Monday, January 25, 2010

Subdividing a chicken house

A couple of years ago I built an 8' x 8' chicken house for 4 chicken and one rooster using rough sawn lumber from my portable sawmill. They live happily there at night and in the enclosed yard by day. It has been decided that the spare rooster that we also have has to move out of the duck house, so today I subdivided the chicken house. The main goal of our two roosters it to kill each other, so that have to be separated at all times. To divide the chicken house, I made a wall down the middle and made a door for accessing the back half of the enclosure. To feed the lone rooster, the door will be left in it's normally closed position and when it is time to care for the other fowl, the door swings 90 degrees the other way and closes the first half off. In this manner we endeavor to keep our roosters separated and alive.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sawing frozen pine logs

I had a very interesting time on Thursday sawing pine logs that were frozen solid all the way through. Once I left a slab on top and stopped to talk to someone and when I came back, it had frozen solid back to the cant and I had to take my cant hook and bang on it to bust it loose.

The frozen sawdust was another item of wonderment. Normally the sawdust can be easily brushed off the freshly sawn lumber. The sawdust would almost instantly freeze to the surface of the 1x6 boards that I was sawing and when I rubbed my GLOVED hand across the surface, it stayed stuck in place. When sawdust comes out the discharge pipe from the sawmill, it is usually a little warm. On Thursday, it felt like catching a snowball without gloves.

The logs that I sawed later in the day had thawed to about 1.5 to 2 inches in on the side that the sun was shining on. At first it looked a bit weird on the boards where the saw blade had gone from frozen to not frozen wood. However I soon figured out what was going on. The Wood-Mizer double hard blades with a 10 degree tooth hook worked really well on the frozen pine. Now I'm off to more of the same sawing, only on larger logs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Firing the kiln with carbon neutral green energy

About a year ago we started building a dry kiln for drying lumber. At the time I was using a neighbor's tobacco bulk barn for drying lumber. It worked very well, but it was also very expensive. Seeing that I have a seemingly endless supply of fuel, it was only natural to build a wood fired dry kiln for drying the lumber sawn on my Wood-Mizer portable sawmill. It worked better in the summer than it does now, because I have not insulated to large bi-fold door that is made of recycled sheet metal. In the summer I could dry the pine lumber in about 4 days. Now it takes about 6 days.

I fire the kiln with oak, poplar, and pine slabs. It has an eight inch flue pipe that runs down one side, across the end, and back down the other side before going out to the smoke stack. The walls of the kiln are made out of 6"x6" pine beams held together with all-thread rod. After we used it a few times, we had to go back and seal the cracks that opened up. The walls have stayed fairly tight since that.

According to a magazine that I read on the subject, using wood for heat is carbon neutral. I'm just not sure about that smoke and steam going out the stack.

Oh, another bit of lumber has just finished it's drying process and will be picked up by the customer in a couple of days. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nails in trees, nails in logs, I do not like them, please

Dr. Seuss could have had fun with this one. Having to watch out for nails in logs that I'm sawing is a perennial problem. It seems that many people mistake trees for living fence posts, among other things that cause them to have nails anywhere from the surface to the center, (those poor little trees that had nails pounded into them :( ,)

Cedar and walnut are the most likely trees to have nails or other metal in them. Any tree that is made of wood, is also a likely candidate for having a nail in it. Cedar, because they make such good living fence posts and walnut, because they are just there and someone comes along with a nail and they need somewhere to put it.

Sometimes I have taken my portable sawmill to saw for someone who declared that there is no way that there can be any nails in any of their logs because of this or that, and zing, in the first log the blade will saw through a nail. Then he will look at me as if to say that it is my fault. I'm sympathetic, saw blades are expensive, (over $2000 in new blades and sharpening in 2008).

So, please keep this one thing in mind. If you have a nail, or other metal object that you feel must be put into wood, find a piece of wood that has already been converted into a board or a fence post, and then pound it in. You and your sawyer will be glad you did.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Slabs, slabs everywhere!

One of the occasional challenges of being a sawmill operator it what to do with the slabs. Today I combined that with what to do with 5 nephews. There was a nice slab pile of red oak, maple, and poplar that I had been saving, letting dry for a while, and saving for such a time.

I offered the youngsters a job of stacking firewood for me and they were very excited at the prospect of being paid to help me. With so many hands stacking the pieces of slabs at one time, the process went fairly quickly. Now, I have a clear spot to make a new slab pile and a nice stack of firewood for firing the kiln. But that is another story.