August 1, 2011

Problem Pine Trees & The Mini Mill

Our current outdoor project has been fencing a browse area in the woods for our bucks. Like every other project, we've found that there are any number of things that have to be addressed along the way. One of these was several pine trees which we were concerned might eventually topple over on the fence. Or on an unsuspecting goat. Or us.

Windblown pines in our woods

A number of these trees have already fallen, some to the ground, others caught up in other trees giving the woods a windblown look. Initially, we would find more trees blown over after every windstorm. This summer however, we sometimes hear a crash in the woods even on a calm day. It's always another pine. We suspect it might be annosum root rot. This isn't confirmed, but would explain why the root and lower portions of these trees are weak, while the remainder of the tree looks healthy and shows no sign of damage.

Like most plant diseases, there isn't anything we can do about it after the fact, other than make sure they don't fall where they can do damage. The other concern is to not let them be wasted; the good wood should be utilized and not be allowed to rot away. Pine can't be burned in the wood stoves, but it can be used for other things.

Enter the Mini Mill. Dan found ours online at Northern Tool. It's a chainsaw mill, which makes it relatively inexpensive, not to mention portable.

Granberg Mini Mill II

It came as a kit, containing the milling attachment and a guide rail, which Dan screwed to a board to make a jig. This was nailed on top of the log section he wanted to cut.

He has a 20 inch chainsaw, so our limit would be a log with a diameter less than 20 inches.

First side cut. He reattached the jig and did the second side.

And here's the cut beam. It's rough, but ready for sanding.

Cut beam. Needs drying and sanding, but it's ours.

What are we going to do with it? We figured we could make all the beams for our kitchen ceiling from our own lumber. Pretty neat, huh?


Doyu Shonin said...

And ya c'n make a chicken coop from th' flitches! Or benches! Or ... or firewood, anyway ... nice job.

Susan said...

Too cool!!

Trixi said...

Very neat. That is one thing we are missing here on our little homestead, woods.

Renee Nefe said...

Awesome! Save those sides he cut off too, you can find something you'll need those for. Or sell them!

I would go out in that back portion and just start pushing at the trees and see if any go over. Then you know they won't be falling on your fence or goats. :D

Leigh said...

Risa, flitches! They even have a cool name. We're definitely going to do something with them. Benches is a very good idea actually.

Susan thanks! (BTW, you need a blog, so I can return the visits and the comments :)

Mrs. Trixi, partly wooded was on our list of "must haves" when we looked at places. Ours is mostly pines, and I'm afraid that if this disease gets them all, it won't be much of a woods anymore!

Renee, we definitely need to do something with them, and even selling them is a good idea! Some of those pines are really huge. And heavy. I hate to lose the big old ones, but on the other hand, trees have life cycles. Would be nice to have a mature woods that would stay that way with selective cutting.

Unknown said...


The Apple Pie Gal said...

How cool is that! Yes, in your kitchen would be so cool! Something to someday tell the next lucky souls!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Wow, really cool!

trump said...

I'm glad in a way that i don't have a lot of trees all around me, since my home is on former farmland which never really has any trees to begin with. But i do love trees and they definitely have their place. I lived in Florida where my home was surrounded by trees, needless to say it was a lot of leaves to pick-up during the year. Richard

BrokenRoadFarm said...

Very neat!! I am certain my husband will want one now ;-) Actually, he has been talking about for 3 years now...ever since we got our land with lots of trees. Now you can make your own lumber for building things - very resourceful!

Mr. H. said...

That is really something...a chainsaw powered mill. It's on my wish list...can't wait to show this to Mrs. H.

Suzan said...

That's Neat!! How long will you have to let them dry out before using?

CaliforniaGrammy said...

How fun that will be some day, looking up at the kitchen ceiling, remembering cutting the beams from your very own trees. That were be thrilling indeed!

Project Girl said...

How totally cool is the Mini Mill? Who knew....? I want one.

Leigh said...

Tanya, it's really a clever idea isn't it?

APG, I'm really excited about this. Wondering if we could cut our own plank flooring (???)

Jane, agreed!

Richard, there would definitely be some advantages to having old farm land to work with. OTHO, we love our trees!

BRF, oh yes, it's a must-get! Especially if you have decent size trees. Sometimes they have to come down and might as well utilize them well.

Mr. H, I'm sure she'll agree that you need one. :)

Tree Hugger, good question. It's according to moisture content, and DH tells me there's a device / gadget / tool to measure that! Usually they aim for a maximum of 19%.

CA Grammy, it's really exciting to be able to do this. It's a heartbreak to lose the trees, but this helps make up for it.

Project Girl, and you need one!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

That's pretty cool!

Tami said...

Holy Moley! That is neat! I'd better not show this post to SM or he'll be out getting one just to "play" with.

*The other day we drove by an equipment auction at the Speedway and SM slows down (noting that the auction had already taken place).

"Whatcha looking at?

"The small trucks." "Oh"

"What did you THINK I was looking at?"

"The Bobcats. I know you secretly want to get one so you can dig up the garden and anything else in the yard."

Boys and their toys.

Mama Pea said...

Good job! I'm betting your hubby needed a long shower after that!

A Wild Thing said...

And what a beautiful, does the cute young lumberjack come with the kit??? LOL!

Unknown said...

Cool stuff! maybe u can google for some DIY garden/home furniture ideas on the net ;)

Sharon said...

Thanks Leigh, now my hubby wants one!

Actually, the mini mill would be perfect for us. We have 100 acres of forest that we can barely get in to because of all the downed trees across the trail. It would be great to use them as something more than just firewood.

Jenna Gayle said...

That's just plain awesome!! I feel like the hubby needs one of these :)

Leigh said...

Candace, I thought so too!

Tami, I know what you mean! LOL

Mama Pea, he was so covered with sawdust that the cats and goats didn't recognize him. They took one look at him and all ran the other way!

Wild Thing, LOL Lumberjack not included, ;)

HangKebon, don't you just love the internet for ideas! The possibilities are endless.

Sharon, oh yes. Actually, you should check out the Granberg website . With as many trees as you've got, you might could use some of their other toys. Northern Tool was cheaper though, for the mini mill we got.

Jenna Gayle, I'm sure he'd agree!

Sharon said...

It makes me think of the mill reenactment we visited at the High Desert Museum in Bend in June. That's what they were cutting in 1904. They kept stressing that year.

Jody said...

How resourceful of you. Although I have to admit, the first thing I thought when I saw the angle of the saw was that I hope the sawdust didn't blow right into his face. There's a hard working man for a hard working family! That's one well deserved beam.

Kaat said...

Wonderful! I'm forwarding this to DH!

Leigh said...

Sharon, I would love to see the mill reenactment. How fun. Interesting about the year.

Oh Jody, sawdust was blowing everywhere! Dan was completely covered. That's why he wore the safety goggles. And ear protection for the noise!

Kaat, with all of the trees you had taken down, it may be very useful for you too. Do check out Granberg's website! More nifty tools of the trade.

Toni aka irishlas said...

That is a very cool tool.

The beams will look great in your kitchen!

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous! I have never seen that before, will have to look into it, as I get ready to clear my lot by next spring. Outbuildings, here I come :)

Leigh said...

Toni thanks! We were very excited to find such a tool.

Stephanie, just the idea of being able to build those outbuildings with homegrown wood is exciting. Such a great resource.