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Even if you’ve been woodworker for 350,000 years, chances are you still may not know how the wizards-that-be take a tree and turn it into lumber to keep your woodsmithing habit queued up for the next project. Or two.

And, well, um . . . most of you assume all sorts of wrong ideas about how it’s done. 

Okay, me too.

I’ve been in this biz for 20 years and even though I’ve visited a few mills in that time, I learn something new with every visit. But it should go without saying that the first time I went to see a sawmill in action, that was the formative event. From visualizing the sheer dangerous weight of a hardwood log to understanding that logs are erratic or idiosyncratic in shape and size and that’s just the beginning of why boards can only be so big or whatever. 

The point is, it’s really easy to underestimate what it takes to make lumber if you’ve never seen it done. 

And that got me thinking . . . “next time, take a camera, tell the story and share the harvest.” So to speak.

So the whole adventure of getting lumber from a tree is, well, an adventure. You don’t know what you’re going to get.

As some some say it, wood is a gift of nature and its appearance is pretty much out of human control – it’s the quest for beauty among boards that makes lumber harvesting utterly different from, oh, building semiconductors or making tires. That’s one reason we like this business. 

If nothing else, I want to convey that understanding lumber is kind of like washing a pair of jeans:

  1. It has to dry
  2. When it dries, it shrinks
  3. When it shrinks, bad things happen
  4. But there are a few tricks to avoid the bad things

I’m hoping you’ll endure a video of checking out sawmills with me – we did our best to keep it quick but it still clocks in at over 9 minutes.

I beg your pardon in advance. 

Kick up your feet, grab a snack, and enjoy.



Vice President of Operations – Woodworkers Source
We’re a family-owned lumber & woodworking supply retailer with 3 delightful stores in Arizona, and 35 friendly employees.
Mark oversees the company and creates tutorials on wood finishing and woodworking tips for hardwood lumber.

Woodworkers Source is a division of MacBeath Hardwood Co.

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