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!