By Curtis Lindberg (reprinted from fall 2009 newsletter)
Like many of you know aligning a plate log to cut on a mill can be very frustrating and time consuming. First you have to rotate the log so the roofline is level, that part is pretty easy. Now you have to get both ends at the same elevation. So you shim under one end to raise it, when you do this the other end goes down. To get both ends at the same elevation, it takes many trips to each end of the log to check the elevation. On a forty-foot log this gets to be a lot of walking. While shimming the log, there is always the chance it is going to roll and you are going to have to readjust that too. I find this very frustrating but there is an easier way.
When you have a plate log up on a wall, and after you have drawn the rooflines on it, draw a second line at a 1-inch offset below the roofline. Now screw square pieces of ¾ inch plywood, of the same size, to the end of the plate logs so one edge of the plywood is lined up with the offset line you just drew. You want to make sure that the plywood extends beyond the log. I call the square pieces of plywood “blocks”. Now when you set the log on the mill, the blocks will rest on the bed of the mill and your log will automatically be aligned and ready to cut. You might have to put some planks across the bed of the mill so the blocks can rest on them.
This method of aligning logs also works well for aligning logs in mitered trusses. First draw the centerlines on the end of logs. Now screw on your blocks to the end of the logs. Line up the blocks with the centerlines you just drew. Our Minde jig works best if the centerline of the logs are 18” off the floor, so we use 18”x18” blocks and line up the top edge of the block with the horizontal centerline. Since most of the cuts you will make for a truss will cut the end of the log off, you will need to put legs on the side of the logs. Make sure the legs will not get in the way for the cuts you need to make. Just use scrap lumber for the legs and screw them to the side of the logs. You will want to make sure they are strong enough to stand up to some abuse. Once you have the legs on the logs, you can now take the blocks off. The logs are now ready to cut. Leave the legs on the logs until you get the truss assembled.
I find blocks on the end of logs to be a quick and accurate way to align logs. It also works very well with crooked logs or crotched logs where you are not able to snap chalk lines on the log.
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