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Why I Mill my own Live Edge Slabs

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For the last 5 years or so I have been milling my own lumber on-site with a chainsaw mill. This process offers me several distinct advantages that I feel like make up for the challenges of milling my own lumber. First, the chainsaw mill allows me to mill large, irregular pieces of wood right at the felling site without the expensive equipment required to load and transport the material to a sawmill like a tractor, big truck and heavy-duty trailer.

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Secondly, some of the pieces I work on have huge sweeps and bends in the trunk that make them impractical for a bandsaw mill to manage. It takes a special bandsaw to slab up post oak 40” through the center, but my chainsaw with a 42” bar and sharp chain can become a very practical and cost-effective method to resaw the same big tree into exactly the pieces I am looking for. A chainsaw mill is a versatile tool when it comes to working with extremely wild wood because you can reset your milling jig to allow for sawing of long sweeps and bends in the trunk which lets me get some real curvy pieces of wood.

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Finally, the chainsaw mill allows me to custom mill every slab or piece of cordwood to my exact specifications. If I want to make sure my slab will have the figuring and chatoyancy of a burl or knot I can simply set my rails on a bias that allows me to pass through the desired defect at the angle I think will best capture the rays and flame of these types of woody growths, bring my slabs alive with movement and opportunities to highlight the most amazing parts of a tree in my design. Though running a chainsaw mill is always a tough endeavor, I have found it worth the extra time and effort to allow me the options of custom milling the types of wood I love working with, twisted and bent hardwoods that are full of unique characteristics and desirable defects.


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