Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Milling the Homestead Necessities

By Anneli Carter

Anneli Carter, author and co-owner of Deer Isle Hostel
A few years ago a major piece of our homesteading puzzle fell into place when we bought a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill. Up to that point we'd been dependent on the lumber yard and its supply, as well as friends and acquaintances with occasional stacks of lumber for us to rifle through or logs to mill somewhere else. Because we don't have any heavy equipment to transport logs with, anything cut on our land had to be moved by someone else, first to a mill and then back here.

Now, on every first day of a new building project we start where all building projects ought to start: in the woods. We select the trees that fit our intended purpose, fell them, haul them with our people-powered log hauler and turn them into lumber right here in our yard. Last year we built a timber-framed hut from a red oak that started to shade the garden; that entire frame didn't travel more than 300 feet from the stump to the mill to the site.
Building at Deer Isle Hostel

But not all logs have to come to our yard. The mill isn't so big or heavy that it can't be loaded onto our trailer and hauled behind our Subaru. This week we have the Wood-Mizer set up a couple of miles down the road at a friend's place. He's a tree feller and has stacked up a pile of cedar, black locust and spruce – really nice red spruce – that's all ours as a trade for milling the hardwood for him. We get the perfect lumber for our next projects and he gets the perfectly matched lumber for the sauna he'll build at his place.

Anneli operating her Wood-Mizer LT15 sawmill
We bought the portable mill to provide our own building material and to make use of the trees that need to come down around our yard. The gasoline it takes to run the machine is a tradeoff, but for us the gains are so many that the emission footprint still is much smaller than it would have been if we had to go somewhere to buy what we now can produce. In addition, the by-products have turned out to be just as valuable to us as the lumber. 
Slabs from the LT15 sawmill

For one thing, the sawmill gives us slabs (the off cuts with bark on one side). Tons of slabs and for anyone cooking on a small wood stove, there's nothing better to get your tea water boiling than some dry spruce slabs. We get enough for ourselves, and then more. We give slabs to neighbors and friends and in return we get something else, like warm spaces to start tomato seedlings in or help to look after our chickens if we go away somewhere.

Sawdust can be used for many
homesteading applications
Then there's the sawdust. It might not sound like much compared with the $1,000 pieces of locust we cut this morning, but I don't know what we would do without the sawdust the milling provides us. I don't know what we did before we had the mill as we use the sawdust in our outhouses, to pack the root crops in for storage and in our chicken house. We go through perhaps 60 feed sacks of it every year, a resource we would have to go somewhere to get if it weren't for our mill. 

To say the sawmill is a piece in the homesteading puzzle might be a slight understatement as in some ways it's a key factor. It enables us to progress with our building projects without necessarily having the money it otherwise would take, it ties us to our community with labor- and resource trades, and it makes it easier for us to store food, keep our chicken house clean and have nice outhouses for the Hostel guests. Some of the essence of homesteading right there: providing for yourself and your community using your own resources and making the most of what's around you. Who would ever have thought that a Wood-Mizer would to the trick?

Visit for more information on homesteading or to order Anneli's new book. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Growing with Wood-Mizer

After 20 years in the business, Darrell Gruver, owner of D&D Logging and
D&D Hardwood LLC, still enjoys grading logs.
For nearly two decades, Darrell Gruver has built and grown his two businesses, D&D Logging and D&D Hardwood LLC, with a knack for identifying problems as opportunities and a Wood-Mizer sawmill. Over the course of 18 years, Darrell has owned five Wood-Mizer industrial headrigs, three Wood-Mizer portable hydraulic sawmills and is currently installing three Wood-Mizer WM4000 industrial headrigs to become the centerpiece of D&D Hardwood LLC.

Starting out as a logger in the late 1980s, Darrell established the family-owned and operated D&D Logging in Racine, Missouri. He quickly realized that he could do better for both himself and his customers by utilizing extra value from the logs he was handling. He discovered that all it took was a willingness to sort and haul better quality logs to a grade lumber mill rather than to their original destination of being converted into railroad ties or pallet lumber.

