Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A week of Milling

I spent three straight days this week at a wood chipping yard in New Westminster, milling up three western red cedar logs and one spalted maple log. I know I am not the speediest guy at the best of times (just ask the guys on my hockey team), and I guess the same applies to my milling!

I went out the week before and sussed it out, as mentioned in my last post. So I showed up 7 AM on Monday all ready to go, but apparently my contact had fallen off a chipping machine on Friday, and was still in the hospital. In fact he remained in the hospital the entire week with a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain. It was really an awful thing. Fortunately he will recover, he had not fallen into the chipper, but onto the ground beside it, probably a good 8 or 10 feet.
The Chipping Machine

So the mood at the site was somber. Pretty rough guys, colleagues of his, were nearly in tears talking about what had happened. Not to mention the place was swarming with WorkSafe folks. Since the machine he fell off was immediately beside where I was working, I couldn't run the mill while they were there. That really hit my productivity for the first couple days.

Meanwhile, a constant array of trucks were arriving and dumping various wood waste. This was my favourite below, a steaming pile of ground up Christmas trees that smelled great! My least favourite was a huge truck full of sawdust which the wind blew right towards me. I had to run like mad to get out out of the dust cloud when he dumped it.

Despite my first impressions of how horrid and industrial this place was, it actually kind of grew on me. Tugboats were going up and down the Fraser river, the local rapid transit trains would shoot by silently through the trees, and the occasional float plane would buzz overhead. The guys who worked there were very helpful and interested in what I was doing. And the weather was decent. For February. The world kind of slowed down for a few days.

So, on to the wood. WRC is of about zero interest to cabinetmakers. But in this case I was milling it up for a company who sells the slabs on line.
Second WRC Log

Nice colours showing on the end of the maple log!
Note the nasty split in it. I subsequently rotated the log 90 degrees (by hand) so that the split would be captured in a single slab, rather than affecting most of the slabs.

By the end of the third day I had 13 WRC slabs and six maple slabs. I milled them all to 3 1/4" thick, and most were 12' long.

At that point I had had enough and I called it done! I had touched up the chain several times, enough so that the rakers needed filing again. Also two of my saws need to go to the shop for tune ups, they kept stalling on me.


  1. I couldn't see the crack in that maple log, but it sure looks like the slabs are going to be lookers for sure. Seeing these slabs makes me want to make a Roubo workbench.

  2. Whoo Whee! I want to see that Maple up close and personal ha!

  3. RJB, depending on the size of your screen, if you click on the picture of the maple you should be able to see a dark coloured vertical crack just below and to the left on the middle of the log.

    Unforunately the spalting only went in for about 18" or so, but the rest of the log had a lovely pink tinge to it. I'll see if I can dig up a better picture and put it up.

  4. I agree with you Dan, that place has some 'atmosphere'. It looks like they aren't too big on keeping it tidy. Maybe if you ask them, they will give you a call if some logs come in that might have potential, or is it that any log is like any other log if you work there? Maybe bring a six pack to seal the arrangement. Nice job on the milling.

    Hope the guy who fell off the chipper has a speedy recovery.