"Owning a TimberKing sawmill is like owning your own ATM machine," says owner, Brian McClain. "It paid for itself within the first year."

“Owning a TimberKing sawmill is like owning your own ATM machine,” says owner, Brian McClain. “It paid for itself within the first year.”

“I was born in Texas and worked commercial construction all my life. I decided to work for myself and running a sawmill business seemed like a good choice. I could work from home and start a niche business right here. It’s working out very well.

Brian saws out extraordinarily beautiful slabs in his sawmill operation, Bull Basin Woodworks. Lots of 1" material, too.

Brian saws out extraordinarily beautiful slabs in his sawmill operation, Bull Basin Woodworks. Lots of 1″ material, too. Mesquite, eastern red cedar, more.

I have family in New Mexico who has an older model TimberKing sawmill. They’ve run it for 30 years and that mill always piqued my interest. The opportunity came for me to get a mill and work for myself and I went for the TimberKing 1400. It paid for itself within the first year I owned it.

Open for business -- This is what a sawmill business looks like. A yard with a TimberKing mill, some raw materials, and sawn boards ready to go.

Open for business — This is what a sawmill business looks like. A yard with a TimberKing mill, some raw materials, and sawn boards ready to go.

This is full-time work for me. I saw all day, every day. I work by myself as a one-man operation. It’s really easy, actually. It takes a little time to set it up for what I want to saw but that’s easy. My 1400 has basic hydraulics – forward, back, up, and down.

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Prettiest wood in Texas

My customers are mostly individuals and some contractors. About 70% of what I saw is dimensional lumber and the rest is slabs. I saw a lot of wood for mantles.

Brian does value-added inlay work on some of his pieces. Here's turquoise inlaid into red cedar.

Brian does value-added inlay work on some of his pieces. Here’s turquoise inlaid into red cedar.

I air dry my lumber. The air’s so dry here, I don’t need a dry kiln. 90% of what I saw is eastern red cedar. It’s the prettiest wood in Texas, in my opinion. It’s native around here and I have logs trucked in from East Texas. The remainder of what I saw is mesquite. I make some furniture, and lot of 1” material for outbuildings and sheds

I do inlay work, too. I get turquoise from the Kingman mine in Arizona and incorporate it in some of my custom-inlay tables. It adds a lot of character and value to what I make.

Couldn’t find a used TimberKing

I looked at all the mills out there for two years before I pulled the trigger. It seemed to me like TimberKing was the best built mill with its 4-post head. It’s a solid product and stays true and level. That’s what sold me on TimberKing. I tried to find a used TimberKing but just couldn’t find one. I took it as a good sign that folks who buy them, keep them.

I had a budget so price was important. TimberKing costs a little more than other mills but I got more. I don’t know how it could get any better. I got the 1400 but I wish I’d bumped up to the 1600 to get full hydraulics. And in hindsight, I could have used a TimberKing 2200.

Square, true, straight, and level

I love this mill. I haven’t had one single problem from the day I got it. I go through it once a week to keep things tight and true. I don’t have to second-guess it; it cuts straight and true. It’s level and square, everything stays where it needs to be, and I don’t have to do any maintenance or adjustments. I couldn’t be happier.

Owning this mill’s like owning your own ATM machine. If you want to work at it, you can make good money. For me, it’s a full time job and the money’s great!”

— Brian McClain, Bull Basin Woodworks, TimberKing 1400 owner, Lipan TX

 

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Secrets to a value-added wood business – diversify products & integrate processes

Here's Casey at the controls of his TimberKing 1600 bandsaw mill

Here’s Casey at the controls of his TimberKing 1600 bandsaw mill

“My cousin, Nathan Stewart, and I are in the wood business together. I started this as a commercial firewood business but it’s evolved and grown into making and selling slabs, furniture, and kindling. We’re sawing for ourselves and others. And we’re still processing and selling firewood. There’s a real value-added aspect to what we do. Logging, sawing for ourselves, custom sawing for others, firewood, furniture, woodlot improvement – we’re integrating them all and they all work together.

