We called one of our favorite and most majestic Ponderosa Pines at Sahalee Louis Vuitton, or Louis for short. The way it caught the light on its richly textured bark emanated luxury and royalty, much more so than the pedestrian handbag designs we see in the high fashion carousels. When we first moved to Sahalee, Louis sheltered us when we took care of our personal business before we had a potty. It became a warm and friendly companion to us that summer. Sadly, Louis was bit with the bark beetle a couple of years ago and we had to take it down.
Enter the new 36″ Granberg Alaskan Saw Mill to Ben’s livery. We knew that we had other beetle kill pondos to fell on the property and that the moody blue-tinged wood grain would be much better put to use as planks or dimensional lumber than hacked into firewood, so this purchase was an investment in future building projects. First, however, Ben set to work on learning how to run it properly and Louis was number one in the practice line. (The video of him dropping the hog last year has been mysteriously lost, sad to say.)
When Ben laid Louis to rest, we knew we wanted to mill so he left a nice long usable length of roughly 12 feet. After cleaning up the limbs and setting the trunk level, Ben had to build the rails for the first pass to be level using a combo of new and scrap store bought 2×4. He also had to make sure that his Stihl 661 was outfitted with a ripping chain on his 36″ bar and that he had enough wedges to go the length.
From there, it was just a matter of trying to keep a nice even speed and level on the bar for the full distance. As you can see, the setup was not exactly ideal on the slope, but Ben carried through to make his first pass and adjust from there.
He actually had to pause after the first swipe and come back to finish up the rest several months later, but was able to pick up right where he left off.
He played with the adjustment for the thickness as he cut layer by layer. We ended up with (2) 2-in. slabs, (2) 1-in. slabs, and (3) 1.5-in. slabs to haul down to Casablanca, with most being about 18 inches across.
Because these boards were made from a practice run, we knew there would be imperfections. The saw marks were pretty rough and actually compelled Ben to order up the Alaskan Winch for the next go. Even after some good sanding, the texture was not suitable for a fine finish application like a fancy table.
Luckily, we had the perfect place to put them… Check out our new shelves in the back room at Casablanca!
Back at Sahalee, this is what we are left with… The top and bottom half-round slabs for another project TBD and a healthy pile of chips for the outhouse. We also have the stump about 30″ high that might make for a nice garden art pedestal or a little seat in the sunny spot. What would you do with the scrap planks and stump?