Chad and his dad with Chad's TimberKing 2000. The log? A 220-year old oak blow-down

Chad and his dad with Chad’s TimberKing 2000. The log? A 220-year old oak blow-down

“I quit my 20+ year career in the restaurant business and took a full-run at a total life change. Today, I make my living sawing with my TimberKing 2000. And business is great!”

“I bought my first sawmill — a TimberKing 1220 — when we were building our home. It served me nicely as we milled up 30 or 40 posts plus window and door trim. We sawed Eastern Red Cedar for closet linings, exposed beams, and one whole bathroom. We sawed live edge planks for bathroom countertops. I even got my hands on hand-hewn American Chestnut beams and turned them into mantle pieces. Then I started sawing for others.

"4,000 board feet of fence board complete with dog ears delivered... Yeah we do that. Ask the folks at West Point High School Baseball"

“4,000 board feet of fence board complete with dog ears delivered… Yeah we do that. Ask the folks at West Point High School Baseball”

Very scary…but he took the leap anyway

I left my 20-year restaurant career and took a full run at a life change. I sold my 1220 and bought TimberKing’s 2000. It gives me more versatility and larger-scale production capabilities. And it opened up the mobile sawing market for me.

I have to tell you; I absolutely had fear about making a career change! Going from an industry I knew well into full-time sawing was a very scary proposition. But fear, in my mind, is what keeps us from pursuing our dreams and passion. It can squelch our dreams. Having gone through my big career change, my advice is take the plunge! Start off part time and get things going, grow slowly, and pursue what you love.Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.36.56 AM copy

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The heart my operation is my TimberKing 2000 portable bandsaw mill. Its fully hydraulic operation aids in loading, turning, and sawing logs up to 20’ in length and up to 36” in diameter. This mill is capable of producing precise, accurate, and quality lumber in a relatively short amount of time. Timberking is America’s oldest and most trusted bandsaw mill manufacturer.

"Sent 99 of these quarter-sawn red oak blanks to the knife maker today. These came out of a 220 year old blow down"

“Sent 99 of these quarter-sawn red oak blanks to the knife maker today. These came out of a 220 year old blow down”

I learned to saw on the 1220 and knew it was a bulletproof little machine. So I knew TimberKing and wanted a bigger one. Looking at other mills comparable to TimberKing’s 2000, the 2000 stood out because of the heavy construction, the 4-post head, hydraulics, plus the simple and straightforward design. I got another TimberKing because they’re a cut above the rest. Plus, I was already well aware of the service TimberKing people give you. When you call, you’re guaranteed the person you talk to knows exactly what’s going on with your mill. Quality customer service was my ace in the hole.

“Today, I make my living with my TimberKing mill”

Sawing’s my full time gig and I make my living sawing with my TimberKing 2000. I run it nearly every day and it cuts as well today as the first board I cut. It’s strong as an ox and the setworks make it easy to saw great lumber.

"I sawed this 2' long chunk of walnut for a client. Some sawyers think a little job like this isn't worth their time. But this same client ordered 17 stair treads and a handrail."

“I sawed this 2′ long chunk of walnut for a client. Some sawyers think a little job like this isn’t worth their time. But this same client ordered 17 stair treads and a handrail.”

I’m flexible in my operation and do all kinds of sawing. I saw and sell dimension lumber, turning blanks, live edge slabs, and more. I go on site to saw for people. I make materials you can’t get at a lumberyard. I saw whatever my customers want. I avoid waste as I’m sawing. I bundle the slabs off Eastern Red Cedar logs as project wood for birdhouses and whatnot. Hardwood slabs go into my woodstove or I give them away as firewood. Sawdust – I put it onto a food plot and plow it under. As it decomposes, it helps retain moisture and adds nutrients to the soil. Then I ending up harvesting the deer and turkeys that come to feed there.

Every operation I do adds profit margin

I have a 725 Woodmaster Molder/Planer, too. I use it to surface live edge countertops we couldn’t do before. Every operation I do adds profit margin and we really put the Woodmaster to work.

Business is great and keeps getting better all the time. I have plans to add a dry kiln to my operation and I’d like to start making furniture.

Sawyers usually saw-to-order. Read Chad's tip, below, on why sawing BEFORE getting a specific order makes great business sense. *See full story, below.

Sawyers usually saw-to-order. Read Chad’s tip, below, on why sawing BEFORE getting a specific order makes great business sense. *See full story, below.