Cousin Nathan shows off some of their high quality sawn lumber

Cousin Nathan shows off some of their high quality sawn lumber. When Casey got a TimberKing, Nathan joined him in the business.

100 acres of timber

This all started because I have a farm with 100 acres of timber – walnut, red cedar, oak, ash, sycamore, and more. My grandparents had some of it logged and it had been left a real mess. I started the firewood business by cleaning up the slash and leftovers the loggers left behind.

I got bigger chainsaws and tractors to clean things up and turn it into firewood. I worked at it for several years. Meanwhile, I started going around to sawmills and asking what lumber was worth. Then I started logging.

Old vs. new logging practices

Older logging practices simply take out the high value trees and leave everything else behind. That can leave a mess like what happened at my grandparent’s place.

Their handsome and rugged red cedar picnic tables should last a lifetime with very little care

Their handsome and rugged red cedar picnic tables should last a lifetime with very little care

Nathan and I use more current timber stand improvement techniques like those from the Missouri Department of Forestry. We harvest while doing the least damage. And we improve the quality of the overall woodlot at the same time. One phrase we go by is ‘worst first harvesting’ – we take out the dead, dying, damaged trees and inferior species first. Some of the slash should be left in the woods to return nutrients to the soil. Other things, like standing trees that have been damaged, should be removed.

We harvest trees selectively for lumber and for firewood. I’ve studied a lot about timberland improvement and how selective cutting improves the quality of a woodlot. We also offer forest landowners the service of timber stand improvement. We cut ‘worst first’, selectively taking out the lower grade trees to improve the overall stand.

Depending on the job, we sometimes offer woodland improvement services at no charge to the homeowner. They get an improved woodlot and we get the trees we take out.

Alaskan chainsaw mill

I started making furniture with an Alaskan chainsaw mill. That’s a very slow sawing process so I recently invested in a TimberKing sawmill. That’s when Nathan and I started working together. It has really boosted my production of slabs, tables, benches and more.

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We sell the furniture we make to locally and nationally. For example, I built a walnut conference table for our local Chamber of Commerce. We also sell products all across America via the internet. We sell through Etsy  https://www.etsy.com/  and also through our own website.

Shopping for bandsaw mills

When I got into furniture making, I looked at TimberKing and also mills like Hudson, Wood-Mizer, even handmade mills the Amish community makes. TimberKing’s 4-post head and the measuring system looked really good. I looked at Norwood but it looked flimsy – it has holes in the frame. TimberKing seems more rigid than other saws and really was the only choice for us.

A sample of Casey and Nathan's inventory -- neat, clean, even, smooth-surfacef boards fresh off the mill

A sample of Casey and Nathan’s inventory — neat, clean, even, smooth-surfaced boards fresh off the mill

I was considering the 1400 but the 1600 has more hydraulics – like one little lever to raise the log stops, hydraulic log lifters, log turner, and more. It’s pretty automatic and I’m very impressed.

The Computer Setworks system is great. The computer does all the thickness measuring and boards come off the mill within 1/32” or less. Sawing is virtually identical board-to-board and the surface quality is impressive. Clients of our often compliment us on the quality of our boards.

Tickled

The TimberKing company has been really great to us. I have nothing negative to say at all. They’re really helpful and every time I email them I get a quick response. I’m quite satisfied. I’d tell others that if you’re interested in a sawmill, get the next bigger one than you’re thinking about. As I say, I thought I’d get the 1400 but actually needed the 1600.

I’m definitely tickled with my TimberKing. It’s easy to operate and changing blades is not hard at all. All the adjustments are simple and it has a big capacity – logs up to 36” diameter and 20’ long. Business is good. We have big plans for the coming year: we want to add more space including a showroom for our customers to shop in.”

