Back in April of 2021 I was needing some 2x4s to make a better roof for my shipping container (the reason for that roof will be the subject of another post). Unfortunately, the cost of regular lumber was higher than it had ever been and I wasn't liking the idea of spending so much more than I should need to. And that's when I realized that before I purchase anything I should go check my local lumberyard.
At this point I'd owned a bandsaw mill for two and a half years, and had a small collection of cut logs at my friends property where the mill was. The great part of this pile was that they had already dried out so I wouldn't need to worry about shrinkage if I used them for building now. They were also much lighter at this point then when they had been added to the pile due to that lack of moisture. While some of this pile was already cut into boards there was a good amount that was in the form of a cant; a squared log that can be cut later into final lumber. When I had originally cut many of these logs I didn't have a specific project in mind that I wanted to use them for. By leaving them unfinished in the form of a cant it allowed me the flexibility to decide what exactly I wanted later (for example; four 2x4s vs two 2x6s and a 2x4).
During the drying process some of the cants had developed some slight warping but that was easy to rectify with a few quick cuts of the bandsaw. Whenever I cut wood on the mill I get to decide the exact sizes I end up with. When you go to the store a 2x4 isn't really 2 inches by 4 inches but rather 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches. If I want to I can cut 2x4s that are actually 2 inches by 4 inches, but in this case I used the standard sizes so that these could be used interchangeably with some store-bought wood that I already had.
This was a super satisfying day. The bandsaw mill had turned from being a neat toy to a great asset that was saving me money. This wasn't the first lumber I had milled, but when an eight foot long 2x4 only cost a couple bucks it wasn't always clear that milling was the best use of my time (though it was fun). When a warped 2x4 with knots and other imperfections cost $8.65 or more it made me glad to have a way to easily cut straight wood.
Flash forward to today; now that my bandsaw mill is at my 60 acre property in Maine I have an abundance of trees I can mill up. It's nice that I can produce my own lumber and not have to think much of the price fluctuations. More to come on that in a later post.