquitous in the Northwest. What a great experience! The book, “Tumult on the Mountains” details the West Virginia lumber industry. It has many pictures of the interiors of mills using double bands that sawed on both directions of the carriage…. Reply
- Jesse JacksonJanuary 18, 2015 I used to work there from 2004 until 2008. I started on the green chain end then moved to the planer side, and after that I was the pond monkey for a while. Reply
- Dick Culp March 2, 2011 Gary, I sent along a comment earlier but saw a comment and answer that may need some clarification. The teeth on the off-side (back) of the Band actually have two functions. On ones this large they do register for sharpening, which is not always the case on a small Band. At least it wasn’t years ago. The second use: on the carriage return ithelps prevent the blade from being wrapped around the sawyer’s cage by a splinter that pops after the previous cut. Early on they used the flat back Band blades and found when even a small splinter stuck out it could catch the back of the blade and pull it off of the wheels. As I recall these were actually referred to as “splinter teeth.” Reply
- VERNON March 2, 2011 I grew up in Albany. We would often spend hours down by the river watching the logging trucks come in and dump their loads down The slide into the Willamette. They didn;t use any little unloader. The truck would park at the very edge where the nearly vertical logs of the chute reached the edge of the bank. The truck driver would remove the chains that held the log(s) on the rig and then release the blocks on the river side. There was a cable anchored near the edge of the slide and it lay across the path of the truck. When ready, the cable was pulled up by a huge hoist on the other side of the truck and the logs would be slid off and onto the drop. Often the load would consist of ONE log – often 6 or 8 feet in diameter. What a SPLASH ! A man or men walking on the logs in the river would form and secure them into a raft. When it was completed, a tug would take it down river. I understand some of these rafts were towed all the way to Japan. Every logger wore boots with LONG sharp spikes. Every bar and restaurant in the area had a supply of little pine boards – about 4 x 8 by 3/4 inch – near the front door. When a logger cam in, he didn’t need to remove his boots to protect the floor – he merely stomped onto one for each foot and the little blocks protected the floor. When he left, the blocks were dumped back to await the next logger. Reply
- Ted Maurice March 2, 2011 That was very interesting_Thank You. There is a steam powered saw mill in Port Alberni,B.C.,but it only runs in the summer time,as a tourist attraction.not a commercial business any more. One small niggle_ the machine handling the logs is a Wagner_the name of the company that builds them. I, too think that used to be a double cut saw. Reply
- VERNON March 2, 2011 Oh – and I remember that the usual wage was about 25 cents an hour ! Reply
- Bill Ferguson March 2, 2011 A bit of information from someone that grew up in the logging capital of the world, Coos Bay, Oregon. During summer vacations, while in college, I worked in mills and log dumps in Coos Bay, Springfield and Eugene. In the picture near the beginning, and long before the loader seen dumping logs, the dump was performed by the dump operator hooking to the “A” frame cable that was attached to a donkey motor and then was placed under the load and attached to a cable that was affixed to the brow log. The donkey was then fired up, the cable pulled up to make a nearly straight line between the top of the “A” frame and the brow log. This allowed the logs to roll off easily into the water where the pond man would use his pike pole to put them in place. Often this was in a raft that was then pulled by a tug boat to the mill slip where the logs would be raised to the head rig to be sawn. At that time there was no log bronc as shown in the pictures. The log bronc was invented by Fred Nelson of Coos Bay in about 1956 as he was a pond man working for what had been the largest lumber company in the world at that time, the Coos Bay Lumber Company, Coos Bay Lumber had their own railroad, and several ocean going ships to deliver their lumber. At that time Coos Bay was the 4th largest tonnage shipping port in the world because of the lumber the shipper and its weight. Back to Fred Nelson, he has several different versions of his log bronc and was expermenting with various motors and positions for the motor. The motor was near the center of the boat and had to be able to run while being turned 360 degrees. This allowed the bronc to push in any direction. Fred had all the patents and shortly after I worked there with him, quit being a pond man and became a full time inventor and saleman for the “Nelsen Log Bronc”. My grandfather, while an engineer with Coos Bay Lumber, invented an early computer for which he won a national invention contest and 1000 prize money. Coos Bay lumber got his patent for him. The device was hooked to the head rig and measured the cuts, time to cut, return of the carriage and load time as well as blade changing time. I still have the invention at my house. The workers refused to work with it claiming that the stock holders, being mostly Easterners, would not understand why there was so much time not actually cutting. So his invention was never used and I was told that it was donated to a forestry school. I also met my first Black coworker while on the water, a fellow pond man with Fred Nelson and Jack Boweran by the name of Jim Boles. Because the pond men had all been in that line of work for tens of years in the salt spray, sun, rain and Coos Bay wind I was near the end of the summer when the wind quit blowing one day when shirts were removed and I discovered which of the pond men weilding the pike poles was black. All great guys and super workers. Reply
- jerry utterMarch 2, 2011 Excellent. I am in Hillsboro and every summer we head down to Brooks, Oregon for their Annual Steam Up. They have a small steam powered mill there that uses a big steam powered circular saw that people get to watch in operation. The whole park is facinating with restored heavy machinery and musiums. Reply
- Max SinclairMarch 3, 2011 Thank you for a wonderful pictorial record it makes the racksaw driven by a single cylinder tractor I worked at Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove, England look like a toy.My largest timbers were 40ft Pitch Pine spars for the windmill I worked for 15 years. Reply
- Steve Hatfield March 3, 2011 What a fantastic article. I grew up in Aberdeen, Wash., and remember all the great mills that lined the water front, extending from Hoquiam to Junction City. Some huge and some small, but all making that familiar sound of the head rigs chewing away their cuts on the “big timber”. I remember as a young lad, standing along the roadside, watching the log trucks heading for town with a three log load or just a single log. Now the mills and the three log loads are gone, but their pilings still dot the water front, and pictures such as these, gives us the reminder of the “good old days” of the big timber. Thanks Steve Hatfield 17344 W. Julia Drive Hauser Lake, Idaho 208-773-6086 firstname.lastname@example.orgReply
- Susan March 3, 2011 Wow, what an article – beautiful photos and each step in production so well explained. The only saw mill I had seen before this was in Upper Canada Village in Ontario, Canada. It has been rebuilt, supposedly as it was in the late 19th century. I remember the noise and the smell. Having looked at your presentation, the first thing I would think about is danger. There must have been terrible accidents from time to time. Reply
- Jim Boyington March 4, 2011 My dad was among his many trades, a mill wright. This wonderful picture story gives me a vision of what being a mill wright entails. I always considered the task of positioning and aligning large equipment, but had no concept of the tasks of operation and maintainance. Many thanks. Hope to visit the site in the future. Is there a “contact” web site to make such an arrangement. Many thanks for a great piece of journalism. Reply
- Jim Boyington March 4, 2011 my dad was among his many trades, a mill wright. This wonderful picture story gives me a vision of what being a mill wright entails. I always considered the task of positioning and aligning large equipment, but had no concept of the tasks of operation and maintainance. Many thanks. Hope to visit the site in the future. Is there a “contact” web site to make such an arrangement. Many thanks for a great piece of journalism. Reply
- John LangerMarch 4, 2011 Gary; Have enjoyed your roadshows here in the Seattle, WA area. I really enjoyed the article about the Hull-Oakes mill as it re-kindled thoughts about my growing up. Aa a kid, I grew up in a Washington logging town not far from Aberdeen, WA where we had seven sawmills and shingle mills operating. My father, uncles and cousins all worked in the mills or the woods. When I graduated high school, to earn money for college, I worked at the largest mill in town on the head rig as a millwright’s helper and cleaned the boilers on weekends in preparation for re-bricking. The mill used the bark and sawdust for hog fuel to power the boilers and produce steam to drive generators and for the dry kilns. The mill had converted from steam to electricity after WWII. Later, I worked at the mill on the green chain and pulled the dry chain while continuing my education. By the 1960’s the mill didn’t cut anything longer than 24 feet but millions of board feet of clear fir cut into 2 foot squares were shipped by boat from the mill dock to Japan. The mill is still there and when I go back to visit family the smells of the mill carry me back to those times over forty years ago. The upside of those experiences is my enjoyment of woodworking and building custom mantles and bookcases, often using my dad’s and grandfathers hand tools. Reply
