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milling

While cutting firewood out of an ancient greybox log one day, I realised the potential of some of the fallen trees that lay around the family's Molka merino farm. When you consider Australian native trees around Northern Victoria can grow as slowly as one inch per year, some of these trees were up to 500 years old and would normally be pushed up into a pile and burnt to make way for the planting of crops. It seemed such waste to burn such a beautiful resource, so we started investigating ways we could salvage and re-use these trees. After many hours on the phone, internet and attending field days, we purchased an Australian made portable sawmill. The sawmill has a 205mm cutting capacity and includes a 1500mm slabbing bar, being able to mill logs up to 8 metres in length. One huge benefit of this type of mill is its ability to be transported and set up around a log, reducing the need to transport the log to a fixed sawmill therefore reducing costs and the impact on the environment this would cause.

An old paddock Redgum in it's raw state

Of course, not all logs are suitable for milling. Many fallen trees and branches can become habitat for wildlife and are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. They can also be a valuable source of home heating. But with careful selection, appropriate examples can be converted into beautiful timber. Timber that can be used in a variety of ways. Some of the more obvious uses are fence posts and rails. Considering the amount of energy used to produce and transport fencing materials such as concrete and steel, it would have a far less effect on the environment to mill timber on site. It is a little known fact that some Australian hardwoods e.g. Greybox, Yellowbox, have the same termite resistance as treated pine but without the dangerous chemicals. This makes these species ideal for things like sandpits, outdoor furniture, structural timber and as a garden landscaping material. Additionally, Australian native timbers are amongst the most beautiful and durable timbers in the world and have been used by craftsmen to produce a huge range of products including furniture, turned bowls and ornate boxes to name a few. Milling these timbers on site can have a very positive effect on the environment as it reduces the transportation of timbers from other areas, including overseas.  It will also reduce the demand of logging of our native forests.

The process is very simple. Firstly we evaluate the log to establish its suitability for milling. Factors such as diameter, length, shape, species and structural integrity will determine whether the log is suitable for milling and what can be produced from it. Slabs are a popular requirement and with correct handling can become a ready made table or bench top. We then set up the mill around the log and begin milling. If furniture is required we can often mill all the components for the desired result. For example, if the client requires a table we can mill the legs and frame using the blade and the top using the slabbing bar.

A slab from the Redgum logWe can backsaw or quartersaw the log depending on the required end product. Backsawn timber has more structural strength and can often highlight the natural “figure” of the timber although it does tend to shrink more along the grain. This can cause cupping as the timber dries. Quartersawing will result in a straighter grain and less shrinkage as it is cut across the grain.

 

Redgum slabs prior to final stacking

Once the timber is milled we can advise and/or assist with the stacking of the timber to reduce any distortion of the shape.
People often ask us whether the log in their paddock is suitable to be salvaged and recycled. That can be a difficult question to answer without seeing the condition of the log. As mentioned earlier, factors such as size, shape, species and structural integrity all determine a logs suitability for the milling process. If you have any questions or simply need advice, please contact us.

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