I first met Will Malloff down at the Nimpkish Pub about 9 or 10 years ago. Friendly and unpretentious, Malloff chatted with me over a beer and extended an open invitation to drop by some time for a visit. Having just moved to “the Bay” I didn’t know anyone yet and I had no idea who had just been talking to me. Had I been a fine wood-working enthusiast or someone who milled his own lumber in the field, however, I certainly should have heard of him. As I was still getting my bearings and meeting many new people it was several years before I met Malloff again.
During the 80s Malloff wrote his best selling book Chainsaw Lumbermaking which, until recently, has been out of print and difficult to obtain. The book has now been re-published and is available from Echo Point Books and Media (EPBM). The previous publisher was Tauton Books. According to EPBM the book covers everything you need to know to “select the tree you want, fell it safely, and saw it into a fine pile of building or cabinet lumber.”
Malloff, however, has done more than just write a book about chainsaw lumbermaking. Chainsaws were originally designed for cross cutting work, but milling, even though it had been done for decades beforehand, was not ideal until Malloff invented and patented his ripping chain in the early 1960s.
Combined with the Alaska chainsaw mill, another of Malloff’s creations, this ripping chain enabled the user to create smooth precision lumber.
One of the ambitions Malloff had for his light weight portable mills was to unable the poor in “developing countries to make a modest living” while harvesting lumber in a sustainable manner.
Ironically he later learned that his portable chainsaw mill is illegal in five Central and South American countries. Malloff has done much more than cut the lumber. He is a craftsman whose fine furniture design prototypes can be seen at East of Java’s new Port McNeill location. He has created many desks, tables, and seats from black walnut he milled and cured himself. Although furniture, these are fine art pieces crafted with care not often seen.
Currently Malloff is working on a new project. Using a blade of his own design he is creating a human-powered mill that can be operated by two people. Half jokingly and half serious, Malloff contends his new invention will form the core of a weight loss program.
He envisions program attendees rising early in the morning to head out and mill lumber by hand all day just to get in shape.
This new human-powered mill is designed to take all the guesswork out of milling lumber and is meant to be used as a way to selectively and sustainably log forests. The final details of the design are complete and Malloff is now seeking financial support to realize this project.
More information about Malloff and his mill can be seen at www.earthmissionone.org. Although Malloff currently resides in Alert Bay he has lived in a number of places both in Canada and the US. Born in Vulcan, Alberta in 1933, Malloff has travelled extensively fulfilling a dream to fell and mill lumber in all parts of North America.