After running D&D Logging successfully this way for several years, potential catastrophe became opportunity in the mid-1990s when the owner of the sawmill where Darrell sold most of his grade logs informed him of plans to retire. Faced with the loss of this business, Darrell reasoned that having a mill of his own would decrease transportation costs and provide needed diversity to his operation.

D&D Logging and D&D Hardwood LLC in Racine, MO.
In 1996, Darrell encouraged his father-in-law, C.R. Smith, to purchase a Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic sawmill and enter the milling business. For the next year, C.R. sawed logs into grade lumber in a pole barn near Darrell’s home with the diesel powered thin-kerf LT40 Hydraulic bandsaw. When C.R. decided to move on, Darrell purchased the mill himself and established D&D Hardwood LLC to supplement his growing logging business.

After six years and 9,000 hours on the LT40 Hydraulic, Darrell was pleased with Wood-Mizer’s service, production capacity and durability and decided to upgrade to the LT70 Hydraulic –Wood-Mizer’s most productive thin-kerf sawmill at the time. Shortly after the purchase, Darrell’s son Anthony became interested in the business and focused on running the sawmill, which gave Darrell time to concentrate on improving his logging operation.
Sawn and edged grade lumber.

Less than a year later, Darrell soon found D&D running out of sawmill capacity with the growth he had experienced with his logging business. He decided to expand into a full production sawmill capable of producing several million board feet of grade lumber per year and built an operation centered on a Wood-Mizer LT300 industrial headrig. “I had become a Wood-Mizer fan,” he said.

In 2006, production increased with the addition of two more Wood-Mizer LT300s, one to upgrade the LT70 and the second installed to act as a resaw to increase production. At this point, Darrell estimated that the three LT300 headrigs combined to saw lumber at a rate of 6,000 board feet of grade walnut lumber per hour. With high production rates and an efficient operation, D&D yet again continued to expand and just four years later, Darrell upgraded and installed two WM3500 industrial headrigs. “The machines are very reliable and the service from Wood-Mizer is unsurpassed,” Darrell said. “Choosing Wood-Mizer was an easy decision.”
D&D's WM3500s cut more than 140,000 board feet of walnut weekly.

Darrell says that using thin-kerf bandsaws not only increases the productivity of his business, but reduces the number of trees that need to be harvested. “We try to get the best lumber out of every log,” he said. “Thinner kerfs mean less sawdust and less sawdust means more boards. That’s good for the pocketbook and for the environment.” In the current operation, fitted with a Wood-Mizer LT300 headrig, two WM3500 headrigs, an LT40 HD, HR1000 industrial resaw, and two industrial edgers, D&D is producing around 200,000 board feet of hardwoods per week.

On a typical day, oak, walnut, cherry and maple logs between six and fourteen feet arrive at D&D Hardwoods where they are scaled, graded and sorted. The logs are then sent to one of three headrigs depending on wood species and all of the grade lumber is removed. When sawing species other than walnut, a residual pallet cant or railroad tie is produced. Boards and cants are edged to obtain the highest possible grade and sent to the HR1000 resaw to reduce further processing. “From start to finish our operation strives to not only get the most out of every log, but to do so in environmentally sound ways,” said Darrell. “Depending on the customer’s needs, we almost always selectively cut in ways that will be the best for a sustainable forest.”

Today, Darrell is in the process of installing three Wood-Mizer WM4000s to increase productivity and improve consistency across the business. Complete with high tech computer automation controls, servo motors in the head, and 50% more steel than the WM3500, the WM4000 is designed for production and built to last. “These saws are very efficient, fast and powerful,” said Darrell’s son Anthony who has been operating Wood-Mizer mills for more than a decade. “The thin blades require less power than other saws and the setworks make them a ‘no-brainer’ to run.” As the market expands, Darrell’s proven business model and forward thinking approach has positioned D&D for continued growth and success in the lumber industry.

To see how you can grow your operation with Wood-Mizer, visit

Friday, May 2, 2014

Family Sawmill Business Boosts Production with Wood-Mizer WM4000

Mike and Shawn, Honey Grove Hardwoods LLC owners, with their Wood-Mizer WM4000 industrial headrig
Shawn loading a log onto the WM4000
In less than three months after taking ownership of the family sawmill business, 3rd generation owner Mike Junk and his brother-in-law Shawn Fowler made the changes necessary to compete and thrive in the lumber industry. By installing a Wood-Mizer WM4000 thin-kerf industrial headrig to replace their old circular sawmill, Mike and Shawn positioned Honey Grove Hardwoods LLC on the cutting edge of technology to increase efficiency, yield and profits for their business.

