Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Sawing our own Wood Part 1

We have just cut down several trees – a couple of young redwoods, two cedars, and two mulberries. While it was hard to cut them down, we are excited about having clear solar access for our garden, our house, and eventually solar panels. They were all blocking the morning light, were in the way of a clear path, or were (in the case of the cedars) falling down because of misuse.

So, now we would really like to use them for our own purposes – a picnic table, for example. But how?

After calling our Local Tool Lending Library (where we have happily borrowing an electric 18″ chain saw), they suggested we call around to see about a horizontal band-saw. We ended up at Healdsburg Lumber – who suggested a portable saw mill.

So far, I have found a great article on portable sawmills, with links to different varieties to purchase for the “personal user’s forest.” We don’t really have a forest, though, and the cost for a pretty simple, manual Wood Mizer is $3700.


Now, if we had enough wood that we could make, say a deck, out of it, that would be terrific..

So, how much wood can we get out of our trees?

Well, according to the Ohio State University Fact Sheet, if we have a 16 foot log with a 12 inch diameter, we can get 30 board feet. Except that our trees are not that big – while we have three logs that are about 12″ in diameter, they are all only 6 feet long. However, this fact sheet did explain clearly about how people go about calculating board feet. So, when I looked a bit longer, and found a Wood Board Calculator, I knew that I needed to check the “Doyle’s measurement,” which US foresters typically use as their form of measurement.

It looks like, if I have done my calculations right, that we may have about 250 board feet waiting for us. That suddenly becomes worth it!

So, onward in my search for someone who has a portable saw mill for us to use.

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3 comments to Sawing our own Wood Part 1

  • Ok, I just discovered a great story about someone who is in a very similar situation – he suggests calling around, finding someone close, and having a clear idea of what we would use the wood for. These and other excellent suggestions are at

  • Robert Brown

    i logged before we move from alaska, the portable saw mill is not a very economical choice for a few trees, and its best if the wood drys a bit. the sawblade gets dull quickly when its ripping along the length, and chains, gas, and bar oil can get spendy. also the saw has to have enough power, one of the larger “logger” quality saws, if the saw you have is one of the cheaper home models than it wont work very well (this will cause the chain to go slower and dull it quicker). your best bet is to find a small sawmill to saw up the wood for you, it will cost you far less than than the portable sawmill. it shouldnt be to hard to find a sawmill in your part of the state.

  • Good point – it has been a challenging one to find. Does the wood have to be new to mill it? Is it possible to mill wood (we have redwood and cedar) that has been down for 9-12 months?

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