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Shane Jordan portable sawmilling

Shane Jordan, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2013.

I own and operate a small portable sawmilling business east of Stratford. In my spare time I compete in timber sport competitions throughout the world. I am a current world champion axeman with three world titles to my name and over 70 championship wins.

Working with timber and cutting it with axes has helped my knowledge of how trees grow and the way the tension affects the grain structure of the trees. Cutting wood with an axe is similar in ways to cutting it with a circular saw. I find that you need to be 100 per cent focused on what you are doing as knots can suddenly appear in the timber, especially in pruned timber. It is important to know how to deal with them and change your cutting plan and sizes to get optimum recovery and provide the best possible product.

I have a 10-inch Lucas Mill, and while helping demonstrate its use it at the Mystery Creek Fieldays, learned a lot about the different operating techniques. I started cutting timber for farmers around Taranaki and have travelled as far as Auckland with the mill. The mill is very compact and breaks down easily, the whole unit with attachments being easily transported on a double cab ute.

Using the Lucas Mill I find that I can mill the logs wherever they fall, without having to use any big machinery to move or transport logs to the mill site. With a good mill site set-up I have cut up to 14 cubic metres of sawn timber in a day. The most common tree species I mill are macrocarpa, Lawson cypress, radiata pine, cedar and eucalypts. I also cut and sell sawn macrocarpa and Lawson, mainly on Trade Me.

A lot of macrocarpa and Lawson trees have been planted as shelter on farms. Much of this type of planting occurred over a 10-year period but the trees are not getting replanted for various reasons.

On the sheep and beef properties a lot of trees were planted on the steepest land and in gullies to fill areas that were unable to be used for grazing. As these trees grow and develop, problems often arise with them blowing over, branches breaking fences, and shading close paddocks affecting grass growth. These trees get to a stage where they need to be removed. As the tree planting is often in isolated areas and not accessible to road or gravel tracks it can be a problem. It is also not practical to get the trees logged for export or domestic use.

The most cost-effective way is to get a portable sawmill to cut the timber, so that only the timber needs to be transported and the waste left behind. With the increasing costs of transport and timber treatment, getting your own pine milled works out to be about a third cheaper. Sometimes the ugly and rough looking logs that you think are only for firewood can be deceiving. Once milled, they can often produce nice clean timber. It is very satisfying seeing these results.

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