George Vondriska

Huge Log, No Forklift, No Problem

George Vondriska
Sign in
Duration:   9  mins

Good news: I have a sawmill. Bad news: I don’t have a forklift. The platform for the sawmill is about 36 inches above the ground. If I were using the sawmill all the time, I might invest in a forklift or a front end loader, but since I only use the Logosol mill every once in a while, I can’t justify the investment. Instead, I’ll do the work with a cant hook and a pickaroon.

PSA: Logs Are Heavy!

Be very careful moving logs. They’re incredibly heavy. Log to lumber conversion should be done while the log is still green (wet), so you’re moving a lot of water when you move the log. For instance, a 16” diameter red oak log weighs 88 pounds per lineal foot. That adds up fast. I’d advise looking up a green log weight chart if you want to see the weights of various species in green log form.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

There’s no way to lift a heavy log without equipment, but two Rs work well: rolling and ramps. Use your cant hook to grab the log and roll it. Since logs are rarely perfectly round, they roll okay but not great, so the cant hook gives you the leverage you need.

When You Gotta Turn

The pickaroon is one of the most useful tools I’ve found for log handling. When you need to get the log turned in another direction hook your pickaroon into the end grain and give a pull. It’ll spin easier if you roll it up onto a two-by-four first. Easy peasy.

Once you’ve got the log rolled up onto the mill, you can cut it into lumber. After your green wood is cut, it needs to be dried. Air drying lumber is a low-tech way to accomplish this.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

Make a comment:
characters remaining

16 Responses to “Huge Log, No Forklift, No Problem”

  1. Joe

    Matt Cremona would be proud


    I cringed when I saw a man below a load that size on a ramp. Not that necessity hasn't put me in a lot of compromising situations, but for a routine operation that looks way too risky. I agree with some of the others that cabling and rolling has a lot more control and less exposure. I would also double or triple the 2x6's for the ramp, glued and screwed together. A ramp collapse could be crippling. By adding a solid anchor point for the base and three pulleys, some cable, and cheap bumper winch from Harbour Freight, one man could flip a switch and roll that log with ease and no danger to himself. Add a choker for that log and some bracing and that cute little winch could drag that log right up to the ramp. Mind over muscle boys......don't strain that carcass, it is the only one you have. I like the ideas of cabling and rolling, much safer.

  3. Howard Hardy

    Good info. Yesterday I went to pick up some free firewood advertised on facebook. The pic showed a couple logs but nothing to size them in the photo. Turns out the big one is about 34" diameter and the small one is 28". Had to put the 24" bar on the saw and then needed a cant hook. They are not easy to come by today with raw material delays due to covid. But I found one and its ordered. The logs are Black locust which is way heavy and a hardness similar to Hickory. Both are about 15 ft long. Ill probably cut them to about 2' lengths but need the cant hook to turn them over to finish the cut. The best parts will air dry for a year or so and then to the bandsaw and lathe. The rest will be firewood. I have used cant hooks with my brother and his tree business and also on wildland fires. I had no idea they would be so hard to come by. I like the simple 2x6 block and will be making one. Even a 2' block weighs several hundred pounds. Since I'm getting older I need to work smarter and not harder.

  4. Michael

    Awesome video! George is da Man!


    Ingenious method—but with all that heavy timber rolling around, I’d like to have seen a pair of steel-toe-capped boots.

  6. Marc

    My toes were screaming for safety boots, but very informative.


    A good thing to wear are safety toe shoes, or you might be making a walking cane with the log!!!

  8. Jay

    Great job! I'll order mine already cut (4/4 or 8/4) from the hardwoods store. Hard maple is no fun to cut, edge, plane or even stain.

  9. Joe

    Standing on the downhill side of that log on the ramp invites disaster! You may consider fastening two steel cables to the rear of your sawmill and running them down the ramp, over the log and back to the rear of the sawmill. Using a come-a-long or winch to wind the cable from behind the mill will roll the log onto the mill with you in a safe position all the time. I have used this technique to load large logs on my trailer to transport them to the mill and it works great. If the log is tapered, you may have to wind the cable on the smaller end a bit more than the stump end to keep the log level on the ramp, but managing it is easy and much safer that standing downhill behind all that potential energy stored in the log while on the ramp.

  10. SCOTT

    Reasonably safe way to go about it. Seems like the diciest part was the beginning of the ramp, if the cant hook slipped before you had your first pins in place. I'm wondering a) if a flat at the beginning of the ramp, where the log wouldn't roll but you could start your pins, would help, and b) if having 3-4 pins would be better, so 2 could always be in place. Actually I think you could cut a stagger or sawtooth pattern of some kind into the ramps, so the log would be stable at several points on the way up. thanks for the video!

Get exclusive premium content! Sign up for a membership now!