When asked what made him chose a swing blade, Robert says: “My first experience with portable mills was at a show featuring bandsaw manufacturers Hud-son, Wood-Mizer, and Norwood Mills. I researched bandsaw mills for three years to find the best fit for our needs but all of them seemed labor-intensive and limited in capacity. My worn-out shoulders and joints wouldn’t have endured in the long run. We also needed lumber for construction, not just slabs.”
Then Robert heard about Peterson Portable Sawmills and discovered how a swing blade operates. “Once I learned about how the Peterson operates I liked that it created dimensional lumber straight off of the mill. No cants, no turning, no resawing, less labor. Knowing that I’d probably operate the mill alone at times I wanted a physically easier machine to operate. I also liked the capacity over any bandmill I could afford for the homestead.”
The first project they completed with the JP was to saw lumber for an elevated tree house which would protect their cats from wild coyotes. “My son Matthew and I mill poplar and cherry logs three to four times a week. The logs are from our own 43 acres (17 hectares) of land and the timber is used for all kinds of projects,” said Robert.
The JP has been used to cut lumber for vegetable garden beds and a decorative feature wall for their kitchen. Their current big project involves building an animal shelter to house some goats. The goats will primarily be kept for vegetation control as they live in an overgrown forest of pioneer species.
Two years on, the family are well on their way to becoming fully self-sufficient. “We do not yet use solar or wind-generated power but may get solar power in the future. At present, we try to use as little electricity as possible and are well prepared to make do without electricity completely, so there isn’t much motivation to go solar.”
“What I enjoy most about the JP is its intuitive mode of operation. I am still learning the intricacies of various wood species but I feel like I get just a little bit better and more efficient with the JP each time I use it. It’s actually a fun and rewarding machine to operate and I always look forward to working with it.
As far as standout features on the mill go, I truly appreciate the blade. I cut A LOT of yellow poplar which is very gentle on the circular blade. I don’t have to worry about bands breaking or needing replacement five times a day while working. The carbide teeth are still very sharp and I haven’t had to dress them in a few months. I know that sounds crazy but I’m getting good shavings when cutting that don’t lie. I do have two blades in reserve though. The Briggs & Stratton engine merely sips gas and a tank lasts me several hours when cutting. I love that.”
And Robert has this to say about the company behind the machine: “Every time I’ve contacted Peterson I received top-notch customer service… I never experienced this with any other company, anywhere… just incredible.”