President’s Note: Sawmill Workshop

presidents note sawmill workshop

On November 15, 2023, the Kerr Center hosted a sawmill workshop with assistance from the Oklahoma Department of Forestry. The workshop, running from 9 – 11 in the morning, was open to local schools.

Over 100 students participated, many of whom had prior forestry-judging training and had seen finished boards used in construction projects. However, for many, it was their first opportunity to observe the process of cutting a board from a log.

The workshop was divided into three stations, with the students divided into corresponding groups.

Station one had a manual bandsaw mill, where the saw was pushed forward through the log. Logs are turned by hand, so it’s crucial to measure and adjust cutting depths to create dimensional lumber.

At station two, participants learned about logging tools and chainsaw safety, led by personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Forestry.

Station three showcased a hydraulic sawmill, which is more automated. Logs are loaded and turned using hydraulics, and the mill itself is propelled forward by hydraulics. Log cuts are set by information input to a computer, resulting in a much faster and more precise process compared to the manual sawmill.

For those utilizing a portable sawmill to generate income, specializing in unique products is essential. Cutting just pine is not very profitable, as larger mills handle pine products more efficiently.

However, small portable mills offer the capability to cut products not commonly found at lumberyards, such as live-edge wood in various dimensions, or different hardwood species like persimmon, hackberry, hickory, pecan, etc., which might not be readily available locally.

This provides woodworkers with a more diverse selection than what is typically found in conventional lumberyards. While these woods can be obtained from specialty producers, the cost is often higher than sourcing and producing them through a portable mill.

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