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Thread: Wish I had a stream nearby...

  1. #1

    Wish I had a stream nearby...

    You know me. I like to tinker and make things work, and living in the Northeast we have a long standing tradition of making streams power our sawmills...

    I was thinking of this the other day when I read an article in Wood Magazine. A guy in there does all his woodworking by hand. All of it but one thing. I mean this guy even uses an axe to fell his trees, a bucking saw to cut the logs into lumber, and uses horses to get the wood out. His only concession to modern technology...he uses a modern sawmill to saw his logs into lumber.

    So I got to thinking, a person with a decent amount of property and wood could kind of do the same thing. That is harvest lumber for some of these guys that are into total hand tool woodworking. If I had a stream powered sawmill I could harvest some of my wood by axe and cross cut saw, convert it to boards and ethically sell it as all-hand sawn lumber just as they would have done 150 years ago.

    Of course I live on a big hill and no where near a stream so all these thoughts are for nothing, but maybe someone else on here can do something like this.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Brentwood, TN
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    294
    Hi Travis,

    That's an interesting concept. I have often wondered if there is a market for boutique woods for the individual craftsman. Here in the Nashville area there are thousands of walnut, maple, hickory, oak, poplar and sycamore trees that are cut and wasted every year. I have read of operations in other cities where someone would mill and dry trees cut by the tree services and sell the lumber to mostly hobby type wood workers. The trees are free (heck, the tree services have to pay to dispose of them now) and the major investment would be the milling and drying. Now, if you could do all that using water power then all the better.
    Member; Society of American Period Furniture Makers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
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    We have a sawyer near Charlotte that is trying to work some legislation requiring treecycling. It seems to me that it would be win/win for everyone!

    Regarding the total neander approach...it would be interesting and fun to do...for the first tree! After that I think it would get old pretty quick! You are looking at a whole lot of hard work!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    Your idea is romantic. Heck, I reenact a Revolutionary period rifleman. I go out to the woods and live under a small canvas, cook over a fire. When it rains, I don't eat. I shoot a rifle that, by today's standards, is underpowered and unreliable. But, I don't live that way every day.
    There is a reason why power sources other than moving water were developed. The recycling part is laudable. Doing it the old way is for educational and tourist attractions.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  5. #5
    I was thinking you could sell this wood at a premium price, I mean where can you purchase hand-cut wood commercially? None that I know of. You would have to figure out how many hours you had into the wood:

    Felling by ax
    Bucking
    Yarding with Horses
    Sawing into lumber

    And to make it all worth while, you would have to get a fair price based on that, but I doubt you would be over-run with requests. Only the true die-hard Neanderthals would be willing to pay you for your time that went into the wood, but as I said before, where else could you get authentic, hand sawn wood commercially. Then, if you sold hand planed wood you could probably fetch quite a price for that.

    Of course I don't have a stream so all this thoughts are for naught. Though if a man could get a hold of a steam engine. They were built in the 1830's so that would be authentically cut lumber too....

    PS: There is no way in creation I would pit saw even one board, no matter how authentic the lumber was
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Charlotte, NC
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    1,487
    I really don't think there are many woodworkers who would really care how the wood was prepped and I seriously doubt you could charge a premium for it. Especially if you can pick up a board down the road for half the cost or less.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Tokiwadai, Japan
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    Where you might find a niche is in custom sizes. There's a guy down the road from us, Jacobson's Sawmill I believe, that does that. His saw has a blade about 3 feet in diameter powered by an old 4 or 6 cyl truck engine. All he does is cut logs that are brought to him for custom homes or remodeling. Builders and architects know him, so they can spec whatever length or width they want...then get the logs delivered to him. His "mill" is just a large covered pole frame, no walls, and a chair for him to control the saw.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Nelson View Post
    I really don't think there are many woodworkers who would really care how the wood was prepped and I seriously doubt you could charge a premium for it. Especially if you can pick up a board down the road for half the cost or less.
    I agree that most wouldn't, but I am talking about the complete Neanderthal like was mentioned in Wood Magazine. Are there a lot of them? Nope, but there would be something to be said for someone who makes hand tool only furniture and be able to say that from stump to finished product, the thing never had electrons involved.

    It would be a product that is now commercially not available. Still even if I did have a water powered sawmill, I would only do it on a custom order basis. That way you could get them exactly what was needed in both length, grain, figure, thickness and volume. I figure about 25 orders a year would keep you busy 365 days a year!! That would be a pile of work.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
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    1,941
    There are omish near me that have a water powerd mill. It is cool to watch it work. They also have a deisel engine back up if the creek runs low.

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