Chad’s success secrets

In any business, but especially sawing, you have to stand by your word — it’s your most valuable asset. When you’re doing on-site sawing, remember you’re on the landowner’s property and you should act accordingly. Never let a wood product leave your yard if you’re not happy with it. Find a specific market and take aim at it. Engage local woodworking clubs — this can be a great relationship. Always give ‘lagniappe’  (say ‘LAN-yap’) – that’s Cajun for ‘give something extra.’ Toss in a few extra boards or turning blanks. Or give your customers extra service. It’s the cherry on top. Create a web presence; you have to have a web presence. The first job you get from your website will pay for the website.

TimberKing equipment is outstanding and their service is second to none. I just don’t know what they could do better.”

— Chad Fletcher, TK 2000 Owner, Good Wood Sawmill , Pontotoc MS

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*Why saw BEFORE you get an order? “Custom sawyers don’t usually saw logs into material until someone places an order. They’re afraid if they saw 1 x 8’s that the phone might ring for 2 x 6’s and such. We took in four tons of white ash logs and immediately sawed every one of them. Later, client bought several of the live edge slabs. He needs a countertop now. If his counter top was still in my log then he’d find somewhere else to get his counter top.

My point is don’t overlook the little bitty jobs as they can lead to bigger jobs. And keep in mind that as a sawyer we’re in the business of selling lumber. Logs on the yard are simply that, but lumber which is sawed, stacked and ready for purchase is money on the yard. I can’t tell you how many times a client will come to our place for one item and leave with more than they came for. They’ll notice different stacks and different species and immediately begin thinking of a project. This can’t happen if all your lumber is still in a log.”


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Director of a Pediatric Emergency Dept. by day, Bryan "Ol' Doc" Henderson is a hard workin' sawyer evenings and weekends. He's having serious fun with his TK 2000.

Director of a Pediatric Emergency Dept. by day, Bryan “Ol’ Doc” Henderson is a hard workin’ sawyer evenings and weekends. He’s having serious fun with his TK 2000.

Between his medical practice, being a Boy Scout leader, and his sawing operation, “Ol’ Doc” Henderson’s a busy guy. One thing’s sure: Bryan’s getting great rewards out of owning and using his TK mill. Here’s his story…

“I’m from Kansas where logging and lumber production are not prevalent pastimes. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a medical degree and did my residency in Albany, New York. I got introduced to the idea of sawing lumber for my personal use in that heavily wooded area.

After getting into medical practice back in Kansas, I began researching different types and brands of sawmills. After 15 years of research, I decided to buy a TimberKing 2000 mill. On a trip to Kansas City, I was able to stop by their office and see the mill first hand. Everybody was very responsive and communicative. I talked a lot with their sales and tech people and decided the 2000 could saw everything I wanted to and was reasonably priced.

Bryan sawed the cedar that he and other Boy Scout leaders used to build this award-winning "gateway" for their troop's campouts and jamborees.

Bryan sawed the cedar that he and other Boy Scout leaders used to build this award-winning “gateway” for their troop’s campouts and jamborees.

I saw as a hobby and produce enough lumber for myself and interested friends. My son and I are involved with the Boy Scouts and many of our projects revolve around our local scout troop, Troop 1. It was established in 1917 and we’re celebrating 100 years of service this year. Our latest project was a bench for my son’s past middle school; it was my son’s Eagle Scout project.

Ol' Doc and his son built this bench as his son's Eagle Scout project. It's installed at his son's old school — now the kids can chill out as they wait for the bus.

Ol’ Doc and his son built this bench as his son’s Eagle Scout project. It’s installed at his son’s old school — now the kids can chill out as they wait for the bus.

Backyard Saw Lot

My backyard is my saw lot. I have about 50 locally-sourced logs stacked and waiting to be sawed. These are trees that would either go to the landfill or be used as firewood. I have Eastern Red Cedar logs, oak, walnut, ash, maple, River Birch, spalted pine, locust and catalpa on hand. Catalpa works like Western Red Cedar. Years ago, the U.S. Government provided it locally for planting in groves for railroad ties. Nowadays, people just bulldoze it to clear the way for building a house or a highway.

Big day at Ol' Doc's saw lot as he hauls in another big load of logs with his gooseneck trailer and dually.

Big day at Ol’ Doc’s saw lot as he hauls in another big load of logs with his gooseneck trailer and dually.

