Friday, December 21, 2012

My Retirement with a Wood-Mizer Sawmill: A Poem

By Arnold M. Sewell
LT40 Hydraulic Owner
Timberline Farm Sawmill
Sykesville, MD

For forty-five years, my own business I had.
  I’d started it young; I was just a lad.
Pianos I could fix, any shape or size,
  But, it’s time to retire, I began to surmise.
So one day in the woods, I was cutting a tree,
  I’ll make some boards, did occur to me.

With chainsaw in hand, and all of my strength,
  I made some boards, of very short length.
I like this I thought, this is what I’ll do,
  But a good saw I’d need, very straight and true.
So I read and talked, and found an advisor,
  And soon ordered my saw, a brand new Wood-Mizer.
An “LT15” is what I got,
  I sawed every day; I used it a lot.
But in a short time, my interest grew,
  A bigger saw I’d need, yes this I knew.
So I sold my first mill, and bought a new one,
  “LT40” Hydraulic, now I’ll get some work done!

The logs came in, and so did the trade,
  And soon I realized, a new business I’d made.
I work mostly alone, but more help did I need,
  There must be a machine, to increase my speed.
So with some thoughts, and a look at my ledger,
  I decided to buy, a “Twin Blade Edger”.
Wood-Mizer did have, the perfect machine,
  And soon it arrived, all new and pristine.
Now quick and away, the flitches they flew,
  Time and waste was reduced, and my troubles were few.

I work every day, but at my retired pace,
  I refuse to re-enter, the world’s rat race.
A lot of my customers, are retired too,
  Making things out of wood, is what they do.
Both men and women, of all levels come in,
  It’s easy with lumber, their interest to win.

It’s been eight years, many thousands of board feet,
  I’ve cut with my mill, and it still runs sweet.
Oh, once in a while, I’ll need a small part,
  Or send in my blades, to have them made sharp.
And if I need help, from “Customer Support”,
  They’ve got the answers I need, and things of that sort.

So on and on, I’ll go with my mill,
  The days of my life, it surly will fill.
The logs come in, and the lumber goes out,
  My retirement is great; there is no doubt.
So this is my story, of recent years,
  To those of you, with listening ears.
And if you want to, and have the desire,
  This may be the way, you ought to retire!   

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wood-Mizer Blades Releases New Blade Maintenance Equipment Line

Industrial-grade BMS500 Automatic Band Blade Sharpener

Wood-Mizer Products, Inc., the world’s leading portable sawmill manufacturer, continues to be on the cutting edge as a manufacturer of band blades and blade maintenance equipment with the release of a new line of blade sharpeners and setters, along with new blades for high production sawing and better performance with highly abrasive wood species.

The BMS500 blade sharpener was recently announced to the U.S. market and is designed to handle up to 3” blades with the performance to sharpen hundreds of blades per week. Its Auto-Run mode saves time,
improves efficiency, and the 8” CBN wheel is powered by a 1hp motor for consistent, accurate full-profile
grinds. The BMS500 is able to be adjusted for different blade sizes and lengths used in various operations.
BMS250 Blade Sharpener with Automatic Control Box
For lower blade volume needs, the new BMS200 and BMS250 blade sharpener models are steady performers with minimal downtime and easy setup. All Wood-Mizer sharpeners are based on superior CBN wheel technology with sharpening wheels manufactured by Wood-Mizer to meet precise specifications.

BMT200 Series Tooth Setter shown with manual crank advance
The new BMT250 tooth setter has been upgraded and sets the bar for accurate and consistent sets on band
blades up to 3”. This machine is designed with an automatic feed system that ensures blades will be in top
shape for maximum performance. The BMT200 tooth setter is an economical alternative to set both sides of
blades with a hand crank.

Wood-Mizer's 3 inch band blades for high production sawmills
Other new products from Wood-Mizer Blades include a 3” blade which is an excellent and more economical
replacement for 4” and wider bands. Another new addition is the carbide-tipped blade for cutting tropical
and extremely hard wood species.

Wood-Mizer is passionately dedicated to offering the latest blade and blade maintenance technology to meet
the evolving needs of customers. To see the full line-up of products, visit To talk to a
blades consultant about your needs, call 800.522.5760.
Wood-Mizer, celebrating 30 years of building portable sawmills, offers an extensive line of portable and
industrial sawmill equipment. The company supports its equipment with legendary customer service, blades,
and blade maintenance equipment.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Visit to a Sawmill for a Video Shoot

Andy Beaver milling beams for the log lodge project.

A couple months ago, I got a call from a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill owner just a few towns over. His name was Andy Beaver, a police officer in Martinsville, Indiana, and a longtime Wood-Mizer customer. He shared with me that he was working with a local Christian camp facility ( to build a new log lodge to expand their lodging capabilities. Andy hoped we would be interested in documenting the project in our Wood-Mizer Way magazine. He shared that much of the work, including his own, would be utilizing the good old-fashioned 'barter system' and with volunteers, because the camp just didn't have the funds to contract out a 30'X80' lodge.

