Milling Lumber

Milling Sticks for the Kiln Lady

We were contacted by a lady, Teresa, who lives not far from us, for 1 x 1 inch or smaller sticks of wood. She also specified they be no longer than 22 inches. She has an outdoor pottery kiln and those are her requirements. She asked for us to cut up about a cord of wood to start. People…That’s a lot of milling!!

Milling small tamarack logs
Getting set up

With the temperatures being off the charts HOT, we are only using the mill first thing in the morning. Where the mill is situated, we are in the shade until about 10:30 am. Lately it has been about 36 degrees Celsius with the humidity at 10:30 am. I can see an overhead roof being added to the shipping container at some point which would extend over the mill. Too hot out to do it now though. So, good thing we are morning people.

Before we could begin, Jim built a sort of crib to put the 1 x 1 sticks in. Teresa asked for us to bundle the sticks in 16 x 16 inch bundles. So the crib is 16 inches wide and filled, it will be 16 inches tall.

Crib of wood from the mill
Crib for 1 x 1s

Her preferred wood is red pine, but for her first order she is taking tamarack because it has been cut for a few years and is drier than the pine. Oh, and she asked for as much bark as possible. Down side is the tamarack we have on hand is very small. Small logs = more work.

Tamarack is also known as Eastern larch, larch, hackmatack and juniper. It is valued for its longevity for outdoor use like fence posts, wharf and crib pilings, raised planter beds, etc.

Porcupines eat the bark of tamarack. Rabbits like needles, ruffed grouse and other birds like sparrows, the common yellow throat and Nashville warbler eat the seeds.

Tamarack is the only native softwood that loses all of its needles each autumn. They turn yellow then fall off.

So, faithfully, we head out to the mill as many mornings as we can to work on the order. When the crib is full, we tie each section in two spots and cut them into 22 inch lengths, getting four bundles each time we fill the crib.

Chainsaw,cutting lumber
Cutting the sticks into bundles

We have a pallet handy and Jim lifts the heavy bundles out of the crib onto the pallet, then moves it out of the way with the skidsteer.

skidsteer, bundles of wood
6 bundles on the move

Here was our progress after just a few mornings work.

bundles of wood for the pottery kiln
Getting there

And then…

Bundles of tamarack
More 1 x 1 tamarack

We milled all of the tamarack logs we had on hand and started in on the pine to make up the rest of the order. Jim used the skidsteer to pick pine logs off the huge pile in our yard.

Pine logs
Picking off the top of the pile

Once we cut them down to size and brought them to the mill we were ready to continue.

sawmill,pine logs
Large red pine

My job was to pick up the 1 x 1 pieces off the mill and stack them in the crib.

sawmill,pine logs
Game of pick up sticks

Jim said not to look so happy so…

Is that better?

Anyhoo… We got the 36 bundles of sticks done and it took a bit more that 1-1/2 cord of wood. So here is what one cubic cord of wood looks like. Cut into 1 x 1 inch sticks and bundled into 16 x 16 inch bundles that are no more than 22 inches long. Did you get all that?

Dropping off the last pallet

Teresa wants another cord of sticks in the fall, so as we are milling the pine into lumber we will continue to cut up the smaller pieces into sticks and fill the crib, over and over and over again.

After a last minute change in plans we ended up delivering the load to her place. So Early Saturday morning we loaded up the trailer and the back of the truck with our 36 bundles and headed out.

Loading the trailer with wood
Lord…these are heavy

And here they are piled in her kiln yard.

Wood for outdoor kiln
Ready to make pottery magic

For the next batch we are thinking of making the bundles smaller for easier handling. I’ll let you know how we make out with that. Only thing is instead of 36 bundles we would have 72 bundles. Yikes.

A few days later… I modified the jig. It holds in the sticks a lot better now.


Stickers jig using a chainsaw.
Stickers jig using a chainsaw.

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