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Old 01-20-2010, 10:38 PM   #481
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Gulf Island Building.


Gotcha...I'll see if I can get wife number two to click the shutter. I can take a few pix of the mill and show you how it functions. It runs on metal rails, which you can essentially make as long as you like. Especially of you want to spend $500 for every 4 foot section!
Realistically, how long does one need a stick of wood? Maybe 20' tops. I can cut 22', but it is really hard to handle a piece of wood that long, and not terribly practical I think.
However, I will show you the works.

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Old 01-20-2010, 10:52 PM   #482
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Gulf Island Building.


What kind of drying procedure do you do to get the moisture out of the wood and prevent warping?
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:22 AM   #483
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Ponch:

That depends on where the wood is going to be used. For a garden shed or something like that, cut it and nail it together. Let it dry in place.

However, the inside cedar is a different matter. It goes something like this.

Cut the wood slightly oversize to allow sufficient for planing. Depending on the time of year, say right now for example - when it's cold and miserable outside - I would bring it inside, stack and sticker it. With the inside temperature in the house usually about 15C or 60F most of the time, the wood will dry to 10% or less m.c. within 3 months or so, maybe less.

Most cedars are high floaters, which indicates that they are usually fairly dry already, even though they may be floating in the chuck. You have to remember that when a log has been sitting up on a beach somewhere, maybe for years, it is already seasoned. When you cut into a seasoned log, even when it is right out of the chuck, the outside is only wet for maybe 1/8" to 1/4". If a log has been in the water constantly for a year or more, then the water will have penetrated further. But it is surprising how dry logs stay inside once they are seasoned. The ends will ingest much more water, due to the direction of the grain of course.

If you are in a hurry to dry the wood, you can make a mini kiln. I used one when I was drying small cedar strips for canoe building. You basically just build a small framed box affair, maybe 2' square and 20' long. You put the wood to be dried inside and cover the whole shebang with 6 mil poly. At one end you fit a 1500 watt ceramic heater and run it about half speed and power. At the other end, you leave a small opening at the top of the box to let the warm, damp air out. In four days, you can dry the 1/4" thick cedar strips from wet down to 6% m.c., which is REALLY dry.

I imagine you could do the same with the typically 3/4" thick cedar which I use for most of the inside. I would guess it would take 10-14 days to get down to 10% m.c. or so, which would be plenty dry enough to do the finish machining on.

As a rule, cedar is not inclined to twist or warp - except where there is a big knot - then it takes off to where ever it likes.

As for fir, spruce and hemlock, it really boils down to what sort of log you have. Fir and spruce tend to stay quite straight. Hemlock often has a mind of its' own and might move quite a lot. When you look at a log and see loads of little stub branches sticking out, you know it is full of knots. Chances of it staying flat aren't good.

The best thing with hemlock is to cut it and nail it in place as quickly as possible. While this may sound counter intuitive, it keeps the wood in place, and once hemlock is dry - it stays put. It is actually an excellent framing lumber.

I cut some 2 by 8 boards today from a hemlock, and the wood looks pretty nice. It is destined to be floor joists for a new woodshed to be put somewhere outside the back side of the house. That way we won't have to keep chugging down to the other woodsheds 50 yards away!
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:40 PM   #484
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OK, with a little help from the wife - very little - I got a few shots to try and show you how the procedure goes from log in the water to cut board. So here goes.

This morning we had yet another mega high tide, that makes 4 in a row. Extremely unusual - unprecedented in fact.

Here is an old fir which has been sitting in the chuck at the head of the bay for 5 years. It came down January 8, 2005 in a huge storm we had then. It crushed my wife's 20' cedar strip kayak. Not a very fair fight.

This is the second or maybe third log cut from the bottom up, so it's about a foot thick, give or take. But it was totally waterlogged, so it was a heavy sucker.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:43 PM   #485
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Here you can see how the grapples hold the logs when they are being lifted from the water. I cut them out of 1/4" steel plate. They're getting pretty ancient now, much like me, but they still work.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:47 PM   #486
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Once the logs are lifted, the log carrier is moved down the railway by one man power. Sometimes, if a log is extremely heavy I will cheat and use a winch, but it's slow that way.

Here you can see a small log already sitting on the log deck waiting to be cut. It got turned into a 6 by 6 to be used for posts under the new woodshed.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:52 PM   #487
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Once the log is on the log deck, the mill height is set to take the first slab off.

Then the log is rotated 90 degrees and another slab is removed, and so on.

Here the log has two slabs already off - on the side of the log and the bottom of the log. The mill has made a couple of cuts on the third side here.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:56 PM   #488
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There are two ways to turn the logs on the mill. For most logs I can use the peavey to do the job. Sometimes, in the case of an extremely heavy log I need to use the winch on the log lift. It's quite a procedure and takes some time. This is the preferred way.

Of course, if you're wealthy, you can get hydraulic log turners installed. But that takes cubic money. Unfortunately, that's not an affliction that I suffer from.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:58 PM   #489
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As you can see by this point, the wife has deigned to come out of her nice warm cabin and help with some photos. I'll do my best to guess what I'm doing in each one.

Here I am setting a dog on the log. This holds the log securely against the steel pins in order to prevent the log from moving while being cut.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:00 PM   #490
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Please note the Ruxton Island approved hardhat in use here. Don't laugh, I knitted that toque myself.

Here the blade height is being set, you'll have to take my word for it.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:01 PM   #491
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Just to show you I'm not kidding, here is a shot of the gauge on the side of the machine.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:06 PM   #492
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Gulf Island Building.


In order to raise and lower the mill head, you use this handy-dandy king size steering wheel. Just to the left in the picture is an awful looking old rusty brown thing. That's a big spring, much like they use for keeping your garage door open. It takes a little juggling to get the tension perfect, but once it's done, that's it.

On the newer machines, instead of the handy-dandy wheel, some bright spark in the design department decided it would be much cheaper to use a mickey mouse S shaped steel bar. My friend Al has one of those, he hates the damn thing.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:08 PM   #493
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While we're at it I might as well cover most of the rest of the bits and pieces. On top of the mill is a small water tank, alleged to be 5 gallons. It holds maybe 12 litres.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:11 PM   #494
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When the mill is running, you open that high priced little tap affair at the bottom of the tank, and this provides an adjustable amount of water flow to the blade. It serves the dual purpose of keeping the blade cool and lubricated. Amazing what a difference that makes.
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:19 PM   #495
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Perhaps the most important single item - other than a sharp blade - is the blade tension.

This little mill was made by Silvacraft, which later became Norwood, which makes the Lumbermate. Same machine, different name. Most of the parts still fit this old girl.

When I bought this mill, I found it in a metal scrapyard. Not that it was going to be junked, the yard owner tried to use it to cut up some man made paper rollers. Not surprisingly, it didn't work.

When I got it home, all in pieces, I made a list of stuff it needed to be made serviceable again. The company was generous enough to give me a sticker so I had some idea how to tension the blade. So that's why it says Lumbermate on the sticker, there wasn't one there before I got it.

You need to have the minimum amount of tension to keep the blade straight in the cut. Too little and the blade will wander, yielding a wavy board. Too much and the blade will break prematurely. It's a balancing act.
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