The project sounded interesting, but my initial impression was that he was talking about a relatively rustic building. However, he told me that the proposed lodge would look a lot like another building they had built in a similar way a couple years back, almost every wood element coming off the sawmill (flooring, logs, beams, t&g ceiling, etc.) After browsing their website, and seeing how well their Welcome Center had turned out, we were very excited about having a project so close that we could document the progress of.

The current Welcome Center at Highland Lakes Camp.

The poplar logs for the lodge were logged from the camp property. Although it was during a very busy week at Wood-Mizer, I was able to jump in a truck with a video camera and run down one afternoon to get some footage of the logging in action. 30 minutes later, I had ran a 1/2 mile, jumped a creek, and ridden a log being pulled through the forest, which all resulted in some great footage of the logs that would in a few months return to the same property milled and ready to be assembled into a building.

Poplar logs staged, logged from the camp property they will return to as building material for the camp lodge!

Yesterday, we loaded up our camera equipment into a truck and made the 45 minute trip out to Andy's house, where he is sawing up all the logs for the project. James Bull, our videographer is in charge of the shoot, I help out with a camera and usually conduct the interviews, and Eric Groeschen, our newly hired print shop coordinator, came along for the ride. When Eric was hired, there was so much on his plate, he never even got to see a Wood-Mizer in action! We decided it was high time we pull him out of the print shop for a morning of fresh air and fresh sawdust. He brought his DSLR camera, and functioned as our photographer for the morning.

Andy's first log cabin, his own, he built with logs he cut on his first Wood-Mizer mill 23 years ago.

After winding through Indiana's back roads for several miles, we found Andy's house. 23 years ago, Andy was running a service station just a few miles from the Wood-Mizer office. He was really wanting to get out of the city and build his own log home kit in the country. After looking through kit after kit, he wonderful if he couldn't just do it himself, in spite of his lack of building experience. He ended up buying a LT30 sawmill, and through trial and error, built his own log cabin. He builds several log cabins and homes each year now for clients as a part time business, and he insists that he knows a whole lot more now about building log homes then he did 23 years ago!

Several men showed up to help Andy with the sawing, and pick up some lumber to take back to the camp.

When we arrived, I was surprised to find 4 other guys hanging out with Andy at 9 am in the below 40 degree weather. Andy explained that they were all associated with the camp in some way, and were there to help him out with the sawing. Later, he shared that having extra guys hang out with him while he's sawing is not unusual. There are several regulars in the area that just show up to help him for a couple hours just for the fun of it! He said, with a chuckle, that he gets a lot more work done when someone shows up and pitches in, but that when more than 5 show up on a Saturday, that's usually when nothing gets done! ;-)

Andy was almost too comfortable in front of the camera ;-)

After spending a few minutes chatting, we got Andy mic'ed up, sat him on a log in front of his LT40 Super Hydraulic mill and filmed an interview, covering any topic related to sawing, the camp lodge project, and Andy's own side business of building custom log homes. He was a rare find - naturally comfortable on camera! He credited his 20+ years as a police officer for his easy going style throughout the interview. He said he wasn't nearly as nervous yesterday as when he has to testify in court, or give a disposition! ;-)

James getting Andy all mic'ed up.

Interviewing Andy Beaver about his 23 years of sawing experience and the camp lodge project.

After the interview and a tour of the mill, Andy and his crew fired up the LT40 and started sawing. Andy's workspace seemed well suited to his workflow. Boards were sticker stacked directly behind the mill, slabs went in a pile to one side of the mill, flitches went back onto the loading arms for edging later, and sawdust was quickly shoveled into a shed with one open side. Doors on the backside of the shed make it easy for local farmers to back up to the sawdust and load it right into the truck.

Slabs go in the pile to the left, and the shed on the right has a large pile of fresh sawdust stored inside.

One of the men present at the mill, Brian Christy, is the Highland Lakes Director of Operations, so we were also able to interview him about what all the camp has to offer, what their goals are, and get his perspective on the progress of the camp lodge project Andy is working with them on. They have the foundation all poured, and once Andy has milled a good quantity of the 6"x9" beams they need, they're looking forward to starting work on the walls.

Jake setting up the interview with Highland Lakes camp director, Brian Christy. 
Not wanting to keep the crew from their work, we finished up some filming and chatting with the guys, and packed up our gear, very pleased with all the great video footage of the sawing and interviews we had been able to get. Hungry, we stopped at a truck stop diner for lunch, and enjoyed a large country breakfast, and then we were back to the office to return to the finer comforts of central heating. ;-)

We look forward to continuing to document this unique project! As soon as walls start going up, we'll be back down to get good video footage of that part of the process. :-) 

Are you looking forward to seeing more photos and eventually a finished project video? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Custom Sawing & Furniture Building: A Better Retirement Plan

By Danny Hamsley, Hamsley Forestry, LLC.
After purchasing the LT15 sawmill in 2002 for personal projects, I started selling a little lumber that I had in excess of what I needed, and was surprised at the interest that I got from local woodworkers.  I developed a plan to retire at age 57 and focus on sawing and selling hardwood lumber and working as a Forestry Consultant since I am a Registered Forester.     I was able to retire in April 2011. I am also now able to spend more time turning that high quality lumber produced on the sawmill into high quality, custom furniture.  My business, though small, is all about timber, lumber, and furniture.  If I tried to go and buy the lumber, the profit would not be there at my scale to justify it.  The sawmill makes the whole strategy work, and it is the keystone of the whole process.

I saw to maintain an inventory of the various hardwood species that local woodworkers are after.  When I am not sawing, I may be working on the lumber, stacking, air drying, sorting, etc.  People call and come buy lumber just about anytime 7 days a week.  I also spend a lot of time on the furniture side of things.  I always have some type of furniture project on the drawing board or in progress. 

There is also time required to measure and mark timber, harvest timber, skid out the logs and prepare them for sawing.  I spend as much time harvesting, skidding, and preparing the logs as I do sawing them.  I may be small, but I am fully integrated!
I saw primarily hardwood, the majority off of my timberland.  My strategy is to saw, air dry, and sell rough cut hardwood lumber for local woodworkers.  I am supplying a exclusive service because you cannot find hardwood lumber like walnut, oak, cherry, yellow poplar, and maple in this area.  I cut all thicknesses from 4/4 up to 16/4.  Lengths are 8 feet and 10 feet.  To date, my primary focus has been building furniture for family and friends, but the sawmill will allow me to increase the amount of custom furniture that I can build and sell.  This will be a growth area for me.
The sawmill allows me to gain significantly more value from my timberland than if I just offered the timber for sale to a logger or commercial sawmill.  For example, I can sell a large white oak on the stump as timber to a logger or mill, and it will be worth about $60 on the stump.  I can harvest the tree myself, saw it on the LT15, air dry the lumber, and sell the lumber from that tree for $700 - $800.  That is a huge lift in value that allows me to make a return from the timberland that I own and manage as well as a return on my sawmill and equipment investment.  It also allows me to offer lumber to local woodworkers that would otherwise have to drive two hours to Atlanta and pay high retail prices.

The Re-Sharp program is perfect for me.  I focus on high quality and not quantity, so sharpening my own blades would not be cost effective.  I have found the Re-sharp service to be outstanding in turn-around time and in blade quality.

It is amazing to me the lift that I can achieve in my timber investment on my 200 acres of property by sawing a high quality product and selling the product rather than just selling the timber.  The sawmill allows me to gain a lift over ten-fold more than the market value of the timber stumpage. 
I am going to expand the furniture side of my business.  Although small, I am happy with the volume of lumber at this point… it fits my property, equipment, and business strategy well.  I can make a little money and really enjoy what I am doing.  I get to meet all kinds of interesting people.  This creates a lot of exposure for the mill and most are interested in the process, and it allows me to brag on how great a product the mill is and the great service provided by Wood-Mizer.  And, believe me, I do brag! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Building Backyard Projects with Lumber from a Portable Sawmill

Sawing lumber for the farm

As stewards of our land and resources, we cultivate and care for what’s been given to us. One way that many people are becoming even more self-sufficient is in the way that they obtain lumber for projects around the farm and in their back yards, using a small personal sawmill.

You can mill your own wood a lot easier than you might think. Small portable sawmills are making it possible for anyone to be able to cut their own boards for garden sheds and other backyard building projects. These one-man mills take up little space, and fit nicely into a garage or set up in the backyard.

Jim Oseychuk of Ontario, Canada, not only used his Wood-Mizer sawmill to saw all the lumber for his house and deck, but also for his garden shed.

Jim Oseychuck's backyard garden shed, which he built all from self-sawn lumber

“We were standing in our old raspberry patch,” he recalls, “when my wife suggested that we rip it all out and construct a garden shed.  I had been saving some fir logs that had enormous curves, mostly caused from growing on steep rocky slopes. For conventional purposes, they were quite worthless.  But from a creative sense, they were very unique.  This was my chance to use them!” 

What was originally meant to be a simple backyard shed became a masterpiece of creativity and craftsmanship.   His wife, an “original North Carolina girl with a love of gardening,” got her much anticipated and award-winning garden shed.

Danny Hamsley (Hawkinsville Georgia) uses his portable sawmill to harvest trees that fall down in storms, saws them into lumber, and then builds custom furniture, or sells the lumber to local woodworking hobbyists. 

