A visit to Timbertown

My wife and I recently spent a few days away in Port Macquarie on the northern coast of NSW. Most of the holiday was spent relaxing but we couldn’t be in the area and not take a trip to Timbertown, a recreation sawmill town in Wachope about 30m drive from where we were staying.

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The first thing you see when you walk in is a huge wooden water wheel, restored by the Hastings woodworkers guild who have their clubhouse in the village.

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There’s a few little galleries and recreations of things like a school, fire station and barber but the main attraction is the steam powered sawmill.

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It’s amazing to me how they managed to move and cut such huge trees down to size. Here you can see them cutting a log into slices

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The sign below reads “(2) Frame Saw. This vertical Frame Saw, carrying four blades, is used for breaking down the log into flitches. The frame is driven off the main shaft by a flat belt running on the drive pulley. The saw is disengaged by lowering the belt onto the loose pulley. The saw does 90-100 strokes per minute and the log moves through at a rate of 8-23 inches per minute, depending on the logs size”. For those like me who hadn’t heard the term ‘flitches’ before a quick google search describes them as “slabs of wood cut from a tree”.

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That’s pretty amazing. That is a massive log and I haven’t seen too much electrical equipment that could handle that sort of workload. As a guide to size, that log was about a metre across.

There’s also the equivalent of a table saw, with a very large spinning blade that is used to break the flitches into boards. It’s all driven off the same engine from what I can see and is controlled by belts and levels. This blade would have been 60+ cm across.

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There’s also a cutoff saw set in a bench where the boards are cut to length after being ripped to size. The blade is again huge and there’s nothing like a guard on it, just a handle to pull it across the wood being cut.

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This is one of the blades from the table saw, and the machine used to sharpen it. It’s way too large to do by hand so the tool holds it and the spinning disc is moved onto the blade

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There’s a little workshop downstairs, with a hand cranked drill press

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and a large grinding wheel

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The entire mill was great to see, it’s both very similar and very different to how we do things on a small scale in our own shops. Just make sure you don’t get chased by the bullocks on the way there!

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