Producing grade lumber for moulding, stair treads and flooring, the Pennsylvania based Honey Grove Hardwoods used a circular sawmill as the center of their operation for more than 70 years. Last year, Mike and Shawn came to the conclusion that their circular saw with conventional wide kerf blades had reached the end of the line. “We realized we were running outdated equipment when we weren’t getting the footage and grade yields that we thought we could get with thin-kerf technology,” Mike said.
Shawn operating the WM4000

Mike also noted that their operation with the circular sawmill forced the sawyer to do multiple jobs at once. “A vertical edger was positioned in front of the sawyer booth on our circular headrig, which meant the sawyer was also the one doing the edging,” Mike said. He explained that this process helped with saving costs on labor, but since the sawyer was rushed to saw as well as edge the lumber, it sacrificed quality and production.

Transferring lumber to the
Three-Way Conveyor

Wanting to improve efficiency throughout their operation, Honey Grove Hardwoods added a Wood-Mizer Log Deck, Three-Way Conveyor, and Green Chain along with an EG400 edger to complement the WM4000 in their production line. “We put the whole Wood-Mizer system in starting with the Log Deck, which helps ease loading logs onto the WM4000. From there, logs are cut on the headrig and then moved from the built-in conveyor to the Three-Way Conveyor,” Mike said. “Material is transferred from the conveyor to the Green Chain and then to the EG400 edger for a very smooth transition from logs to accurate lumber.” With this system, the sawyer no longer has to be the edger, which improves efficiency and quality of materials.

Feeding boards into the EG400

Compared to their old circular sawmill operation, Mike said their yield has improved greatly with Wood-Mizer equipment. “The yield factor is amazing with thin-kerf producing only one-third the waste of our circle sawmill, plus you can slab smaller and lighter which increases usable lumber,” he said. Being able to produce more product from fewer logs also cuts down on transportation costs and increases the profit per log. “We are getting the same amount of lumber while using 25% less timber and raw materials, which in turn, reduces transportation costs across the board,” Mike said.

By taking advantage of Wood-Mizer thin-kerf technology, Mike and Shawn have positioned Honey Grove Hardwoods LLC to be competitive in the lumber industry for generations to come. “The WM4000 put us right back up to the competitive edge on utilizing and maximizing yields for our business,” Mike said.

To learn more about how you can step up your production with thin-kerf technology, visit

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wood-Mizer Announces New Dealer in Florida

Pro Sawyer Dealer Chad Cordwin (left) with Wood-Mizer National Sales Manager Dave Mann.
Wood-Mizer is pleased to announce the opening of a new sales center for small mills located in Reddick, Florida. Cordwin Custom Sawmill, owned by Chad Cordwin, will join Wood-Mizer’s growing distribution network as the 22nd sales center located within the United States and Canada.

A Wood-Mizer owner for nearly two decades, Chad Cordwin will become the company’s first Pro Sawyer Dealer. Chad became a member of Wood-Mizer’s elite group of approved sawyers, the Pro Sawyer Network, which enabled him to list his business on Wood-Mizer’s online custom sawyer directory – a resource for those looking for a sawyer to saw their own lumber. 
Cordwin Custom Sawmill in Reddick, FL

During the application process, Cordwin Custom Sawmill’s success made Wood-Mizer take notice. This, along with an appealing Florida location, enabled Wood-Mizer to begin a partnership with Cordwin Custom Sawmill and establish the first ever Pro Sawyer Dealer.

Cordwin Custom Sawmill will offer Wood-Mizer LT10 and LT15 sawmills, blades, and provide demonstrations of Chad’s Wood-Mizer LT70 Hydraulic sawmill and EG200 twin blade edger. 

“Chad’s sawing experience and knowledge of Wood-Mizer products factored in the decision to add Cordwin Custom Sawmill as a new sales center in Florida,” said Wood-Mizer National Sales Manager Dave Mann. “We are looking forward to his contributions to the company and I’d like to welcome him to Wood-Mizer’s growing network of dealers.” 