The enjoyment of actually sawing lumber yourself is only one of the benefits that come from using a portable sawmill. You have the choice of where your wood comes from, and do not have to limit yourself to just what is on the store shelf. You can get your wood in ways that allow you to be a good steward of natural resources. Trees that often end up as firewood can be turned into valuable lumber instead. The milling process produces sawdust that can be combined with your compost pile as well.

Most portable sawmill owners feel that their investment pays for itself after only a couple of projects. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving, giving you years of enjoyment and the ability to produce your own wood for you and your neighbors.

Danny with a fresh stack of lumber, ready for drying.
Learn more about sawing your own lumber at Wood-Mizer carries a full line of portable sawmills, from entry level mills to mills with advanced hydraulic log handling functions. Order your free portable sawmill catalog here.

See Wood-Mizer saw mills in action in the video below.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Massive Wood-Mizer Sawmill provides new Profits for Portland Hardwood Supplier

Meet Art Blumenkron. This forward-thinking, eco-minded owner of Goby Walnut & Western Hardwoods has recently installed an extra-sized thin-kerf Wood-Mizer sawmill to maximize profits for his business and minimize his impact on the environment.

The Pacific Northwest is well known for its towering tracts of evergreen forests. One Oregon company, however, is making a name for itself by tapping into the wooden treasures found within a different natural resource: dead, dying, and diseased hardwoods. Goby Walnut &Western Hardwoods is seeing worldwide sales due to their impressive product offering, and is leading the way in using environmentally responsible & profit enhancing business practices.

Started over 35 years ago by Gary Goby, the company was purchased in 2007 by Art Blumenkron, an entrepreneur who was looking for a break from the high stress of his dental equipment manufacturing business.  He was ready to invest his time and money into something more rewarding. That’s when he discovered Goby Walnut, being run from Gary Goby’s home outside of Albany, Oregon.

A large Walnut slab, up to 75" wide, in inventory

Art realized that the growing specialty hardwood supply company had untapped potential, and after making the purchase, he moved the company to the Northwest Industrial area of Portland, hired additional employees, and invested in a professional website displaying their inventory of hardwood slabs, figured boards, tone wood billets  and veneers. Art’s changes are having their intended effect. The company processes 50% more logs, and sales have tripled since 2006.

Goby Walnut buys trees from Arborists, municipalities, parks and individual landowners within a couple hundred mile radius of their Portland location. They look for trees from two to over seven feet wide, and will pay from $500 to $20,000 for the right tree. These logs are milled into slabs, boards, and veneers that all fetch premium prices from high end furniture makers, musical instrument craftsmen, and woodworking hobbyists. Two of the rough sawn figured Oregon Black Walnut slabs on the company’s website are priced over $10,000, but Art also supplies boards and remnants for under $100.

With the increased sales and growing worldwide demand, Art saw the need to further expedite his milling and drying processes. He had been milling the huge hardwood slabs with chainsaw and swingblade mills, but knew that there had to be a more efficient way to accurately saw the premium logs and decrease the amount of precious wood being wasted in sawdust.

The WM1000 cuts down on sawing time, while improves yield

Familiar with Wood-Mizer’s thin-kerf  portable and industrial sawmills, he learned about Wood-Mizer’s most recently released machine, the WM1000 thin-kerfheadrig, which can saw a 67” log in half while only losing 1/8 of an inch in sawdust each pass. Art weighed the cost of the machine with its increased efficiency, cut quality, and unbeatable material recovery, and knew he had found exactly what he needed to maximize his profits from his logs.

With the WM1000 installed at his facility, and running full-time every day, Art is confident that the machine will pay for itself quickly. Every log cut yields an extra slab each time. Each large slab in his inventory ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 dollars each, which means a significant increase in profitability coming from the new mill.
"We recently cut a 15 foot, 48” diameter walnut log and were amazed to find that the thickness of the slabs didn’t vary by more than 1/32” over the whole 15 feet. Our finish on the slabs is much better than [our previous mill] and we yield an extra slab on every log. Another consideration is time…it takes about 10 minutes to complete a cut on a large slab…."  
Art Blumenkron
But the uses for this machine are not limited to just cutting premium slabs. “The WM1000 is great for any kind of sawmill business that deals with large logs, whether it be parting logs so they can be milled or sawing large slabs. It’s a lot of machine for the money!” Art explains.

Large slabs for furniture makers are not the only wood product offered by Goby. Gunstock blanks in three different varieties of walnut, cherry, maple and myrtle are available for muzzleloaders, rifles, and shotguns. Craftsman of musical instruments can find Oregon Walnut and Big Leaf Maple tonewood for most stringed instruments, providing superior sound and looks for the musical instrument.

For woodworkers, walnut veneers, book matched boards, turning blocks, remnant wood boards and blocks are available. Goby Walnut’s inventory also boasts large walnut, maple, redwood, and myrtle burls for tabletops.  

