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Every job is a learning experience. Here are a few of the most common questions, and the answers I've learned so far. If you have any other questions, please e-mail me.  Mike Bjelos

Q: How long have you been milling trees?

A: About 7 years.


Q: How far will you travel to mill my trees?

A: I try to stay within the Greater Vancouver Regional District. I will go further if your trees are of significant value to you. I do however charge for travel time if you’re located beyond Coquitlam or past Horseshoe Bay.


Q: Do you cut down trees?

A: No, in most cases your trees will have to be cut down by a professional tree cutting service. I am an experienced tree faller however I am not insured to fall trees. I can recommend a company that would cut down your trees safely and professionally. I often work along side them to ensure your trees are cut to the best lengths for milling.

Here are links to tree service companies in the Lower Mainland:


Q: If I have trees on my property and had them cut down can I have them transported to a saw mill for lumber?

A: The Forest Act requires anyone transporting logs from private land to mark logs with a timber mark (permit). This can be obtained at any Ministry of Forests MOF office (for Vancouver this means Chilliwack, because the whole Lower Mainland is within the Chilliwack Forest District). In addition, the logs must be scaled by an accredited scaler at a designated scaling site (which can be a regular sawmill or any other site specified on the timber mark application). It can be a complicated and onerous process for a few logs. Because I mill your logs right on your property, you will not require a timber mark.

Here’s a link to the web-site if you’re interested in more information about timber marks.


Q: When is the best time to harvest my trees?

A: In the fall when the leaves start to drop and before the winter solstice (December 21st).  The sap stops running and the tree will go dormant. With little or no sap in the wood, it’s less likely the wood will crack or warp during drying.


Q: What can I do with my trees if I harvest them during the spring, summer or fall?

A: The wood is still very usable however; I would not use the wood for furniture grade wood. If you do harvest your trees before the leaves drop or after the solstice, I would recommend milling your trees into large beams, timbers or thick planks over 3”. Avoid harvesting your trees for lumber during the warm summer months because the wood dries too quickly and can cause severe warping and cracking.   


Q: Can you get your equipment into remote locations?

A: Yes, I’ve designed a very compact mobile sawmill system. My milling system is modular. I can carry each piece from my vehicle to the site and mill the logs right where they sit.


Q: What should I do with my logs if they are not going to be milled right away?

A: Try to get your logs off the ground if possible. I usually roll the log onto pieces of 2 x 4 so the log does not contact the ground. The next step is to strip off all the bark. This method allows the moisture to escape from the log more evenly and not just at the ends of the log. Next, seal the ends with aluminized roof patch sealer. It’s soft and thick and comes in 4 liter cans and you can use a brush to apply it. I have found there is not too much difference between the proper expensive lumber / log sealers and the inexpensive roof sealer. The sealer acts like a barrier so the moisture can escape through the log. Not coating the ends will cause the moisture to travel along the grain of the log and escape mostly out of the ends of the log. This will produce far more cracks and splits in the log. Depending on the species of tree these cracks can be quite long. You can save up to 10% of your lumber value by following this method.


Q: How much do you charge?

A: I charge per job. Every situation and circumstance is different, and the cost of the milling depends on the complexity of the job. Once we’ve made contact, I’ll be more than glad to come out to your location and discuss with you what you’re best options are. Once I’ve done the initial inspection, I can give you a much better idea on what I would charge for the job. I do charge for travel time to estimate jobs beyond Coquitlam or past Horseshoe Bay. Within the Vancouver / Burnaby area, I do not charge for estimates and travel time.      


Q: I live in a quiet residential neighbourhood and am concerned about the noise generated while you’re doing the work.

A: If you’ve hired me and it’s a concern for you, I will contact the neighbours in the immediate area. I’ll communicate either verbally or leave a courtesy letter in their mailboxes explaining who I am, what my company does and the times to expect some noise. My contact information will also be on the letter in case any of your neighbours should have any further questions. The noise by-law in the City of Vancouver permits the kind of work I’m doing from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday to Friday and 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday. Noise is not permitted on Sunday.


