Steve Kesti, the proprietor of Backwoods Lumber in the Upper Peninsula, remembers being fascinated with woodworking since he was a kid. “I’ve always wanted to construct a cottage in the woods since I was a kid,” Steve remarked. Carpentry remained a part of his life as he grew older. Steve’s father worked as a carpenter, and after taking a carpentry class in high school, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a carpenter.
“I worked my way up till I was in charge of jobs and constructing homes for other people,” Steve said. Steve finds time for his second passion, volunteer firefighting, in addition to his construction skills.
Steve felt he had the ideal chance to fulfill a boyhood ambition after buying land in the Upper Peninsula. “I looked out at all my trees and decided to construct that cabin and realize that dream,” Steve said.
Steve only had a chainsaw mill at the time, and the cabin took him the whole summer to construct. Regardless, the cabin construction was a success. “People would come over and say, ‘Oh, you could construct them for a career,'” Steve said. Steve recognized at that point that he could start a company constructing cottages and helping people achieve their goals. He did, however, need to update his chainsaw mill in order to enhance output, yield, and milling efficiency. Steve decided to purchase a Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic portable sawmill to jump start his business after having a long-standing interest in the company.
Steve’s objectives at the time made the cabin company an ideal career choice for him. “I could work from home in my backyard, and folks could come pick up their lumber and chat,” Steve said. “They see the kids, and they enjoy knowing that anything they purchase will go to the little man with a family.” Steve started to diversify his company beyond cabins by adding a Wood-Mizer MP260 planer/molder to his operation, allowing him to produce completed planed and profiled boards. For flooring, paneling, trim, and other projects, the MP260 planes and molds boards on all four sides at the same time. Beyond raw sawn timber, Steve uses his MP260 to create tongue and groove boards and other completed items. He chopped what he believed would be enough for the winter the first year he milled cedar, but his stockpile barely lasted until January. He chopped twice as much the next year, but that batch barely lasted until October. Steve remarked, “It’s been selling as quickly as I can get it through the planer.”
Steve has been able to take use of his portable sawmill’s flexibility. Steve has been able to expand out into a variety of woodworking projects in addition to the cottages and cedar items. He’s had success constructing saunas and associated items, such as seats, chairs, and mats, all out of sawmill timber. But it’s not just about business. Steve has also used his sawmill for a number of personal projects, such as chicken coops, new building siding, and outbuildings on his land. With his portable sawmill, Steve has limitless options in the Upper Peninsula’s densely wooded area. Steve goes through a lot of sawmill blades to maintain the sawmill operating as much as possible, which led to the acquisition of a Wood-Mizer BMS250 bandsaw blade sharpener. “I use Wood-Mizer blades,” says the narrator. I only need around 30 blades on hand, and since they’re dull, I just sharpen them every night after I’m done sawing,” Steve said. “Having my own sharpening equipment is very beneficial.” I just customize them to meet my requirements.” Steve maintains his bandsaw blade sharpener, the BMS250, operating as smoothly as possible.
Another advantage Steve has discovered with his portable sawmill purchase is becoming a member of the Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer Network. Customers may use the Pro Sawyer Network to find nearby sawmills that can help them with their sawmilling requirements. Steve was first hesitant due to his location in the Upper Peninsula. “I didn’t believe it was going to work for me out here in the sticks,” Steve said. “However, I’ve been shocked by the number of individuals who have contacted me.” People think of Wood-Mizer when they think about portable sawmilling.”
Steve believes the mobility of his LT40 hydraulic portable sawmill is one of his favorite features. His clients like the hydraulic log handling as well. “You can just roll your logs onto the log lifter,” Steve said. “Heaps them onto the machine.” That appeals to the consumers.”
The longtime carpenter is pleased with his investment in his portable sawmill and other woodworking equipment, owing to the opportunity to grow Backwoods Lumber directly in his backyard and the pleasure of completing personal projects around the property. “Whether you asked me if I would suggest Wood-Mizer, I would answer without hesitation,” Steve remarked.
“It’s been fantastic.” It’s a lot of fun to cut on, and it works well for me.”
“I could work from home in my backyard, and customers could come pick up their lumber and speak to me.” They see the kids and appreciate the fact that when they purchase anything, it will go to a little man with a family.”
Steve Kesti is a writer who lives in New York City.