— Casey Holman, H & S Sawmill & Furniture , TimberKing 1600 Owner, Richmond MO

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GRANDMA RAN A LUMBER MILL

THUMBS UP for do-it-yourslf sawyers all across America...like Hank Dimuzio and his TimberKing 2000!

THUMBS UP for do-it-yourslf sawyers all across America…like Hank Dimuzio and his TimberKing 2000!

“I was an emergency physician in Vermont for 33 years. Now I’m retired and I work at farming, logging, and sawing lumber with my TimberKing 2000. My wife, Rhonda, is a nurse-educator at a large Vermont hospital and my ‘right hand gal Friday!’

Hank has what many consider the perfect set up: a homestead with a lot of land including acres and acres of forest, plenty of hands-on projects to do, and a TimberKing sawmill to help him.

Hank has what many consider the perfect set up: a homestead with a lot of land including acres and acres of forest, plenty of hands-on projects to do, and a TimberKing sawmill to help him.

Grandma ran a lumber mill

I’d had some sawing experience because my family was involved in sawing generations ago. My mother’s side owned a lumber mill in Philadelphia generations ago. They made doors, sashes, cabinets, and more. After my grandfather died, my mother and grandmother ran the mill themselves! So I guess there’s wood in my blood somewhere.

In 1992, I skidded out oak logs, pine, ash, soft maple, cherry, basswood and more, and helped a friend saw them on his sawmill. That gave us 8,000 board feet of hardwood, all stickered.

Natural catastrophe was a D-I-Y opportunity

We had major wind storms in 2009 and 2010 – winds up to 112 mph. Storms took down trees, tore down buildings, and really made a mess. On top of that, our 1700’s farmhouse needed a lot of work, too. We really had to do something to rebuild but how could we do it? Well, we had 62 acres of woodland in Vermont and another 375 in nearby New York. I figured it was time to get a sawmill. I was retired by then and bought a TimberKing 2000 sawmill in 2013 to build, repair, and replace our farm’s buildings.

Here's Hank strapping down two 24' beams he sawed out with his TimberKing. The vehicle? "THE BEAST" is Hank's 1988 dump pickup.

Here’s Hank strapping down two 24′ beams he sawed out with his TimberKing. The vehicle? “THE BEAST” is Hank’s 1988 dump pickup.

We definitely wanted full hydraulics

I looked at mills and I liked TimberKing’s design with its 4-post head and full hydraulics. The design’s simple and the mill is easy to use. We aren’t sawing for income so we figured the 2000 would be big enough for our needs. And we definitely wanted its full hydraulics. We have tractors to skid logs and get them on the TimberKing’s hydraulic log loaders. After that, it’s just sawing and lifting the boards off. It’s easy and fun.

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The 2000 is rated to handle logs up to 21’ but to redo our farmhouse, I needed 2, 24’ x 14” x 8” beams. The 2000 TimberKing’s hydraulic command post swings out of the way so we could just feed 24’ logs right through the mill and turn them into beautiful, 24’ hemlock beams.

Hank and Rhonda built their home addition like old-time Vermonters did, with handsome post and beam construction. And they did it themselves.

Hank and Rhonda built their home addition like old-time Vermonters did, with handsome post and beam construction. And they did it themselves.

We sawed out all our beams of pine, hemlock, and some oak. We make the timber frame, raised it, closed it in, and we’re now living in it. We used red oak boards from the sawing we did in 1990 as flooring. So our ceilings are cherry, beams are pine and hemlock, and floors are oak. I told my wife the project would take two years — that turned into four and it’s still partially under construction. I’ve got a very patient wife!

Hank and Rhonda raise Fallow deer. This one's one of their breeding males. Rhonda named him Owen.

Hank and Rhonda raise Fallow deer. Here’s one of their breeding males. Rhonda named him Owen.