I also mill some cottonwood and elm that are thought of as ‘trash trees’ but which are very beautiful when sawed. For example, elm is sold as an exotic hardwood on the East Coast!

My favorite wood is walnut. My dad bought some dirty, rough cut walnut boards at an auction for $10. It sat for years until I took it to my high school wood shop and planed it. I was hooked!

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Bryan (left) and a buddy are members of "Iron & Fire" motorcycle club along with other EMTs and firefighters. Bryan makes and donates a bench like this one to help need families and kids with cancer.

Bryan (left) and a buddy are members of “Iron & Fire” motorcycle club along with other EMTs and firefighters. Bryan makes and donates a bench like this each year to help need families and kids with cancer.

“Thanks, Honey, for all my equipment!”

Besides my TimberKing 2000, I have a 4,500 sq. ft. shop and lot of equipment including a cabinet saw, a 20” planer, and an 8” jointer. I have a CAT 277C with forks, bucket, grapple bucket and crane. I also have an 850 John Deere tractor, a 1976 Ford F-700 dump truck, a 2007 Chevy dually, a 32’ PJ gooseneck trailer, and more.

My wife, Georgia, and I always pick out what we want for our birthdays and anniversaries. So our joke is that she bought me all this equipment! ‘LOL’ (laugh out loud) as they say!

Fun Stress Reliever

I find sawing is fun and relaxing. After a long day at work, or on a day off, I’ll select a log and get a lot of satisfaction just out of sawing it into boards.

I saw as I need to or want to. I really enjoy cutting. It’s like Christmas — you can’t see what’s inside a log until you cut it open. When I see the color and grain inside, I may decide to make a table or a bench from it.

I’ve made over 25 rustic benches for gifts or to honor someone’s service. I make a bench every year for a local biker’s club — they’re auctioned off for charity. My wife decided she likes the rustic look and I’m making rustic projects and furniture for our home.

"I have many Stihl chainsaws including my most recent 880 with a 5 foot bar. You have to be sure and eat your breakfast before you use that one!"

“I have many Stihl chainsaws including my most recent 880 with a 5 foot bar. You have to be sure and eat your breakfast before you use that one!”

Another way I’ve used wood from my mill is for our local Boy Scout troop. I’m one of several leaders; other leaders and I made a ‘gateway’ for our campsite at one of our regional jamborees, a ‘Trapper’s Rendezvous.’ We’ve used that gateway at every campout since. We even won an honorary first prize ribbon with it!

Bryan takes his fun seriously. He played Santa Claus in the Emergency Department one recent Christmas Eve.

Bryan takes his fun seriously. He played Santa Claus in the Emergency Department one recent Christmas Eve.

“I can just relax and saw”

TimberKing has been in business a long time and their machines are engineered well. I particularly like the hydraulic direct drive and the computer setworks. With the setworks, I can just relax and saw and let the computer regulate the boards’ thickness.
TimberKing’s customer service support is fantastic. I can call sales or tech support and know I’m talking to people who understand these mills because they actually use them. They solve whatever problem I’m having. For example, one time I wanted to adjust the blade guides and wasn’t sure just how to do it. They had me straightened out in minutes. I’m very pleased with my sawmill and couldn’t be happier with the service.”

— Dr. Bryan (“Ol’ Doc”) Henderson, TimberKing 2000 owner, Hutchinson KS

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It was a happy day for Lynn and his wife when they took delivery of their new TimberKing 1600 sawmill

It was a happy day for Lynn and his wife when they took delivery of their new TimberKing 1600 sawmill

“My wife and I are retired. We live in north woods in Wisconsin, a mile or so out of town in a sparsely populated area. We own 60 acres across the road. 40 of those are a red pine plantation and 20 acres are hardwoods. Then we have ten wooded acres on this side of the road where our house is.

For last six years I’ve been building houses with my son who lives a quarter-mile down the road. We’ve built two houses and various structures with my TimberKing 1600. I’ve built several houses in my lifetime. Now my son is coming up with good building ideas.

Lynn's woodlot is 70 acres big. Here are some of the beams he's sawn out in preparation for building

Lynn’s woodlot is 70 acres big. Here are some of the beams he’s sawn out in preparation for building

I’m on my second TimberKing sawmill. With the first one, I built a 12’ x 12’ tool shed for my son. Then I built four 8’ x 8’ deer stands for myself, my son, and my son-in-law. Then I built a 12’ x 12’ entranceway for my house. Four years ago, I started adding onto my house and to my son’s. I built a 20’ x 20’ two-story structure connecting to the house and the entryway. And my son and I built a 20’ x 30’ one-story addition to his house.

