Charles Scott Harkey
February 29, 2004
Conducted by Joe Liles
Now back to the log cutting. I usually had four men cutting logs. We would first cut off what we called the mill yard. And they would dig a pit in there because you see, when your saw made saw dust, you had a chain that came up over the top and had drag links on it, and they drug the saw dust out. That saw dust would go in the pit.
Now they would have everything cleaned off the mill yard, and we would come in and level it up and put down two sills. They were 6 X 8’s and twenty feet long. You would set the mill on these sills and bolt it down. Then, you would lay a track down for the carriage to run on. It ran on a steel track, and it was pulled by a cable. Now, you had belts on the saw box that when you pulled back on the lever, the carriage went forward, and when you pushed the lever away from you, the carriage went back, away from the saw. Now, the saw always turns toward you. That’s another danger part because it can knock something into you. I was fortunate in that, in all my years in sawmills, maybe 10 to 15 years, I never had a man get hurt bad, never had an accident.
You put the log on that carriage. The carriage had four steel head blocks on it, and that would hold the log down. Now the log was not the same on each end. You had what you called set out knees, and you reached in there and set it out so that when you pulled the first slab off, you would put that flat side down and pull off another slab. Then you would turn it again and square it up. This way, you would get a whole lot better turn out on your lumber.
We cut a lot of sweet gum. That was used for timber in bridges. The pine wood was used for houses and barracks and everything. We cut oak wood and carried it to a Cherokee Flooring place up in Burlington, and they made some of the prettiest flooring you ever seen in your life.
Most of the time, you didn’t cut the cedars. Sometimes we’d find a real pretty cedar, and I’d cut it and rip it up into boards and somebody would come along, and I’d let ‘em have it to make cedar chests out of.