Up until now, I’ve always had help moving logs and milling. But, last Sunday I was on my own for the first time.

My first challenge was moving the 1100 pound log onto the mill track, which was about six inches above the ground where the log lay. I used a couple of small pieces of 2×12 as ramps. My next concern was that I would be able to move the log only partway. I didn’t want to then lose control and have it come rolling back at me. Something just a fraction of the weight of that log would be plenty to break a leg or crush a foot, so I didn’t want to take any chances.

My solution was to prop the log with three different chocks. In the middle, I placed a wedge from one of the mill cutoffs. This wouldn’t prevent major rolling but did serve to stabilize the round log. I then took two pine logs, each about 8 inches in diameter and perhaps 18 inches long. I placed these endwise against the large log. Using the woodchuck I grasped the heavy log as low as I could and pulled up. It was a heavy lift, but I was able to first roll the log on level ground and then up the ramp about two inches or so. The pine logs would have prevented it from rolling back on me had I let go (which I didn’t). Now, I needed to reposition the woodchuck. Of course, I couldn’t take the tool off of the log, or it would roll back down the ramp. This shows the utility of having two safety logs. I could reach both with my foot and using the toe of my boot I first pushed one and then the other forward until each again came in contact with the oak log. I could then release my grip with the woodchuck and the oak log would stay in its new position propped up by the pine logs. The technique works like a giant, manual ratchet system. Two more clicks of the ratchet were all that I needed to push the heavy log up over the rails of the sawmill and into place.

Here’s a video showing how I did it. Unfortunately, you can’t see how I used my boot to reposition the safety logs.

Repositioning the log once it’s on the mill works for one person just as it does for two, i.e. I could wedge the log at different positions and use the digging bar to pry on it either sliding it along laterally or rotating around a pivot point.

Even though it was quite a bit of work, I ultimately found sawing with one person to be easier than with two. Although it required quite a bit of force to push the blade through the log, the fact that there was no need for coordination actually resulted in smoother cuts. Here’s the stack I cut that afternoon.