- Michael Martin March 5, 2011 As an engineer and American History hobbyist, I find this fantastic and heart warming. This is what the American culture is all about; hard work and endurance. I just want to know one thing…. Where do they get spare parts? Reply
- Corky Rowe March 5, 2011 What a wonderfully interesting article. The photos and dialogue were also very interesting. I would love to actually see it in person, but that’s not happening. I’m a life long woodworker and have always been fascinated with the processes of getting the lumber from the forest to the lumber yard. One of our nieces was married to a Sawyer here in SW Lower Mi for many years. It takes a special person to do that job and do it well. Thanks for sharing, it was great. Reply
- Myron BoyajianMarch 5, 2011 As an engineer and long-time member of the Society of Industrial Archaelogy, I found the story and pix of the saw mill just great. These stories of American industries aren’t just about rusty iron and cold steel–they are about the people who built and ran them, and their energy and creativity. It’s important for all of us to know about and to remember our industrial heritage. Reply
- John SipkensMarch 6, 2011 Gary, Thanks for the memories brought back from 55 years ago when I worked my way up from the green chain to pond monkey in a Dayville, Oregon mill (long gone!). The first few weeks until I got my balance, I was always working soaking wet but worse were the jeers and laughter from my fellow millhands. The pictures, descriptions, and Комментарии и мнения владельцев were all first class. This retired teacher gives you an A! Reply
- Brian Mills March 7, 2011 Gary, thanks for a wonderful article! As a mechanical engineer (and a woodworker) I was fascinated by all the equipment. Your article really made me think about what we value in life. This mill embodies the principles of “use it up, wear it out, make it do – or do without”. Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to move on to the newest and shiniest things, we forget that there is value in the “old ways”. Well done! Reply
- Don Bunch March 7, 2011 A great story and an excellent reflection of the past. Having grown up around small circle saw mills in Colorado I am facinated at the size and capabilities of the large mills. Makes me sad that a great industry has nearly died- the loss to our economy and the loss of a sustained forest progam is very troubling. Reply
- J. M. CastelineMarch 7, 2011 Gary, Thank you for the enlightenment. In this “throw-away” culture we live in it’s refreshing to see machinery from 1906 still in productive use. It just goes to show what diligent maintenance and proper blade sharpening will do. I will save your wonderful article and show it to others. Reply
- Carla Lowery March 28, 2011 Thanks so much for this presentation. I’m a homeschooling mom and my daughter is learning about sawmills. What a treat to be able to make it real rather than theoretical. This was wonderful and just what we needed to really understand the workings of the mill. I have a new respect for all of the work that goes into preparing this natural resource for our use. Thanks again! Reply
- George (Art) Pearson March 7, 2011 Gary, Thanks for a wonderful presentation. This harkens me back to the years of 1948 through the fall of 1950 when I worked for Harold Hollenbeck who had a mill at Trout Lake, Washington. I did not work inside of the mill, but I knew what the whole operation was all about. This operation was not too different than where I worked except this mill could not handle the long timbers. Thanks again for a job well done. Reply
- MundaredaveMarch 14, 2011 This is something that all the older folks would like to see and read again and many would have some great stories to add to this very interesting e-mail from their past. I have never seen or read anything like this before, pass this on to all your e-mail buddies,family and friends. Dave H. Reply
- Orrin Paul Shoemaker March 8, 2011 I found this presentation very uplifting. As a retired educator having taught both art and history i feel that these types of presentations are essential to preserving the history of this great country of ours. After retiring I took up wood carving as a hobby and way to make a few extra bucks. I am going to pass this on to all of the woodcarvers and history buffs on my e-mail list. Reply
- Edward Chantiny March 8, 2011 My grandfather Joseph was a woods worker in washington state in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. He worked in the spokane area. I do have some pictures of some of the crews and mill. My father Frank was a farmer, small business man and an owner of a three bench corley mill in Michigan. As a young boy in the late 40’s early 50’s my three brothers and I worked in this mill. It was hard work and two of us were called to serve in the military,so dad sold the mill and the farm in the fifties. Two of the five of us brothers are deceased or long since retired. Reply
- Edward Chantiny March 8, 2011 I enjoyed the program and have never forgotten the operation of a mill. I retired in 1993 and nosed around a wood mizer portable mill to buy some slabwood and started to pile lumber and slabs for this owner because he was handicapped and got a part time summer job. He gave me wood and lumber to build a small tool storage building and asked me to run the mill for him after we sawed about 40,000 bd. ft of lumber and I retired from that job. My old Navy buddy who I served with in the SeaBees sent this to me and I will treasure it and share it with others. Reply
- Mary Kathryn Vernon March 9, 2011 I loved reading and looking through this article. It’s wonderful to see something like this done the old fashioned way. The mill and its staff have my hearty admiration. Reply
- CDR Kevin Sudbeck March 9, 2011 Awesome, do they do tours? I need to take my kids to see this awesome mill next time I am home. It looks like a green operation to me using their wood waste to heat the boiler. Very cool. Reply
- John Thomas March 9, 2011 I toured this mill and took a number of photos. This mill is a throwback to the past and I love the history. After college, I worked in the Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Springfield, Oregon. They had a 10 foot bandmill for the large logs but everything was pretty much computerized at the time. The smells, the flow through the mill, and skill sets required by the various machine operators will also be remembered. Thanks for sharing the Hull-Oakes story. Reply
- Sue TroutMarch 10, 2011 Before WWII, my dad, Francis Jerrett, and his brothers, Jim, and Deane, worked in similar mills in Oregon’s Dilley – Forest Grove – Covallis area. Dad was a logger and pony-sawyer (skilled labor). During the Great Depression, Dad gave all but 2.50 of his mill earnings to his parents to use for the family. He and his best friend, “Slim” Mulvey, each chipped-in 2.50, to buy a tree from a farmer. The two teen-age boys used a two-man saw to cut down the 5-tree; then, using only hand tools (and no person or 911 to turn to for help if one of the boys was injured) cut the tree into cord wood, cleaned the land, loaded the wood, took it out and sold the cord wood – a whole tree – for 10. Each boy got 5, for his work. Each boy gave his family 2.50, saved 2.50 to buy another 5-tree from a farmer, cut it down, chopped into cord wood, and sold it for 10 saved 2.50 … I remember vacations. We drove on Washington and Oregon’s old coastal highways and roads where we saw old coastal artillery, a wrecked ship, lumber mills and shake mills, homes with the trappings of many kids dropped in yards around the shake mills and kids in the areas … fence-less yards. Nineteen sixty-seven, 1967, Dad remarked how many people lost their jobs, how many families were no longer there. … the loss of lumber and shake mills … only one shake mill was still running … the loss of people, families, jobs, knowledge of “how-to” do basic work that he saw as culturally necessary knowledge … Oh! How he greived that year. … the two-man saw the boys used to cut the 5 trees rests in my home … Thank you for the wonderful story. Reply
- Bob Moir March 10, 2011 Sirs, I grew up in Youbou on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. Our town housed one of the largest sawmills in the British Commonwealth, owned at the time by B.C. Forest Products Ltd. Our mill was able to cut up to approximately 6′-6″ diameter logs normally up to 40′ long. We had an A and B mill, a planer mill, a veneer plant and a 40′ high by 100′ wide by 1/2 mile long overhead craneway. These pictures bring back a lot of memories for me as my father was the chargehand electrician for many years and I worked part time in the mill while in high school and post secondary school. Our mill was a bit more mechanized but basically it had similar workings including a steam driven carriage for the “head saw”. This series of photos and descriptions of the mill workings is a treasure and should be in a museum for posterity. May I suggest sending it to the forestry museum in Duncan, B.C.? It is very closely reminiscent of all that I remember in Youbou. Well done to those who developed it. Reply
