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Hiring a Sawyer for Walnut Log - Novice Seeking Advice

SeMoTony

SeMoTony

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Novice here. I have zero experience with bandsaw mill or swing blade mill operation. I'm seeking advice about hiring a sawyer to mill a 20" diameter walnut log about 20' long.

It was felled a year ago. I covered the ends with anchorseal and put it up on cement blocks. I've done a fair amount of chainsaw milling in cedar, spruce, pine, and ash up to 16". I've been happy with the results, but it is slow going. I had planned to use the Alaskan on this log, but I am having second thoughts because of time constraints.

I don't have a way to get it to a sawmill. Its in an open area and should be pretty accessible for a portable mill.

Some sawyers offer hourly rates. Others charge by the board foot. I've heard of some others who will take a percentage of the boards milled as payment if the log is of premium quality. I'm not flush with cash, so the "boards as payment" intrigues me.

Assuming that the client (me) will be assisting with moving the boards/cants, what percentage of the board footage does the sawyer typically take? Is there a going rate depending on species and grade of log?

Thanks for the advice.
I've milled red cedar, red oak, white oak, ash, maple and black walnut principally. Walnut is in the middle of difficulty. Alaskan, or on a 17" black walnut a tm-56 with a ms170. Gave 11"×12" eleven feet long cant. Sounds like a need to match chain to the wood and get sharpening skills (including rakers).
White oak and Ash were much easier with semi-skip chisel since they were37"-40" max. At that time 72 cc powerhead.
Good fortune
 
cantoo

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Sawyer Rob, I had just read a thread of milling cherry and most guys said to cut it a lot thicker than you need due to twisting and warping as it dries. Also mentioned bad checking. How is your long cherry looking as it air dries? There is a 24" x 35' to the first branch straight as an arrow cherry in the bush that I've been watching for many years. I will likely end up selling it as a sawlog but would be nice to get some more money by sawing it myself. There is a fair bit of cherry in the bush but most is either crooked or curvy as heck.
 
43North

43North

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I've milled red cedar, red oak, white oak, ash, maple and black walnut principally. Walnut is in the middle of difficulty. Alaskan, or on a 17" black walnut a tm-56 with a ms170. Gave 11"×12" eleven feet long cant. Sounds like a need to match chain to the wood and get sharpening skills (including rakers).
White oak and Ash were much easier with semi-skip chisel since they were37"-40" max. At that time 72 cc powerhead.
Good fortune
Thanks for the well wishes. I'm not particularly fast at sharpening. Do you have any recommendations? For felling and bucking I have enjoyed the Pferd Chain Sharp CS-X jig.
 
Mad Professor

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Sawyer Rob, I had just read a thread of milling cherry and most guys said to cut it a lot thicker than you need due to twisting and warping as it dries. Also mentioned bad checking. How is your long cherry looking as it air dries? There is a 24" x 35' to the first branch straight as an arrow cherry in the bush that I've been watching for many years. I will likely end up selling it as a sawlog but would be nice to get some more money by sawing it myself. There is a fair bit of cherry in the bush but most is either crooked or curvy as heck.
I've milled a lot of cherry with my logosol mill. I've had about zero problems with twisting or checking. The logs were all straight with 3-4 clear sides. I got some 20" wide 5/4 boards that air dried without any warp or twist. I do most of my cherry 5/4, but also do slabs of 8/4 and 12/4. Sometimes a 4/4 depending on what is in the cant.

Problems people have is probably trying to get a wide board/slab that is close to or includes the pith, or using trees/logs that are bowed with a lot of stress in them. A good sawyer can minimize this, but you might not get the widest boards. The center is best used as a cant for a timber.

EDIT: one other thing that works for the center. Flat saw full width, then rip out the center/pith to get two quarter sawn boards from each flitch.

Cherry does not check much. Ash will check quick. Best solution is to end coat the logs with Anchorseal as soon as the logs are bucked. If you trim the ends of the boards/flitches/beams, re-coat them with sealer after triming.

