Think Big. Sawmill and Buttons…

Exactly one week ago, Monday AM, I didn’t have plans to do either of the following things:

1.) Get logs cut into boards at a sawmill.
2.) Get an order for 10,000 buttons. (I make custom buttons, link here.)

And by the PM I was figuring out how to get a handful of logs to a sawmill and writing back to a brewery in Tampa with an invoice and asking about shipping information.  Think big.

The sawmill part is much more interesting than the monotony of button making though, so I’ll stick to boring you with that.

Earlier last week I described to Amber my plans to go to the sawmill as  “Disney for guys.”  It was certainly neat and fun even with some initial not-so-great news. Long story short, the logs were not black walnut, but butternut.  Also called ‘white walnut’.

Everything looks to walnut on the outside, except the fruit it produces, and the wood inside.

After some research and trepidation – followed by more research and trepidation,  I went ahead to get some cut.  Butternut has plenty of good applications,  it’s just not something a lot of people have heard since it’s not commercially important.  Namely because its actually a rather rare tree.  With the spreading of ‘butternut canker’, this historically useful tree to settlers may not even be around in a decade.  Most websites don’t mention that it’s even supposed to be growing in Florida.   After finding that out of course I felt bad they came down in the first place, but I was only responding to the craigslist ad for free wood.

I was  still bummed it wouldn’t be a great tabletop like this…


… but I was still at ‘Disney for guys.’  And apparently the logs, and subsequent boards, will be good for plenty of other things besides firewood.  That was a relief.

The sawmill has two portable Woodmizer bandsaw mills that they’ve permanently set up.  It seems like mostly the work they do is pine for fence rails, as well as selling pine shavings etc.  The owner was really nice and didn’t mind my questions. I’m thinking he gets the occasional woodworking nut at his place.

Here’s the saw in action.  The hydraulics for leveling the log and holding it still are pretty neat too.

The first log we did was about 21″ across and 8.5′ long.  I could only carry about half of it in my truck safely.

Here’s the first log stickered and stacked.  I’m getting another two logs worth in a week for myself and a friend.

My neighbor has more backyard then me and never a lot of space behind his garage.  He said I could keep the boards there. When I get the rest I’m painting the ends and stacking them next door.  I have two pallets to raise them off the ground, then the 4x4s. To top off the pile I have a few sheets of 12′ aluminum roofing sheet metal.  Enough to have an overhang to keep the wood dry as possible for the year.

I’m definitely pretty excited about the lumber, and I now feel like I have a good contact at the sawmill for future logs.

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2 Comments on “Think Big. Sawmill and Buttons…”

  1. joe says:

    how much does it cost to have such a log turned into a pile of wood?

    • joe says:

      There was a good NPR story about the different tree blights that wiped out certain species (like on Monday? or last Friday?). Interesting stuff. I once went camping/hiking with a girl who knew everything about trees and what she described as we walked wasn’t a solemn forest, it was a violent battle in slow motion–fighting for light, spreading seeds, depending on fires, etc.


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