“I build with green lumber, no problem”

I cut all the floor joists, sills, and timbers with my TimberKing. I build with green wood right off the mill. The building takes time so the frame air dries as I cut the rest of the lumber. Building with green wood and letting it dry in place is no problem. I take shrinkage into consideration and there’s no shifting, cracking, or splitting.

Note the nice carpentry work on Lynn's covered porch. He sawed every board on his TimberKing

Note the nice carpentry work on Lynn’s covered porch. He sawed every board on his TimberKing

How’d I get into sawing? It was my wife’s fault! A friend of hers showed her all the handiwork her husband did with his sawmill. My wife got that idea got in her head but it took me two more years to get my interest perked enough to research it.

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Unimpressed by other saws

I figured we have land, pine trees, and hardwoods. I had a tractor and I got forks for it to lift logs around so I started researching sawmills. Quite a few people in this area have small mills and I saw some in operation. Some are Wood-Mizers but I don’t like the cantilever head hanging off one side of the mill. It just bobbles up and down and doesn’t seem sturdy. I watched a fellow cut with one and every board was a different thickness — from 3/4” to 1-1/4” thick. I don’t know if he was just sawing fast to impress me or what but I wasn’t impressed at all.

Two key TK features

I went online and compared mills and decided on TimberKing. I started watching their videos and I liked what I saw. I never saw a TimberKing mill in person, just online and that was enough for me. It has features other mills don’t. Two main features attracted me: the four-post head, and the stationary command post. I liked that I can stand in one place and operate everything without having to walk up and down the log.

I bought the 1600 TimberKing and a 900 Talon Edger. That edger – it’s definitely a timesaver. I cut the slabs off a log by sawing off 1” ‘sheet boards’ until I get down to the cant size I want. Then I stack and stage the sheet boards and put them through the Talon.

Originally I was looking at a bigger TimberKing but I wanted an edger, too, so I dropped back to the 1600 and got my edger at same time. That was in ’05 and I ran it for 10 years. Then we had a fire and everything burned to the ground but I wasn’t done building! I called TimberKing and bought another 1600. This new one is upgraded from the older 1600 I had and has the features I wanted in a bigger mill. It has everything I want including the ability to take up to a 20-foot log.

Home sweet home, here's Lynn's finished addition. complete with a nice wraparound porch.

Home sweet home, here’s Lynn’s finished addition. complete with a nice wraparound porch.

Straight off the mill, TK boards are smooth

The camera caught Lynn exclaiming, "Yahoo! I got the first part of this tree stand done!"

The camera caught Lynn exclaiming, “Yahoo! I got the first part of this tree stand done!”

I’m using this mill 100% for personal use. I have neighbors who sometimes bring logs but I’m not in business. I saw floor joists, 2x4s, roof rafters, 1” sheet boards, lap siding, and more, start to finish. I buy specialty stuff, some plywood, and so on, but If I can build it out of rough lumber, that’s what I do. But even ‘rough lumber’ the TimberKing cuts isn’t rough. 99% of the boards I cut never see a sander or planer. They come straight off mill and onto what I’m building. As long as you keep the blades sharp, boards come off the mill nice and clean and even.

Yahoo! I got the first part done

The guys at TimberKing have done a really good job for me.  If I have a problem, I can call and talk with them and they give me advice and tell me what to do to fix it. If anybody’s looking for a mill, I’d say research them online, compare one to another. For me, the TimberKing spoke for itself. Why would I not go that route? With its stationary command center, hydraulics, 4-post head rig, it’s so stable. For me, it’s a no-brainer.”

— Lynn Bellamy, Laona WI – TK 1600 & Talon Edger owner

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Tom and Mill      

Are TimberKing mills built to last? Ask Tom Berryhill. His ran 20 years, 4,500 hours, before he rebuilt it. Here’s Tom’s story.

“I own an older TimberKing sawmill. What really impresses me about this mill is it how it lasts and lasts. When it was 20 years old, with 4,500 hours on it, I went through and reworked the hydraulics and the engine. That gave me a deep understanding of the mill so I can maintain it myself without having to take it somewhere.