Concerning selling cherry sawlogs...... That's why I bought my mill. I had 10-12' X 18-30" logs skidded to the roadside at my home, no pecker poles. Straight , mostly 4 clear sides.

When I contacted local mills, they took a look and offered me cord wood prices. I got about 1500 bd/ft from that first pile. Mostly clear 5/4 w/o sapwood.

The mill with an 066 cost me $2700 back then and cherry lumber was getting a good $. Do the math.

Pics are pile that was air drying a year. As they came off mill with no end trims

5:4 cherry.jpg

5:4 cherry 2.jpg

logosol mill.jpg
 
SeMoTony

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Thanks for the well wishes. I'm not particularly fast at sharpening. Do you have any recommendations? For felling and bucking I have enjoyed the Pferd Chain Sharp CS-X jig.
In the milling 101 thread, a teacher from Australia gives the best instruction. Bobl has been retired from teaching, but he still teaches those who take the time to read his posts
Enjoy milling safely Ya'll
 
Doug in SW IA

Doug in SW IA

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I had nine logs milled by a portable sawmill and was very pleased with the results. I cut all my logs to 9' even though I could have had some 12' plus. It made it much simpler to stack and sticker. For my cabinet making projects I cannot foresee needing anything longer that 8'.

That said, if your log is straight and you can get it to a mill there is a premium paid for lengths longer than 8'. The price per foot is not linear. Your log may be 20' but how straight is it? If it has a banana shape to it you do lose a lot of wood if you are milling it 20' long.

Doug in SW IA
 
Mad Professor

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I had nine logs milled by a portable sawmill and was very pleased with the results. I cut all my logs to 9' even though I could have had some 12' plus. It made it much simpler to stack and sticker. For my cabinet making projects I cannot foresee needing anything longer that 8'.

That said, if your log is straight and you can get it to a mill there is a premium paid for lengths longer than 8'. The price per foot is not linear. Your log may be 20' but how straight is it? If it has a banana shape to it you do lose a lot of wood if you are milling it 20' long.

Doug in SW IA

Good points.

Always leave some trim length on logs , if for yourself or for mill. Ends are not square and often have defects/checks. Ask the mill what length(s) they want? If they want 8' and 12' don't buck up 10' logs. Give 4" of trim.

Also think about things when bucking up. You often can get two straight 8' logs out of a 20' banana. Look for defects when bucking: rot, sound and unsound knots, branch points, splits or damage in felling, hollows..... An 8' with four clear faces may get more $ than a 12' with defects, cut from the same log.
 
SeMoTony

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Some good things to consider. With the Alaskan mill I have just gone straight through with live edges on both sides. Hiring a professional sawyer does open up a range of possibilities.

I want a few slabs for some furniture. I wonder if 5/4 might be the most versatile for fine wood working? I have not done any fine woodworking, but I would like to explore that. I have been experimenting with building using the white pine and white spruce live edge boards that I have milled. The reactions have been very positive thus far. No problems with warping or movement, but I've been told that those species are easy to dry. Actually, the spruce where standing dead so that may have further reduced the chance of movement.

Is there a reason to avoid cutting through the log, leaving the two live edges and further cutting on the table saw as needed? I just don't have much experience with walnut.

Thanks!
Took a couple pics to show the extra distance from a 1" square aluminum post on an Alaskan setup 20191224_132024.jpg
And then the post cutter, at least HF called it that 11 years ago. IIRC this is a TM-56 from amazon. 20191224_135357.jpg the cast iron "hand" springs requiring a bolt to go thru the bar into a tapped hole on the other side. Allows the set screws to get a good clamping force that keeps the teeth from contacting the cast iron from slipage.
If I run into too wide at the middle of a log, the 1x3 rectangle gets screwed to the log for a straight trim from the worse side.
A longer bar was used to cut a cant 11"×12"× 11 feet from a donated black walnut. Too small a diameter to use the alaskan.
Enjoy milling safely
 
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