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Photo provided by Berdoll Sawmill


A Visit to a Texas Sawmill

by Curtis Turner
Round Rock, TX

Note: click on any picture to see a larger version.

I recently took a trip to visit the Berdoll Sawmill & Furniture Company in Cedar Creek, Texas. I have wanted to visit this mill, just outside of Austin, for a long time. I found the mill so interesting that I thought I would share this experience with you. I also hope it encourages you to proactively seek out unique local mills in your area. You might be surprised at what you find.

The Berdoll Sawmill & Furniture Company handles extremely large material, often with very unique figure. When I say "large," I am referring to 20' long by 7' (yes, feet) in diameter trees.

Here are a couple of pictures showing Brandon Berdoll standing next to a large slab & log.

Photo provided by Berdoll Sawmill

They offer mesquite, pecan, escarpment cherry, oak, walnut and host of other woods. Take a closer look at this fresh cut figured Texas walnut.

Photo provided by Berdoll Sawmill

I have known Brandon Berdoll, the owner, for almost 5 years. He is involved in the area woodworking and woodturning clubs. Brandon supports the local clubs by occasionally donating turning blanks to members.

What's Unique?

This mill is in an out-of-the-way place, and not something you would find in an advertisement. It is the type of place you just have to know about. Sounds odd, I know. However, this is an example of one of many the advantages of belonging to a turning club. Club members often get the inside scoop on sources of quality materials and suppliers.

The mill has developed a reputation among high end furniture makers and designers for its ability to acquire and handle extremely large mesquite, cherry and pecan trees.

Photo provided by Berdoll Sawmill

Brandon has developed several unique machines that allow him to joint and plane massive slabs of up to 100" wide. The jointer planer machine is capable of processing monster slabs into flat smooth slabs. The flatness is 30 thousands of an inch over the length. This is a remarkable capability among the extreme lumber providers. The proprietary process he has developed is such that I was not permitted to photograph the machines and processes. It was quite an impressive set up. Not only is this a gigantic jointer/planer it is much quieter than my 13" power planer! Brandon also had custom computer software developed to precisely control the kiln drying process. The mill offers both kiln-dried and airdried wood.

The mill frequently handles unique and strange trees. For example, the Berdoll Sawmill has half of the base of what was second largest pecan tree in the state of Texas as recorded by the Texas Forest Service until it was destroyed by a windstorm in 2010.

Purpose-built Warehouse

Berdoll Sawmill is based in two newly constructed, incredibly tall steel buildings. They frequently stack slabs exceeding 20'+ tall. The mill is operated with a staff of about 4 employees.

Custom Millwork

Berdoll Sawmill can mill material provided by the customer. Or customers may select from existing inventory of logs and slabs.

Painted Logs

I noticed that some log ends were painted different colors. Brandon reported he has found that three coats of oil based enamel paint works best for minimizing the checking while the log dries. He uses whatever color paint is available.

Not an Advertisement

By now, I am sure this sounds like an advertisement. Occasionally, you cross paths with someone that is doing something unique, who conducts business with high quality standards; you just can't help but share the resource with others. The Berdoll Sawmill and Furniture Company certainly fall into that category.

Brandon learned the value of hard work at an early age. He grew up on the family pecan farm that cultivated 15,000 trees. This combined with the fact that he is also a wood turner gives him a special appreciation and respect for trees and lumber. Brandon recently turned this 32" diameter pecan bowl.

Photo provided by Berdoll Sawmill

I encourage you to seek out local mills. Perhaps you will find a new source for turning stock. If you have not investigated your local turning club, you are missing out on a host of benefits, one of which might just be discovering a hidden treasure in your area.

Additional information

(512) 497-5910

Curtis was the 2012 President of Central Texas Woodturners , a member of the American Association of Woodturners , and a member of Fine Woodworkers of Austin .  Curtis teaches and demonstrates nationally for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He also owns a studio where he teaches and works. Curtis lives and works in Central Texas with his wife and four young children. Take a look at his website at www.curtisturnerstudio.com .

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