Art is continuing to research how to make his business more efficient and profitable. Right now he is sawing many smaller hardwood logs on the WM1000, which takes time away from sawing the big logs. He is looking at remedying that problem by putting in a Wood-Mizer industrial WM3500 to handle all his smaller hardwood logs and let the WM1000 concentrate on the big logs.  Art is also working with kiln manufacturers to see if he can utilize new kiln technologies to speed up the drying process while maintaining the integrity of the wood. Large hardwood slabs presently take 1-3 years to completely dry and be ready for resale. He would consider his investment worth it if he could process those same slabs within months instead of years.

To learn more about what Goby Walnut & Western Hardwoods offers, visit to learn more about the company and to browse their extensive inventory of hardwood slabs for sale.
Visit to learn more about the WM1000 and other industrial sawmills that are giving sawmill operations additional profitability from their logs.

Ways that Goby Walnut & Western Hardwoods is making more profits by being environmentally conscious.
  • Uses the WM1000 thin-kerf headrig to maximize profits and minimize sawdust from premium hardwoods
  • Uses sustainable tree harvesting practices, and is in the process of being “SmartWood” certified
  • Uses waste wood to heat his buildings and saves thousands on energy bills
  • Installed more efficient lighting in his warehouse, and will save even more on his energy bills
  • Is developing a way to market walnut shavings as a natural weed suppressant.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wood-Mizer Takes Applications for Professional Sawyer Program

An opportunity for actively sawing Wood-Mizer sawmill owners to boost long-term success

Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer Network

Wood-Mizer Products is taking applications for a new customer program, the Pro Sawyer Network, designed to boost the success of sawmill businesses and owners throughout the United States.

Members of the Pro Sawyer Network will have access to exclusive opportunities to increase the profitability of their sawing endeavors. Although Wood-Mizer has had components of the new program in place for many years, the Pro Sawyer Network brings all the benefits into one program that has involvement options that members can select themselves, such as being referred to new customers looking for a local sawing service, and demonstrating their sawmill for credit on account. More information on involvement options can be found on the online PDF application.

“Many sawmill owners and businesses have experienced some tough times in the last few years. Our desire with the launch of the Pro Sawyer Network is to funnel more opportunities for profitability directly to our talented customers that offer so much to their communities,” commented Wood-Mizer’s National Sales Manager, Dave Mann. 

The formation of the Pro Sawyer Network will also provide a local resource to individuals who want to hire a sawyer to cut their logs into lumber. Currently, Wood-Mizer offers an online request form that can be used to obtain the contact information for a local sawing service. According to Wood-Mizer’s Dave Mann, this online tool has been very successful in connecting people to sawyers-for-hire, and he says that they have plans for a more robust version of the tool down the road.

Wood-Mizer sawmill owners can apply for membership to the Pro Sawyer Network online at, or request a form in the mail by calling 800.553.0182. Membership is free of charge, and some qualifications apply. Members of Wood-Mizer’s previous “Custom Cutting” and “Owner Demonstration Credit” programs are required to reapply if they desire to transition to the Pro Sawyer Network.

Keys to Success from 57 Years of the Sawmill Business

The Baize Family team. Author Jordan Baize to the far right.
By Jordan Baize

Family photo from 1981
In today’s economy, a few years in business is something to be proud of, not to mention almost 6 decades.  Our family’s lumber manufacturing company, B& K Wood Products, is celebrating its 57th anniversary this April.  Companies like ours and Wood-Mizer haven’t just been lucky over the years or stumbled into good fortunes.  Our company has instead formulated a Company Philosophy for longevity and growth made up of some of the simplest ideas known to man, and I’d like to share these principles with you.  Caution: this is much simpler than what they teach you in business school!  Let’s get started.



Integrity - Establish relationships with business partners with a handshake and a solid word.

Not many companies can say they are selling to some of the same customers as they were 40 years ago, but ours can.  There’s no easy, cheap, or quick way of getting customers to buy the same product from your for more than four decades.  There is only one way to accomplish this: treat your customer with integrity.  Look at the customer-vendor relationship as a marriage. In 40 years, the customer will have plenty of time to find the faults in you (and there always are a few faults in all of us).  But if you have treated your customer with integrity for the length of the relationship, they should care enough about your organization to overlook those faults, or at least give you time to correct those faults without dropping you first.

Milling in 1959

Organizations should make it a point to serve customers, not just push products their way.  In the end, the only thing that generates customer retention is positive relationships that are built on integrity.  If the waitress at your favorite pizza joint is rude and unhelpful, the pizza you once enjoyed will start tasting worse and worse.  No product is good enough to overcome poor relationships.  Integrity wins in the end every time.  Not to mention it just feels good at the end of the day to be able to hold your head high.  Try it! It’s worked for us.

Diversification - Offer a wide array of products and services.

