Get to know your local sawyer

Most folks go to the lumber yard and pick up their project material.  I prefer to go right to the source, the sawyer.

“Eyeballing” the cut line. Mr. Sharples at work.

I’ve been dealing with my local sawyer, Dennis Sharples, for about a decade now.  I’ve spent a lot of time out in his log yard and rooting through stacks of lumber for just the right stock.   But a couple of days ago I made another trip out to Sharples Hardwood Lumber in Swanton Ohio.  Unlike most days when I’m in a rush and just want to load up and get back to the shop, I had no particular schedule.  Dennis was out in the yard running the mill.  So I just sat myself down on a stack of freshly sawn honey locust boards and quietly watched while he systematically sawed a log into a cant, then sawed the cant into lumber.  All done with a quiet precision that comes from years spent at his trade.  It’s intriquing to watch the mechanical manipulation of the mill machinery to turn, locate and dog down the log.  Then the saw starts its trip down the track and slices to the log like a knife through hot butter.

But apart from roaming around in the log yard, there are a number of very good reasons to get to know your local sawyer.  First you can select the material you want at the source.  You can actually see the lumber you’ll be buying while it’s still “in the log”.  You can buy the lumber in any state you wish; sawn, dried and planed if you like.  Or green, for those folks who work with riven lumber such as chairmakers and early American furniture builders.  Also you’ll find species that won’t normally be stocked at your local big box store.  When’s the last time you saw Sassafrass or Honey Locust at Home Depot or Lowes?

So get to know your local sawyer.  It’ll be time well spent.

Explore posts in the same categories: gateway skills, life in craft

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2 Comments on “Get to know your local sawyer”

  1. Dustin Says:

    Great advice, No better way to master a craft then to know the source of your materials. Someday I will have 12/4 Slab of Walnut sawn, knockoff the bark, flatten and finish, add some legs. They showcase the natural beauty of the wood.

  2. Log purchasers use many reasons for the differences in log rules. For example, users of the Doyle Rule, which underestimates volume in smaller logs, say that this is the very reason it is a fairer rule in that it costs them more to process smaller logs. This is logical since the logger will have to cut more trees, the sawyer will have to saw more logs, and the yard crew will have to move more logs to the sawyer, to equal the amount of lumber in much larger logs. However, if he cannot efficiently utilize smaller logs, he should base his offer on that, not on a biased estimation of yield. There are other reasons given to justify variance in log rule use, but frankly, none hold much water for me. As we can see, there is the potential for dishonesty when choosing log rules.

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