Written by: Ned Kimmel
Have you ever had your eye on a potential new hobby for what seems like years? And every time you finally consider jumping in head first you find a way to convince yourself that it is either too difficult or costs too much money? If you are crafter, artist, woodworker or maker of any kind, I’m sure you’ve been there before.
Well, I have found myself there on more than one occasion. And to be honest, I was there just a few days ago. I have walked through the idea of building bigger workshops, taking up metalworking or blacksmithing, working with leather, drawing, and the list goes on and on. Most of us, as makers, can find just about any excuse to halt a dream project or new venture. I know that is true for me.
For some reason, the thought of tackling a new project or pursuing a new hobby brings out the internal naysayer in me. Whenever I start scheming up a new tool purchase or new hobby, I often think to myself, “you don’t have enough money” or “the learning curve is too steep.” Ultimately, I say to myself, “maybe some day.”
For one of my frequent day-dreaming schemes, that “maybe some day” is today.
I have often talked to some of my woodworking friends or my wife about the possibility of some day owning my own bandsaw mill. Sawing up my own lumber and live-edge slabs honestly enthralls me. It almost feels like a connection to a long-lost art or trade you would find in a medieval town.
But every time I visited the thought of purchasing a sawmill I was constantly met with internal resistance. Sawmills cost a lot of money. Sawmills take up a lot of space. You need a heavy-duty truck or trailer to haul heavy logs. The list goes on. Each of those thoughts ultimately quashed any possibility of pursuing my sawmill story.
A few days ago, I was talking to a good friend of mine whose family owns a local chainsaw and mower business, Hildebrand’s Mowers and Saws. He said to me, “have you ever thought about getting an Alaskan chainsaw mill?” To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind but for some reason, I was so stuck on getting a bandsaw mill some day that I just didn’t really see any other option as being viable.
Chainsaw mills certainly have their shortcomings when compared to bandsaw mills. They are slower, use a lot of fuel and aren’t nearly as efficient in cutting lumber. However, they are much more affordable. They are portable. And the learning curve is very attainable.
So I did it. I bought one. I bought a chainsaw mill almost immediately after the conversation.
I purchased a Granberg 36″ Alaskan MKIV Chainsaw Mill. My friends over at Hildebrand’s Mowers and Saws helped me get my hands on a used Husqvarna 365 and that should easily help get me started slabbing. I also purchased a 28″ bar and ripping chain from them as well.
Bottom line: if you have a new hobby on the horizon that always seems out of reach… Don’t quit reaching. Maybe your original idea isn’t possible at one time or another, but that doesn’t mean that it is completely unattainable.
Before I possibly invest a lot of money in a bandsaw mill someday, I want to make sure it will be a hobby that I enjoy and continue. I truly believe that the chainsaw mill will be the best first option for me in the short-term.
As for now, I don’t have the mill in my hands yet, but I do have my saw ready to go. The mill should arrive in the next week or so and I will be posting updates on that progress as it comes. Stay tuned for more.
For now, keep up The Making Life. -N