LedgEnd Farm – 252 acres, 400 head of deer

Together, Rhonda and I raise a herd of 350 to 400 Fallow deer on our 252 acre farm, LedgEnd Farm. These deer were native to northern Europe and Persia. They’re spotted with large antlers like a moose and they’re very tasty! This is a meat business; we sell venison mostly in Vermont, directly to restaurants, general stores, and the public. All by word of mouth.

Rhonda's putting hemlock and pine ceiling beams in place in their 24' x 14' addition. Today, the downstairs is finished off while the upstairs is still a work in progress.

Seated in what will be the upstairs of their new 24′ x 14′ home addition, Rhonda’s putting hemlock and pine ceiling beams in place. Today, the downstairs is finished off while the upstairs is still a work in progress.

Hank’ll never have to buy lumber again

I’m still busy sawing wood for my farm buildings. I’m concentrating on trim to finish the inside of the farmhouse. In the next couple of years, I plan to saw lumber to restore our barns and build a garage. As I said, we raise deer and they’re very hard on structures, fences, pens, and so on. They rub against them and rub their antlers on

Meet Hank Dimuzio and Rhonda Roberts - sawyers, deer farmers, and TimberKing owners from Vermont!

Meet Hank Dimuzio and Rhonda Roberts – sawyers, deer farmers, and TimberKing owners from Vermont!

them. I constantly have to replace boards. It’s really nice to know I can take trees – even those that are only good for firewood — and turn them into lumber I can use around the farm. And I don’t have to buy wood at the lumberyard!

I recommend TimberKing to others who’re interested in sawing. I’d encourage them to visit sawmill owners to see how they work. And they should decide if they’d saw for business or pleasure, think who their customers would be, and put together a business plan.

I’m very happy with my TimberKing. For us, it is the right size and having full hydraulics is great. If I were sawing for a living, I’d probably go bigger but for what we need this is just right. And sawing’s a lot of fun!”

— Hank Dimuzio and Rhonda Roberts, TimberKing 2000 owners, LedgEnd Farm, Middlebury, Vermont

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Some guys have bass boats, I have a TimberKing sawmill  

“I started woodworking in high school and I always loved it. The wood I wanted wasn’t available at lumberyards — burls, grains, and better species of wood. And if they were available, I couldn’t afford them!

Here's Charles Lee and his TimberKing 1400. A man...a mill....a great stress reliever!

Here’s Charles Lee and his TimberKing 1400. A man…a mill….a great stress reliever!

I wanted a sawmill for years and finally got my TimberKing 1400 in 2014. I now have access to really nice lumber.

Stress reliever

I don’t try to make money with my TimberKing. I saw lumber and build things strictly for my own enjoyment, not for speed or production. Of course I could make money with my TimberKing but I already have a job! Sawing allows me creativity I couldn’t have otherwise. I’m not restricted in any way. If I can dream up a wood project, I can pretty much make it in my shop.

Here's a peek at Charles' stash of premium lumber. He can saw it any way he wants it sawn, then turn it into furniture and projects for his family.

Here’s a peek at Charles’ stash of premium lumber. He can saw it any way he wants it sawn, then turn it into furniture and projects for his family.

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What would you estimate Charles is sawing -- a 30" diameter log? 32"?

What would you estimate Charles is sawing — a 30″ diameter log? 32″?

I’m more interested in wood’s colors and grain patterns than getting into production and making money. I saw walnut, cherry, and a little bit of oak. Everybody’s using oak but it’s pretty cantankerous. I saw weekends and evenings. It’s a stress reliever that takes my mind off my job as director of maintenance, buildings, and grounds for a school district. Some guys have a bass boat. I have a TimberKing sawmill.

 

I do some inlay work and build furniture projects for my family and myself. I burn the wood scraps in my shop’s woodstove. Sometimes I burn better wood than people can buy!

What would you pay for a cedar log like this one? Charles paid $0. He's bought only one log in the time he's been sawing. Folks are glad to have him haul them away.

How much does a cedar log like this one cost? Charles paid $0. He’s bought only one log in the time he’s been sawing. Folks are glad to have him haul them away.

Free Logs

In all the time I’ve been sawing, I’ve bought only one log. I get trees for free from  landowners and tree companies that have cut them down because they’re in the way or they’ve died. I just talk to people and let them know what I’m looking for and they simply give me logs. I have so many logs stacked up to saw, I don’t have room for more!

A very understanding wife

I looked at lots of sawmills and I thought the TimberKing was the sturdiest one built. I was going to buy the 1220 model but my wife said, “I know you, and you’d be happier with the 1400.” I have a very understanding wife!

This is a really good mill for the hobbyist like me. It’ll cut longer, heavier logs than I have equipment to handle. But for production, you’d need hydraulics like on the larger TimberKings.

Awesome

The TimberKing company has been awesome to work with. They take care of anything I need and are glad to fix me up. I even get my sawblades from TimberKing. I tried others but went back to TimberKing’s. Some other blades cut faster but TimberKing’s cut smoother. The blades leave a good, clean surface.

From what I’ve seen, the guys who work at TimberKing really like the company. Good people and a good machine. Thanks for a great mill.”

— Charles Lee, TimberKing 1400 Owner, Ozark MO

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BUSINESS SUCCESS WITH A ONE-MAN SAWMILL

Bob Fulton has decades of hands-on, D-I-Y experience and a “get ‘er done” attitude. When his employer shut down, Bob went into the rustic furniture business for  himself. His one-man TimberKing sawmill helps him keep his overhead low so he can sell his wares for far less than others. High quality and low prices have helped Bob grow a successful and rewarding business. Here’s his story…

“I’ve been a tool maker for 20 years and have built a lot of equipment. Most of my hands-on knowledge has been developed from on-the-job training. I’ve been involved in production and production management for 25+ years as Production Manager, Operations Manager, and Chief Operating Officer. I was the lead toolmaker and a co-patent holder at a company that manufactured biodegradable products.

Beautiful cedar chest with live edge construction

Beautiful cedar chest with live edge construction

A TimberKing 1220 and a laser engraver

That company closed but I’ve always been able to adapt to challenging situations. So, since 2010, I’ve run my own business — Laser Art Keepsakes — and business is very good. I make rustic furniture using my TimberKing 1220 sawmill and a laser engraver. I sell a lot of my work wholesale or on consignment and I also do custom work.

I sell at a big antique mall near here. I also sell to individuals and I recently made several tables for a restaurant in St. Louis. A place in Springfield, Missouri asked me if I could supply them with wood slabs. I’ve been asked to do some custom sawing, too, and I may get into that. Business is good!

Got logs? Bob does. He gets them from farmers, loggers, and folks who have no use for them.

Got logs? Bob does. He gets them from farmers, loggers, and folks who have no use for them.

Low overhead keeps his prices low

Other shops sell for four or five times what I sell my furniture for. My prices are very affordable because I keep costs down and pass the savings on to my customers.

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First, I’m a one-man operation, at least right now. I cut all my own logs myself from trees I get from farmers, leftovers from loggers, and from people who’re clearing land. I get walnut and oak; they’re very popular. Black walnut, red oak, post oak, white oak, plus cedar, cherry, and more.

Too, my advertising costs are low. I post signs in restaurants and gas stations. I get a lot of repeat business. And I set up my webpage and Facebook pages myself. It’s not that hard to do.

When I first started my rustic furniture business, I was getting local Mennonites to custom-saw for me. Then they moved and I lost my sawing source. I went to other sawing operations but they were much more expensive and they were set up to make lumber and didn’t want to saw 1” and 2” live edge slabs the way I wanted them sawn.