 Our company was started over 50 years ago as a side lumber and crossties operation only.  Today, sawmilling is still a big part of what we do, but it is not the only thing we do.  Nor will it ever be again.  We have adopted a more diverse range of products than just the standard lumber and tie variety out of necessity.  This has always been a strategic position of ours, and it proved its worth in 2009.  Countless friends and competitors of ours shut their doors for the last time that year.  At the time, most of them were still cutting the same side lumber and crossties we were cutting 50 years prior.  There is nothing wrong with consistency, but when times change, we must change with them or risk looking failure in the face. 

One of B&K's Wood-Mizer Industrial Headrigs
Diversifying your products and services to cover varying areas of the market is a necessity.  For instance, during the heart of the economic crisis when the housing market had tanked, we were not able to sell much of our inventory that ends up as cabinet facings, hardwood flooring, or stair treads.  Instead, we had to lean heavily on other products that we produce and divert those revenue streams (which were quickly drying up) down other avenues.  A few years back our wood chip market was soft so we went looking for another way to capitalize on our wood waste.  Because of that diversification, we are now Kroger’s largest producer of manufactured firewood, a new use for the same material our wood chips once came. 

Whatever It Takes – Manufacture products of unquestionable quality using both trail-blazing technologies and beaten-path tools of the trade.

  Our company has been around for a while and learned many things over the years.  We pride ourselves in not forgetting the many lessons learned through the decades, all the while not neglecting newer technologies and good, old-fashion hard work.  We feel like that is simply the only way to be consistently profitable in business.
Another Wood-Mizer thin-kerf headrig at B&K Wood Products
When our organization sets up a production goal, we meet that goal. Period.  Budgets and forecasting are useless if the top number on the income statement (gross revenue) is lower than expected.  Companies must aim to produce quality products in the expected timeframe.  Anything short of that changes the financial landscape of the company.  Use all resources necessary to get the job done on time—whatever it takes.

Thrive, Don’t Survive!

The B&K Wood Products facility

The simple active application of these ideals to our business has resulted in longevity spanning 57 years.  It’s important to remember that most people who have been successful have taken a few easy-to-understand principles that their grandfather could have taught them, and followed them without wavering.  Instead of avoiding failure, business owners and managers should instead be trying to attain greatness and longevity.  Thrive, don’t just survive—let’s go the distance!

For more information on products that have helped B&K succeed, visit Also, to see how thin-kerf headrigs can help your business increase profitability, watch this video: Ohio Valley Veneer

Friday, July 13, 2012

Missionary to Mongolia, Asia using a LT40 Hydraulic to build School and local Market Facility

Two decades after Mongolian independence from Soviet control, much of the isolated northern Mongolian town of Khatgal still lies in ruins, families live in extreme poverty, and the struggling government is limited in the support and opportunities it can provide. 

With tourism on the rise in the area, many have turned to traditional craft making. Local artisans labor in their one room cabins or Mongolian tents, working in homes smaller than the average American bedroom. During the short-lived summer months, women and children wander for miles through scattered camps placing their wares on the ground to display to foreign travelers. With an average annual income of less than $500, dreams of making a living for their families too often fades under the hardships. 

Mission Director Mickey Cofer and his wife Trina are on location working to make a difference. Their backgrounds as professional artists prepared them to be able to reach out to the needs of poverty-stricken artisans. They have set up a nonprofit organization called Local Craftsmen Foundation where individuals can receive training in quality craftsmanship and effective marketing. Through the generous gifts of American churches, the foundation has purchased a 100,000 square foot abandoned Soviet factory – a five building complex sitting on twelve acres of lakefront property. 

They are planning to turn the roadfront building into an Arts and Crafts Center to create a vibrant showcase and market opportunity for local artisans. The midsection of the factory is allocated for a Leadership Training Institute, and the lakeside facility is being renovated into a Summer Youth Camp and Community Center. 

The gift of a brand new Wood-Mizer LT40 hydraulic sawmill is making the renovation of this incredible site possible. It has afforded Mongolian Missions the opportunity to labor efficiently and inexpensively using local labor and materials. Through the help of this amazing tool the Cofer’s are working to help revitalize the region. Once renovations are complete, the sawmill will continue to be the main piece of equipment used for the long-term woodcraft project; not only producing crafts for tourists, but the furniture, frames and floors of their traditional Mongolian yurts for families around the country.

Through partnerships with people and organizations like Wood-Mizer, dreams are becoming a reality, and major steps are being taken toward strengthening one of the most charming and unique societies left on the face of the earth.

Inspired? Get involved with Mickey’s work: 

Contact address: Mickey Cofer, Mongolian Missions, PO Box 189 Winchester OH 45697

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Maximizing Sawmill Blade Performance

Premature Sawmill Blade Breaks

Why do they happen and how can they be prevented? Look over these trouble-shooting tips to ensure that you are getting the most from your blades when using your own blade sharpener and setter.

