Once a load of River Recovered® logs arrives at the sawmill, the first thing we do is measure and ‘scale’ them to determine how many board feet we are buying. There is an industry log ‘scale’ that gives the board feet in the log based on the diameter and length of the log. Sometimes there are significant internal fractures or other issues that affect the board footage that we take into account.
We often select the largest and best logs to store back in the water in our “log pond” at the mill. We hold them in waiting for just the right project. Next, I examine each log that we are going to saw in the near future to decide where to mark and cut the logs to get the best yield. A 36’ log might make 8’, 12’, and 14’ sections depending on where the crooks and bends are in the log. This is called ‘bucking’.
Cleaning the Logs
The logs all need to be power washed to remove the sand and grit off the remaining bark or exterior of the logs before they are sawn. Sand will damage the large, expensive saw blades. The River Recovered® heart pine is dense, resinous, and heavy and the heart cypress is huge, requiring heavy-duty equipment.
Once the logs are scaled, bucked, washed, and loaded onto the saw deck, I mark any internal fractures with chalk so that they can be easily seen from inside the saw cab. This lets me rotate the logs to render the best yield and highest quality while sawing. The company gives me a worklist of what I need to saw to have stock and meet custom orders. Strangely enough, the hardest thing to achieve is the narrow plainsawn grades. Particularly the 3” boards that provide a 2-1/2” face tongue and groove flooring.
Grading the Logs
To get the narrow plainsawn grade, we have to take the largest logs and create a cant (a rectangle) out of the center of the log and then slice it like a loaf of bread. The older Victorian-era homes used narrow widths because they did not have dry kilns and narrow widths naturally shrink less than wide wood.
We could saw the largest river recovered® heart pine logs into some of the richest, most beautiful 8” and 10” wide antique wood in the world. Given today’s kiln drying procedures wide widths perform extremely well in beach houses. Of course, some of it goes to that wide wood; however, still, we often have to sacrifice the largest logs to make those cants out of the center to generate the narrow plainsawn grain to repair and restore those great homes of the last century. The old houses are worth it.
Too Much Dam Wood provides what our clients need. And we’re humbled that the loggers of the 19th century lost some of the densest and best antique heart pine and cypress to the river bottom. We love seeing these ancient logs arrive at the mill. The ones shown here with the ax cut ends means they were all cut before the mid-1880s when loggers switched from axes to crosscut saws.
We love even more seeing your photos of beautiful wood in your home. Send us your photos, please!