- Carolynn Gibson March 11, 2011 My dad worked in the woods and then in sawmills and planer mills all his working life. He started in Alsea, Oregon driving log truck in the 40’s. By the time I can remember he was working in a planer mill in Junction City, Oregon for his brother-in-law, Don Shelton. He worked for Alsea Lumber for an number of years in the 50’s and 60’s before the reduction in mills forced a move to Colorado. He finished his career in Payson, Arizona as the Planer “boss”. These pictures provoke wonderful memories of my childhood and visiting daddy at the mill! Thank you for the trip down memory lane and a more gentle time. Reply
- Mark WalkerMarch 12, 2011 This is just fantastic as I used to work in saw mills in my early days / I was also a logger for 35 yrs in nsw. Reply
- JasonT March 12, 2011 Great site! Thanks to Grant Cunningham for the link. One of the last steam powered mills in the east was torn down to make way for the Georgia Dome in Atlanta about 20 years ago. I used to go there to pick up bundles of survey stakes. I loved to stop by and watch the mill run. I hope the pieces survive, though seeing them cold just wouldn’t be the same. Reply
- Richard A. Hardman March 12, 2011 Thanks for a wonderful presentation. It brought back memories of my first job out of High School. In 1949 I was a “Pond Jockey” for a shingle mill here in the Northwest. With corked shoes I snagged the logs, pulled them into the mill, cut to length and split them to shingle bolt size. The Weaver then put them in his machine/saw and cut the shingles. It was good exercise for an 18 year old and has stood me well and I feel I could still do it at 80. Reply
- William SperryMarch 16, 2011 Great presentation.I purchased the the old Car-Win cedar mill in Forks Wa. It cut old growth cedar and exported it all over the world. Before I dismantled the mill I took hundreds of photos and of course recognize many of the same equipment as was in your presentation. I restored the straddle buggy and take it for a short ride now and then. This mill was not steam operated but it took so much power that when it started all the light in Forks dimmed. This mill also had planers and they sold a finished cedar product. Thanks again Respectfully Bill Sperry Reply
- Dick Beers March 16, 2011 I toured the mill last fall and still have short videos of the headrig cutting huge timbers on my cell phone. This was an absolute treat. Nice to have keepsakes around. Reply
- Richard Lidke March 16, 2011 It is great to see a wonderful mill like this still in operation. I have a large circle saw 64inch in front of my house powered by a steam engine. It has an atlas engine with a 10 inch bore and 14 inch stroke. It has a Corinth/American saw which can handle about 18 feet. The headblocks are adjustable, so something a little larger could be set up for. The boiler is horizontal and has 92 3 inch flues 14 ft one inch long in it. The great area is five by nine feet. We fire it on slabs and railroad ties. The engine is an Atlas manufactured in Indianapolis Indiana. The flywheel is about five feet in diameter and 14 inches wide. It drives a 10 inch flat belt which goes to the husk and an edger. Sawdust is carried out by a drag chain. I have a machine shop next door in which all the lumber except the poles was sawed on this mill. I and my friend Don Schwenk went to the Corinth American Sawmill company in MIssissippi to buy this mill brand new. Mr. Schwenk passed away a few years after setting up this mill. He had always wanted one. He also owned a 120 horsepower Nichols Sheppard engine, a A.D. Baker engine and a Minneapolis engine,and his fathers engine a M. Rumley engine built here in La Porte Indian. The baker engine was his favorite. Mr. Baker had invented a very modern valve gear for the engine, and was sought after by many railroads to put his steam efficient valve gear on their engines. I new have a two cylinder upright westinghouse single acting engine to be used for the swing cut off saw, and a two cylinder water pump engine. We also have a twin cylinder pumping engine one injector,and a manual pump for water in the boiler. You just cant beat the smells and sounds of a saw mill running cutting oak and steaming steam cylinder oil in the air. It’s history, its wonderful to experience. My hat goes off to you guys there for keeping your mill operating. I guess I am showing my age. I was lucky enough to run all the steam locomotives at Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio for two summers. I pulled five cars four trips an hour and hauled three hundred and fifty passengers on every trip. The second year I not only ran the engines, but fired, took on water, and shovelled the coal into the tenders every morning by hand by myself. We had the old waste stuffed journals and I oiled them all every morning. I also started the fires, blew out the flews with a steam hose to knock out the excess soot. My friend Don was one of the last to shock wheat and oats and corn here so he could thresh it with his old advance rumley separator. I now own a advance/rumley corn shredder 12 roll, and a birdsell cloverhuller, both machines are of wood, and over 100 years old. Come to Indiana in the fall to our threshing show. Its called the Northern Indiana Historical Power Association. I was one of the founders about 25 to 30 years ago. By the way the boiler on our mill formerly heated the New York Central track pan in Chesterton Indiana, and was hauled over to this area on a wagon drawn by horses. Best Regards, Rich Lidke I have a video of our mill on here made by a friend. Reply
- David SmythMarch 21, 2011 Thankyou for a wonderful journey through the operations of an old Steam driven sawmill. I’ve always wanted to tour such a mill but the oppurtunity never arose. Now through this slide show I feel I’ve had one of my dreams come true. Thank you, and I hope the mill still keeps going for generations to come. Truely awe inspiring! Reply
- loyce davenport March 21, 2011 If at all possible, young children age 10-16 should see this process to become aware of the hard ardous work necessary to obtain wood down to paper. We are honing in on becoming more green and appreciative of nature but a hands on visible look would be worth a thousand words. I am very impressed and enjoyed reading about the process of a tree. Hat’s off to men who really go to work and are tired at the end of the day. Congrats. Reply
- Ron Taylor March 22, 2011 My Grandfather started a sawmill in Clearfield PA in the early 1900’s. It only featured a 36 inch circular blade and don’t remember what powered it at that time. Later, my father and his brother took over the operation around 1945. In 1953 my cousin and myself both started working on the mill and in the woods of central PA cutting timber and running the backend of the mill. We would take the lumber off the edger and stack it and cut all the slabs and edgings to either fire wood size or slabs for firing the brick yard kilms. We sold the sawdust also. This story really brought back the memories from that time. The mill burned down in 1958 and wasn’t replaced as it was no longer economically viable. We supplied a lot of ties to the railroad and prime oak for hardwood flooring. We also subblied ash blanks to be turned into handles and baseball bats. We also custom cut lumber for many special projects including homes and other buildings which required special timbers. It was quite an experience. One of the stories my father told me about my grandfather was that when he was young, he lived in a logging camp. On Saturdays, the logging camps would get together and each camp would have a camp Champion to box bare knuckle. My grandfather was Champion for a number of years and according to Dad, wan never defeated. Thanks for bringing back some old memories. I still have scars from some of them. Reply
- Valyene RalstonMarch 22, 2011 A very enjoyable and informative presentation. I learned quite a bit with each picture. I love history information like this and hopefully it will stay around for many years for others to see and learn from. It’s hard work and the end result is beautiful. Reply
- Gene Pearson March 24, 2011 Thanks so much for the great “E-Tour” through this fantastic exhibit of history and our wonderful lumber industry. Few people know what truly goes on to get a “2×4” to the lumber yard. ( Much understated, but you know what I mean ) I was directed here from being on the “Lumberjocks” site, a wonderful woodworking community who enjoy wood to it’s fullest. I sure am glad that I have taken the tour and being from California, plan on coming up north to take the physical tour so I can see, hear and smell the complete process. I hope that will be o.k…. Thank you again for taking the time to put this wonderful presentation up online ! Reply
- Roy Hogue March 25, 2011 I was sent this by a friend who knows my interest in steam power. But I found the whole mill operation absolutely fascinating. An operation like this is a one of a kind thing and deserves to be kept in use as long as possible. I noticed that they say the steam engines have less trouble than anything else they could use. That’s not surprising, since steam engines are simple, rugged and have a long history of dependability. Unfortunately boilers are maintenance intensive by comparison. I’ve enjoyed reading this more than anything I’ve seen for a long time. Thanks for all the work to put this together. Reply
