Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Milling

Principle 3: Obtain a yield

About a day and a half work was involved in milling up the Red Gum and Lightwood on site. I employed the services of a mobile miller by the name of Mal who used a portable sawmill to cut the timber into planks and slabs.

The slabs were quite an effort to move. It took 4 blokes just to lift one end of a Red Gum slab to get it onto a trailer for drying off site. Metal pipe was used to help roll it into place.

Because we are in mid-summer here in Australia, it was suggested by Mal that the timber be stacked on flat ground with no air gaps and be covered. This helps to reduce the speed at which the timber dries. When timber dries too quickly it twists / bends / warps / cracks and becomes very difficult to use for building. When the weather cools down and the rains start, Mal suggested that the timber is re-stacked with wooden spacers (about 10mm high and 300mm apart) to allow it to air dry. As a general rule of thumb it timber takes about a year per inch (25mm) to air dry. So it will be quite a while before the timber is ready to use.

The reward for our efforts was about 40 x 3m planks (40mm x 200mm) and 20 x 1.5m planks (40mm x 200mm). We also got 10 slabs which are about 3.5m long (60mm x approx. 900mm wide). The milling cost was about AU$900.

The plan is to use the planks for decking in a year or so, and the offcuts for stairs and benches. A slab may be used for a kitchen bench down the track. That will help justify the cost of milling the timber, and I have a stack of slabs left over which may be sold or used to make furniture.


Peter manoeuvring a log onto blocks using a crowbar with the ute (pick-up) pulling the log using a chain


Mal cutting planks using the LewiSaw


LewiSaw in action cutting a 40mm x 200mm plank



Milling the top part of the log in preparation for slabbing


Mal works the LewiSaw with a slabbing attachment (a giant chainsaw)


Red Gum slabs fresh off the log


Mal mills up the Lightwood experiment while Peter watches


The milled Lightwood






1 comment:

Gina said...

Exciting application of the principle... too bad you're so far, I'd order one of those slabs for a coffee table!

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