1. Running a blade dull or too long causes increased stress in the blade
  • • Pull the blade at regular intervals to maximize flex life and lower material amount removed to get blade sharp again.
  • • Change the blade immediately after striking a foreign object or material
  • • Be sure to grind lightly and into the gullet to remove any stress cracks.

2. Running a blade with damaged or worn blade guides can lead to failure
  • • Replace roller guides when flat spots develop on the shell.
  • • Replace roller guides when grooves develop in the flange or as flanges wear thin.
  • • Replace roller guide or bearing if it will not spin freely or is loose.
  • • Replace blade guide pads when fractured, worn thin or worn unevenly.
  • • Blade guide pads should not be too tight and “heat” the blade. Be sure to adjust for different thickness of blades.

3. Other sawmill conditions that can lead to blade breakage
  • • Worn or cheap blade wheel belts.
  • • Loose or damaged drive belts.
  • • Insufficient blade tension or tension system problems.
  • • Loose sliding arm that goes in and out.
  • • Excessive build up on blade or blade wheel belts
  • • Bearing failure in the blade wheels
  • • Blade contacting any steel or guards while sawing.

4. ReSharpening issues that can lead to premature blade failure
  • • Grinding too heavy, burning the tooth and gullets.
  • • Incomplete sharpening of total blade profile. Use a dye or nail polish to ensure getting it all.
  • • Removing stress cracks forming in the gullet.
  • • Missing the outside corners on the backside of set teeth.
  • • Dress grinding wheel frequently to eliminate grazing and particles embedding into the wheel.
  • • Dress the grinding appropriately for each profile or try CBN technology.
  • • Maintain bend location when setting the blade and stay away from the tip.

5. Other factors that affect blade life
  • • Allowing blades to rust when storing.
  • • Leaving sawdust and pitch buildup on teeth when storing blades. Flood the blade with lubrication before removing.
  • • Remove blade tension when not using the mill.
  • • Lubricate the blade while sawing.
  • • Maintain proper tracking of the blade on blade wheels.

Use the Right Sawblade for the Job.

It is crucial to the success of the milling operation to correctly match the right saw blade with the species and conditions of the material being sawn. Thicker blades handle tougher sawing conditions but thinner blades offer more flex life. Thicker blades also require more horsepower and can saw faster! Some blade profiles also require more horsepower. 

  • The 7 degree and 4 degree blade are suited for higher horsepower machines in hardwoods and even softwoods. 
  • The 9 degree profile offers best performance on low horsepower, lower demanding and smaller logs. 
  • The 10 degree is the best all-around blade profile for mixed hardwoods and general sawing conditions. 
  • Don’t be afraid to try different profiles in your sawing conditions to see what works best for you. 

Wood-Mizer's ReSharp is always available to meet your blade maintenance needs and make it easier for you to experiment. You can even join our automatic blade replacement program that gives you even more convenience and flexibility with your blade supply. Visit to learn more about blades, Wood-Mizer's ReSharp service, blade maintenance equipment, and the types of blades available from Wood-Mizer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wood-Mizer Goes Mobile

Our website is now mobile friendly! Calling customer service, ordering blades, or getting a map for your local Wood-Mizer location is now easy to find right on your mobile device! Browse our product lines, check out the latest promotion, and more. Just visit on your phone!

Feel free to leave feedback for our new mobile website version. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Homesteader with a Sawmill

Building a Self-sufficient Farm and Home without the Lumberyard
by Kevin Kiwak, Wood-Mizer LT40 Super Hydraulic sawmill owner.

“Every wood element in the house – from the frame to the trim, doors, shelves, cabinets, you name it – was milled on the Wood-Mizer [sawmill]. One hundred percent of the wood in the house comes from my property and was processed on my mill.” Kevin Kiwak

"In the summer of 1993, I attended an introductory timber framing class at the Heartwood School in Beckett, Massachusetts. It was during that experience that two significant events occurred - I saw a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill for the first time and I made the acquaintance of Jack Sobon, the well-known timber frame architect and author. For the next decade, I dreamed of building my own house and starting a self-sufficient farm but circumstances always seemed to interfere. I purchased my Wood-Mizer LT40HD Super Remote [sawmill] in 2000 but it still would be another four years before Jack Sobon would design my house and I could chance leaving my career to pursue my dream.

The Learning Curve

"This is my first house, with little previous building experience other than my two weeks at the Heartwood School. It is my very first sawmilling experience. Admittedly, the learning curve was steep when I first started milling, but I soon found the machine design and operation to be intuitively obvious. Proficiency followed quickly. The house plan was taken from a 17th century French Country design. The French call it 'half-timbered,' that is, a timber frame with infill for the enclosure so that the frame remains exposed. I knew when I started the project that it would seem odd covering such a beautiful frame with siding or some other enclosure, so this was the perfect design solution. 

