The slabbing frame* is set to cut off the round part of the log, and then the chainsaw goes to work. Held perfectly level by the ladder, the slabbing frame, and a bit of downward pressure from its operators, the chainsaw is pushed straight through the log lenghtwise.
Once the first cut is made and the log has a flat surface on top, successive slabs can be cut using just the frame. The frame is adjusted to make 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch, or 2 inch thick slabs, depending on the curvature of the board.** To allow for sanding and polishing, an extra 1/8th of an inch is added to the thicknesses above.
The Slabs are stockpiled, and once enough of them have built up, the process of removing the edges and making them into boards begins. The board is measured and marked using a string dipped in a paint made from the innards of a "D" battery. Once the outline of the board is visible, a specially sharpened chainsaw is used to - carefully - cut a straight edge off of each side of the slab to make a board. When compared to a traditional saw mill, this whole process is incredibly labor intensive. The Germans may think that's inefficient, but it reminds me of something Curtis Buchanan (an artisan chairmaker from Tennessee) told me a few months back:
"The more labor intensive it is, the more there is for me, and the less I have to give away."Its the same with the Ejidos - the more work they do themselves, the more value they add to their raw material, the more money stays in the community.
* Also known as an Alaskan Mill, the slabbing frame is essentially a frame attached to a chainsaw to turn it into a mill capable of making a straight cut.
** I find it incredibly annoying that these people are forced to work in inches and feet. Am I alone?
*** As an extra super bonus, check out this little video I put together. Its essentially this blog post in video form... and in Spanish: