September 27, 2023 2 min read

When logs make their way into our yard, the inaugural step encompasses tagging and scaling. It's vital to ascertain the dimensions and predict the potential board feet yield. After determining their size, logs are distinctly labeled with details such as species, location, and size. This tagging marks the commencement of the live edge slab milling process.

Log Aging and Spalting

Unlike most processes that emphasize prompt conversion, certain logs in our yard benefit from patience. Logs, especially from species like soft Maples and Sycamore, are allowed to age. This aging enhances their character, making them more aesthetically appealing.

For the unacquainted, spalting is nature's artwork. Caused by fungi, spalting introduces unique black striations across the wood grain, a characteristic much admired in the woodworking world. However, not all logs undergo this beautification process. For instance, black walnut logs rarely exhibit spalting, urging us to mill them promptly to maintain stock.

The Milling Process

Our milling unit boasts two distinct sawmills: one caters to extraordinarily large logs while the other is tailor-made for logs 30 inches and under. Both these mills utilize thin-kerf bandsaws, ensuring both efficiency and an enhanced lumber yield.

In contrast to our previous chainsaw milling method, which had a substantial 3/8 inch kerf, the current method ensures minimal wastage. Traditional circular sawmills, with their massive blades, tend to waste a large chunk of the wood. Our thin-kerf mills, however, provide an advantage, allowing us to extract an additional slab from every log.

Log Sorting and Cutting

Logs aren't just tossed onto a mill without thought. Instead, a meticulous sorting process ensures logs are grouped based on species and size. This segregation, for instance, separates big walnut logs from their smaller counterparts. Such organization ensures each log finds its way to the suitable mill.

Once sorted, the actual milling process is straightforward. Position the log on the mill, and initiate the cutting.

Cutting Live-edge Slabs vs. Standard Lumber

While the emphasis remains on producing live edge slabs, there are instances where the log's natural form might not be conducive for this. Bent or twisted logs may not render the desired quality for live edge slabs. In such scenarios, we divert our focus to crafting standard lumber.

Automation and Stacking

Modern-day milling, at least in our yard, has imbibed automation. Both our saws are fully hydraulic, eliminating most manual interventions. A simple workstation where knobs are pulled and levers turned makes the job effortless. However, the convenience of automation finds its counter in stacking. While milling a log might be a matter of minutes, stacking could extend up to an hour, emphasizing the labor-intensive nature of this final step.

In essence, the world of live edge slab milling is a harmonious blend of nature's bounty, technology, and human craftsmanship. With every log that enters our yard, the journey from its natural form to a beautiful slab or piece of lumber is a testament to the beauty of woodworking.


Live edge slab milling is much more than just cutting wood; it's an intricate process of understanding nature's offerings, employing state-of-the-art techniques, and human touch. Each log tells a story, and through milling, we give it a platform to showcase its beauty and uniqueness.