Two machines move the wood around the operation. Our old Ford 4000 tractor is our forklift for logs, lumber, and a thousand other things. The even older prehauler works around the mill yard too, hauling logs and slabwood. For the serious forest manager/restorationist - an option is to pile the slabwood right back into the prehauler at the sawmill and scatter this waste back into the forest to recycle the nutrients in the bark and build up the organic matter in the soil. I can haul a load of slabs out to the forest and bring back a load of logs to the sawmill, wasting no time.
People that visit here keep hesitating in fear when they see my tools. All they can think of is the cost of the machines…. Folks - woodworking machines don't cost you money - they make you money!! You can't make money without the right tools. If you know the value of wood products, you aren't afraid to invest in the machines that turn the straw into gold. If you are hesitant, go to a retail wood store and see what people pay for finished products every day - then do the math. There are plenty of ways to finance woodworking tools. Tools plus Training will create success anytime.
Each saw produces a pile of lumber that goes to the kilns for drying. The tractor/forklift takes a 300 bf pile of wet lumber the a pre-drying chamber. We carefully stack and sticker the wood on a flat concrete floor. The forklift holds the pile at a convenient height to minimize the work needed to stack the lumber. Both ends of the pre-drying chamber are open to let the air flow through the piles of wood. The high roof overhead actually accelerates the natural breezes through the building. The wood is protected from the sun and rain, and the ends are protected from excessive air flow that would cause end checking. Four 2" wide nylon straps apply 4 tons of pressure to hold the top 20 layers of lumber flat as it dries. The weight of the top 20 layers holds the rest of the pile flat as it dries. Drying defects are not a problem with this design.
Secret to Success Make value from "Junk Wood"
Sometimes, we go back in time and find treasure in dead logs that commercial loggers would just laugh at. Wormy or spalted lumber can be deemed 'absolutely beautiful' by the right customer, and I sort these boards out to sell for even more money than our normal wood. Many logs that have been dead up to five years have good sound lumber once you saw through the punky sapwood layer. Sound crotch wood that is normally cut off and wasted by a commercial logger is prized here. I just love to make lots of money from wood that has no commercial value in the timber market.
Many low value species (in the timber market) have a beautiful grain pattern when the log is quartersawn. White oak, elm, red maple, hackberry (and beech in E Wis.) are worth more to me as flooring when quartersawn. A little extra time spent while sawmilling increases my income a lot.
When I saw logs, I know that I will be making flooring from the wood. I work to make the best flooring boards from each log and don't have to worry about sawing for grade or selling lumber in the wholesale market. I know my market and minimize my waste - this is my wood - I am in control!