History of the original swingblade sawmill designers

Peterson’s; The true original swingblade sawmill designers. The exciting story of the Peterson family business started over 30 years ago in 1989, when Carl Peterson sold his first portable swingblade mill. Even though it was only a basic version, it was a true invention – the world’s first commercially available portable swingblade sawmill! A machine that combats the issues of portability, limited cut sizes, blade costs, time efficiency and durability.

Today the business is run by Carl’s daughter Kerris and husband Chris. With qualifications in Management, Marketing & Accounting, and having helped her father initially build Petersons, Kerris knows what works for customers and what doesn’t. She and Chris have built their own company from the ground up, expanding the Peterson range and creating a brand that is synonymous with high quality, reliable, functional and innovative machinery.

“Today we promote a range of the most versatile portable sawmills in the world. From the highlands of Papua New Guinea to the snow peaks of Alaska, we make machines that are versatile, practical and efficient. And we continue to lead the world in innovation, listening to our customers’ needs and making it easier than ever to achieve them”, says Kerris.

Happy miller Gary Basher from Nelson, New Zealand, can certainly testify to the durability of Peterson Portable Sawmills. Gary purchased the Standard Frame model in May 1990. It was only the 33rd Peterson mill ever made. In 2019 he is still operating this sawmill, and says simplicity and accuracy are his favourite features about his Peterson; The true original swingblade sawmill designers.

“From the highlands of Papua New Guinea to the snow peaks of Alaska, we make machines that are versatile, practical and efficient”

“In this time, we have had to do very little maintenance on the Peterson, with just a few adjustments here and there and sharpening the blades, which I do myself”, says Gary. “During all those years of use, I have only had to purchase two new blades, which are re-tipped by a saw doctor when necessary.”

Simplicity, accuracy and cost-efficiency are only a few of the many remarkable product design features that set Peterson apart from other brands.

Our sawmills are a product of 30 years of creative design and practical know-how. Chris has a great insight to the uses and practicalities of machinery for a purpose.

When Kerris ‘discovered’ Chris and invited him into the Peterson business, his skills fit like a glove and Chris promptly set to work making the machines more user-friendly, stronger, more reliable, and simpler to build. Listening to customer feedback and with a stringent R&D process, the result is our current range of products, with five top-of-the-line models catering for a wide range of users, from hobby millers to professional lumbermen.

As the original commercial swingblade sawmill designers, Petersons have always been a step ahead of the competition. We use quality materials for a more robust machine and can custom build to suit any application. Our versatile mills do not require flat ground and can be set up on almost any terrain in between 5-45 minutes.

“During all those years of use, I have only had to purchase two new blades”


Millers appreciate that both our manual and automated models can effectively be operated by just one person, keeping operation costs down. Compared to a bandsaw, the Peterson swingblade range is much more accurate and can handle large logs and abrasive logs with ease.

All Peterson mills are manufactured at our New Zealand plant. We operate an international network of agents who are there to offer local service and support.

If you’re researching a sawmill purchase, the best people to speak to are those who operate the machines on a regular basis.

The millers in our ‘Owner’s Network’ have made themselves available to answer your questions by phone or email, and some of them even offer private demonstrations and open days at their milling sites.

Our company motto is simple: ‘To make a difference to our customers and staff’. With Peterson, it’s all about relationships. We listen, care, help, encourage, show gratitude, and even apologise when we make a mistake. Going by customer feedback, our reputation for pre- and post-sales and service is exceptional. Read the testimonials for proof that we have some of the best portable sawmill products available worldwide.

Miller Chad Burrell from Vermont (USA) sums it up nicely:

“Peterson Portable Sawmills are the best portable sawmill available and the people that produce it are wonderful. They’re there to help you every step of the way and, amazingly, they listen to us, their customers, and make improvements based on our needs. I can’t say enough about them or their product. In fact, I would not even consider owning a different sawmill. If you are ever thinking about owning a portable sawmill, save yourself the time and check out Peterson Portable Sawmills.”


Related Articles
Scroll to Top

Looking for our sawmill prices?

Peterson Portable Sawmills manufacture and export worldwide from our factory in Rotorua, New Zealand. Encountering fluctuating freight, raw materials, currencies and export costs, therefore we have tailored pricelists pertaining to each country.
We also have over 40 different mill configurations to suit all applications, so it often helps to call and speak to us about your particular needs.

If you would like to recieve a copy of our digital Info Pack and Price List, please click here.