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Sawing at its Best
Wood-Mizer Honors Sawyers with the Personal Best Contest
By Deanna Bunten
Date Posted: 2/1/2006
Sawyers are remarkable people…they are quick to help a friend or neighbor, they supply the world with wood while remaining conscientious of the environment and they use their talent to build great things and fulfill dreams. Wood-Mizer recognizes those building projects by hosting a Personal Best contest every other year. It is a true testament of Wood-Mizer owners and their abilities.
The 2005 contest accepted entries in six categories: Homes and Major Structures, Homes/Cabins, Large Outbuildings/Barns/Garages, Small Outbuildings/Barns/Tool Sheds, Miscellaneous Interior Projects and Miscellaneous Exterior Projects. A team of judges gave scores for creativity/originality, complexity, quality of workmanship, and the overall use of the Wood-Mizer sawmill.
Each and every category had fervent competition and the judges found it difficult to choose the winners. After much deliberation, a Grand Champion for each category rose to the top.
Category 1: Homes and Major Structures
While the entries in this category were particularly astonishing, Robert Paine, a woodworker for 30 years, earned the designation of Grand Champion. He used his Wood-Mizer to build a Victorian home that features wall to wall wood.
About 20 years ago, Robert and his wife started studying plan books and found a two and a half story home that would work with a few modifications.
In 1987, the couple purchased 19 acres of wooded land and with the help of his father, Robert started clearing the lot. With a vision of their dream home, logs were stockpiled for sawing the boards that would bring the house to life. “At the time I didn’t own a Wood-Mizer, but I knew someone who did and he helped get us started sawing,” commented Robert.
For the next seven years, the father-son team worked the land, completed the foundation and spent a summer working to frame the house, get the roof boarded and shingled and close it in with windows. Robert’s wife also worked side-by-side; helping with every aspect from framing to finishing. During this time, Robert purchased an LT40 mill which cut 90% of the lumber used for their construction. Robert is quick to acknowledge, “There are a lot of materials to frame this house and the Wood-Mizer made it possible.”
Weekends, evenings and every other available opportunity, Robert and his wife worked on the inside of their dream home. With enough done to move in 1995, Robert set up the garage as his woodshop and began working on exterior trim. With a great attention to detail, he planned how everything would look. All the siding, porches and decks were cut from cedar using his mill.
The Paine’s home features 46 windows, 5 doors, exterior fluted trim and rosettes, a lot of dentil work, thousands of feet of 3 ½” crown moulding and base cap. Robert made all of the material on site and did it one section at a time.
He tackled the interior in the same way; taking it room by room and making each area unique. Each room is stunning and a mixture of different wood is used throughout the house. The joining living room and dining room are dramatic with wood spanning from wall to wall and ceiling to floor. Robert incorporated wood flooring, a mantel, crown moulding, dental work and various other millworks. “All of this would not have been possible without the Wood-Mizer.”
Category 2: Homes/Cabins
The next category, Homes/Cabins, is set apart to recognize smaller homes that are less than 1,800 square feet. Gregg Turk, owner of a Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic sawmill, received the Grand Champion award for a customer-built home that he did for Chris Cooper.
Their house project started ten years ago when Gregg drew up house plans for his client. Eight years passed and Chris’ children grew up and moved out; the plans were reduced in size but perfection was paramount.
The two colleagues had a history of working together so it was natural for Chris to entrust Gregg to build his dream home on land given to him by his father. While Chris was making a living constructing and repairing swimming pools, Gregg recalls “he never lost his love of exposed wood and fine woodworking as an expression of art.”
Working seasonally when pools were not being constructed, Gregg teamed up with Chris and his pool crew for about two years to build the 1,720 square foot home that features wood floors, ceiling, siding, cabinetry and stairway treads and risers. For two months, the crew cut the yellow pine framing stock and various millwork material. Gregg estimates that 75% of the wood used in the home was sawn on his LT40 hydraulic sawmill.
“When I look at his house, I have a feeling of immense pride,” he says. “Constructing a structure you’re proud of is one thing. Constructing a structure you’re proud of from wood you’ve cut from raw materials is entirely different and more rewarding. I owe that to my Wood-Mizer.”
Category 3: Large Outbuilding/Barns/Garages
Mike Butler converted logs into lumber for a carriage house style garage to become the Grand Champion of Category 3. Mike bought his first Wood-Mizer sawmill in 1992 and recalls. “It proved to be a very worthwhile investment.” He used his LT30HD for six years; custom cutting for customers. Mike remembers how his business grew very fast, just by word of mouth. In 1998, with a successful company in full-swing, Mike purchased a newer mill – an LT40 Super Hydraulic. “It made sawing more productive and easier.”
In 2000, Mike was hired by Dave Boratko to cut the timber for his garage/workshop project using 43 felled white pines that ranged in size from 12” to 36” in diameter. Mike recalls that Dave was “impressed” with the lumber produce by the Wood-Mizer.