Q: Can you move my logs to a better location for milling?

A: Sometimes. If you need me to move your logs a few feet, it’s usually no problem. If it’s further away, I’ll have to do a site inspection to see if it’s possible.


Q: What’s the largest tree you can mill?

A: I’m capable of milling logs up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) long and 40 inches (1.0 meter) in diameter.


Q: What’s the smallest tree you can mill?

A: 4 feet (1.2 meters) long and 10 inches (25.0 cm) in diameter.


Q: Are your cuts accurate and square?

A: I’m very methodical when it comes to cutting your trees into lumber. With my milling system and my years of experience, my cuts are straight, square and accurate.

Q: How rough is the surface of my lumber after you’ve milled it?

A: Because I use a special cutting chain, it produces cleaner cuts than a commercial saw mill. Once your lumber is dry, the surface will require very little preparation work. Usually just a belt or palm sander is all that is required.


Q: Do you provide transportation to a different location for my logs or deliver my finished lumber to a place of my choosing?

A: No, I will only mill your logs where they sit. You will have to make arrangements to transport your logs or finished lumber using your own resources.  


Q: What should I do with my lumber after you’ve milled it?

A: Your lumber needs to be dried before you use it. There are two methods of drying. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Kiln drying will quickly dry your lumber. When it’s dried, it’s ready to be used. The down side is if the person who’s operating the kiln is inexperienced, he may dry your lumber too quickly causing it to split and crack leaving you with a nice pile of dry firewood. Many of the unique urban trees in our City are not native to the West Coast. Most people are inexperienced when it comes to drying these species properly.

Kiln drying is expensive plus the lumber has to be transported to and from your site. It may not be worth the value of the yield.

Air-drying your lumber costs virtually nothing. You can air-dry your lumber right on your site. Just about anybody can do it. The down side is, it takes longer for your lumber to dry. Depending on the species and how thick your lumber is, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to dry.      

 I have a selection of lumber from previous jobs in inventory. Click here for a list if you are interested in these unique species and cuts of wood.

Q: Do you provide instructions on how to air-dry my lumber?

A: Yes. I have many years of experience on air-drying lumber. I can explain how it’s done or I can do it for you for a reasonable charge. I also have prepared some literature with drawings on how you can properly air dry your lumber yourself. Please click on this link to see the section on “How Too Air Dry Your Lumber Properly”


Q: Do I need a permit to cut down my tree in the Lower Mainland?

A: In the City of Vancouver if a tree is 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and is 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) above the ground you will require a tree removal permit. If you are not in the City of Vancouver, please check with your local municipality. Their requirements may be different for tree removal.

Here’s the web-site for the City of Vancouver private property tree removal:


Q: Do you clean up the sawdust and dispose of any left over wood?

A: I clean up the mess after I’m done. I bag the saw dust in clear bags and pile the left over wood in a neat pile. People use the left over cuts for other projects or firewood. Most municipalities with take the sawdust as green waste in the regular weekly recycling pick up.


Q: Is the equipment you’re using environmentally friendly?

A: My equipment is new and uses petroleum fuel; I can’t get away from that. I’m as careful as possible when fueling my equipment to prevent spilling. My mill is also equipped with catalytic converters which reduce the exhaust emission by 95%. I also use a special combination of mineral and vegetable oils for lubrication. This combination of oil has very little impact on our environment.   


Q: How many street trees are removed in the Vancouver area each year?

A: We currently have approximately 130,000 street trees in Vancouver area. Over the past dozen years the City has cut down an average of 1,230 per year. When a street tree has been removed a new one is planted to maintain the inventory.

Any more questions? Just e-mail:

 Mike Bjelos

© 2008 Mike Bjelos, Enviro Tree Milling