TimberKing is America’s first 1-man mill

I’d looked around at mills and knew I’d be sawing solo so I wanted a saw with full hydraulics. That was the best decision I ever made. I work full time in banking and saw part time. This mill It paid for itself in less than a year just sawing dimensional lumber. I operate it as a 1-man mill and I’m impressed with the output.

huge log

I narrowed my search down to TimberKing and a couple other mills but I was leaning strongly toward TimberKing. I really favored TimberKing’s 4-post head. With the TimberKing design, it has held up over 20 years. I’m extremely happy with it.

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Sawdust in his veins

If you cut my veins, sawdust would run out. I’m fifth generation in a family of lumbermen. My great-great-grandfather had a sawmill. My great-grandfather bought an old planer mill in about 1910, rebuilt it, and ran a timber and lumber business until he died in 1972. My dad got into the business in the 50’s and I worked in the lumberyard as a kid.

LOGS IN...

LOGS IN…

 

...BOARDS OUT

…BOARDS OUT

PRETTY AS YOU PLEASE!

PRETTY AS YOU PLEASE!

All my logs are free. I cut some from our farm but I’ve also made connections with tree services. They’re happy to give me the trees they cut instead of paying to dispose of them. Then, a man who was clearcutting three acres gave me all the logs I wanted. I salvaged three trailer loads of pecan logs and started cutting them into live edge slabs for countertops.

Think it never snows in Arkansas? Think again. Tom's shelter keeps the sun, rain, and snow off his TK mill.

Think it never snows in Arkansas? Think again. Tom’s shelter keeps the sun, rain, and snow off his TK mill.

3-month backlog of orders

I do custom cutting, too. People bring me logs and tell me what they want. One man brought me cedar to cut so he could build his own coffin! Another customer brought a huge oak log cut from his great-grandfather’s farm. He’ll turn the timber into a beautiful dining room table.

The only advertising I do is on Facebook. In no time at all, I had a three-month backlog of orders. At first I was sawing only after work, then on Saturdays, too. But I promised I’d never saw on Sunday, a day of rest.

Hats off to Tom and his Berryhill Custom Sawing company!

Hats off to Tom and his Berryhill Custom Sawing company!

I’m extremely happy with my TimberKing. And their customer service and tech people have been very responsive. I can call them any time and they spend as much time as needed to help me.”

— Tom Berryhill, TimberKing Owner, Dardanelle AR

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Dave Prescott shows off his sawing skills at a fair near home. He finds craft fairs and shows are an excellent way to get his name out there.

Dave Prescott shows off his sawing skills at a fair near home. He finds craft fairs and shows are an excellent way to get his name out there.

What’s YOUR plan for retirement? We talked with TimberKing owner, Dave Prescott, recently. “Some people buy a boat or a camper when they retire,” he said. “I prefer a sawmill!”

“I’ve worked in agriculture for nearly 40 years. I’m the branch manager at a grain elevator in Burlingame, Kansas but I’m getting close to retirement so I bought a TimberKing 1400 sawmill and I’m moving right along with it.

Right now, sawing is a side business I call ‘Custom Cut Timbers.’ I plan to turn into a ‘cash cow’ income when I retire. I’m not looking to get into a high-volume lumber business; I’m making things like wood slabs and materials for craftsmen, artists, and ‘crafters.’

Here are honey locust slabs Dave custom-sawed. This wood will go into a 30' x 36" table. Wow!

Here are honey locust slabs Dave custom-sawed. This wood will go into a 30′ x 36″ table. Beautiful!

Teaming up with others

I’ve teamed up with other people who make things. James Welch, a firefighter friend of mine, makes wooden signs. I supply him with wood slabs. Another friend, Lynn Robinson, is a chainsaw sculptor. I supply him with wood for his sculptures. He’s called “The Tree Slayer.” We’re all kind of in this together, and growing together.

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I get a lot of business from flea markets and word-of-mouth. I go to flea markets and street shows and sell the wood products I make to ‘crafters.’ I make slabs, dimension lumber, and chunk wood for lathe turners. People buy my wood for other things, too, like flooring in cargo trailers, barn reconstructions, and more. And I make garden benches, though, so far, I’ve just given them away.

Dave collaborates with others to make items for sale. He supplies his friend, firefighter, James Welch with slabs. James turns them into handsome rustic signs.

Dave collaborates with others to make items for sale. He supplies his friend, firefighter, James Welch with slabs. James turns them into handsome rustic signs.

