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The Lucas Mill Rocks!

One of the most exciting things we've been up to recently at the Ranch is testing out a new Lucas Mill on loan from Bailey's. The ability to churn out dimensionally accurate boards from a raw log at an amazing rate holds tremendous promise for the kind of small-scale, one-or-two-man wood processing operations that outdoor craftsmen like us are interested in.

Apprentice sawmiller Danny gets a close look at the saw carriage of our freshly-unpacked Lucas Mill




We got started putting the mill together one morning and found it as easy as could be. Many parts were pre-assembled, and it was mostly a matter of laying out the long rails and supports and connecting them.




Before long, our new mill was assembled and ready to rock! As we say at the Ranch, Let's cut lumber!




Rob does the honors and breaks in the mill. Perfect boards started appearing right away. Our Lucas mill has a 30 horsepower V-twin Kohler engine driving a BIG five-toothed blade. Power for pulling through the cuts is supplied by you, the operator, and is easy as walking. No force is required-- as with most power tools, if you need to force it, something's wrong and it's time to stop!


The chips flew from the get-go

If you can walk, you can make perfect boards with a Lucas Mill




Being the tinkerers we are, we started experimenting to see just what the Lucas can do right away. Milling a bunch of smaller logs at once seemed like a good idea, and worked fine!



Milling logs that grew in an urban environment is always a bit of a gamble-- even with a good metal detector you can never be sure that there aren't bullets, screws, barbed wire, bolts or a small bicycle waiting inside of a log for your saw to find. It wasn't long before we found some large chunks of metal inside a log the hard way, and so it was time to find out how to rehab a damaged Lucas blade. Apprentice Danny was given the job and had it taken care of in a few hours. Two of those hours were taken up with learning how to braze, so for someone who's done anything like this before it should be a one-hour job.



It's pretty nice to know that you can completely replace the cutting-related bits of your saw balde in an hour or so. Certainly a much better deal than sending your blade out, waiting for days for it to get back and paying who knows how much for someone else to do a mediocre job! We are happy to report that routine touch-up sharpenings are a 5-minutes-or-less job, too.




Back to work and good as new! Those who suffer from tool-lust may begin drooling now...



Back to our experiments. If sawing up one log is fast and easy with the Lucas, why not two logs at the same time?



No reason at all! Sawing two logs at once gave us perfect flooring blanks very nearly twice as fast.



The back of the pickup filled up with boards alot faster when we did two-for-one cutting. Using logs that were originally together in the tree and butting them securely together seem like good ideas. Apprentice Richie here should be wearing chaps; don't make his mistake!


The boards pile up fast with very little effort

Huge logs quickly turn into lumber

Now that's a stack to be proud of.
Apprentice Richie basks in the glory and enjoys a malty beverage-- no more power tools today!



Making lumber is all well and good, but turning those rough, heavy wet boards into something really useful and valuable requires careful stacking followed by really careful drying. Here we see 2,000 board feet of lumber loaded into the new solar kiln here at the Ranch. We cut all of this with the Lucas and enjoyed every minute. Milling logs into boards, especially with as nice a tool as the Lucas Mill, is really the easiest part of the process of taking a log and turning it into useful, valuable wood. Each step after milling is critical, and if you mess any of them up, all your work could be for nothing. We will be greatly expanding upon the topics of stacking, drying and storing wood both here on our website and at our classes in the near future, so stay tuned!

How much could 2,000 board-feet of lumber be worth? ALOT!



Our new Lucas is a fantastic machine for the small-scale woodworker. Combined with a kiln and a planer/moulder, even a one-person operation can profitably turn logs into high-value wood products. Our thanks go out to Bailey's for letting us try out this marvellous tool and demonstrate it usefulness to outdoor craftsmen everywhere!