May 2, 2016

Goat Barn: Materials

As we work on our plans for the goat barn, one of the things we discuss is building materials. I don't know about you, but I'm not happy with the quality of lumber that's available at the home improvement stores. It's all bowed, cupped, knotted, checked, splintered, or split, and we have to dig through the entire pile to find the least imperfect ones. As Dan likes to say, most of it isn't even fit for a dog house. And the price they expect the consumer to pay for it is ludicrous. Even in the time versus money discussion, we seem forced to concede to someone else's poor craftsmanship for do-it-yourself projects. Or are we?

Most folks don't have alternatives, that's true. But we discussed an option Dan has had on his mind for awhile. After all, we've had a lot of our old pine trees coming down lately.

Remember this one from a post in February?

This one came down in March. Landed smack-dab on top of a t-post!

This one in the doe browse came down in April.

Most of these old pines are already dead when they fall, but they get hung up in the other trees to where they can't fall to the ground and rot. Dan wondered, why couldn't we make our own lumber?

On a whim we took a look on Craigslist and found just what Dan was looking for.

An almost new Central-Machinery sawmill from Harbor Freight Tools. The
former owner installed a bigger horse power engine & included new blades.

The amazing things was that Dan happened to be home during the week, the seller happened to be home that day, it was priced to sell, and we had enough money in our barn savings to get it.

The log is secured to the track and the saw is pushed along the track
to cut it. The track is 9 feet long, although Dan would like extensions.

Dan tested it out on some old logs we had lying around.

He experimented & practiced until he could make a pretty fair 4x4.

So then. The first step toward the barn was to cut some of those fallen trees into manageable lengths and haul up some logs.


An afternoon's work.

You can see what Dan did with them here.

Goat Barn: Materials © May 2016 by Leigh

50 comments:

  1. That is so awesome!!! I remember sourcing lumber from several places years ago when I wanted to build raised beds, and just like you said, the craftsmanship was terrible - there weren't even enough decent pieces to build a simple box! Your barn is going to be amazing.
    -Jaime

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    1. One of the reasons we've never made raised beds in the garden is because of the price of lumber. My garden is too big! The sawmill will really help with materials costs for the barn.

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  2. That is awesome. Lumber is such a problem, and now you have a solution for yourselves, and a possible income stream. Got to love when things seem to fall into place, eh :)

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    1. It's amazing when things fall into place! I'm thrilled this worked out.

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  3. I've heard (don't know if it's true) that our good lumber is going overseas.

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    1. Kathy, that wouldn't surprise me. From reading the comments to this post, it's obvious that they aren't saving it for the American consumer!

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  4. My husband and I noticed the last couple times we went to get lumber,it was crap.... Very frustrating when you are trying to get a project done

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    1. we have similar problems here (so the good lumber that goes overseas - doesn't go to ireland:), and it's made worse by retailers, who store the stuff out in the rain or poorly covered etc.:( last but not least we've had deliveries, where the driver didn't want to come down our road and dumped it all beside the main road - where we found it soaked wet 2 days later:( we didn't keep that because it was unusable - but the supplier made a big fuss, as if it had been our fault that his driver couldn't be bothered:( total cockup altogether:( unfortunately we have neither the timber nor the place/machinery to make our own, but I think it'll help you a lot in your future projects! sorry for replying into somebody else's comment, but I still can't reply directly...

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    2. Michelle, it's discouraging, isn't it?

      Bettina, others have to comment as a reply to a comment too; not sure why!

      Sounds like it's pretty bad over there too. One thing I've found, is that if we simply tell our order to a seller, they seem to use that as an opportunity to unload the worst stuff. We do better if we go and hand pick the pieces ourselves. Seems to me the only solution is to simply stop buying.

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  5. Yes, I agree with you about the poor quality lumber...it is the same with other building materials as well. I bought some lighter weight t-posts to hold up my garden fence, but they were all bent. So I'll be attempting to knock those flat so I can use them. Seems such a shame to pay good money for such poor craftsmanship. :p Love that you were able to find the saw mill. :D

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    1. Sounds like the nails we get! At least a quarter to a third of them bend with one hit of a hammer. I tell Dan he ought to keep them all and then take them back for a partial refund. I hope you can flatten your t-posts.