I’ve always created and built things — mechanical things, rustic furniture, and more. An interesting job I’m working on is sawing honey locust wood that’ll become a 30-foot long, 36” wide, live edge country table for a couple who’rerenovateing a barn into a reception venue. Another job was sawing a big burr oak log, 20’ 2” long, 40” diameter at the base. I finagled it and cut the width down a bit in order to saw it. It made a beautiful bar top.

Here's a garden bench Dave made recently. Right now, he's been giving them away to friends but we bet it won't be long before he starts selling them for a pretty penny.

Here’s a garden bench Dave made recently. Right now, he’s been giving them away to friends but we bet it won’t be long before he starts selling them for a pretty penny.

Dave gets  his trees for free

I have easy access to timber. I have 60 acres of native trees so I can pick and choose the ones I want. Too, people always come up to me and offers me trees – free if I cut them down.

I do love sawing and this kind of work. When you run a sawmill, you never know what texture, color, and grain you’ll find inside a log. It’s always interesting to see what you can make out of the wood you’re sawing.

Dave supplies the wood — his buddy Lynn Robinson chainsaw-carves them into outstanding works of art. A great collaborative effort!

Dave supplies the wood — his buddy Lynn Robinson chainsaw-carves them into outstanding works of art. A great collaborative effort!

I ran a friend’s TimberKing 2000 with no problem. I liked it, and I liked TimberKing’s 4-post head system. I did a lot of research online. I’m only 80 miles from where they build them in Kansas City so I figured it would be easy to get down there or get them to come here if need be.

I only wish…

The 1400H model has some hydraulics and was a good fit for me at the time though I’d like to have hydraulic loaders and log turners. At home, I load logs with a tractor but when I take my mill to shows, I don’t have a good way to load logs.

My suggestion for those who’re thinking of getting a TimberKing: get acquainted with the saw. Work with someone who owns one. Get experience, then evaluate what you need in a saw and get what you need from the start. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

(Editor’s note: Many TimberKing Owners are happy to talk to you about their mills and many will show you their mills in action. Email or call 1-800-942-4406 for details.)

13932783_1449395135094798_1931202016438432391_nAnother suggestion: never saw with a dull blade. I’m picky about that. I asked TimberKing’s advice about sharpening. I got one of their sharpeners and I sharpen all my own blades.

Thanks, TimberKing, for putting out a good sawmill and taking care of customers like me. TimberKing is test-proven and you see them all over the place!”

— David Prescott, TimberKing 1400 Owner, Burlingame KS

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Here's Billy Jay Dove's job site — TimberKing 1600 mill with optional Computer Setworks in the foreground and his partially completed camp in the background.

Here’s Billy Jay Dove’s job site — TimberKing 1600 mill with optional Computer Setworks in the foreground and his partially completed camp in the background.

Billy's made progress -- much of the post-and-beam framework is in place.

Billy’s made progress — much of the post-and-beam framework is in place.

“I’ve worked in the petrochemical industry for years. I made lots of money but it never gave me any satisfaction. Yeah, I had racing cars, shiny street cars, boats; all the toys and things people strive for, but none of it ever made me happy. And on top of that I was in debt.

“Mom says I remind her of a duck”

I guess I’ve stumbled through life and always done pretty well at what I got into but my mom always said I reminded her of a duck: peaceful-looking on the surface but paddling my butt off underneath.

Meet Billy Jay Dove. He's simplifying his life and enjoying it a whole lot more sawing with his TimberKing sawmill.

Meet Billy Jay Dove. He’s simplifying his life and enjoying it a whole lot more sawing with his TimberKing sawmill.

In the last five or six years, though, I’ve made big changes so I could stop paddling and enjoy floating.  I guess you could say I’m finding myself.

For 10 or 15 years, I worked as a fabricator, welder, supervisor, and more. I ran fabrication shops, built structures to get coal, oil and gas. I’d be on the job site 18 months to two years, then off for five or six months. That work pays great but it’s exhausting.

Money can’t buy happiness….but SAWING can

Five or six years ago, I took a year off and made a plan. I always wanted to live the country lifestyle like my grandparents did. I sold everything I owned — house, furniture, vehicles. I turned it all into cash and paid off some debt. I left my driveway with just my dually pickup, two dogs, and a camper. I moved to Texas where my folks have a ranch.

