Save Money by Sawing Your Own
by Staff Writer
A more conventional green building option is to build with lumber harvested from
your own land. When you select the trees yourself, you ensure that you aren’t
support clear cutting operations and that old growth forests aren’t depleted.
When preparing a new building site, trees often have to be removed to make ways
for the foundation, driveway, and any proposed clearings. Why not put this wood
to work by building your house with it?
One method to process your timber is by using a chainsaw mill; you simply add an
attachment to your chainsaw and mount a guide to the log. While this method is
slow and labor intensive, it is by far the cheapest option to mill your own
lumber. In my opinion, it works best for large beams or posts, or when only a
small quantity of lumber is being milled. The cost of attachments and guides
starts at $50 and runs into the hundreds of dollars.
Another method to cut
your own lumber is with a band saw mill. Band saw mills are available in
capacities suited to the weekend lumberjack, professional log cabin builder, and
high-volume lumber processor. Basic units are completely manual, while the
high-end saws come with advanced hydraulics to manipulate the logs and finished
lumber for you. If you would like
visit manufacturers for additional
information, TimberKing and Hud-Son are two well-known brands in this market,
but there are many others. If the cost for a new mill is out of your price
range, don’t forget to check eBay.
If you like the idea of building with wood from your own land but view lumber
milling as a one-time project, consider hiring someone to mill the lumber for
you. There are thousands of people with portable band saw equipment who custom
cut lumber for others. If you cut your own trees and prepare the logs for
milling, there are still savings to be had over commercial lumber. This is
especially true for large posts and beams.
No matter which method you use to cut your lumber to the proper dimensions, it
is important that the wood be dried properly to prevent warping and twisting.
Freshly cut lumber should be stacked over a dry, even surface at least one foot
above ground. Concrete blocks are the best method I have found for elevating the
first course of lumber. Leave one inch of air space between pieces that are
placed side by side. Thin strips of dry wood approximately 1”x2” should be
placed every three feet, perpendicular to the courses of wood above and below.
If the wood is stacked properly, each board will have 1” of airspace above,
below, and on each side to allow for proper ventilation. Once a stack is
complete it should be protected from rain. The ends of each board should be
coated with sealer because they tend to dry out faster. Green wood needs
approximately three months to dry properly, depending on temperature and