Cutting Slabs with a Chainsaw Mill – Part 2

It’s brutally hot at the moment during the day. The glare of the sun gives everything an over-exposed look and any activity brings a trickle of sweat between the shoulder blades. When the billowy black thunderclouds start to come with steady regularity as the day progresses and storm’s break the still air with a crack of lightening through the twilight, you know the QLD Summer has arrived. The green grass as the growing season kicks into gear is another great pleasure that comes with this time of year.

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This post is about a video I have added to You Tube which gives more detail around how to slab with the Westford Chainsaw Mill. In true Sables fashion, we may have bitten off more than we could chew when we decided to build the kitchen by hand. For the last few weekends, I have been in the paddock cutting 65-70cm diameter slabs which are 2.25 inches thick and 2.2m long. It has been a difficult process and slowed by a few ER runs to the Stihl shop with chainsaw problems due to the stress caused by having such a massive bar and chain running 100% in a 50 kilo slab at 40 degrees for hours on end. These will be the kitchen tops in the Alice-designed kitchen. They will be oiled, shellaced and polyurethaned which is the process I am going through / learning at the moment.

The trunk being slabbed is Blue Gum, also known as Forest Red Gum. The wood is a lovely red colour which is a little lighter and a little less dense than the narrow-leaf ironbark that I am normally slabbing. Whilst a bit easier to cut, it has still been a pretty tough process due to the size of the slabs. This Blue Gum has a lot more flaws in it than the ironbark which adds a new dimension of issues in terms of finishing.

All these logs were left behind by loggers the last time they went through the place. I think this was 5-10 years ago but the previous owner isn’t sure. The trunk being slabbed has two hearts which has lead to it branching off at one end and rotting through the middle. This is why the loggers didn’t take it in the first place as the heartwood splits more easily and is of poorer quality compared to the ‘true’ wood which is around it.

Below is the video which sets out the whole process, safety, preparation, getting everything together. It is long and dull at times and really only meant for people interested in knowing how to slab with a chainsaw! More to come on the kitchen soon.