I like the way TimberKing’s built

Bob snagged this 25″ diameter red oak log from a farmer’s burn pile. It’ll soon become a piece of furniture that will last forever

I’ve always worked with wood and wanted a sawmill so I started looking around. I sent for brochures from several sawmill companies and saw their videos. I was impressed with TimberKing right from the start. I went to a couple demo shows, one for Wood-Mizer and the other for TimberKing. I liked the way the TimberKing was built. I liked TimberKing’s 4-post head a lot better than the cantilevered head on the Wood-Mizer. Baker mills were too expensive.

I liked all TimberKing’s features and my mind was made up once I saw the TimberKing run. I mostly researched their 2000 mill but since I was just starting out, I settled on the 1220. It gets the job done but I’d go for the 2000 in a heartbeat if I could! If anybody asked for my advice about a sawmill, I’d definitely steer them toward a TimberKing mill. I’m impressedwith their mills and their service. And they’ve always treated me very well.”

— Bob Fulton, TimberKing 1220 Owner, Lebanon MO

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Custom wooden business cards, anyone? Bob puts his laser engraver to work on cards, signs, and many other pieces.

Custom wooden business cards, anyone? Bob puts his laser engraver to work on cards, signs, and many other pieces.

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DAD’S BUILDING A TIMBER FRAME HOME FOR HIS DAUGHTER with a TimberKing 1600

Here's Tim's eldest son, Andy, getting ready to saw their 100th log into lumber. You can just barely see "100 Logs" written on the log's butt end.

Here’s Tim’s eldest son, Andy, getting ready to saw their 100th log into lumber. You can just barely see “100 Logs” written on the log’s butt end.

We at TimberKing received this email from one of our owners, Tim Heming. We were so interested in what he wrote us that we gave him a call to learn more about the home he’s building for his daughter, his sawing, and his future plans. Here’s the rest of Tim’s story…

“I’m used to doing big building projects. I was a union carpenter, the foreman of a crew building auto show displays. Now that I’m retired, I’m doing a lot of sawing with my 10-year old TimberKing 1600. A big current project is sawing out timbers and helping my daughter build an economical, energy-efficient timber frame home.

Grandpa Tim hauled in 100 16' white pine sawlogs with help from grandson, Connor, and faithful dog, Loki.

Grandpa Tim hauled in 100 16′ white pine sawlogs with help from grandson, Connor, and faithful dog, Loki.

Boxing the heart

I bought 100, 16’ eastern white pine logs from a guy who was selectively cutting a farm field. The pines were nice, straight second and third growth trees. A log that’s 13” or 14” at the small end yields a beautiful 8 x 8 beam with no wane on the edges. With my TimberKing, I can cut perfect 90-degrees. You can throw a builder’s square on a beam and it’s right on. I’ve had my lumber graded and it’s select or #1. For the beams, I ‘box the heart’ to avoid checking. With logs that are 13” diameter or better, the heart is at the center of the beam and there’s no wane. I’m doing the joinery work now.

Tim knows his way around a sawmill. Here he's cutting one of his eave plates at a perfect 6/12 pitch using plywood templates to align the beam.

Tim knows his way around a sawmill. Here he’s cutting one of his eave plates at a perfect 6/12 pitch using plywood templates to align the beam.

I started sawing in November of last year, sawing out a few logs at a time. Sawing slowed down a bit over the winter but we muscled through this spring and summer. I’ve sawn about 90 8×8 beams, purlins, 4 x 6 knee braces, and a lot of 5/4 boards for trim, and more. I’ve cut 3,000 board feet of 1” material for finished T&G V-groove paneling, casing, baseboard, shelving, brackets, and more.

Green beams

Working with a timber frame engineer, I’ve learned there’s no need to kiln dry the beams. We’ll be putting them up green. That’s the way it was done in the old days – the old-timers building barns and houses a hundred years ago weren’t waiting eight years for their beams to air dry!