- Lindsey Morrison March 25, 2011 I grew up with this mill. My dad worked there until he died in 1974. I spent my summers during high school with Hull family across the road from the mill. Reply
- Maryellen Devall March 25, 2011 This place is too historical to lose. I can`t wait to see it in person!! Reply
- Larry Austin March 26, 2011 Field trip to San Francisco when in sixth grade spent the night on The C.A.Thayer and did all the stuff that was done on the ship back when it was in operation. Spent the night. Great photos of mill. It should not be closed down. Reply
- Dick Rochon March 29, 2011 Great Presentation. I started working for Long-Bell Lumber Company in Weed, California in 1949 and transferred to their mill in Gardiner, Oregon in 1953 after a free tour of Korea, compliments of the US Army. Long-Bell was bought out by International Paper Company in the late 50’s I believe. I graded lumber after it was dried in the kilns for a few years and then changed to the river crew, where I fed logs into the mill in a steel cable hoist, up to the head rig. I sometimes worked as an off bearer behind the head rig, but finally transferred to the log dump. I ran the cantilever dump, lifting the entire loads off of the trucks and dumping them into the river where they were sorted and graded to be formed into rafts and stored until needed by the mill. Then the truck trailers were loaded back onto the trucks, so they could return to the woods for another load. IP built a paper mill next to the saw mill and plywood plant, and used the slabs from squaring up the logs to chip into pieces to digest into paper pulp. The logs had to be barked before they could use them, so they were cold decked and not dumped into the river anymore. The old cantilever dump was sold to a shipyard across the river in Reedsport to lift boats onto the drydock. IP cut all of their timber and shipped it to China. This closed the mill, plywood plant and eventually the paper mill that couldn’t afford to buy chips and have them shipped in. Leaving Gardiner like so many other lumber towns in the Pacific Northwest. Reply
- William Hinkson March 30, 2011 In the 40’s I worked as a “pond monkey” for a jippo mill operator in Oregon. I walked and sorted the logs before sending them into the mill. Reply
- norman trabulsy March 30, 2011 Great presentation. Thanks for that. But, it sort of made me mad as I sat and thought about it. We live in a country where the ones who are rewarded most handsomely are those who produce absolutely nothing of value. Here, we have workers who actually work, yet more and more of their country is owned by the bankers, lawyers and speculators, those who have produced little of value for our country. Long live sawmill workers. Reply
- William D. Smith March 31, 2011 Are tours conducted at the mill? Bill Smith Reply
- Gary Katz April 1, 2011 Bill, I don’t think they have formal tours. I just called them up and asked if I could visit and they said yes. While I was there, one of the employees took me on a tour. Same thing the second time I went. Gary Reply
- steve sheldon April 1, 2011 Really cool stuff. You should make a video and get this on a program like This Old House. awesome! steve sheldon, country lawyer Reply
- Greg Baker April 2, 2011 What a great story and my hat is off to those that have spent their life working at this mill. I moved from N.H. to Missoula,Mt. in 1979 and I worked as an Electrical Engineer at the paper mill in Frenchtown,MT. when we were building it. Last year they closed the mill at Frenchtown and the Lumber mill at Bonner,Mt. which I shed a tear for. It is appalling that we now send our logs over to China to get made into different products and when they are finished they are shipped back to the U.S. in various forms of furniture,lumber,plywood,etc.,etc. I have seen this when I drove Truck picking up loads from the docks in Ca.,Ga.,Fl. etc., etc. Ironically I have even been sent to deliver loads and pick them up at the papermill plant in Frenchtown,Mt. It’s sad that nobody cares about what is happening to our country and everything is being outsourced to China and other countries! I can remember everything coming from Japan when I was growing up and now our country is suffering from loss of jobs because our politicians,bankers and government has sold us short. Then we have to watch these environmental groups that won’t even compromise and let the loggers cut trees burned by fires, clean up the floor of the different forests so we won’t have so many fires. Now we know that these groups have been lying about what is really going on and they did this so they could get government-taxpayer money over all these years for their special programs. Our government and politicians are letting this happen. Forest fires destroy more trees than a logger can cut in a hundred years. Trees can be grown and harvested just like crops of wheat,barley etc., etc.,etc. I’m going to make a visit to this mill next summer and savor and enjoy what they do for us and appreciate their hard work.Maybe we can turn this around and start producing in our own country again soon. Reply
- Joe AndersonApril 2, 2011 I was born in Fort Jones, CA but grew up in McCloud, CA. The McCloud River Lumber Co ran the whole shebang. The woods, the mill, made boxes, doors and the town. The mill saws could handle giant sugar pine logs cut from the slopes of Mt. Shasta and beyond. The evolution from trains to trucks, from 8/4 hand signals to computers is progress but this video brought back some fond memories. One never forgets the smell and whistles of a company owned lumber town. And a previous comment was true: the workers don’t make the money; but it is a labor of love. Reply
- Dave BlackApril 5, 2011 I’ve had the privelege of working with the folks at Hull-Oakes, since 1984. Blessed to have followed my Dad into forest products, and to have spent some time in old sawmills both as a laborer, and as a safety professional. The sounds, the feel of the wood, the aroma of freshly sawn timber, and the satisfaction of surviving yet another damn difficult day hard-at-it, are unforgetable memories. But the best part of it all – and the single most endearing aspect of Hull-Oakes, is the folks who work there and live that life-style as close as you can find to how it was. Every person you meet there is as fine respectful as you’ll ever meet. They welcome you with a handshake and a smile, and always have the time to sit chat. All that old technology, and the effort they put into maintaining their historic designation is impressive to say the least. But the one thing that really “makes” this outfit, which is missing in all those photos (unless you know have spent just a little bit of time with them)…; is the people. As good as you’ll find anywhere. Reply
- Ed Riewe April 11, 2011 Nice presentation. a) There is actually a full color and sound 25 min DVD of this same mill in operation with narrative. It is by Green Frog Productions, Ltd. titled ‘The Last Steam Operated Sawmill’ done in 2000. It is very well done, tracking a log through the process just as your photo essay does. I bought my copy from ebay for about 10, but you could also try http://www.greenfrog.com. b) As a young boy in ’40s-’50s, I was often taken by my grandfather down to the sawmill in Neopit, Wi. This was on the Menominee Indian Reservation in NE Wisconsin which had some of the last remaining old-growth timber left of the great forests that once covered most of that state. The mill was unusual in that it was built by the US government to provide an industry for the tribe, so the main mill building was of cast concrete, sturdy enough that it still operates today. Back then, it was still powered by a big steam engine, and the sights, sounds, smells and overall action of all the saw carriage, jacks, moving chains and workers was immensely fascinating for a 7 year old. (And still is for a 68 year old!) Reply
- Harry Humes April 12, 2011 I lived near Placerville, CA. during the 30s, there were many steam powered mills then. Not many had bandsaws, most used circular saws, one mounted above the other which permitted them to cut large logs. The circular saw blades had removable teeth, occasionaly a tooth would come off and go through the roof of the mill. Most lumber was not planned, homes were built with rough lumber. A two by four was acually that size and had lots of splinters, must have been tough being a carpenter in those days. Reply
- Harold Hammersley April 14, 2011 I worked as a log setter in a small mill in Riddle Or. when I was 16, in 1951. I was a timber faller for some time. All the logs shown in these pictures are douglas fir. I fell thousands of them, some even larger than any pictured. I got out of the woods in 1964. I worked as a furniture salesman for 30 years. I met Mrs hull at Blackledge furniture in Corvallis Or. I was out to her home several times and sold her a lot of things over the years.The family was all wonderful.She had a large log house built over by Bend Or. One of the store decorators furnished it for her. Small world. Reply
- Phillip Paul April 14, 2011 I see you call the machine that removes the bark a BARKER. In the saw mills and wood products plants I have worked in it is usually called a DEBARKER. Barker would to me imply to place the bark onto the log. Reply
- Chris short March 21, 2018 I worked in and around the woods industry since 1963 in the Coos Bay Or area then 1990 to 2010 Cottage Grove to Albany, Or. as an Or-OSHA inspector, most of the workers I was around just call it “the barker”. Other areas may use different terms. Reply
