Building a Home with a Wood-Mizer
It’s one thing to dream about building your own home, but it’s another to accomplish this endeavor. Working as an electrician in Oregon for more than a decade, Nathan Shewchuk came to the realization one day that there must be more to life. With determination on his side, Nathan decided to ditch city living for greener pastures. “I was tired of the city and wanted nothing more than to move into a remote part of Canada and build a house, so I did,” said Nathan. With eight years of focus and hard work, along with a few helpers and a Wood-Mizer sawmill, Nathan was able to accomplish his lifelong dream of building a home.
After moving from the Pacific Northwest to British Columbia in 2007, Nathan began preparing his land for his dream home. While looking for a supply of lumber, Nathan found that he had a few options to choose from. He could either buy lumber and transport it to his remote location or produce the lumber himself utilizing local resources from his land. Call it coincidence or fate, while driving up the coast one day Nathan ran into someone using a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill. “I thought that this was the only way to go, what a handy tool,” he said. “I looked into a few different sawmills but found nothing compared to the Wood-Mizer.” Shortly after, Nathan purchased an LT40 Hydraulic and was set to continue his new life chapter. Believe it or not, Nathan didn’t have any previous sawmill experience before buying his Wood-Mizer. “I just went in headfirst and figured it out,” he said. “I spent basically my whole life in the trades, framing, and Finish carpentry, so [building and woodworking] wasn’t anything new to me.” Nathan did receive a week long training from “one of the best sawyers,” he said, but with sure determination and a Wood-Mizer sawmill, the foundation was built for big things to come.
After setting up necessary utilities such as roads, power, and water supply, Nathan shifted his focus to his home. He wanted 100% of the wood used in his home to be sawed on his Wood-Mizer, so that meant lots of trips to the kiln and many years of drying lumber. “It took eight years, that’s from clearing the property to the last nail,” he said. Nathan used half of the timber from his own property and sourced the other half from a friend who owns a nearby woodlot. With mostly cedar and birch on his property, Nathan needed a supply of douglas fir from his neighbor for framing and beams. With winter setting in around November and the snow sticking through April, Nathan said he had to work efficiently with the seasons in mind. The first year of construction, he completed the roof and milled all the cedar materials needed for the windows and doors of his home. Nathan’s short-term goal was to live in his new home in the Fall of the second year of construction. With help from his neighbor and master Finish carpenter, Kit, the windows and doors were completed and Nathan was able to move into his home for the first time that Fall. “The Wood-Mizer was a wonderful tool, it was perfect for the job," he said.
Over the next few years, Nathan milled birch and douglas fir needed for the rest of the interior of his home and worked on all the finishing woodwork needed for the windows. He also built a rock fireplace and shower and milled all the tongue and groove wood for the walls and ceiling. When it was all said and done, eight years of hard work and sawing 100% of the 22,000 board feet of douglas fir, larch, birch and cedar on his LT40HD, Nathan had finally finished his dream home and woodworking shop. With help from many friends and neighbors, Nathan completed his home from the ground up, inside and out just how he had dreamed. “My neighbor, Kit did all the cabinets, doors and Finish carpentry and my friend Doug was there hand-in-hand for carpentry work and many brainstorming nights,” said Nathan. “Many people helped along the way, there is no way to count them all really, but I think this project was inspiring to many and I am very fortunate to have a lot of good friends and co-workers.”
The living quarters are estimated at 1,200 square feet, while the shop is 1,500 square feet and the deck is 500 square feet. Nathan estimates he saved between $70,000 and $80,000 by sawing his own lumber for his home. “I get an overwhelming response to my home, but I am not sure that the average person really understands the amount of work it takes to build something like this,” said Nathan. “All in all, I had the time of my life building my home and owe many people for their knowledge and skills,” said Nathan. “This would not have happened without that.”
As for the future, Nathan is looking forward to what’s next and there’s no rest in sight. “Eight years is a long time to build a house and it takes a lot of discipline along the way,” said Nathan. “It kind of became a full-time job for me and it was very enjoyable to figure it out along the way. I think I’m just very happy it’s done and can’t wait to get onto the next project.”
Since 1982, Wood-Mizer has become the world’s largest manufacturer of portable band sawmills with tens of thousands of bandmills sold. Today, Wood-Mizer offers portable & industrial sawmills, resaws, edgers, kilns, log splitters, bandsaw blades and blade maintenance equipment for woodworking hobbyists and forestry professionals all over the world.