Norwood Sawmills 2019 Photo & Video Challenge Winners

Share Your Norwood Adventure

1st Place — Bill Lieter, Berkeley, New Jersey — $1000

"As a kid I grew up in Berkeley township New Jersey with a lot of woods around me. We were always making tree forts and really cool things out of whatever we found lying around. Through my life I was always tinkering with different woodworking projects while I was growing up. I can remember watching my dad building birdhouses and nativity scenes at Christmas for neighbors and friends while I was trying to see how many nails I could put into a board before it sunk in water; crazy huh? As my life went on I took four years of woodshop in high school and built a desk and a small bar out mahogany, which my parents still have in their house to this day. I guess you could say that sawdust was in my blood at a very early age.

"As years went by I started my career as a machinist working for a place that made a ton of pharmaceutical equipment. This gave me the passion for precision work while creating something out of nothing. A few years later this led me to a job in the government making even better stuff for ships and aircraft. I then got smart and married the love of my life, Dianna, and starting fixing things around the house as needed. While doing this I noticed the cost of materials was more than I was comfortable spending especially after superstorm Sandy hit the northeast region.

"I needed to return to my woodworking roots so I can save money by building what we needed in the house. I began by building cabinets to store DVDs along with a rather large raised panel end table for my wife’s birding books. I continued by building a storage bed in the master bedroom that is used for a dresser, photo album, and extra blanket storage areas, all in one (Figure 1). This was all out of oak, and as you can imagine; it was starting to get costly. My wife was saying she would like to see some diversity instead of oak all the time, and I couldn’t agree more. So I started to look around for different types of wood in our area and really didn’t see any, just what was at the local home box stores. The closest center for the better wood was over an hour away from me. This got the wheels turning—maybe I can cut my own wood.

"After looking online at the different chain sawmill configurations I figured, hmm, I think I could build one of those. After a week of cutting, machining and welding the effort turned out great, I was chain sawmilling in no time. I had a few friends that gave me trees out of their yard that they were getting rid of. So, I loaded my little truck and trailer up and off I went to get them. I put that little trailer through everything; no idea how it held up to the weight I put on it, but it worked for what I needed it to do. A few years down the road a buddy of mine called and said he had a big walnut tree he didn’t want. This was way too big for my trailer so I recruited Paul, a friend from work, with a car trailer and loaded it up with a backhoe. After bringing it to my house and laying it in my yard, I had to pause for a moment. The phrase, 'I think I need a bigger boat' came to mind as I chuckled over a famous movie reference. My little chainsaw mill wasn’t going to cut this, unless I spent a couple thousand on a monster chainsaw; not to mention modifying the attachment.

"So here’s where the rubber meets the road. Do I want to spend money on a new, bigger, chainsaw or just look for a quality sawmill that fits my budget? I began my search with some of the cheaper companies that have little nine horsepower engines on them all the way up to these million dollar monsters (or so it seems). I wasn’t having much luck on figuring out what was going to best fit my needs at first. I thought, let me just call a few of these companies and see what they say. I will admit, between doing that and online forums, I started having an idea of what I was looking for and what price range I would have to spend. After researching 25 different sawmill manufacturers (yup 25) I narrowed it down to three great potentials, Norwood being one of them. I started to spend some time on the phone to really put these three manufacturers up against each other. I figured, if I’m spending the money, they are just going to need to answer these 'key' questions to the 'T'. One company wanted $2.5K in shipping costs because the machine is fully assembled out of the factory and would require an 18-wheeler to get it to me. Though it was a good company, I wasn’t ready to spend the extra couple thousand bucks to ship it, so I had to scratch them from the list. The next was one of Norwood’s closest competitors and I can see why. Both Norwood and their competitor made fantastic sawmills and spoke very well of each other when I asked 'what could you say about your competitor that would steer me in your direction?' I really couldn’t get either one to shoot down the other, and I can understand that. At this point it had to come down to hard facts and what I felt would fit my needs. I do concur that Norwood’s competitor was a great company, I just felt more comfortable with the accuracy of Norwood’s largest mill, the LumberPro HD36. So after a long breath, my decision was made: it was going to be Norwood.

"I pulled the trigger, so my brother would say, in late 2016 and after a few weeks for shipping the mill arrived at my house. We literally had all hands on deck unloading each box off the truck onto my trailer (yup, the trailer I keep overloading, figured 'why not' right)? I brought it to my parent’s big garage and after four or five days with my pops and my brother Danny the mill was rolling out of the garage ready to try its first log. I put in a pine log that was laying around the yard just to give it a test run. (See figure 2). When the blade hit the log it was effortless. Remember, I’m used to the chainsaw and expecting my back to hurt at the end of the cut. This was far from that and I couldn’t believe that the saw cut that smooth. I was able to make a cut that used to take me 10 to 15 minutes in under 30 seconds now; it blew my mind. I was so excited to get the machine home and try it out on (you guessed it) that big walnut from my buddy. I got the log up on the mill and cut the whole thing in 2” thick slabs (Figure 3). After stickering them, a local hardwood company caught on that I had this wood (mind you, no advertising yet). When the owner came by to visit me, we worked out a deal for a mind-blowing $1400.00 bucks for the slabs. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The money just came to me, with little effort. Since then, and a few logs and sales later, I was able to fund buying a used tractor, and build a pole barn out of mostly sawn wood that I made with this mill. At this point, the mill paid for itself in less time than I thought. I have milled thousands of board feet for different customers; and the experience keeps getting better and better. This has been an on-going journey, and I could not be happier with this investment. I personally thank Norwood and the folks in the New York facility for making this dream truly come true." — Bill Lieter

2nd Place — Steve & Nicole Roy, Ontario — $500

"We’ve had our Norwood LumberMate LM29 sawmill for approximately 2 years. We’ve created numerous pieces of furniture, gifts, crafts and spare firewood for our family and friends. But what makes my wife and I the most pleased with our investment are the lessons and memories it has created with our 3 kids. They have developed an interest in working and creating with their hands. Being outside, building, learning and working together has brought us closer together. The above photos of our 13 year-old son Hunter is just one example of how he has enjoyed our Norwood sawmill and learned a variety of lessons along the way. We cut down this maple together, milled it together. Now, after building it together, Hunter loves sitting on the couch with our family looking at his beautiful creation with pride. The table and the memories will be with our family forever!" — Steve and Nicole Roy

3rd Place — Scott Beck, Michigan — $300

"My father, at 84 years-old, decided he had waited too long to get a sawmill.  Since he’d worked all of his life with wood as a residential contractor building homes and cabinetry in our area since 1953, he had plenty of opportunities to use such a machine. He taught me well also; by working for his firm during the summers he instilled in me the value of hard work and skill which included plumb, level, and square (or you start over). I eventually became an automotive engineer and use those skills and ethic to this day in my own firm. 

"We started with a Logosol Timberjig Chainsaw Mill to cut the logs that are regularly offered up to my retired father.  The live edge projects he had tackled in past years involved a tremendous amount of effort with the chainsaw and then significant re-work and tweaking to get the slabs to his level of perfection.  In 2018 when we happened upon a YouTube video about portable sawmills it started a discussion which led to some extensive research into brands, capability, and pricing. Based on our needs and budget we finally selected and purchased a Norwood LumberMate LM29 sawmill in January of 2019.   He says 'why did I wait so long?'

"When the boxes arrived in his home workshop it looked like a daunting task to assemble, but following the instruction book we were able to put the mill together on two Saturdays. We couldn’t wait to get cutting so we experimented on three maple logs that had laid in the yard for a couple of years. In no time we had some really nice lumber and had worked through a significant part of the learning curve.

"He had made my daughter (his granddaughter) a large maple live edge dining table for her wedding a couple of years back and now my nephew was engaged to be married in the summer of 2019 and he wanted to do the same for his grandson. But this time, a friend had some large black walnut logs that they donated to us in the spring and he wanted to make his grandson’s live edge table from those beauties. The milling project took no time and was relatively effortless compared to the Logosol Timberjig. The table came together nicely and he embellished it with turquoise inlays (he is also a lapidary expert) as a final touch.  He looks forward to more projects like that one in the future for other grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"Our next project involves moving the entire mill to our cabin in the north woods of Michigan near Lake Superior. From there we will have enormous opportunities for using the mill to create rustic furniture and/or structures on our properties.  We look forward to building a shed into which we can install the mill to keep it out of the weather. We are taking down some trees to make room for the mill, and these trees will yield all of the lumber we need for that structure. We are both so happy with our purchase—every log we open up is another exciting endeavor!" — Scott Beck

4th Place — Daniel Adams, Missouri — $200

"This sawmill shelter is protecting my Norwood LumberMate LM29. It completely covers the 16 feet of rail. The lumber was cut from 100% dead Missouri White Oak. My Norwood sawmill has become one of my most useful tools on my 60-acre Missouri Ozark Farm. Without question I have recovered the initial cost of purchase of the sawmill. Along with the economic benefit, the pride of cutting and building from lumber harvest on my own land is unmeasurable. I get a kind of frontier/homestead feeling. I am constantly looking for a reason to fire up my sawmill! I wish I would have bought it years ago when I first started developing my homestead." — Daniel Adams

Norwood Sawmill in Action (Videos)

1st Place — Corey Gugisberg, Jim Kaiserlik, Minnesota — $1000

2nd Place — Scott & Deete Hunt, Louisiana — $500

3rd Place — Mike Stewart, Albion, Maine — $300

Homes, Cabins & Outbuildings (Exterior)

1st Place — Patrick McDonald, Ontario — $500

2nd Place — Henry Bauer, Oregon — $300

3rd Place — Oswald & Maria Brand, Alberta — $100

Honourable Mention — Dan Adams, Missouri — $50

Honourable Mention — Robert Pyron, Nevada — $50

Honourable Mention — Future Design/Kenneth, Michigan — $50

Honourable Mention — Elmer Markel, Kimberlee Oplinger, North Carolina — $50

Homes, Cabins & Outbuildings (Interior)

1st Place — David DeMerchant, New Brunswick — $500

2nd Place — Elmer Markel, Kimberlee Oplinger, North Carolina — $300

3rd Place — Kim White, Ontario — $100

Furniture, Cabinets & Fine Woodworking

1st Place — Sam Hill, Newfoundland — $500

2nd Place — Dale Dobbe, Illinois — $300

3rd Place — Tom King, Florida — $100

Honourable Mention — Kim White, Ontario — $50

Honourable Mention — Sal Paccione, Ontario — $50

Honourable Mention — Scott Beck, Michigan — $50

Honourable Mention — Jim Kaiserlik, Corey Gugisberg, Minnesota — $50

Norwood Sawmill in Action (Photos)

1st Place — Roger Rupp, Nevada — $500

2nd Place — Steve Russell, Ontario — $300

3rd Place — Steven Peskoe, Georgia — $100

Honourable Mention — Halley Sullivan, British Columbia — $50

Honourable Mention — Jim Kaiserlik, Corey Gugisberg, Minnesota — $50

Honourable Mention — Michael Deriaz, Switzerland — $50

Honourable Mention — Dwight Atkinson, North Carolina — $50

Honourable Mention — Rhys Wallace, British Columbia — $50