Timber – We All Use It, So How Do We Get It?

Timber we all use it, so how do we get it? All but gone are our localized sawmills with which we could access sawn timber for construction with a reasonably low footprint. So it’s time we started to look at our timber/lumber security.

Darren Doherty, and great courses like the master tree growers and their excellent work with broad scale farm forestry, covers the regenerative side of forestry for timber use which we use in our homes and our lives in most of the world. Our ability to access building timber in an ethical way is no different from our food.

What I’d like to highlight are portable sawmills, because otherwise we only have industrial sawmills and industrial forestry. In the space of 30 years I’ve seen six or more local hardwood sawmills close in just my area of Tumut NSW, Australia alone! Now what small saw logs come out of the forest are sent on an 8-hour drive to be cut into timber and then sent who knows where.

So bring on the portable sawmills. Totally portable, some are even carried into the forest, sometimes just for a single tree, before carrying the mill and timber back out of the forest. No roads, no heavy machines, no log trucks, and no need for industrial scale sawmills.

It is a great feeling to take a raw product and turn it into a usable product on site, for furniture, bench tops, window frames for straw bale constructions, etc.

I’m truly passionate about portable sawmills because of the minimum footprint we need to produce our own timber. If you want to learn about portable sawmills check out the next portable sawmill course at Edenfarms, Taree.

David Spicer

David Spicer’s approach to design and education is based upon a proven emphasis on practicality, having over 18 years experience in Permaculture education working and teaching with Bill Mollison at the Permaculture Institute (Tasmania) and Geoff Lawton, the managing director of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and Zaytuna Farm. He is renowned for his ability to explain concepts and ideas simply, conveying the basics. David previously worked as farm manager of the renowned Tagari Farm and Zaytuna Farm in northern New South Wales. He has taught and worked extensively within Australia and internationally on various projects, covering six Australian states, Morocco, Jordan, New Caledonia and Palestine covering a broad array of different climate zones. David is a valued member of the team headed up by Geoff Lawton. He has the distinction of being Registered Teacher #5 with the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. David currently serves as Lead Consultant and Educator for


  1. Thanks Dave,really great article,consumers often don’t think about the embedded energy in their purchases.What is an even bigger bonus is the beauty of the finished product.

  2. Gady barbara, yea the most simple of the portable mills, a great tool
    raiseing the awarness of portable sawmills to the broarder permaculture community is one of my aims as a permaculture educator

    we all use timber/lumber!

  3. Nice article Dave, would love to make the course but not possible just yet. There is a lucas mill just sitting here on the ground in the remote community Im on but Im not allowed to touch it (local politics). Not sure when it will be used, such a shame.Keep up the good work my friend.

  4. Hello Folks Charmaster Dolph Cooke coming to you from Kunghur NSW howe of Biochar. We have several mobile saws on our property including one we are setting up in the old kungaloo sawmill building. If your interested in Wood / Forests / Sustainable / renewable / food – lumbar – health security / permaculture / aquaponics / passion learning / camping / self sufficency / Biochar and all things new paradigm then look us up and come over and learn the many things we do. The saw mills are lewellen
    and rimu they are pretty easy to use and if your good enough I can offer you your very on micro enterprise.

    Always looking for self motivated permies to come live and start up thier own enterprise in the heart of Permaculture land Northern Rivers NSW.

    Charmaster DOlph Cooke

  5. gday Gordon hope you’re well mate, no, portable sawmill are not just for the rural areas. I’ve milled logs in the middle of town in people’s front yards which was viewed as a waste until they found out we could come in and mill on site.

    lots of interesting trees in suburbs!

  6. Here’s an aven less related picture I made the same day, from Glomma River:

    Glomma River passes through most of the forests in Southern Norway, almost from up in Trondheim down to Fredrikstad south of Oslo, by the Oslo Fjord. Until some decades ago most of the timber logged during the winter was transported on Glomma River in spring, being sent down to the sawmills in the lower part of Glomma, from where it was shipped out into Europe.

    Did you know that Amsterdam is built upon Norwegian timber? The timber was banged side by side into the marshland before the city was built. Most of that timber was surely transported on this river.

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