Years ago, I built two homes using rough lumber from a mill. Then a friend bought a sawmill and I tried it. I ran a couple passes through the mill and I had to have one of my own. That’s when I got my first TimberKing 1600.

Tim's 8x8 white pine beams are about the most precise structural lumber you'll ever see. And his nifty mortise cutter is a thing of beauty.

Tim’s 8×8 white pine beams are about the most precise structural lumber you’ll ever see. And his nifty chainsaw mortise cutter is a thing of beauty.

I looked at Wood-Mizer sawmills but why would anybody put a 500-lb motor, water tank, and more on top of a two-post ‘cantilever’ head that bounces? That bounce gives board what I call the ‘ocean effect’ – wavy cuts in the board’s surface. TimberKing’s 4-post head says it all – it’s heavy and solid. I can site right down the timbers, they’re cut straight.

Connor and his little brother will grow up in a house their granddad built for them and their parents. That's Tim's daughter, Jennifer, at the right.

Connor and his little brother will grow up in a house their granddad built for them and their parents. What a great legacy. That’s Tim’s daughter, Jennifer, at the right.

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Will this young man be a sawyer when he grows up?

Will this young man be a sawyer when he grows up?

Why not?

When my wife gives the OK, I’ll get a new 1600 TimberKing (or maybe a 2000) and start a retirement sawing business. I’ll probably be doing custom cutting and making live edge table slabs. And furniture. Why not start a business? I can be competitive. I may give my older 1600 to my sons and buy a new one that has new features like hydraulic toe boards, log stops, chain turner, and more.

What’s nice about TimberKing is, if I need a part, the company can get it to me by regular shipping in a couple days. Or overnight it if I need it fast. I buy my blades and parts from them. And they keep my name on file. They know what blades I buy and what works for me. I also have a Woodmaster Drum Sander – Woodmaster is TimberKing’s sister company.

One more thing about TimberKing: if you keep up on maintenance, and keep your blades sharp, this machine will outlast the person running it!”

— Tim Heming, TimberKing 1600 Owner, Metamora MI

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Tim’s building a private, no-fee campground with a TimberKing 1220

Tim adjusts his sawlog for a clean, crisp 90-degree cut from his TimberKing 1220 sawmill

Tim adjusts his sawlog for a clean, crisp 90-degree cut from his TimberKing 1220 sawmill

“Greetings to all! My name is Tim, owner/operator of North Country Trail & Kayak Campground in Jonesville, Michigan. Welcome to my world.

Tim’s long-time dream – owning a sizeable chunk of forest land

I’m retired military. I was in the Marine Corps, then the Army, National Guard, and ended in the Air Force. I was in construction – concrete work – for 12 years. And I was a cop for a while. Now I’m retired and I bought this 33-acre riverside property in Hillsdale, Michigan. It’s a dream thing I’ve always wanted: a sizeable chunk of forest. I’ve turned it into a private, rustic, backwoods campground. We’ll build a home here someday.

Hikers and kayakers can enjoy no-fee camping in rustic bunkhouses, by reservation, courtesy of Tim McCormick

Hikers and kayakers can enjoy no-fee camping in rustic bunkhouses, by reservation, courtesy of Tim McCormick

My campground is dedicated to backpackers and kayakers. It’s on the Saint Joseph River and the North Country Trail , the longest hiking trail in the US. The trail runs from Vermont, through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, into Michigan, all the way to North Dakota. It meanders through the most rural parts of America.

Here's a guy who loves his TimberKing!

Here’s a guy who loves his TimberKing!

The North Country Trail runs through America's heartland from Vermont to North Dakota

The North Country Trail runs through America’s heartland from Vermont to North Dakota

I’m all for capitalism but there comes a time…

I don’t charge people anything to camp here. I’m not against making money but I’m not starving. The property’s paid for, and there are enough people out there busy making money. I figure if someone’s hiking across America with a backpack, why not help him out a little bit? We have cabins I’ve built with my TimberKing, or people can camp in tents. But no trailers, no noisy crowds. Very rustic.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for capitalism. But there’s a time when you’ve got to set the dollar aside. I’m a big fan of charity. When you do good work, it always comes back to you. It’s good karma.

