Sawing Our Own Logs, December, 2003

In our efforts to build our home as "green" as possible, we were happy to learn that our county allows us to use ungraded lumber from our own property. Our excavator kept marveling at the nice yellow pine trees that needed to come down. Only one tree had a very little sign of pine beetle infestation. Since the beetles would eventually kill our pine trees, there was no reason we should not cut them down and use the lumber.

This is a very responsible way to build. Most lumber is harvested, shipped to a sawmill, kiln dried, graded, shipped to a distributor, shipped to a lumber yard, and shipped to the building site. Skipping most of these steps saved a lot of energy, avoided a lot of pollution, and saved us about $4000. Making lumber from our own trees has a few disadvantages. We have to wait for the wood to dry. If I need to use it before it is fully dry I will need to allow for more shrinkage than normal. Lumber you buy from the building suppliers is kiln dried and graded. This process kills most insects that might be burrowing in the wood. While sawing, we watched for this very carefully and found no evidence of larvae. But there is no guarantee.

Our excavator had a portable sawmill. When he cut down the trees, he precut the logs into standard lengths with the chainsaw, and stacked them next to the sawmill. This made it easy to roll each log down towards the sawmill, which has a lift to pick up the logs.

We planned ahead for a place to stack the wood. To have the wood dry straight, air must be able to flow around all four sides of each board. We covered our stacks with log scrap and plastic to keep the rain out while allowing the air to circulate. Our stacks are well organized by size, so we can easily get to the wood when we need it.

Some of the pines were over 100 years old! The wood grain was very even, with the cores in the center of the logs. Knots were very small and few. This means the wood is very high quality and should dry very straight. The sawmill operator was very happy with the quality of the wood. If kiln dried, much of the lumber would be #1 grade! We also sawed a few logs of white oak, and one of hickory. The hickory has a stunning wood coloration. Since they were cut from the same log, each plank has the same design and we can use them side by side for a dramatic effect.

Our children helping us stack wood on a cold day.

Neatly stacked lumber to dry.

Cutting slats out of scrap wood to space boards apart for drying.

Sawmill on a trailer. (Some of that dust is snow).

Sawmill cutting a log. More logs ready to be cut.

(These will be updated throughout the project).
Back to the Diary Home Page
Step 1, Purchasing the Land
Step 2, Designing Our Own Home
Step 3, Our Septic Permit
Step 4, Our Insulated Wall System
Step 5, Cutting Lumber from Our Own Trees
Step 6, Plumbing Before the Slab is Poured
Step 7, Pouring the Concrete Floors
Step 8, Pouring Concrete in the ICF Walls
Step 9, Framing the Wood Walls, Floors, and Roof
Step 10, Installing the Windows
Step 11, Roughing in Plumbing and Electrical
Step 12, Insulation
Step 13, Roofing Our Home
Step 14, Finishing the Cabin

I have friends in the construction industry who are very interested in this home. In appreciation for their assistance, I would like to give them credit for their help, and give you the opportunity to contact them. The following list will be updated regularly:

-Bonnie our helpful realtor can be contacted by EMAIL or by phoning her at 800-871-1910
-Tony of A&L Construction did the clearing, excavating, and sawed lumber from our trees. He can be reached at 828-835-9926.
-Pete is a very good part time carpenter. You can phone him at 828-479-9458.

Would you like to see this project under construction?
Come to the next Mountain Home Show, and you will get an invitation to our open house.
For more informaiton, click on the link to "Detailed information about the home show."
If you are interested in building, you may also be able to make an appointment to visit.
Click on "Email Richard" to make an appointment. Or perhaps you would like to observe the construction of this home on line.
Click on "Construction Diary." You are welcome to visit often as we continually update it.

How to Contact Richard C. MacCrea
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800.738.8781 P.O. Box 446, Murphy, North Carolina 28906

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