- Harold Hammersley April 15, 2011 I think you have the time of Mr. Hulls death wrong, it must have been 1992,it was some time before I retired in 1996. Harold hammersley. Reply
- Eugene L. Rashe April 15, 2011 I worked in sawmills(Bandsaw mill such as the sawmill Pictured located in Hilis, CA from age 18 years of age until I was 24. The teeth on the back of the bandsaw also served to cut pieces of the log that may spring out after the sawyer went through the cut. It cut them off as the carriage was coming back to keep the saw from going inside and cutting into the log which could pull the saw of the pully’s. We referred to the teeth as splinter teeth. I was the person that rode the carriage and was called a ratchett setter. Pictures bring back many memories from 1957-into 1964 Reply
- Janice Shelton April 15, 2011 My dad work for the Kerr Lumber co. here in western NC back in the early 1900’s. He not only worked in the saw mill but was the engineer of the train that hauled the logs out of the forest. I was born at that time but he used to tell us about it. My mother would talk about it also. While sawing the trees down a saw kicked back and cut daddy’s throat but they were able to save him. He died in 1966. I have part of one of the boards found in an old barn that was torn down several years ago. Nothing like the smell of fresh cut wood and the beauty of a finished object made of wood. In his later years daddy made a lot of furniture and even made a violin that now hangs in my sister’s house. Wonderful memories. Reply
- Peter Arnold April 22, 2011 What a great, great presentation, but just as interesting have been all the follow up Комментарии и мнения владельцев, so many by people in my age bracket, i.e. pushing past the mid-80’s. Incredible memories, and I saw most of the large mills in CA when I was a woods rat cruising timber. I am surprised to see that there is still at least one log pond around. Once the big handling equipment that LeTourneau, Cat and Euclid built came on the scene, most mills turned to log yards, sorting on land instead of water. I’ll always remember one much smaller steam powered mill along a road in Arkansas. Beyond the head rig the conveyor system could handle only small dimension stuff. If they were cutting an RR tie or a large square, once it was to dimension the sawyer would bring back the carriage at full speed, the dogs would be lifted, and when the carriage came to a stop the timber would shoot back out of the mill, fall some 20 feet, and land in the pond with a gigantic splash. Could give you quite a start if you were driving by and not expecting it Reply
- Tim SheyApril 23, 2011 Great photos. I used to work in a lumber yard back in Ames, Iowa for several years. I spent a lot of time in the sawshop; everybody at the lumber yard used to call me “Sawman”. Reply
- Bill ForrestApril 28, 2011 I received your presentation from friends in Central Oregon this morning and how great it is. I have read every one of the Комментарии и мнения владельцев and much to my suprise there are none from Anacortes, WA, where we had two huge sawmills, a pulp mill, a plywood mill, and a dozen shingle mills, plus numerous individual shake cutters. Wood and fish was our life blood on this island. I grew up hanging out at our local shinglemill on Similk bay at Summit Park, and knew every hand there. IT was all steam, as all our mills were. I worked at the EK Woods (later WAlton) mill in 1951 in the planer mill. My dad worked in the logging industry before me. Years later as an engineer and business owner, I converted two steam mills to Hydraulic. The first at Johnsondale, CA a complete company owned town and mill and the second was a smaller mill at Davenport, CA. I could relate lots of stories but won’t use up all your Band width here as the prior Комментарии и мнения владельцев have pretty well covered the history of the industry. I did live in the Bloedel-Donovon Owners house in Bellingham, Washington in 1959 that over looked their mill. It was built like a tank with unplaned 4×4 and 4×12 in the floors visible from the basement. Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of history. I have driven by this mill you showcased many times. Bill Forrest retired. Reply
- Lynn Daniels-AndersonMay 11, 2011 I’ve been to Hull-Oakes only on a Sunday, when it was closed up tight. The lovely old log trucks were out though and made for great photographs. The sawmill is going to be open to the public for a tour on May 18, as a part of Historic Preservation Month. A great opportunity. Reply
- Bill FischerMay 14, 2011 Hi, I was very much interested in this Steam Powerd Saw Mill. I grew up in the Wauconda Area Graduated from Republic High schoo in 1943. As a kid I used to help a friend of the family cut railroad ties I used to use a sort of knife like article and cut the bark off of the ties that he cut. Made a dollar a day then after a stint in the Army after being discharged in 1948 I worked in a steam powered saw mill in Tonasket, Washington for quite some time so I really enjoyed this article Thanks again for bringing back fond memories Bill Fischer Reply
- Jo-BrewMay 14, 2011 Wonderful piece. I visited Hull Oakes a few years ago and found it fascinating. Now I am involved in a writing project involving specific elements of Oregon history and would like to use this story as a resource, with permission. Particularly when I’m working with occupations and life styles in the Monroe and Corvallis area. Reply
- Gary Katz May 14, 2011 You’re welcome to use this story as a resource. Gary Reply
- john turhun May 14, 2011 When I got out of the Navy in 79 my new bride lived in Corvallis. We moved from Georgia to Philomath Oregon where there was I believe 5 sawmills within the city limits or very close to it. I went for a millwright position at Pedee lumber company, which had already been filled. The owner did me a favor since we were both navy men from the black gang (boiler rooms) he put me on as the off bearer by the big bandmill. I soon began to wonder if he really did me a favor or not, when you work in one of these old mills where most all of the work was manually done, there was know slowing down and you generally had more than one job at a time. No cry babies need apply, there’s the door! If you worked in one of these mills and lasted, you were a real man. Thanks for the memories. I am in the process of setting up a small mill in the back of my place, not to really make money but to enjoy the sounds and smells of logs being milled. Some guys want bass boats, I prefer a sawmill. Reply
- George Wisner May 16, 2011 Kudos to Gary Katz on this fine article about the Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. Sawmill in Monroe, Oregon. While you did mention placement of the mill on the National Register of Historic Places, you didn’t mention that the mill has been fully documented by the Historic American Engineering Record. There also has been one book written about the mill, its processes and history. Here is the citation: George Wisner 1998 “Hull-Oakes Lumber Company’s Steam-Powered Sawmill: A Case Study in Industrial Archaeology.” Anthropology Northwest Number 10. Department of Anthropology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. The book is available through the university’s anthropology department. Keep up the good work. Regards, George Wisner 25124 Alpine Road Monroe, OR 97456 Reply
- Gary Norton May 22, 2011 Gary, What an excellent documentary of the mill and the timber industry. It brings back a flood of memories as my entire family has been involved in the industry in one way or another for over 100 years. My Great Grandfather started in the business going to work for Holly Pulp Paper Co. in Oregon City at the turn of the 20th century. The company would later become Publishers Paper Co. and then Blue Heron Co. Sadly, the mill was recently forced into bankruptcy when it was unable to compete with the Chinese for raw materials. My Grandfather started a career in the woods in Alsea maintaining a steam donkey for the logging operations. He later moved to the Hull-Oaks mill in maintenance to work on the steam engines there. To know the toughness of these folks, my Grandfather talked of the times that he would walk from Alsea to Corvallis for food provisions for the family. That is an uphill walk back of some 22 miles carrying a load of groceries! During the depression, another group took the risks and constructed a plywood mill in Albany. This was the Malarkey brothers and the mill was named MM Plywood. My Father, being out of work in the 1930’s, signed on as a millwright. This mill used steam power for the lathe while the balance of the machinery was electric. The electric power came from two steam turbine generators that had sufficient generation capacity to run the entire city of Albany in an emergency. The steam was also used in the dryers to dry the veneer. The lathe was the largest in the Northwest peeling up to 144″ veneer in width. At times the peeler blocks were so large in diameter that they would be chucked off center and rocked back and forth to cut down one side and then re-chucked to clear the floor. The other unique item of the mill was it’s electronic press. This was a giant microwave and could press thickness up to 7″. During World War II, these thick panels of plywood were used for the carrier decks on our aircraft carriers. I started my