Yes, it snows in Minnesota! Winter camping anyone?

Yes, it snows in Minnesota! Winter camping anyone?

Don’t burn them; saw them and start building

Because of the Emerald Ash Borer, the ash trees on the property were dead or dying. That was a lot of firewood, more than I could ever use. So I thought, ‘Why not get a sawmill and put this wood to good use?’ So I got a mill, started sawing boards, and building shelters for campers. I’m getting firewood out of this, too. When I cut a tree, if I can reach my hand all the way around a limb, I use it for firewood. Anything bigger, I put through the sawmill.

Call it the john, the one-holer, the reading room, the privet, the back shack, or whatever you choose...at Tim's place, it's the outhouse

Call it the john, the johnny, the one-holer, the reading room, the privet, the back shack, or whatever you choose…at Tim’s place, it’s the outhouse

“Your imagination will kick in — it just happens”

When it comes to tools of one sort or another, I know a lot of very capable guys who’d say, ‘What would I do with a sawmill?’ Well, when it comes to TimberKing, here’s what I tell them. You don’t know what you’d do with one until you have one and then your imagination will kick in. I thought I’d use it just a little bit. But when you have it, ideas come to you. If you have a creative mind, if you’re a creative person, it just happens. And the trees come to you, too. There’s always somebody who wants to get rid of trees.

TimberKing’s his “go-to” mill

I’ve got several types of sawmills including chainsaw mills and other bandsaw mills. They have their uses, but my ‘go-to’ saw is my TimberKing 1220. No bells, no whistles, simple to use. Suits me fine for what I do. Along with the trailer package, you’re mobile.

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In the neat and tidy pump house, campers and kayakers can draw their own cool well water

In the neat and tidy pump house, campers and kayakers can draw their own cool well water

I first bought a Hudson sawmill. It’s not really portable and sawed boards only up to 12” wide. I got a chainsaw sawmill – a Logosol. It did alright, did what I wanted, was good for little stuff like fence posts, but you couldn’t lift a big oak log onto it and it was very expensive. Not my dream saw.

Durability and best price

I told my wife that with the work I was doing, I needed a really good saw. I shopped around and became aware of TimberKing. I wanted the best price but, above all, I wanted durability. And I wanted to do business with a reputable company that had been around awhile. TimberKing fit that bill. There were others I liked the looks of but they had some plastic parts. I’m a big fan of metal parts like TimberKing has. Metal’s better than plastic.

I wanted a manual model, not one with bells and whistles. Just a simple, basic, solid saw so I chose the TimberKing 1220. I like that it’s manual. I like the manual crank that moves the cutting head through the log. I don’t want to have to do a lot of maintenance or fix bells and whistles. With this manual saw, I can get parts I need at a hardware store. I’m not in the sawing business; I’m not cutting all day long. But it’s got a wheel kit and I can move it where I want it. If I wanted to make a business out of it, I could.

4-Post Head keeps the blade and cut straight

TimberKing’s 4-post head is a big plus, too. My Hudson mill I had a welded, 2-by-2, L-shaped head. It was manual – you’d push the head. But with that L-shaped head, the blade wandered up and down through the wood and left an uneven cut. TimberKing’s 4-post head keeps the blade and the cuts straighter.

Here’s my advice for others who’re interested in a TimberKing. If you’re thinking about it, if the idea of sawing sounds good to you, if you heat with wood, if you’re in the woods a lot, get one. If you’re a guy like me who likes working with wood, the smell of sawdust, and being outdoors, I frankly can’t imagine why you couldn’t use a 1220.”

— Tim “Mac” McCormick, TimberKing 1220 Owner, Michigan

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