A Morning at Ellison Sawmill

Posted by Erik McCartney on



After having some white oak lumber milled for various projects, Terry invited me to come see the sawmill in action. I was lending a hand when necessary, so the footage is cut up.

This is an older style sawmill with a large exposed circular blade. There are various hydraulics that allow for easy movement of the logs at the push of a button. Conveyors move pieces where they need to go. The saw itself and the chipper at the end of the line each run off their own CAT diesel motors.

At first you see logs being adjusted and secured to the sled, then the four sides are made flat. Any remaining bark and some sapwood are trimmed off. Then the log is cut into manageable pieces, then milled to final size. There is a wheel on a chain connected to the sled which has measurements. The sled is moved towards the operator and based on this measurement, dimensioned boards are made. Lots of what was cut today was 3.5x6. We cut various species including sweetgum, pine, and poplar.

Once boards are sawn, they can go onto one of three conveyors. One takes it to another perpendicular conveyor, which leads to the stack. This is where the best usable timbers go. One conveyor takes slabs to an edger, which slices off the bark and sapwood, and yields as many usable thinner boards as possible. Cutoffs from the edger, as well as scraps from the initial cutting, go on the third conveyor to the chipper. The chipper can handle enormous pieces of wood, instantly turning them into chunks the size of large marbles.

The good boards from the edger are added to the final pile, which is bundled up and ready to go. Seeing an old style sawmill like this is a great experience and the boards that come from it are of excellent quality. I would highly recommend getting your lumber from a local sawmill like this one, and ask if you can stop by one day and watch it in action!

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