Timber Frame Construction

"As the frame is exposed it would require a rot-resistant species. Living in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts I was limited in choice- white oak, black cherry, and black locust being the available rot-resistant species. My property, quite fortuitously, was heavily populated with wild black cherry. The timbers are heartwood cherry on all exposed exterior surfaces. The wild cherry timbers were milled on my Wood-Mizer and then the frame was assembled using a scribing technique so as to be able to incorporate many unusual and curved members. After milling, not a single power tool was used in the construction of the house. For example, over 600 mortise and tenon joints were hand cut with a mallet and two inch framing chisel. From tree on the stump to assembled frame took the better part of two years. The entire project is now in its sixth year!

"The infill is autoclaved, aerated concrete block, chosen for its high R-value, covered with three coats of aged lime plaster both inside and out. The rafters, roof boards, floor joists, tower members, wane-edged siding, and exterior trim were all milled on the LT40. The interior timbers, also milled on my Wood-Mizer, are an assortment of species- beech, birch, red oak, hard and soft maple, sycamore, dawn redwood, eastern white pine, hemlock, cherry, and apple: in proportion to the timbers on the property, a formula devised by Jack Sobon. The wide variety of species used and the fact that milling occurred throughout the year (from 100 degrees in August to minus 15 degrees in February) required an assortment of sawmill blades. The Wood-Mizer technical staff was central to my sawmill blade education.

"The longest members in the frame are 34 foot 8x9 inch cross ties. The summer beam, cut from eastern white pine, measures 8x24 inches and is 16 feet long. The large hip roof and the other smaller roofs required some 32,000 shingles. These were made from knot-free, heartwood blocks of eastern white pine and milled using the shingle-maker attachment on my Wood-Mizer. I quickly discovered that shingle-making leaves a tremendous amount of ‘scrap’ wood which would generally be considered unusable, but with the Wood-Mizer I could turn even these scraps into valuable lumber.

Making it Work

"Every wood element in the house - from the frame to the trim, doors, shelves, cabinets, you name it - was milled on the LT40. One hundred percent of the wood in the house comes from my property and was processed on my mill. We are still working on the interior finish work on the house but starting this Fall I will begin a 35x50 foot 3-bay timber framed English barn. We would like to eventually house a pair of oxen – which we will use for logging in place of a tractor – in the future barn. All our present outbuildings - chicken coop, garden shed, sheep shed- were made using the Wood-Mizer. All future buildings – barn, bakehouse, and woodshed – will be built using the mill. We had a 6,000 square foot vegetable garden this year, in addition to which we grew broomcorn (for brooms!) and our own wheat. We dug a root cellar this summer and harvested 400 pounds of potatoes in the fall.

A New Horizon

"My Wood-Mizer sawmill has literally opened a new world to me. I am not restricted (financially, aesthetically, or imaginatively) by using a lumberyard or having another sawyer mill my elements. The possibilities seem limitless. For me, there is no turning back."

Kevin Kiwak with his Wood-Mizer LT40 Super Hydraulic portable sawmill

About Portable Sawmills

Small, affordable band sawmills have reduced or eliminated that reliance on box store lumber for thousands of people across North America. In the early 1980’s Wood-Mizer first came out with an affordable sawmill for the average Joe and self reliance for one’s own lumber suddenly became a possibility. Storm damaged timber is one of the most common reasons people first begin considering sawing their own lumber. They know that their trees are much more valuable than just being chopped up for firewood, and the idea of processing those trees into lumber is born.

About the Sawing Process

Wood-Mizer sawmills are based on a very simple, intuitive design. After a log is rolled onto the bed, and clamped firmly, the bandsaw blade is engaged, and the bandsaw head is pushed down the length of the log, sawing off a first board. Then the head is raised up, pulled back, and the whole process starts over again, and the boards begin stacking up. Boards can be stacked vertically on the sawmill, and edged to various desired widths in the same manner. Unlike convention circle sawmills, which remove 1/4” of wood each time the blade saws through the log, the Wood-Mizer ‘thin-kerf’ bandsaw blade removes less than a 1/10” of an inch. This increases the amount of material that each log can produce, and greatly reduces the amount of waste from the process. Hydraulic versions of these sawmills greatly reduce the amount of labor involved and increase production rates.

Studies on the Impact of using a Portable Sawmill

US Forest Service researcher Stephen Bratkovich, has reported that typical sawmills in the US operate at about 50% efficiency in terms of lumber recovery. In a study of a pallet lumber mill in Missouri, Bratkovich demonstrated 69% efficiency for a thin kerf mill with a .050" blade cutting thin lumber. "The US annual cut of timber for lumber products is equivalent to approximately 240 million trees," Bratkovich writes. "We could save the equivalent of 69 million trees annually if our recovery efficiency improved from 50% to 70% in our primary processing industry."

Learn more about portable sawmills and see more success stories at or