career in wood products at this mill; learning to run every machine station there was while going to college, studying in the field of accounting. Later, as a CPA working for a national accounting firm in Portland, I would return to this mill to audit the books as an independent accountant. Sadly, this mill too is gone; lost to the Spotted Owl controversy that closed down logging operations for so many mills. One of my major clients turned out to be Publishers Paper Co. and I spent many hours there performing audits and tax preparation work. Later, I would leave public accounting and take various accounting positions with Publishers. I later moved on to other wood produicts companies finally retiring. I still build from wood and will until I die. Back to Hull-Oaks. In my early years I would pass through the mill many times on my way to hunt for deer in the hills west of the mill and later on, to ride motorcycles all over those hills. If you knew the old dirt log roads well enough you could ride all the way to the Oregon Coast. The guys at the mill were always friendly and would wave as you went by or stop you on your way out from hunting to inquire of your luck. The sound of the screaming saws, the steam engine, debarker and the mill overall was a symphony of pure pleasure. Finally, being politically incorrect, as most timber folks are, I will note that the favored term for the articulated arm on the carriage that turns the log is the Nigger. See “Terms of the Trade”, Random Lengths, edited by William Dean and David S. Evans. Thanks for a great story of real America. Reply
- L. M. JohnsonJune 27, 2011 I was a personal friend to Ralph Hull. He wanted the mill to continue after his death and his genius was in acquiring timber ownership to leave as a continueing raw material supply. The mill does not run exclusively on Ralph Hull timber but I sincerely doubt if it could still operate without the private timber holding. Ralph also built a heart wing addition to Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis, Or. Ralph was a Good Samaritan. Reply
- Denis White July 18, 2011 Not only are the folks at Hull-Oakes fine and respectful, they are intelligent as well. There are no computer-operated machines in the mill; every operator is working with the computer in his or her head. Furthermore, every log cut is to meet a specific order, which can vary from one log to many, and from small to large as the photos showed. It is an unusual and remarkable place. Thanks for a great photographic record. Reply
- Robin July 20, 2011 Gary, I just read this online and I wanted to tell you that I grew up around Hull-Oaks. My grandpa worked there for years until he finally retired. Even today if you ask around the mill if they knew Barney, they would. Also my uncle still works up there has since he was 18 years old. My father worked there off and on when I was growing up. I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. I hope you get a chance to go back out there and do another article. Reply
- Ron Courtney August 9, 2011 I throughly engoyed this entire article. I am an old fan of steam power in every application and am fortunate to live only one (1) mile from a steam traction engine museum here in Portland, Tn. The museum also contains over 180 gasoline, diesel and kerosine powered tractors on steel and rubber tracks or wheels. One of the main attractions at the yearly “Days Gone By” celebration is the “00 Frick left hand sawmill”. They belt up many different tractors and Traction Engines to it to cut the mostly popular and oak logs. It was donated to the Celebration and most effectively powered by the owner of several Keck-Gonnerman engines. They can bee seen, heard, and smelt working away every October on the first week-end. Right off of state rd. 109, just turn by the Police-Firehall, cross over the RR tracks, and you are right beside it. Come see us, and Remember,……. “Steam ain’t clean but it sure is fun”. Reply
- w hipkin August 31, 2011 thanx gary to john langer of seattle Did you know why Fir was cut to Cube 2ft Long or?? Beautiful job on this site thanks Wayne Reply
- Woody BiggsSeptember 9, 2011 Mr. Gary Katz I would like to thank you for your work and photos on the Hull-Oakes mill. I have read all of the replies and as I think back on my families lumber yard I start to well up and remember the good old days in Carnelian Bay, Lake Tahoe of late 50’s and 60’s. As a young man I had one of the best childhoods growing up there, I wish every kid could have had that growing up and this world would be a better place. As your story goes we didn’t do it for the money, we did for the love of it and for our family as it kept us together. My father worked for Diamond Match Lumber Co. and in 1957 he had a heart attack that took us to the lake and that’s when our father bought the yard. He past away at 47yrs.old in 1961, too young. However the memories that your story stirred, when we would cut the pine and redwood boards, oh the fragrance, working late in the night to get the orders out for next day deliveries. As you can see I have started a small lumber company just because I love it, certainly not for the money. Can you tell me if Hull-Oakes mill has someone there that I can contact to visit them? Once again, thank you for preserving the past. “Woody” The Urban 1 Forester Reply
- Tanya Metcalfe October 15, 2011 Found your site thru the net. That is a cool machine and history too. My husband has managed to line up a Coutts 2 head rig. I have contacted All Blades Canada and they have gave a place in Ont to get the blade to be pounded and order the bits. My question is is there a place in western Canada that we can get the blade pounded and order bits. Reply
- Charles January 15, 2012 I used to live in Mendocino County, Calfiornia, back in the ’80s. The timber industry used to be huge there. I knew a young man who, while working in a mill, got hit by a piece of the Band saw blade when it hit a spike. Yes, someone spiked logs in protest of certain logging practices. In researching to write about that incident, I came across your site and found the info very helpful and fascinating as well. I’d forgotten some of the terminology and learned some new things about milling. thanks! Reply
- Dwayne Mary MoyersJanuary 24, 2012 This is a great article. Video of those saws in operation would have been amazing. A great story of a successful American family-owned and operated business. Reply
- Mitchell VandiverFebruary 13, 2012 I have been in the reclaimed lumber bus. for about 27 years. Our source of material comming from buildings of the Industrial rev. (large beams Long leaf Pine, the King George wood for ship building.) Great 6 7 story cotton mills were constructed of these(plank beam construction). Later after most of the Pine was depleted, in 1920’s railways brought Douglas fir to southern states to build mills because compare to steel structures Lumber costing approx. a nickle a Board Ft. Long leaf Yellow pine growing in the costal plains of the south was the strongest beams of span Doug fir 2nd. I noticed they had a hand sign to sawer to tell what size of cut. That was developed in the south found in the book The Fasinating Lumber business. Reply
- Ellwood Sunnell February 13, 2012 I’m looking for written and photographic information on the ten foot steam driven veneer lathe used at Associated Plywood which later became U.S. Plywood in Eugene, Oregon. Does anyone have photographs, videos, or documentation of any kind on the lathe? My dad was head lathe man on the log deck for 32 years. Thanks, Skip Sunnell Reply
- phil February 28, 2012 Great job Gary! But I am sad. I was there Friday and loaded some beautiful timbers from there on my truck. [img]http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/timber.jpg[/img] I should have asked for a tour 🙁 Reply
- Gary March 27, 2012 30 years ago I spent 25 months working at this mill. The guy who describes the screaming motors and overwhelming noise and vibration all around you as a symphony of pure pleasure obviously has NO clue of what it is really like to come out alive at the end of the day. Pure Terror and broken backs. Smashed legs and feet. 5 whistles plus brought us all running to see a man with his arm almost ripped off and almost eaten by that edger. Bill Oakes gave first-aid, probably saving his life. Offbearing that Band saw was a near death experience every day! As for those back teeth ,I once saw them cut several feet and 4 inches deep in a log because the setter hit the wrong lever while backing up. Didn’t quite pull the blade off, but was an awful sound. Later, they did lose a Band which almost decapitated Ralph K while cutting it out. I was laughed at for diving for safety. My brother was stuffed onto that Band saw table by an unaware timber sawyer, almost breaking his legs and inches from those shark teeth. As carrier driver which was one of the best jobs, I had a choice between one carrier with only a hand brake and one 1920s vintage carrier that smoked so bad it would make me sick. Admittedly this was later remedied with some better machines. They are all still there lined up like a museum. I had never seen one of the pond boats out of the water until recently. It is being repaired for current use. Undoubtedly the ugliest boat ever built. So stare in wonder, I still do. But like war, unless you have lived it you can’t know. It ain’t for sissies like the kid that wanted to wear several large rings while pulling green chain. By the way any logs over 45′ had to be cut half way while the carriage is unhooked and carefully and Prayerfully backed up to re-dog and finish the cut. I once saw two 12″x24″x 54′ long timbers cut out of the same log. Amazing sight! Reply
