Sawmill Developments

Work on the open source sawmill is moving forward.

I’ve been using Blender to visualize the sawmill in 3D, in order to help in the design phase:

We’re getting ready to start building. What’s in it for you? The sawmill proposal at the wiki is exploring some important questions:

  • Is it possible that widespread access to a low cost sawmill (under $2k in parts, or Factor 10 cost reduction) with the highest production rate of any small, portable sawmills – can empower diverse array of producers to generate lumber that is otherwise obtained from global supply chains in plantations or old-growth forest?
  • If so, can that produce a beneficial effect on local economy and sustanability?
  • How much of the global supply chain lumber can be replaced with local lumber production?

Possible producers involved in the above include farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, intentional communities, sustainable woods coops, back-to-the-landers, small entrepreneurs, and others. I can foresee that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations begin offering dimensional lumber as one of their products.

For us at Factor e Farm, we are considering modular housing units, comparable to the GreenForms from the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, which has been implemented in the GroHomes:

You can get involved in this by participating at the wiki, where live development from people across the globe can happen. Our main questions now are related to the blades:

  • What rotation speed, number of teeth, and blade diameter is optimal for us?
  • Blade sourcing? DIY circular blade construction methods?
  • Hydraulic motor design and fabrication for eventual technological recursion?

The bill of materials for the first sawmill prototype, with a 20′ bed capable of producing 16′ long dimensional lumber, is about $1500, or about $2500 for turnkey, digitally-fabricated product in the community supported manufacturing model.

We have already collected $200 in the last ChipIn, but got nowhere near our goal. We’re revisiting this, supported by our further due diligence that you can examine at the wiki. Once again, the promise of Factor 10 cost reduction is evident. Chip in to make this happen:


  1. Richard Schulte

    hey marcin, do you want me to bring someone out from our forestry department so they can consult on best practices on your land so that you can have regenerative forests without as many soil erosion problems? It would be best for you to pick from inside treestands for now and not to cut down the perimeters of your treelines, as understory is important for forest regeneration and for trapping moisture and sediment from erosion. we will probably be coming out sometime in the next few weeks as time permits.

    Yes, bring them here. We are fine in the forest – it’s the fields that have erosion problems. Microberms and terraces are in our present capacity, using LifeTrac earth moving capacity. -Marcin

  2. Solar Village 2010 | Open Source Ecology

    […] space right in front. This means that in May, we will build LifeTrac II, PowerCube II, and the dimensional sawmill. In June and July, we’ll test the toolchain – cut lumber, test stabilized and lime […]