On Monday, Rachel and I took a road trip to the sleepy little town of Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. The purpose of our trip was to use a bandsaw mill to saw two white oak logs and to view a lumber drying kiln.
The Alaskan chainsaw mill that we have put to work on Arington Tree Farm has given us a stack of live edge, slab lumber. Unfortunately, before we can build anything with it, we will have to get some moisture out of the wood. The passive approach would be allowing the lumber to air dry. However, with the thick slabs that we milled, it would take years to dry to a workable level - approximately 6-8% moisture content for interior applications.
However, an electric kiln (like the one in the photo above) speeds the process considerably. This electric kiln that will hold 3,000 board feet of lumber. The wood is stacked outside the kiln in a neat pile and rolled into the kiln on tracks. The speed of drying is influenced by many different variables, but the average load will take two weeks.
The second purpose of the trip was to experience the use of a bandsaw mill. The mill in the photo is a Timberking 2000 and it is fully hydraulic. A hydraulic mill is capable of rotating, leveling, and lifting logs with a simple push of a lever. The main benefit of a hydraulic mill is faster lumber production (or quicker sawing).
This photo shows me standing at the control panel and flipping levers while the machine does all the work. A manual bandsaw mill lacks hydraulics and requires a lot of muscle or additional equipment to position the log for milling. Subsequently, the cost of a manual mill is significantly lower.
One additional note about this last photo is how the lumber was stacked. Carefully placed "stickers" or spacers are used to allow for improved airflow and even drying.
Stay tuned to the Arington Tree Farm blog and Facebook page to see how I get creative with the use of all this lumber or send us some suggestions!