Sawmill Services

Sawing Services

We offer custom milling (and drying) services at our farm in New Hill, and mobile milling services in certain circumstances.

We are specialists in Quarter and Rift sawn lumber production processes, along with full width log slabbing up to 72" across. We can mill to produce the best grade of lumber or mill for maximum yield depending upon what is desired. We also specialize in milling oversize and over length timber frame timbers up to 58 feet long.

What is quarter and rift milling?

There is much mis or contradicting information on the internet and even amongst reputable lumber dealers and manufacturers regarding what constitutes quarter and rift sawn lumber.

Part of the reason why is that there are several different industry recognized organizations that provide information about quarter and rift sawn lumber. In the US, these include the USDA Forestry Products Lab (FPL), the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), the National Hardwood Flooring Manufacturers Association (NHFMA), and the Architectural Woodworking Institute (AWI). In Canada, the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) and Woodwork Institute (WI) are recognized as the primary lumber standards body.

All of these organizations agree that quartersawn lumber is determined by the angle that the annular growth rings intersect the face of the board. Unfortunately, they don't all agree on exactly what that angle is. Some define it as between 60 - 90 degrees, others define it as between 75 - 90 degrees, and still others define it as 45 - 90 degrees. 

In Bruce Hoadley's book "Understanding Wood", he defines quartersawn lumber as that where the growth rings form angles of anywhere from 45 degrees to 90 degrees with the surface, with "rift grain" indicating surfaces intermediate between 45 degrees to 90 degrees. Hoadley also refers to rift sawn lumber as "bastard grain" too. Unfortunately, Hoadley does not provide references to any FLP, NHLA or AWI standards in his book.

The current industry recognized definition of quarter and rift sawn lumber recognized by architects and professional cabinet shops nationwide is published jointly by the AWI in the US and by the AWMAC and WI in Canada. AWI defines quartersawn lumber as having annual growth ring orientation between 60 - 90 degrees relative to the face of the board. AWI defines rift sawn lumber as measured by annular growth ring orientation between 30 - 60 degrees to the face of the board, with 45 degrees being "optimum" (page 449, Appendix B, section 3 Lumber of the 2009 1st edition of Architectural Woodwork Standards with drawing from same posted above). 

Currently, most of the lumber manufacturing industry adheres to the AWI standard regarding rift and quarter sawn lumber; however there are still some variances so it is good to ask questions and verify that the definition that you are using is the same definition as the lumber seller.

Lumber which is not quarter and rift sawn is referred to "Plain sawn" or "flat sawn". Flat sawn lumber is noted for having cathedral grain appearance on the face of the boards.

There are several different milling techniques that produce quartersawn lumber. Perfectly quartersawn lumber requires that the pith of the log be centered in two planes when milling, in order to achieve an edge grain that has minimal if any slope of grain relative to the face of the board. When you look at a quartersawn oak board that has high ray fleck on one end of the board and much lower fleck on the opposite end, this is the result of either a crook in the log, a log that may have had an off center pith due to nature, or the fact that the log was only centered in one plane when milling. Two of the three of these variances is beyond the millers control, but typically higher grade of quartersawn boards will have minimal slope of grain when viewed from the edge.


Pricing for milling services is typically based upon the board foot yield of lumber and the type of lumber produced. In certain instances we bill by the hour for non-standard or low yield milling.

Our Sawmills

We utilize three different types of sawmills in our New Hill based operation. These include a Baker 3638D band sawmill, a Peterson 10" Winch Production Frame sawmill (also referred to as a "swing-blade" mill), and a dedicated chain slabber that was designed by Scott and built by him and Gavin Gallagher on a spare Peterson mill carriage.

Although all of our mills are portable, we prefer to mill at the farm due to the log and lumber handling support equipment that we have available here, as well as not having to incur the time and expense to mobilize and demobilize the mills. In instances where a large volume of logs need milling but not drying at our facility (such as 8000 board feet or greater), we will consider transporting one or more of our mills to the customers location.

Each one of our mills is optimized for different types of milling. Our Baker band mill is capable of processing logs up to 36" in diameter and 25’ in length, and it will produce square edge boards up to 28" in width. It is our workhorse and primary choice for flat sawing lumber operations, and for resawing large log quarters.

Baker Bandmill

Our Baker band mill is capable of processing logs up to 36" in diameter and 25’ in length, and it will produce square edge boards up to 28" in width. It is our workhorse and primary choice for flat sawing lumber operations, and for resawing large log quarters.

Peterson Swingmill

Our Peterson swing-blade mill is capable of milling logs up to 72" in diameter and up to 58’ in length. We can mill beams up to 20" wide and 10" deep in one setup, or any width and depth up to 60" in multiple set ups. It is an excellent choice for quarter and rift sawing medium sized logs where board widths are less than 10" wide. We are also able to use this mill for sawmill planing dried slabs.

Custom Slab Sawmill

Our Gallagher-Smith slabber is capable of milling up to 72" in a single pass. We typically use this mill to produce full log width slabs (live edge) greater than 28" and for quartering logs larger than 36".

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