Mike took his portable Wood-Mizer to his customer’s 1.5 acre lot to saw. The main beams were the largest and Mike cut them out of the center of eight, 30” diameter logs. All the timbers, flooring, sheathing and siding were cut on the lot for the 1,872 square foot structure. Mike’s mill cut 90% of the material used in the construction.
When the lumber was seasoned, Mike used his mill to re-edge the flooring and siding for straightness. Mike credits the mill stating, “We ended up with machine shop tolerances.”
Although initially Mike was hired to do the sawing, Mr. Boratko came to him for help with construction. He aided with framing, installing roof decking, and putting up sheathing to close in the garage. When finished, the timber frame garage measured 36’ wide by 30’ deep with an attached woodworking shop that measured 16’ wide by 28’ deep. “All-in-all, it was a great project and I was glad to be a part of it,” states Mike.
Category 4: Small Outbuildings/Barns/Tool Sheds
Dreaming Creek Timber Frame Homes has used their Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic with a diesel engine for 8 years. It was a replacement for the one they bought in 1989. While they are the grand champion for the Small Outbuilding, Barns, and Tool Sheds category; their company is also grand in operation and projects.
Based on 70 acres in central Virginia, Dreaming Creek builds one-of-a-kind masterpieces for their clients. The gazebo-style outbuilding, submitted by Bob Shortridge, Jr., exemplifies their timber framing talents. The finished project is octagonal and measures 28’ x 28’ x 28’ x 28’. The 622 square feet is used as an events pavilion by Walkerton Tavern, which is on the National Register of Historical Places and hosts events and weddings.
Dreaming Creek’s design team came up with the unique blueprint and a crew of sawyers cut 100% of the joinery with their Wood-Mizer sawmill at the company’s “beamery.” A total of 7,000 board feet was sawn. In keeping with timber framing techniques, traditional mortise and tenon joinery was used to connect the timbers. Bob estimated that using a Wood-Mizer sawmill resulted in a $7,000 savings.
Dreaming Creek was founded by Bob Shortridge in 1981. For awhile he was a one-man operation, but now is backed by a company of 50 people, including his son. According to Mr. Shortridge their sawmill is a valuable tool to the Dreaming Creek business. “The Wood-Mizer was a dead ringer for us. It was small enough to afford and productive enough to meet our needs.”
Category 5: Miscellaneous Interior Projects
Many projects submitted for the Personal Best contest are labors of love and when they are recognized as winners makes it even more special. One example is Randall Maczka who built a walnut gun cabinet and dedicated it to the memory of his father, who intended for his next project to be a walnut gun cabinet before he passed away in 1988.
Randall put his heart and soul into this project and incorporated some very special design features. His Wood-Mizer cut 100% of the walnut used in the massive 95 ¾” high by 61 ¼” wide by 25” deep cabinet; including everything down to the handle ends which were worked with a file and sand paper.
Randall spent a total of 767 hours working on this gun cabinet and included a tremendous amount of detail. If there was a perfect gun cabinet; this has a good chance of being it. With all the time and thought that went into this project, Randall commented that his feeling upon seeing the finished project was “excitement and relief.”
Category 6: Miscellaneous Exterior Projects
Robert Long was a grandfather with a newly acquired Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic sawmill. One of the first things he wanted to do was build a tree house for his beloved four-year-old grandson, Ethan. As a result, he also became a Grand Champion in Wood-Mizer’s contest for Miscellaneous Exterior Projects.
Last winter, while cutting trees in a near by woodlot, Robert came across a hollow oak tree…the perfect piece for the trunk of the playhouse. Excited about his find, he showed the red oak to Ethan and began planning their joint project. Robert prepared ahead and had a supply of lumber cut prior to Ethan’s visit so they could work together not only building the tree house, but also making memories.
The grandfather/grandson team started with cleaning out the center of the oak tree then cutting and framing the side walls and deck. Using his Wood-Mizer lap-sider, Robert cut a few board feet of siding as well as the shingles used on the roof. With the lumber sawed from his mill he framed a deck on the top of the oak tree followed by 6’x6’ uprights to hold the corners and the frame for the swing.
With a little extra help from Ethan’s father, the four walls were lifted onto the deck. During the entire project, Robert intentionally skewed all the measurements to achieve the twisted look of a tree house built by kids.
Pleased with his mill, Robert said, “We built everything from wood cut on the Wood-Mizer mill including the ladder, door, door latch, bridge and even the swing seat.” Working for about six months, off-and-on, Ethan got his tree house and Robert got his reward. “Seeing kids at play on what you made is special.”
For Wood-Mizer, this was truly a memorable contest and every entry was special in some way. We wish we could recognize all of the entrants because to us they are all winners. The next Personal Best contest will be held in 2007 and Wood-Mizer looks forward to seeing how sawmill owners are building their dreams.
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