I had to have a different way to live and earn a living. I’ve built things of wood all my life and I’ve always found it deeply rewarding. It’s not about the money — it’s something deeper. Maybe it’s the creativity. Or seeing the grain inside a tree when you open it up. I’ve worked hard all my life with heavy equipment, and done a lot of building, and I knew I could do this.

 The more I researched, the more I realized I could do with a sawmill. I could build my own home with a TimberKing.  I could build a barn, make fence posts, make rustic furniture, I could sell lumber to farmers for fencing, stalls, and more. The more I looked, the sawing business avenue just got wider and wider.

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He did his homework — studied sawmills for 2 years

I looked at sawmills for two years. I watched guys sawing lumber and I searched online. I started looking at chainsaw mills but you have to physically lift logs to load them. I looked at Wood-Mizer® mills but the stopper was their cantilever design. They swear the head won’t wiggle up and down as you saw but good sense says that’s just not so. Then I talked to other sawmill owners and eventually found TimberKing.

Billy says he's really worked his mill hard. But, frankly, it looks pretty much like brand new.

Billy says he’s really worked his mill hard. But, frankly, it looks pretty much like brand new.

I’ve been in construction all my life and I understand the logic of TimberKing’s welded 4-Post Head vs. Wood-Mizer’s® cantilever head. TimberKing’s design is important to me because I know I’ve got something that is true and will last. I’ve sawn 40” diameter logs on my TimberKing 1600! Some up to 42” and 44” if I chainsawed off a bit of width first. I’ve definitely taken my TimberKing to its limits!

I called TimberKing 10 times or more before I bought. I talked with Matt and did my research. I talked with a lot of sawyers. I’d ask them, ‘Why’d you get into sawing? Why’d buy this mill and not that one?’ I got a real education.

Billy's camp is under construction. He calls it a camp but he'll have a self-sufficient homestead when he's done.

Billy’s camp is under construction. He calls it a camp but he’ll have a self-sufficient homestead when he’s done.

I bought the TimberKing 1600 because it was the only one I could afford at the time. I asked TimberKing to put computer setworks on it and they did. That computer is a great investment. I’ve thought about trading up to the TimberKing 2000 because it has more hydraulics. I’d love to have a 2000 but I know my 1600 inside and out and I’m happy with it.

He thought through the entire sawing business process

Before I bought, though, I started thinking about the whole sawing business process. I knew I could get into the pallet wood business with just a TimberKing. I searched for just the right wooded property so I could cut my own trees. And I researched pallet manufacturing companies that are friendly to the independent sawyer. I wanted 20 wooded acres near companies that would buy pallet wood I’d saw.

Red cedar log destined to become interior siding.

Red cedar log destined to become interior siding.

I’ve ended up with 10 acres in Arkansas with 60 to 75-foot tall hardwoods. I’m working on buying 10 more acres next to me. It was clear cut 6 years ago but I plan to clear the brush and put six or eight head of cattle on it. I’ll butcher the two-year olds, fill the freezer, and sell some beef to friends cheaper than stores.

I plan to have solar power. I planted 16 fruit trees and I’ll do my own canning and preserving. I’m making rustic furniture — chairs, porch swings, and so on — and selling them at sale barns. I do it on my time, on my own schedule, with wood from my own land, with nobody telling me what to do.

Billy’s lifestyle? Simplify and live in the moment

I’m becoming self-sufficient off the grid but it’s really about more than self-sufficiency. I’m simplifying my life so I can enjoy it more. I try every day to live in the moment and appreciate what I have.

stackI guess you’d say I’m semi-retired. I do take on projects in my old industry from time to time. That gives me the incredible opportunity to live the lifestyle I want.

I tell my white collar friends they’re running around and around on a hamster wheel with the government’s hand in their pockets. For anyone thinking of living my kind of lifestyle, I’d say do your homework. Take time and do your research. Think of what you’re going to do with a saw and pick the right one to accomplish what you want. The same way you’d choose a pickup truck vs. a sedan — what are you going to do with it?

Me? I looked at what I wanted to do with a sawmill, what I was capable of doing, what would it cost me, and how it was built. For me, it was simple: TimberKing.”

— Billy Jay Dove, TimberKing 1600 Owner, Austin AR

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A recently retired engineer, Jim Hilton is a practical-minded man. He chose getting a TimberKing 1220 Sawmill over taking a retirement vacation. Jim's sawing is a hobby now but he sees it as future part-time income in retirement.