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  6. We were so thrilled to find the Amish Sawmill just 2 miles from us. His second grade lumber is better than Lowes and the best stuff is way cheaper than Lowes. He will cut to order and we also get our firewood there. [This land only has about 30 trees] Your new equiptment will more than pay for itself. wonderful buy!

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    1. What a source for you! Dan did recently talk to someone who told him about a small sawmill that sells better quality at a better price, so we'll have to go check that out when we need to buy lumber.

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  7. I would love to have one of those but don't have anyplace to store one. I have thought an alternative would be to get one that uses a regulation chainsaw as the blade and the chainsaw moves while the tree remains stationary. Currently I don't have any dead trees large enough to justify it but as soon as I have one decent enough to make some lumber, look out internet because it is new tool time!

    I can't wait to see your barn with homesawn lumber. I bet it will be gorgeous!

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    1. Storage, oh, my, we have the same problem. :)

      Dan's been looking at YouTube on cutting lumber with a chainsaw. He figures it would be easier to cut beams down in the woods that way than to try to haul them up and cut them (plus they are longer than the sawmill currently allows). It's all quite an art.

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  8. I am impressed! I 'saved' some oak trees we cut down in the city but never got around to using them, sigh. We agree about the big store lumber. I hear words coming out of hubby's mouth that I don't usually hear when we are there to buy even just a few boards. We even went with the high priced 'yellow' wood from a lumber mill a couple of years ago, for a deck. What a waste, have already had to replace several railings. Oh well, live & learn.

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    1. Trouble is, there doesn't seem to be any good quality stuff around at any price!

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  9. Just sent my jealousy bone into overdrive. Been trying to get a portable sawmill to use up all the invasive red cedar we are cutting down. Quick question, do you have to cut the wood larger (say 4.5X4.5) to allow for drying?

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    1. Dan says yes, you have to allow for shrinkage as the wood dries. He says you'd have to do some research to find exactly how much to allow for red cedar. The other option is to cut the trees and let the logs sit for about a year, then cut your lumber.

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  10. What a find, my husband would be very jealous! We get disgusted with the lack of good lumber, and when time permits we hit up farm auctions where true dimensional lumber can be found.

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    1. "True dimensional" would be a wonderful find! Love that you can find it at farm auctions. Dan had a hard time making some repairs on our house because the 2x4s are so much smaller than they used to be.

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  11. That is fabulous! You will gain it's cost many times over again and have quality lumber to boot.

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    1. We were just talking about that. The cost of the posts alone about pays for it, and that's assuming ours is the same price as the poor quality they offer!

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  12. Leigh,

    It's funny how things work out when you really need or want a specific tool to help with work around the farm/homestead. Congrats to Dan on finding his sawmill, this will make a difference when building on the property.

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    1. It's wonderful, isn't it Sandy? We really feel the providential go-ahead when that happens. :)

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  13. I'm so with everyone who says lumber is just crap these days. For the past 7 years I've been putting up cedar fence. I have to go through 2-3 SKIDS of cedar boards each time I try to find enough decent planks for new sections of fence. And don't get me started on treated 4x4s. A Monkey could draw a straighter line than the posts I have to settle for. *grrr*

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    1. And yet we still buy it because we have no choice. Somehow I can't help but think that it we'd stop buying the poor quality they offer, something would have to change.

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  14. Wow, isn't that amazing - you will be able to create all sorts of things with all the lumber you'll get!! Smart investment, in my mind!

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    1. Agreed!It was a great find at just the right time. :)

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  15. Spectacular addition to the homestead! Can't wait to see the finished barn.

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  16. Nice find! Its great if you've got the flat land to do all that hauling. And the surplus trunks to mill. Although I'm sure you could do without them landing on your fencing.

    Do you have to wait for the wood to cure before building, or doesn't it matter? I know the usual recommendation is to wait 12 months for the lumber to dry, however, I've read others say, if you're bracing and supports are strong, the wood won't alter too much when they shrink in the building.

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    1. Well, sort of flat. Dan finally welded himself a log lifter for dragging them up from the woods to keep them from plowing the ground.

