Like (I assume) many of the woodworkers in the greater Chicago area, I had
heard mention of Kirkland Sawmill when the subject came up regarding sources
of lumber. I never had occasion, until today, to visit. For those who
don't know, Kirkland Sawmill is located in (where else) Kirkland, IL which
is basically directly between Rockford and Dekalb -- not exactly around the
corner for most of us. However, I was on a quest for about 60 BF of 4/4
hard white maple, so I figured if there was much of a price difference, it
would be to my advantage. Owl Hardwood is about 5 minutes away from my
house and is where I normally purchase lumber. I called them this morning
to get their price. I was quoted $6.02/BF for hard white maple. I realize
that half the people listening just said "ack!", but that's the price around
here and if you don't like it, well you can drive to Kirkland. They gave me
a copy of their price list which I posted a copy of to
. For what I needed, I
averaged about $3.30/BF. Despite what the price sheet says, the $3.30 was
To boot, as I was leaving the house, the missus asked me for $40. That was
going to leave me close cash-wise but I calculated it out and figured i had
enough for 60 BF. After picking out what I needed, they added everything up
and came to 66 BF and a grand total of $220. I had $212 on me. Rather than
unloading the necessary amount, which I was fine with, the owner told me
that I owed him $8 and to pay him the next time I'm in. I don't know when
I'll make the trip next, so I'm just going to send it to him, but it was a
Finally, if you plan a trip out there that requires you to take I-88, don't
follow the directions from Mapquest, Yahoo Maps or Google Maps. Take I-88
to Annie Glidden Road (Dekalb exit), go north on Annie Glidden to IL-72.
Take IL-72 west to Kirkland.
Great place. I hope you were able to watch them milling. The mill has
two 44" (if memory serves) circular blades (without guards, I might
add) and operates from beginning to end without the touch of human
hands (the operator sits in an enclosed booth and uses hydraulics for
all of the operations including getting the logs onto the sled from
the feed ramp) until it's time to pull slabs off the outfeed table.
The first time I saw it I asked how much I would have to pay to work
there, it was that fascinating.
They're great folks. Nothing like a small town operation.
A bunch of us from the old Badger Pond forum had two or three
gatherings at Kirkland which included attendance from several
out-of-state folks, including one from Custer, WA, another from
Longview, WA, and one from Harpers Ferry, WV.
Better yet is to take the Peace Rd exit, because as you wend your way
through the outskirts of Sycamore, you go past Farm & Fleet (at Rt
23), which is always worth a stop (surprising amount of tools and
stuff to look at), and just west of Peace Rd on IL 64 is the Hardwood
Connection which also does milling (but not on the grand scale of
Kirkland). However, they also have a lot of exotics and they have
tools. Powermatics, mostly, but since the acquisition by WMH, he has
some Jet stuff in there, too. More nice folks.
From there, you can follow a couple of different back roads (which
have escaped me now, but Old State Rd is one of them) to get into
Kirkland. The mill itself is on the west side of town by the RR
tracks. And don't worry about finding it; IL 72 is the main drag, and
the town isn't that big. You can probably drive on every street in
town in ten minutes.
Of course that presupposes coming from the southeast. Coming I-90 from
either direction means an exit that one wouldn't think of (and, I
believe, the source of the Mapquest errors). I believe coming from the
east you might need to get off at IL 47 (then south to IL 72) and
coming from Rockford you might be better going down I-39 to IL 72.
Since I haven't lived in IL for six years now, my mental map is
starting to fade.
Unfortunately, I was running late to begin with and coupled that with
missing one of the turns along the way. I rolled in about 10 minutes before
their official closing time. I apologized for the late arrival and
explained that I come about 65 miles to get there. They were, of course,
very accommodating and I didn't feel rushed out.
I grew up outside of a small town (though not as small as Kirkland). I
agree with your assessment.
I took the Peace Rd exit on the way there. I guess I missed the turn where
the horse is standing in the corner of the field. I had to stop and ask a
couple of farmers combining corn how to get to Kirkland. Fortunately, I was
only about 5 mi away. I also have a long-term love for Farm-n-Fleet. Any
place that has Carhartt coveralls, cattle prods, power tools, and candy is
tops on my list. I stopped by Hardwood Connection (another place I hadn't
managed to get to yet) on the way back. I checked out the tools (they have
quite a lot of vintage planes, chisels, etc. as well as the new stuff).
They did have quite a selection of domestic and exotic lumber as well,
although I wonder how they sell the local stuff with Kirkland just down the
road. For the maple, they are $2.30/BF higher. But they had lots of other
cool stuff. I saw a 24" wide x about 12' long piece of 8/4 osage orange.
There aren't a lot of osage orange trees that get that big. Too much great
lumber to list (or buy!). And I agree that they're nice folks there as
well. The gentleman I spoke to agreed with me that if the Bears are going
to blow this year, at least we can take consolation that the Packers are
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