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Monday, 18 Dec 2017

Milling Notes for Novices

Have you ever seen some logs around the place and imagined making something more of them than firewood?

  I've used locally salvaged logs to make beautiful floorboards, large tabletop slabs, and large window sills for a house I'm building.

 

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Here is a summary of how it can be done with locally available resources for keen novices interested in the beautiful hardwoods around here.

To cut out the log from the tree you will need a large (18 inch plus) chainsaw. If you don't have one then you should contact a local tree lopper. I used David Barker (Roleystone - 94960306) who has a 42 inch chainsaw and charges about $80-$100/hr. Logs should be a maximum of about 5m long. If you don't have a large number of logs or neighbors who are tolerant of noise (in which case you can bring a portable mill & operator to the log) you'll then need to get the log to someone who can mill it. An 8 ton hiab (i.e. truck with a crane on it) capable of carting large 8m long logs can be hired from Mark Kirby (Gosnells- 0420981932) with driver for about $80/hr.

I've used Ken Elliot (Keysbrook - 0419860010) who has a portable bandsaw mill and Aaron Lori (Bedfordale -  041798-5318 ) who has a portable chainsaw (Lucas) mill to mill the logs. Bandsaw mills are faster and have less wastage (ie each cut is about 1mm) but can't handle logs more than 60cm in diameter. Chainsaw mills have more wastage (each cut is about 8mm) but can slice up logs more than a meter in diameter and it is a bit easier to make the most of the log and work around rotten parts. Aaron is also a lot closer to Roleystone than Ken. Both charge about $100/hr.

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These guys will be able to advise on how to stack the timber to air dry (if green) at your house. The amount of time length is dependant on the thickness of the milled planks (also air temperature, air circulation and wood type) and a rough rule of thumb is 1 inch a year for green jarrah. At the end of this you have what is called "rough sawn" timber.

Once it is dry and has finished shrinking and you may (depending on use) need to "dress" the timber. This process planes back the timber to a square, uniform size. For this I've used Byford Timber (Byford - 95250202) for planks and Frank at Auspol Timber (Malaga - 92488458) for outstanding tongue and groove floorboards. 160mm wide floorboards cost around $1.20/m to dress and 200mm x 50mm rough sawn planks cost about $1.80/m to dress. I estimate the final products would retail at about $10/m and +$40/m respectively. For the slabs I just used a hand sander to finish.

From timber salvaged from a single Chevin Wood development on Salacina Road I've gained more than enough large Marri and Jarrah slabs and timber to fit out the house we are building. The shame was that it was all destined to be mulched. One massive healthy Jarrah provided over twenty flawless 50mm thick slabs up to 5m long and 1.3m wide. It was on what is now the Salacina Road verge and would have been there well before European settlement of Australia. Half of one Marri that would have been an outstanding entrance statement provided enough floorboards for my house. The wood we didn't cart away is now rotting chips on the road verge with weeds growing on top.

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