      That's true about drying lumber, but it's amazing how much is built without it. There's kiln drying for commercial lumber, but we've found that still shrinks. Basically it will all shrink together, which for a barn is okay. Dan says the old-timers used to used cured pegs (dowels) on new lumber so that when the lumber dried, it shrank to meet the pegs (which didn't shrink) and made a very tight joint.

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  17. I only have one word, WOW! That's so wonderful, I had no idea they had 'home' style sawmill machines like that. Awesome. Of course, we don't have a single tall, straight "good" tree like that on the farm, they are mesquites, hackberry's and other junky trees.

    Ooops, ok so that was more than one word, ha.

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    1. You're allowed as many words as you like, LOL. A tree lot was on our wish list when we were looking for a place, and we were later disappointed to realize there is so much pine here. Now it's turning out to be a valuable resource!

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  18. We know how hard it is to get good lumber! That is wonderful that you will be able to cut your own. Nancy

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  19. Wow, what a great find!! My Ex would be slobbering over that in a second!!! We live in the middle of the rainforest on the west coast of BC in Canada & we have the same problem with lumber. Problem is, all the good logs go to China & Japan who mill it themselves. We get the stuff that won't sell . . .

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    1. Seems odd it would go to China, doesn't it? They are the masters of producing cheap, poor-quality junk! The other thing I wonder is if perhaps it's all from genetically modified trees. We always focus on GMOs in our food, but they have whole forests of GM trees for wood production.

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  20. One way to dry wood is to build a hoop green house and store it in there. Takes a few months but it's worth the wait.

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  21. Well, it would seem that I am behind a bit. Very nice rig! Whose tractor is that dragging up the logs? Also nice! Our neighbors had to re-frame an antique barn here so they found some timber framers and a portable saw mill guy to do it. White Oak is the state tree here, so there are more than a few. I hooked them up with other friends who had 100 foot tall white oaks in the front yard that needed to go or they might crush the house. A marriage made in heaven. Free downed trees and free beams for the barn. Just the labor to convert. Winning all around.
    That might get you more lumber--advertising the processing and removal of right length logs. The timber framers didn't dry the lumber because they wanted it to dry as one piece. Cut, notch, assemble, dry.

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    1. Barb, that sounds like a wonderful deal. :) I wish our sawmill was actually portable (as opposed to just small).

      The tractor is ours. We bought it last summer (post here). It's now our work horse and a real blessing!

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  22. Wow, what a great tool, and a good snag. Because of the high cost of shipping, we don't see much in the way of portable sawmills here in Hawaii. But I surely could put one to good use. Over the past 12 years I've bought plenty of crappy lumber while building my house, barn, and other things. Thinking about it now, I should have bitten the bullet and shipped in one of those mills. Then we could have used our own trees to make much of our structural lumber. Ah....hindsight. It so 20/20 isn't it?

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    1. Shipping, whew. Another over-inflated expense. I imagine shipping to Hawaii knocks a lot of things out of the box. But, you're right about being able to use your own trees. If one does a lot of building, it doesn't take long for it to pay for itself.

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  23. Hey Leigh,
    Here in the local area we can not find downed logs to cut into lumber as there is a company that moved into town a couple years ago. They manufacture "Pellets" for Pellet Stoves and they have gotten all the rights to CLEAR CUT all standing timber in the area. They don't even leave much slag behind, as it can also be used for pellets.
    And I to find that the lumber at the big box stores just crap!
    So I have found that Pallets and shipping crates are a way for me to go. And most of them are free for the taking. The wood is rough cut and it is hard to find longer lengths of wood, But I have found that a lot of it is hard wood! Oak, Cherry, Ash and Maple. A lot of yellow Pine too.
    I also just resonantly salvaged some wood from a 100 year old Barn that was being demolished and burned. I was most thrilled by the four 8 ft "Hart Pine" Logs I found and brought home. Also about a dozen 17 ft. Ceder Siding boards.

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  24. Woo hoo! Of all the tools modern homesteaders have available now that didn't exist in the olden days, I think a saw mill like that is one of the most useful.

    I've been ogling that kind of saw mill for a while now, so I'm really happy (and a little jealous!) that you were able to find one on Craigslist!

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