The Sawmill – napdesign heritage by Gary Napiwocki

This mill is a very early 1900’s Gaar-Scott left handed friction feed with a 50 inch insert tooth circular saw blade. It is PTO powered by a Massey 1100 diesel. There is also a flat belt driven miner edger powered by a Massey Harris 33.

So why do I feel that I need this fine piece of vintage machinery? Let’s back up the train to my early teenage years on the farm. In the early 1970’s we were going to build a new dairy barn so my dad, the winter before, grabbed his chainsaw along with his Ferguson 30 with the chains on, headed to the woods to cut logs to have milled for the new barn roof rafters. I can remember riding along with my dad to the mill, where on a sunny, late winter afternoon we stood and watched logs being milled into lumber. That, for some reason, was very interesting to me. All the flat belts, pulleys and gears; the movement of the carriage on the track; the biggest saw blade I’ve ever seen in my life. The sound of the dogs tumbling on the set-works as a lever was pulled to advance the head blocks closer to the saw coming as close as ½ inch away from that big turning blade. That’ll raise an eyebrow! I can remember the distinct smell of the cool air blowing through the fresh milled lumber. For some unknown reason, my dad decided to build his own sawmill (from scratch). To make a very long story short…the mill was finished; the rest of the lumber for the new barn had been milled. Barn complete. End of Story?

Oh did I mention the mill was built portable! The next thing you know, we were on the road, custom sawing for local farmers. So for the next few spring, summer and fall seasons, the mill was away from the farm, only being at home during the winter months. My job at the mill was working at the tail end caring lumber and slabs; everything from the smallest 1×4 dimension to the most ungodly heavy barn timbers. Running the edger and scaling the lumber. So for a teenager at the time, I can say it wasn’t really my (cup of tea). For the lack of better words, I really disliked it a lot. I was just down right stubborn about it.

Let’s jump forward about 25 years. My parents had passed on, which by the way, I look at it “everyday that our loved ones are away from us, it can only mean that it’s one day sooner that we get to see them again”. Okay moving on, I came upon an ad in a local farm paper which said, “Sawmill for sale including an edger”. Was it a higher power that came over me, or had I lost my mind; had I not learned my lesson? What’s wrong with me? Besides being EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, one wrong move you could loose some body part or even your life. I’m not about to tip toe through life only to arrive safely at death. I guess if the good Lord wants me to go that way, so be it.
Go figure. At one time I despised it, and now 25 years later, I still really love my wife but this sawmill thing, I like a lot. It’s hard, back breaking and dangerous work but some how spending a Saturday or evenings up at the mill is kind of (this might sound crazy) RELAXING for me. At the end of the day, after I’ve cleaned up and banded the slabs, put away the cant hooks and tools and finally in quiet evening air, maybe sit on the skid, look out across the field with the smell of fresh cut lumber. Can’t help but wonder what “Pops” would think of all this! I don’t believe things happen only by accident; there is a very good reason for all of this. I believe it is once again a continuance of OUR FAMILY HERITAGE.

Watch this sawmill in action on our YouTube!


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  • steve gorman - i bought a mill from uncles estate , it suppose to be corly , having trouble hooking up husk ,no any where to get books on this type of friction driveReplyCancel