Wood-Mizer will host the Grand Opening for the Florida Pro Sawyer Dealer on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Cordwin Custom Sawmill located at 7900 W. Highway 316 in Reddick, Florida. The four hour event will include sawmill demonstrations of Wood-Mizer’s LT40 Hydraulic, LT35 and LT15 sawmills and give those who attend the opportunity to speak with Chad and expert sawmill consultants.

Welcome to the team Chad!

For more information on Cordwin Custom Sawmill, call Chad at 352.591.3642 or email at 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sawing in the Alaskan Wilderness

The Talaheim Lodge
Mark Miller is the founder and owner of the Talaheim Lodge located 80 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska. After purchasing his Wood-Mizer LT10 in 2006, Mark has built five buildings and added flooring and furniture to the existing buildings on the property. Read Mark’s story below, in his own words.

Sawing in the Alaskan Wilderness

By Mark Miller

Aerial view of The Talaheim Lodge

In 1976, my youthful dream started to unfold as I began building my remote fishing and hunting lodge (The Talaheim Lodge) in the wilderness of Alaska. Most of the state can’t be reached by road, so many Alaskan fishing lodges, like mine, have to be reached by either helicopter or plane. Everything from a toothpick to a gallon of gasoline has to be flown in to our site.

During those younger days we built stockade log construction by utilizing local timbers. Large cargo, single engine aircrafts on skis are expensive to charter, so most of my lumber was cut on-site with a chainsaw mill. That first crude building was built from logs and chainsaw cut lumber and went up like a kid building a tree fort. For the next 30 years, I used a chainsaw to cut as much lumber as possible in order to keep costs down when building miles away from roads. We only averaged about a board an hour but most of our lumber didn’t have to be flown in, saving us money.

Skidding logs by snowmobile
All our logs are skidded to our site by snowmobile in March and April when the snow is deep and settled. Everything out here comes by air except our snow machines that we drive out in the winter (a 50-mile journey from the nearest road system). In 2006, I purchased a very large wide-tracked snowmobile, which was capable of pulling in much larger logs than I was able to in the past. Glaring at my log deck of about 100, 12’ long and 16” diameter logs, I suddenly started to tense up thinking about all that back breaking chainsaw milling I would have to do.

Log deck, sorted by length
Cutting timber with chainsaws is slow, tedious and a backbreaking chore from being bent over for long periods of time. Not to mention chainsaws burn up gallons of fuel and oil, and the 3/8” wide kerf produce piles of sawdust that could be used as lumber. There had to be a better way.

Shortly after, I found a Wood-Mizer LT10 sawmill featured in a local outdoor magazine. It caught my eye as it was light and could easily fit onto a ski plane. The local Wood-Mizer dealer (100 miles away) had one on display that I could try. Seeing the mill in action secured the sale.

Mark and his Wood-Mizer LT10
After the snow left, we had a running Wood-Mizer mill in one day and a friend and I cut those 100 logs into lumber in about five days. With my LT10 and a small tractor rigged with a forklift attachment, we weren’t just in the fishing business, we were also in the lumber business.

My mill paid for itself in the first season with savings on lumber cut on site instead of flying it in. Most of our timbers are cut and used “green” with the exception of our hardwood cuts.  We cut primarily slow growth spruce for building and “house dry” birch for flooring.

Mark sawing on his LT10
I highly recommend the Wood-Mizer LT10 or LT15 for remote fly in sites like mine.  Both these mills will cut large amounts of lumber for large construction jobs. Four years into milling, I upgraded from a 7 HP to a 10 HP engine for my LT10 which made great lumber even quicker. Now I can cut a 10’ long, 8” wide board in 17 seconds!

Since having the LT10, I’ve built five new buildings from three-sided logs and timbers cut from our mill and cut in excess of 40,000 board foot. The mill has saved me thousands of dollars on lumber and has allowed me to cut huge beautiful beams that would be impossible to fly out. I’ve had great factory and local Wood-Mizer support from Anchorage, Alaska and with about all my buildings completed for my lifetime, I am now focusing on the fun stuff like birch flooring and birch and spruce furniture!

