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Part 2: Quest for Knowledge and Other Things
Okay, so now we owned a sawmill. And we had three weeks to learn as much as we could about operating not only the mill, but also everything else we needed to know about the sawmill business.
There is information aplenty online, if you know where to look. Our first stop was a website called WoodWeb. Not only do they have an extensive knowledge base, they have forums dedicated to all types of forestry, logging, sawing and woodworking options. To read all the posts would take years, so for me, I've concentrated on reading the posts in the Sawing and Drying Forum and the associated Knowledge Bases.
From there, I moved on to looking for Trade Magazines that are tailored for the small sawmill operation. There are several out there, and while we haven't received the first issues yet, I signed up for as many as I could find.
Our next search was for a board foot calculator. My first thought was something that could be run on the laptop. When I began the search, all I could find were calculators online. Well, that doesn't do me a bit of good out in the woods where I would have no Internet connection. Surely somewhere, there was a downloadable program for a decent price.
About six pages into a Google search, I found what I was looking for. A small program called simply, BoardCalc. Not only could you purchase it for a PC, it was also available for a Palm PDA. I downloaded the trial version for the PC and within a day, purchased it. The price? A very reasonable $12.00 for a very powerful little calculator.
After playing with BoardCalc on the laptop for a few days, I came to the conclusion that a Palm PDA would be even more handy in the woods. So, it was off to eBay. Within a week, I had a Palm III for ten bucks. Back to the BoardCalc website to purchase the Palm PDA version. As before a whopping $12.00. Now, I was portable enough to slide into my jeans pocket.
(Can you tell I was throughly impressed with this little program? If not, let me tell you, I was. Not only with the program, but also the support that comes with it. My hat is off to Joseph Diederich.)
Now that I was gadget happy, it was time to think of safety equipment. Hats, gloves and safety glasses. These were simple things, since both of us have worked in manufacturing environments extensively. We decided on 'outback' style floppy hats, leather work gloves with extended gauntlets, and colored lens safety glasses. What clothing we will wear to protect ourselves from resins and saps hasn't been quite decided yet, but we both know that good leather boots will be the footwear of the hour.
With everything ordered it was time to get back to research. Amazingly enough, some of the best reading we've found has been through the U.S. Government. The USDA Forestry site has one of the largest collections of PDF files I've run across. About.com also has a pretty good forestry site, as do many of the individual state universities. A simple Google search will uncover a lot of great information.
We also called the guy to do our dirt work. I'll document all of that in a separate article. Now all we had to do was wait for the mill to arrive.
Oh, and since it was now November, I had a novel to write. Every November, I participate in a wonderful project called National Novel Writing Month or NaNo for short. The goal; write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days or less. Did I make it? Well, I do have my winner's certificate.
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