Ted Isaacs had no previous experience with any type of sawmill. But that didn’t stop this old timer being a kid at heart and trying something completely new. Getting to know the Junior Peterson has been an education, and also lots of fun for Ted.
From Oregon, Ted grew up on a farm raising cattle and horses. Addicted to the outdoors, Ted enjoys gardening, building projects, and hotrods. He will try to think up any excuse to go fishing, clamming, crabbing, and hunting. Ted also enjoys building wooden canoes in his spare time, and generally putsing around his farm getting into mischief. At 67 Ted retired from his many years of being in the workforce. He then looked at a hobby that could also serve him financially, “I had been thinking about getting a sawmill for many years.”
After doing some research and considering the physical requirements of each mill, he decided to go for a swingblade mill, “I decided a swingblade mill would serve my needs better than a bandsaw mill. Since I would be operating by myself, ease of use was a huge factor. I did not want to have to roll the log after setting it on the skids. With the Peterson mills, you don’t have to. I also wanted to saw dimensional lumber for building projects, fencing, and siding for our farms. So when the Junior Peterson mill was announced, I ordered one.”
In April 2013, the new Junior Peterson arrived. Ted unpacked his crate like a little boy opening a new Christmas present. With the JP being hot off the assembly line, the crate had actually arrived before the Instruction Manual did. But Ted was keen to give it a go, “The biggest challenge was assembling the JP without an instruction manual. I am pretty tickled I was able to assemble it by myself.”
A few days later, Ted emailed Petersons with a proud update, “JP cutting like a dream. Just came in from sawing a log. Cut some 2x4s, 4x4s, and 4x6s. Took the bottom 4″ slab of the log, flipped it, and squared the bottom for a wide slab. Am going to use it for an outdoor sitting bench. I have sawed 4 or 5 logs and have quite a stack of lumber drying. I have not built anything yet, but I am in the planning stages for the cabin I’m going to build here at our farm.”
Ted sets the JP up near his shed, and brings the logs from his woodlot in to the yard. “I can handle the JP with ease all by myself. I have a stationary milling setup next to my shop. I love the fact that I can roll the JP out of the shop and have it set on the tracks and ready to mill in just 10 minutes. I am more than pleased with the lumber I am able to mill. Unlike bandsaw mills, the boards are straight and true.”
A further update from an excited Ted arrived at Petersons: “Another beautiful day of sawing. I have a retired neighbor who used to own a commercial sawmill. I invited him over to see my JP. After looking it over he asked if I could demonstrate it. He was really impressed at it’s performance! Another neighbor brought his father-in-law over today to watch me mill a log. He was impressed also and asked me if I could cut some boards for him sometime. What a hoot this is becoming. Not looking for a job but you know, what’s a guy gonna do!”
Over time, Ted has become a very skilled operator, “All in all, I have the JP dialed in and she is performing well for me. I feel pretty darn good about how quickly I am learning to operate my JP. I can handle it easily and efficiently by myself… and since I am retired and in no hurry, it works just fine for me. I am tickled about how the JP is performing, and I am growing more confident with each session. I have not used any of the lumber I have milled yet, but stay tuned!”
Ted is currently sawing douglas fir from his woodlot, and working through a stock pile of walnut. He is considering putting up a ‘lumber for sale’ sign, but at 67 he is not really looking for another job. Ted plans to use the black walnut to make furniture, table tops, and fireplace mantels. He has two sons who are woodworkers and wood carvers, and one of them makes furniture as well. Ted is also very pleased that the Junior Peterson will even help with the heating bills, “We heat our house with wood. I am tickled that the leftovers from milling a log will burn nicely in my woodstove!”
For Ted, the JP has given him the hobby that he can have fun with. “Some folks retire and become quickly bored. My approach is to find things you are passionate about and jump in head first. If you ask my kids, they’d say I’m a practical joker that never grew up… and I guess maybe they’re right.”
“In closing I’d say the JP mill is becoming an important part of my formula to staying young. Keep engaged doing what you love, and life will smile kindly in your direction.”
We were keen to find out what other projects Ted has done with his JP, and whether he was still milling, so we got in touch with him. Ted wrote back: “I will start by saying that I have not had to purchase one piece of dimensional lumber since my JP arrived back in 2013… and I love that. I am a hobbyist and have milled boards for numerous projects on our farm as well as cutting lumber for friends and family.” Some of the more recent projects Ted has been working on include a garden shed and a Redbird cedar canoe with black walnut gunnels, decks, and stems and oak seats.
“I am 74 years old. Being able to operate my JP by myself is a big plus for me. I roll the JP out of the shop and sawing boards in less than 10 minutes. Once the log is set I don’t have to touch it or roll it until it’s all gone. She cuts straight and true, takes about 5 minutes to sharpen the blade. Perfect for this old coot. And then there is the enjoyment factor. You can’t put a price on that!”