Sawmilling in Trapper Creek, Alaska

By Chase Warner, Wood-Mizer

Sawmilling in Alaska

 

Vickie Knapp shares her story of sawmilling in Trapper Creek, Alaska with her late husband and their Wood-Mizer LT40 portable sawmill. After successfully sawing wood siding for her cabin, Vickie plans to finish the cabin interior, build a porch, and continue making beautiful things out of wood with her sawmill.

 

"When you take a rough, ugly old log, make a cant out of it, and cut the rough part off. You start slicing boards up and they're beautiful. You make order out of chaos. You take something that's not very usable and you make something extremely usable out of it. Wood is beautiful. There's just something nice about wood because each piece is different. If you take a beautiful piece of wood and you turn it into a coffee table, it becomes a piece of art.”

 

Window at cabin in AlaskaWindow at cabin in Alaska
Live edge wood table in AlaskaLive edge wood table in Alaska

 

“I live in Trapper Creek, Alaska. Trapper Creek exists because the Petersville Road is there. The Petersville Road exists because it served the mining community of Cache Creek. Homesteaders came in, my mother came in with me and my brother, and that's how I came to be here.”

 

Homesteaders in AlaskaHomesteaders in Alaska
Vickie Knapp in AlaskaVickie Knapp in Alaska
Vickie Knapp in Alaska with firewoodVickie Knapp in Alaska with firewood

 

“Back in the early 1980s, my husband borrowed a Wood-Mizer from one of his friends because he was building one of the first scribe-built log cabins in Trapper Creek and he needed a sawmill to cut wood for the roof and the floor and stuff like that. After he borrowed the Wood-Mizer, he thought so much of it that he always wanted one. When he got the chance, he bought an LT40 (sawmill) and he loved it. It was like his baby, it was like the most fun thing he ever had in his life. I used to help him with it, I was the grunt that pulled the slabs off. Little by little, I kind of learned how to do it.”

 

Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill in AlaskaWood-Mizer LT40 sawmill in Alaska


“That sawmill had been sitting unused for more than 10 years because my husband had gotten progressively older and sicker. I pulled that (sawmill) over, changed the gas, changed the oil, and it started right up. After my husband passed away, I moved to this new place so I could have electricity. I wanted to put my own lumber on the outside for economical reasons and for aesthetic reasons.”

 

Photo of Vickie Knapp's husband in AlaskaPhoto of Vickie Knapp's husband in Alaska
Wood-Mizer LT40 portable sawmill in AlaskaWood-Mizer LT40 portable sawmill in Alaska

 

“I went out and everybody gave me lots of ‘you can do it Vickie’ and so I did. I got a log up there and sawed the first edge off the first slab off the top and I ran inside and called somebody and said ‘you won't believe it. I just sawed a board, I did it!’ Then I went back out and I squared up a cant and everything. I finally got a big pile of lumber and I had a team of guys that helped me. They came over and started nailing it up which they had never done before and they did a very nice job. I put siding on my cabin! I sawed every piece of that lumber up there.”

 

Wood siding on Alaska cabinWood siding on Alaska cabin
Sawmilling wood siding in AlaskaSawmilling wood siding in Alaska

 

“The first thing I'm going to do now is saw dimensional lumber and put it on the inside of my cabin. My next project is to build a 10-foot porch on the front of my cabin. I can make all the joists and rafters and everything that I need. No one else will ever have what you have and it's a piece of art and it's extremely valuable. Not only that, but in your heart if you do something, that's what we’re here as humans to do. To make things beautiful and create things of value. That's what a sawmill can help you do.”

 

Work is finished at the sawmillWork is finished at the sawmill
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