A recently retired engineer, Jim Hilton is a practical-minded man. He chose getting a TimberKing 1220 Sawmill over taking a retirement vacation. Jim’s sawing is a hobby now but he sees it as future part-time income in retirement.

Here's Jim with two of the very first boards he sawed with his TimberKing mill — Silver Maple.

Here’s Jim with two of the very first boards he sawed with his TimberKing mill — Silver Maple

“Many years ago, I saw an interesting article on sawing lumber in Popular Science magazine. I never dreamed I’d become a sawyer and own my own mill.

I’m a retired electrical engineer. When I retired, my wife and I decided we didn’t want to spend $8,000 on a vacation to Hawaii to celebrate. That would have been nice but it would have quickly become just a memory.We got a TimberKing 1220 instead.

We’re very practical — we decided to spend the money on a sawmill instead. I’d done too much sitting as an engineer and I thought that the activity of sawing would be good exercise.

Jim's son, Jonathan, builds furniture from lumber his dad saws. Here's Jonathan stripping bark off a 27" diameter maple.

Jim’s son, Jonathan, builds furniture from lumber his dad saws. Here’s Jonathan stripping bark off a 27″ diameter maple.

Physical activity keeps you healthy and I have plenty to do here on our 100-acre farm in Missouri — building and repairing fences, gardening, roofing, sawing, and much more.

Today’s hobby, tomorrow’s incomewhich-wood-is-which

elm-grain

Wood #1

I do sawing for several reasons. Today, it’s a hobby but someday I can saw part time to generate income selling lumber to individuals and to lumberyards.

walnut-grain

Wood #2

Right now, I supply our
son, Jonathan, with lumber for his furniture making business, Red Leaf Woodcraft.  Of course, our son’s business was just an excuse; I wanted to get the saw anyway!

We have about 30 acres of mature trees and I’ve sawn thousands of board feet of lumber on my TimberKing. Elm, hickory, white and black oak, cottonwood, and more.

pecan-slab

Wood #3

Right now, I have two white oaks I plan to saw. One is 43” in diameter, the other is 34”. I’m planning to get a 36” chainsaw and saw them into quarters, then quarter-saw them on my TimberKing. Then I’ll turn the boards into flooring for our living room with my Woodmaster Molder/Planer. I may end up getting Woodmaster’s 3-Side Molding attachment to make the flooring.

SAVE BIG NOW – TimberKing Sawmills now on sale

Jim takes his mill to the tree…or brings trees to the mill

I really enjoy the activity of sawing. I like seeing the blade slicing through the wood and seeing the sawdust pile up. I often tow my 1220 to the tree rather than skid the tree to the mill.

wild-plum-grain

Wood #4

It’s a matter of convenience — if I can set up and take down the mill in less time than it would take to skid the logs, Itake the mill to the tree.

As I said, I’m very practical. I looked at four or five sawmill companies and chose TimberKing. I’d give it a very high rating – probably a 9.5. I live relatively close to their Kansas City location so it’s convenient. I picked up my saw and didn’t have to pay shipping. And these days I drop off my saw blades at the factory for sharpening and pick them up later.

cottonwood-grain

Wood #5

An inexpensive first-time mill

I picked the 1220 because I wanted to go as inexpensively as I could on my first mill. I wanted to see if I liked milling lumber and would use it. That’s the way I buy many pieces of equipment — I’ll buy a lower end model and use it. If I like it, and use it, I’ll trade up to a bigger model. Right now I’m fine with the 1220 even though it doesn’t have hydraulics. If I trade up, I’ll get the 1600 TimberKing with hydraulics and a computer.”

— Jim Hilton, Carrollton, MO, TimberKing 1220 Owner

 

 

 

 

 

           WHICH WOOD IS WHICH?

                 See answers below!

Cottonwood grows straight and tall in Jim's part of the Midwest. Jim says it's extremely strong and tough, good sawing on his TimberKing.

Cottonwood grows straight and up to 100′ tall in Jim’s part of the Midwest. Jim says it’s extremely strong, tough, and good sawing on his TimberKing.

pecan

“I enjoy sawing,” says Jim. “I like watching the blade slice through the wood and seeing the sawdust pile up.”

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-53-46-am-copy

HAVE QUESTIONS? 3 ways we can help you

• Call us 1-800-942-4406

• Email us info@timberking.com

• Visit us on Facebook

SAVE BIG NOW – TimberKing Sawmills now on sale

 


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