- Ralph Manting March 28, 2012 Hi, May I post this on our Midwest Saw Filers page on ? Very nice article. Reply
- Tristan Katz March 28, 2012 Please feel free to post a link to the article, Ralph! Reply
- Bill April 27, 2012 In 1954 I worked in a mill in Winston Oregon. It was hard work and it was hard times. Reply
- Bert Diamond April 29, 2012 Thanks for the extensive article about the Hull-Oaks Sawmill. I was re-reading an article about the mill in one of my old issues of Invention and Technology, Spring, 1997. I Googled the mill and came upon your article. I teach engineering and art in two middle schools in Oregon and hope to someday show your photos to my 350 students. Thanks again for your extensive work about the mill. Reply
- Robert Martin May 13, 2012 I’ve worked the woods and in the mills running saws and edgers. It was hard and dirty work, but I loved the smells of the fresh cut woods and their resins aroma. My library is filled with history’s of various logging and mill operations in the northwest and I would love to make an addition to it with a D.V.D. history of your dynamic and still functioning operation if it is available. Thank you for this wonderful web site. This should be on the history channel as it is so vital to what we are and how we started out. Port Gamble. Washington was our first steam mill developed by Pope and Talbot after President Lincoln gave them 15,500 acres of timber in Washington State. I’m sorry that the mill was removed as it could have been a museum of sorts. The beautiful town Port Gamble however still stands in all it’s well kept glory for visitors to relish. Reply
- Bill Curtis May 16, 2012 A lot of this stuff is the same as it was when I went to work for Coos Bay Lbr Co in the 40s. The thing that impressed me the most was the work ethic of the personnel. It, too, was 40’s-style. Wouldn’t expect anyone today to get up off their butts and push on a cant. If I didn’t remember all too well, I might get up off my butt and run down there some day. Reply
- Alma Davis June 30, 2012 What wonderful photos!! The story is great. Thank you! From an old logger lady who worked in a logging camp starting in 1950. Then transferred to Weyerhaeuser in 1964. My husband worked in a small sawmill in North Bend, WA. Reply
- george Bartholomaeus July 12, 2012 Am looking for any more info about the mill. If you could e-mail me please. I am an HO railroad builder and would love to model this mill and adjacent buildings and town if there is one nearby. Thanks George Bartholomaeus Reply
- Paula Eubanks Smith November 3, 2012 My father, LeRoy Eubanks, worked in this mill after WWII, from roughly 1946 to 1951. (He was married to my mother, Pauline Kyle, from Alpine.) They are no longer living. Oh how I wish I could show him this photo essay and ask him what roll he played. I know he worked in the office but maybe started out in the mill? Are there records of those that worked at the Mill in years past? My cousin’s husband Tom Holster may also have worked there. You’ve brought back so many memories. Job well done. Thank you, Paula Eubanks Smith Reply
- Toni Bellavance November 13, 2012 In 1951 we moved to Shelly, BC, north of Prince George, BC. I was 9 years. The mill had burned down and dad rebuilt it. The planer was there and the 2 boilers survived. They bought used equipment from a mill in central Oregon by Interstate 5. Our carriage gun was shot. We could cut 30 ft logs. The gang saw was powered by its own steam engine as was the whole planer mill. We bought the EQ from Cottage Grove, OR. I have an aerial picture from 1957 era. Thank you. A great story. Brings great memories. Reply
- Vince November 23, 2012 Great presentation. These mills used to be all up and down the Pacific northwest. Is the carriage drive a “shotgun” feed, or is it pulled by a cable? Shotgun was the old term for a long cylinder that connected directly to the carriage. They called it a shotgun because the steam pressure could be built up by the sawyer, and he could literally shoot the carriage back. Some of the old timers tell stories of getting a green setter on the carriage and knocking him off his seat with a quick blast to the back end. Of course, if they weren’t 100% on their timing, they would bottom out the cylinder and blow the packing out, and risk scalding the poor setter. Reply
- Bob Miller December 19, 2012 I was raised around worked in the mills most of my life. Lived in Coos Bay Or. and worked for Weyerhaeuser 19 years. Did everything but run the Headrig. Unfortunaly, the mill site is now a casino now. But still think I could walk around and show people where every bit of equipment was. Hate to see the lumber industry go to hell. Progress? Don’t think so. When I was a kid my dad showed me your mill. carriage then I have ever seen. Interesting to say the least. Reply
- Jeff Pruett January 14, 2013 Wow. I would love to hear the operation. to smell the results of cuts. This is the mix of industry and nature. pretty cool. Thanks for sharing the photographs. My grandfather was a sawyer. he talked about working at a saw mill in Mississippi. of course not of this magnitude. There are three saw mills – pole mills in the town where I live. I love the finished products moving out on trucks And I enjoy watching the process. There are four foresters in the congregation I pastor that also help to re-forest the land. Through some methods of management, these foresters have perfected, there is timber plenty to supply the demand and stay ahead of the curve. Blessings, Jeff Reply
- Cindy Navarro January 14, 2013 This was a very interesting article. I am a wood turner and it is very interesting to see the processing of log to lumber. Thank you for such a rich and historical article. Cindy Reply
- PAMELA January 16, 2013 My grandfather ran a sawmill in a LITTLE town called Zimmerman,LaI grew up there for the first 6 years of my life and learned to swim in the mill pond. When the mill closed, 2 years after the death of my grandfather, It became deserted and falling down. Fortunately a group of people who’s relatives grew up there and worked in the mill took an interest in the town. They thought it would be a great place to live and raise their children. They moved in and rebuilt the homes, grocery store, school house and church. It is now a wonderful place to visit and stir up allot of old memories. Whenever I go home to New Orleans I always make a point of stopping at the mill. It remains the MILL in my heart. Reply
- tom hastings March 17, 2013 I looked at your mill from the air a few years back while doing some mapping in the area, and have wanted to get a closeup look on the ground. I am wondering if it’s ok to stop buy and get a few pictures a little closer up? Thanks, Tom H Reply
- Leo April 11, 2013 Thanks for the story pics. I retired in 1992.Spent many yrs. as a millwright or building mills in Mt.,Wa.,Ore.,Cal.,NM Ariz. My 1st. was a offbearer in a jippo circular mill in 1948.My last in a computer operated mill in Ca. Great times as a millwright but glad that’s behind me. Also worked in steam powered mills,great in the winter. Thanks again. Leo Reply
- Sidney Oakes July 17, 2013 I worked in the mill before going into aviation in 1963. Ralph Hull was my mom’s brother and Chester Oakes was my dad. I enjoyed many things about working in the mill and did almost every job there from pond monkey to car loader. One thing I did not like was when an ambulance came up the road because it meant a friend or relative had a serious accident. My cousin, Bill Oakes, is shown running the boilers. He is now retired but does guided tours of the mill a couple days each week. Reply
- SueSeptember 8, 2013 What a great Tour on the net. Thanks for this tour. I worked in a small mill in Trout Creek, MT as a Filler, given a general instruction on filling for a day or two. I had watched for some time. I am very mechanical minded. I did it all, leveled, benched, tensioned, fitted, welded ETC. They were 19 gauge Band, Box saw blades. I loved the job. Our Journeyman Filler was impressed. I was 47 at the time, 1980. Never seen a mill let along worked in one. I was from Eastern MT. NO TREES there. I had a problem with my swedge on time and the filler, couldn’t figure it out. I did finally after a few days and sleeping on it. I did the chipper blades amoung other millwright things. I didn’t like the debarker, boring!! I was wondering how you did the “bench, leveling, tension, so on with those blades on the head rig. Are there still that size logs in OR? Thanks for all the great pics. Reply
- Elizabeth Oakes December 23, 2013 I see my Uncle Sid posted above. I’m the granddaughter of Chester Oakes and great grand-niece of Ralph Hull. I grew up within a mile of the Hull-Oakes sawmill. The steam whistle calling end-of-shift was one of my favorite sounds growing up. I live in another state now, but just seeing your beautiful pictures and the familiar faces in them has brought back so many memories. Reply
