We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Sawmill?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A sawmill is a facility which processes raw timber into dimensional lumber for shipping and eventual sale. Prior to the development of the sawmill, people harvested timber and cut the resulting logs into planks by hand, an often painstaking process. Sawmills centralized timber processing in the 1600s, allowing a high volume of timber to be processed at a central location, which was initially powered by water and later by steam and electricity. Modern high-volume saw mills are dramatically different from 17th century sawmills, with highly automated systems which rely heavily on computers.

Before being processed, lumber must be graded and sorted. Sometimes this is done on the site of a timber harvest, and at other times grading is handled at the sawmill itself. After grading, logs are debarked and then run through the head saw, also known as the primary rig. The head saw roughly splits the lumber into boards, which are finished with trimming, drying, and planing to ensure that they are evenly cut pieces of lumber. Once the lumber has fully dried, it can be packaged for shipping or stored on-site at the saw mill until there is a demand for it. Waste products like sawdust and woodchips may be pulped for papermaking, or burned to generate power.

Working at a sawmill can be dangerous, especially if the sawmill handles a high volume of timber. A number of different types of saws are used, along with other heavy equipment, and workers can easily injure themselves, especially along the green chain, the system of conveyor belts which runs through a sawmill to carry timber and lumber as it is finished. In more modernized sawmills, operations along the green chain are handled by computer programs which are capable of recognizing various types of timber and routing them correctly.

At smaller sawmills, a much smaller volume of timber is handled, and employees are generally not as rushed. Small sawmills may belong to small logging companies, but they might also agree to handle milling for individual citizens. People can also rent or purchase portable sawmills for work on their land. For example, someone who wants to build a cabin with boards from his or her property could rent a sawmill to handle the timber harvesting and processing on the land, making it much less expensive.

Many old sawmills are located near rivers, because the water was used to float logs downstream from logging sites. The tradition of using water to move logs around endures in many sawmills, some of which establish artificial waterways on site to move unfinished timber. Some sawmills have also improved their environmental record, focusing on utilizing a high percentage of the total volume of rough logs that they bring in, and finding efficient and environmentally friendly ways to handle the inevitable waste of the milling process.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.