Austin Mehlhorn – M8-28M (showcase)

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Date: March 10, 2024 - March 10, 2024
Location: Maine, USA

Austin Mehlhorn
Beaver Works Leasing LLC

I have harbored sawmill dreams for many years. It all began with a chainsaw mill, and I dabbled in some cutting with it. It was a satisfying experience, enabling me to craft lumber and construct a few items like a deck and woodshed. However, the chainsaw mill proved to be labor-intensive and didn’t consistently produce high-quality, square lumber. Recognizing the need for a more capable mill to pursue my lumber-making endeavors further, I began researching options online, avidly watching instructional videos, and envisioning the myriad projects I could undertake with a proper mill.

I’ve always taken pleasure in crafting things for myself, adhering to the ethos of ‘why pay someone else when I can do it myself?’ This mindset, while generally beneficial, sometimes irks my wife. She’s often exasperated by my tendency to dismiss store-bought items, confidently asserting that I could fashion something superior at a lower cost. Nonetheless, my penchant for DIY projects remains a source of fulfillment and satisfaction.

I grappled with the challenge of affording a mill for quite some time. Initially, I envisioned myself with a bandmill, preferably a Wood-Mizer. While I had encountered a few swing-blade mills, I remained unconvinced by their four-post design, unsure of how it would stack up against a bandmill. While I could scrape together enough for a modest bandmill and gradually pay it off through occasional milling, the more I delved into research, the less appealing this option became.

The absence of hydraulics meant I’d have to manually lift logs onto the mill and rotate them for square cuts. Hydraulics, however, came with a hefty price tag, and lacking a tractor compounded the issue. Moreover, the prospect of constantly changing blades and the associated costs of sharpening or investing in specialized equipment weighed heavily on me. A single encounter with metal could render a board worthless, and even a slight delay in blade maintenance could result in subpar cuts.

Furthermore, bandmills imposed restrictions on log size. While our region may not boast the colossal trees of the West Coast, many of the logs I’ve milled since acquiring my Turbosawmill would have been too large for a bandmill to handle.

I found myself growing somewhat disheartened, uncertain if I’d ever find a feasible path to acquiring a sawmill. Then, I decided to revisit swing-blade mills and stumbled upon Turbosawmill. Its design resonated with me instantly, and the more I delved into its features, the more it all made sense.

The Turbosawmill’s exceptional portability struck me. I could effortlessly detach it and maneuver it to wherever I needed. This flexibility allowed me to position the mill directly over logs that were too hefty to move manually. Gone were the days of laboriously lifting and turning logs; now, I could simply set up and commence cutting, a godsend considering my lack of access to a tractor. I’ve even managed to tackle mammoth logs, like a 55-inch-wide silver maple, effortlessly producing lumber with each pass.

The ability to quarter saw or minimize waste during cutting further appealed to me, but it was the blade design that truly sealed the deal. With five teeth that could be sharpened on the spot in just about two minutes, and the option to swap them out without removing the blade, maintenance became a breeze. Even encounters with metal, which I’ve had, resulted in clean, straight cuts without sacrificing precious wood.

Moreover, I devised a solution to afford the mill: sawmill rental.

In my quest for a sawmill, I explored the possibility of renting one from businesses. If purchasing outright wasn’t feasible, perhaps renting could be an option, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any available. This echoed sentiments expressed on sawyer forums and similar platforms, where the consensus seemed to be: “I would never rent my mill to someone who might misuse it.” Bandmills were deemed too delicate, requiring extensive tinkering and maintenance. Even simple tasks like blade changes, tensioning, or mishandling logs could spell disaster.

However, the Turbosawmill emerged as a promising contender. Its straightforward, mechanical design devoid of computers or hydraulics appealed to me. I deliberately opted for a manual mill to keep things as uncomplicated as possible. Operating it was a breeze—just turn one handle for vertical movement and the other for horizontal adjustment. After just an hour of milling, I felt confident in my ability to achieve the desired results.

During my first summer with the mill, I offered significant discounts to initial renters while ironing out logistical details like delivery, setup, and training. Despite some minor setbacks, the endeavor proved successful overall. I generated income while providing customers with cost-effective building materials. Setting up the mill took me about thirty minutes, and with an additional hour of training, customers were comfortable operating it themselves.

My clientele varied—from woodworkers stocking up on lumber to individuals constructing garage/apartments or refurbishing old beams for custom home projects. Many homeowners opted to repurpose large trees felled by tree service companies, turning them into valuable resources instead of paying for disposal. The Turbosawmill experience, from the product to the service, has been immensely gratifying. I even enhanced my operation’s versatility by adding a slabbing attachment that runs on the same track.

Operating under the name Beaver Works Leasing LLC, based in southern Maine’s Lyman, near Biddeford/Saco, we specialize in sawmill rentals for individuals seeking to mill their own lumber from accessible logs. Our comprehensive service includes delivery, setup, training, and mill retrieval at the rental’s conclusion. Additionally, we offer contract milling services for clients requiring lumber production on their premises, catering to projects of all scales. Moreover, we sell lumber and, since integrating the slabber, live edge slabs. Our workshop can craft custom pieces from our assortment of slabs/lumber or transform trees from clients’ properties into unique creations.

For further information and inquiries about our services, visit www.beaverworksleasing.com or contact us at 207-200-1920 or [email protected].

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