- Pat March 15, 2014 This is fascinating! When I was small, a city kid, our father loved to take quick trips exploring our new state, New Mexico. Never knew where we’d end up. He was always stopping at ANYTHING that was different and unusual. Once I was going crazy wanting to just get out and run when he spyed a funny looking, open ended bldg with lots of soft looking dust piled around it. It looked like some wind storm was blowing it all around in the valley but there was no wind strong enough to do that. We took off running and found ourselves in a small family owned sawmill; and, they were running the machines making an awful, echoing racket. They were surprised to find a family of 5 kids watching them…I’m sure quite worried we’d get into danger…But they took us around, explaining the whole process to us. Not such a big mill, but it was an experience I never forgot. So often we are in such a big city hurry we forget to notice and appreciate the basic lifestyles and businesses that have made our country so proud and powerful. It is never wasted time to just “stop and smell…the sawdust”. I still love that scent of life! Thanks for the article! Reply
- Tom Engleman June 10, 2014 What a wonderful story and tour of an American enterprise…Hull Oaks Lumber Co. Got this from a good friend, Steve Lovell we worked together over the years but in different environments……heavy manufacturing. As soon as I started viewing this and reading the stories I immediately thought about my last employer, ATLAS Machining and Welding Inc in Northampton PA and the man and wife that started that Company….Harold Pat Keeney…another story about Yankee ingenuity, hard work and determination… let me add another Pennsylvania Harwood Business, located in Oxford, PA and the man that made that company happen Rick Hearne ( steel guitar and fellow Dobro player). Company name Hearne Hardwoods. I must mention one last person…a “worker of wood” and a friend, Raymond Fairchild, Luthier…who lives in South Whitehall PA and builds wonderful guitars…Dobros mandolins….Hawaiian guitars to name a few. All of these people are gifted….hard working and determined to do it right….and good examples for the rest of us. Reading this story and thinking about these people I mentioned here, helps me strengthen my belief in the good and greatness of America. Thanks. Tom Engleman Retired links below http://www.atlasmw.com/http://www.hearnehardwoods.com/hardwoods/our_hardwoods/our_woods.html?gclid=CMGhgoTX774CFZBxOgodljEACgReply
- Ian June 17, 2014 As a (relatively) young amateur woodworker, I really enjoyed the article. Most people from my generation have no idea that places like this still exist, and don’t know what it takes to get wood, paper, or much of anything from raw material to finished goods. Equally or possibly more important than the article is the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section, there are so many wonderful shared pieces of insight and knowledge from an older generation that won’t be around to tell these stories forever. I appreciate the great read, please steward this collected information carefully. Kind regards to all, Ian V. Houston, TX Reply
- Eric Rusch Sr June 30, 2014 Really great article. Thanks a bunch ! Reply
- Jason Laws January 19, 2015 I really liked the article on the mill! It reminde me of working at JJ Cedar Mill in Bridgewater, Maine, were I worked for 7 long months as a tailer (August 2013 – March 2014). We did about 20,000 bft a day (finished product – white cedar has much rot in it) with about 10 people in the mill. I would sort all of the wood that came off of the edger and either send it to the resaw or throw it down to the chipper. I could run the resaw but I hurt my wrist/arm badly doing it. Sawmills are some of the most dangerous places to work. High gear, all the time. 10 hour days. Cold and really dusty. I once had a slab suddenly shoot out of the edger, in a blurr, and graze my neck….a few more inches and it would have crushed my neck!! I thanked the Lord for protecting me that day!! Another time, a basketball sized piece flew out of the twin saw about 50 feet away and hit me in the stomach, knocking me to the ground. So guess what: I went back to carpentry. In some sort of strange way, it seems safer and I don’t have to drive 40 miles each way in an Northern Maine winter. But I am thankful that I had a job and I learned much. There are many men working hard, long hours, to give you a usable piece of wood. Thanks for article! Jason Laws Plain In Maine Amity, Maine Reply
- Bob BurgessJuly 26, 2015 A great article – where can I buy the DVD online?? Back in the 1970’s bought my timber from Hibberds at Biddestone near Chippenham in the UK… They were not as big as Hull Oakes, but had a large Crossley single cylinder hot bulb diesel engine powering all the machinery by flat belts running in underground channels. My stepson lives in Seythenex, Haute Savoie, France – just down the road is a water powered saw mill still in use – like many sawyers, Lucien, is missing a number of fingers – now in his 70’s he is still working… Another mile upstream is another bigger, and abandoned sawmill – the water wheel is long gone, but the replacement turbine and all equipment was still in situ last time I looked… Reply
- Terry McLean November 16, 2015 Just came across this terrific article. I live in British Columbia and worked in a number of coast sawmills from the 60’s on. We had a number of very large log mills then, many being self contained steam powered mills. Local terminology on the head rig was head sawyer, tail sawyer, and the fellow on the log carriage was called the hot rodder. The steam cylinder carriage drives were called gunshot carriages. Many carriages had a twin cylinder steam engine geared to a cable drum that operated the reciprocating motion of the carriage. These were brutal units. Almost every mill had at least one reciprocating gang saw that shook the ground, particularly as many mills were built on fill. Great article. Thanks Reply
- larry elton November 19, 2015 I loaded several loads to Hull-Oakes before I retired, was nice to see the process, great pictures! Thanks for posting. Reply
- Suzi Williams November 21, 2015 My family mill, IP Miller, shared the mill pond with Hull-Oakes. My grandparents, Lloyd Alene Miller, lived up the canyon. I grew up in Monroe. My grandpa was superintendent of IP Miller. Our mill was eventually sold to Weyerhauser in the 1980’s. I remember as a kid riding on the carriers, the log trucks and the head rig. I liked going to the wigwam. The best thing about the mill were the people that worked there and the community we lived in. I really miss those days! Reply
- Gordon Black November 26, 2015 Thanks for taking the time to share this fantastic article and information on your company. Regards Gordon Black President Logs End Inc. Reply
- Duncan March 14, 2016 What’s the size of the wheel and what are the rpm’s? Reply
- Bob ZybachSeptember 18, 2018 Hi Gary: Excellent article and excellent photos. I am currently working on a digital archives regarding the life and career of Ralph Hull for Oregon State University Archives, Ralph Hull Foundation, and Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. May we have permission from you (or THISis Carpentry?) to add this article to our collection? Reply
- Gary Katz September 19, 2018 Bob, You have my permission, and that includes THISisCarpentry.com! One day I hope to get back up there and shoot video!! Then all that would be missing is the smell of hot wet Douglas fir and hydraulic oil. Wish I could capture that, too. Gary Reply
- Stephan Barac December 21, 2020 They shure dont make em like that anymore. True craftmanship!! Reply
- Stephen OndichAugust 11, 2021 So little of early American sawmill history is un-documented. This is great to see. Back then, the FOCUS was on work cranking out boards, not photo-ops. So much of our infrastructure was built with these machines. Glad to see the Hull-Oakes mill still at it! Reply
- John Leinster April 27, 2022 Hi Gary When I was an apprentice in the early seventies the sawmill next to our workshop at Mareeba in north-east Australia had a bandsaw about the same size as this one. It was used to do the first cuts on every log that went through the mill. The logs were all well seasoned Australian hardwoods. Very hard. They sat in the yard for many months dependent on weather and demand for timber. They were never much longer than the jinker that brought them in but I clearly remember one log that was wider than the truck (8ft. 6in) and took two trucks a couple of days to bring the whole log from the forest 20 miles away. The saw was driven by a 300 HP variable speed ac electric motor which we once had to rewind. The saw sharpening was done by a similar machine to the one in your photos. The teeth tips were flame hardened after grinding, also automated. The log carriage was similar, cable drawn on rails, but automated and controlled by the saw operator, one control station. One day the saw broke while running at full speed. This very sharp piece of spring steel went flying around the shed like a wild thing. Only hit one man and left him with half a dozen serious cuts across his back and legs but he was back at work a couple of weeks later. A heavy steel cage was built around the control station the next day. Nobody wore any hearing or eye protection, noise level, painful. Mill closed in the late 1980s. Reply
- tony lowe November 2, 2022 I did read this article many years ago, and keep going back to it. I am a long retired Sawdoctor NZ ( Saw Filer in the USA) a third generation specializing in big Band and Circular saws. I did try to email the saw mill direct. I have a number of big bandsaw hand setters and sawagers most well over 100 yrs old and wondered if they would be interested. but all my emails bounce. Maybe they read this thanks tony Reply