A Trip to the Mill

Each year, during this season, I make a trip to East Texas to pick up some logs from a sawmill to use for a demonstration at our annual Homestead Fair. The demonstration is called “From Tree to Chair,”  and in it, I take one of the big logs (like those in the photos below) and split it down with hand tools to get parts for making a Windsor chair. I show how to drill and carve the seat, then I finish the demo by steam bending the back for the chair, all in about 45 minutes (that is, when I find a straight grained log that splits well)!

This year, my son went to the sawmill with me. We picked up three red oak logs for chair making and a white oak log, which I hope to turn into some splints and handles for making baskets. I also picked up a pine log to practice some hand hewing (which I plan to write about in a future article) along with two more chunks of red oak to make some nice split boards. Borrowing from Peter Follansbee’s line, “Quartersplit oak is what quartersawn oak wishes it was, it’s the best oak money can’t buy.”

The sawmill’s tongs made it really easy to move the logs.

The puppy is enjoying the view, what a pile of logs!

This red oak log that we’re loading onto the trailer is huge!

This red oak log that my son’s measuring is the one I really wanted. It’s a good thing the sawmill owner wouldn’t let me have it. My trailer weighed in at just 200 lbs below its maximum capacity even without it. I will say that I think this log would have made Peter Follansbee jealous! It was perfectly round, almost 36″ in diameter, and straight as an arrow.

A full load and ready for the 4 hour trip home!

More About the Fair

Our Homestead Fair is an exciting time for us. We have it the week of Thanksgiving, Friday, through Sunday. Each year, many thousands of people come out to visit us for three days of fine craft-making demonstrations (woodworking, blacksmithing, pottery, weaving, spinning, candle-making, leatherworking, basketmaking, and many others) along with homesteading seminars, music, lots of food, fine crafts, and many different hands-on projects for the young and young-at-heart to enjoy. We’ll also have a hands-on timber frame barn raising.

That’s compressing it into quite a nutshell – if you’ve never come out for the fair, you really ought to consider it.

For more information about the fair, including driving directions, schedule of events, lodging, photos, and a short video, visit: the link below

2011 Homestead Fair

2 Responses to A Trip to the Mill

  1. Landon November 28, 2011 at 8:42 PM #

    I thought the idea of a sawmill was to sell logs. Why wouldn’t he sell the log you really wanted or is it like a special house reserve?

  2. Jon December 12, 2011 at 12:02 AM #

    I enjoyed reading this entry, and a quick scan of the others. You write clearly. Thank you. Looking forward to joinery and/or planing classes in the near future.