Mark's home built with lumber all cut on his LT10
Fishing guide's shack made from lumber cut on
Mark's LT10
I still love living in the wilderness and building with materials I’ve gathered locally. Today I manage with my Wood-Mizer LT10 sawmill, a tractor with a front-end lift, and snow machines capable of bringing in large logs over the snow. Not only do I save money, but also I enjoy working the land. Robert Service once wrote, “that it’s not the gold we seek, but the seeking of it”. For the past 38 years, my fishing lodge has given me the opportunity of “living off the land” in the Alaskan wilderness.

Good Fishing,

Mark Miller

Inside of the fishing guide's shack

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The How-To of Winter Sawing

Tough winter weather is here, but that doesn’t mean you have to put the “freeze” on sawing. In fact, you still have time to get your sawmill out and blades ready for these cold conditions. Also keep in mind that after a long winter like this year, logs will remain frozen or partially frozen well into spring in certain areas, so these tips will still apply.

Follow these winter sawing tips to successfully saw frozen logs
1. Lower the Blade Hook Angle – Have you been using the standard 10 degree profile? If so look at the 9 degree profile for lower horsepower engines and small diameter logs (under 14”). If your mill has higher horsepower (over 25) and you’re sawing large diameter logs or wider cuts, look to the 4 degree and Turbo 7 for high performance. These profiles utilize a taller tooth with deeper gullets that are capable of pushing the sawdust out of the cut, resulting in less sawdust on your lumber.

2. Blade Thickness – Thicker blades typically bring better performance, especially in frozen wood. If you have been using .042 try bumping up to the .045 blade. And if you have been using the .045 and have a 25+ horsepower engine, the .055 will bring you more accuracy and higher feed rates.

3. Blade Width – Narrow blades can have less resistance and clean out  frozen sawdust more productively. Try a 1-1/4” blade over a 1-1/2” wide blade in the winter. This can be important especially with higher horsepower engines.

4. Lubrication – While lubrication is not always necessary in winter, if you experience build-up on the teeth or sides of the band this can affect performance, life between sharpenings, and overall flex life. Common additives can include water, our LubeMizer additive, Pine-Sol, Vegetable Oils, and be sure to add windshield washer fluid, or antifreeze to the water.

Winter sawing can bring out the most demands for your sawmill. As always, keep your mill well maintained, aligned properly and covered. Freezing rain, ice and snow build up will slow down your warm-up process and can affect the life of your mill. For the best results, keep your feed rates consistent and monitor your lumber as it comes off the mill for quality. Also remember that keeping your blade in the log and sawing is just as important as how fast you are sawing.
Wood-Mizer offers blades to meet every type of wood cutting application for every season.
For more advice or recommendations, visit or talk to a blades specialist at 800.522.5760.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Couple Creates Eternal Timber with Wood-Mizer LT70

“Building it right to last forever” is what the British Columbia based Eternal Timber and Design is all about. Eternal Timber offers a variety of wood furnishings and architectural elements that are all handcrafted and custom made. Eternal Timber makes everything from beds and dining tables to exterior structures by utilizing a Wood-Mizer LT70 to turn their douglas fir trees into usable lumber for whatever project they need.
Douglas fir fence post cut by Shawn Wiebe and his Wood-Mizer LT70 HD sawmill

Lake shore outdoor dwelling with sofa and loveseat
Shawn Wiebe, the “heart and
soul” of Eternal Timber and Design, began his love for woodworking at a young age and has been building and
framing homes since he graduated high school. Since the first makeup vanity table he made for his mother more than 20 years ago, Shawn continues to create one-of-a-kind pieces for any project that comes his

Lake shore patio

Shawn and his wife and business partner Carlee, entered multiple projects into the 2013 Wood- Mizer Personal Best Contest which included a fireplace mantel, town entry gate and even a tree house for Shawn next to fence post Lake shore outdoor dwelling their daughters while they worked on remodeling their own home. Whether the project is for business or personal use, Eternal Timber and Design always begins with a douglas fir and a Wood-Mizer.

For more information about Eternal Timber and Design, visit: or connect on Facebook. To see all of Eternal Timber and Design’s 2013 Personal Best projects, visit: