Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 29, 2005

A cut above the rest: brothers take over sawmill

By Liz Hellmann
Staff Writer

When it comes to dealing with lumber, Ron and Roger Templin of New Germany agree their dad was a cut above the rest.

But when Herman Templin unexpectedly passed away last August, the brothers found themselves taking over the Templin Sawmill.

“There aren’t very many saw mills like this in the area,” Ron said.

The sawmill is definitely unique, from the jobs it has processed to the actual building, itself.

The wood shed that houses the saw and equipment was originally made out of a single tree.

“They don’t make them that big anymore,” Ron said.

Lumber from the mill has been shipped all over Minnesota and has gone to Canada, Montana, and almost overseas.

There was a job in France that needed a lot of lumber from Willow trees, Ron said.

“We almost did it, but the volume they wanted was too big,” Ron said.

Although they haven’t exported any lumber overseas, the Templins have had mahogany from South America come through the mill for a job.

Herman also worked on a job for the Department of Natural Resources when many trees died from Dutch Elm disease.

Many of the trees were hauled into the mill. There, they were air-dried, and turned into lumber for use in dikes all across the state.

“If dad would’ve kept better records, it would have been interesting to see,” Ron said. “There are a lot of stories.”

A reason for everything

When Ron left his job of 25 years at a roofing company in Shakopee, his dad told him there was a reason for it.

Ten days later, his dad died.

The brothers had helped their dad with the mill before, and he had taught them how to run it, so they decided to keep it going.

“When Dad passed away, it wasn’t like we were starting from ground zero. We just sort of picked up the pieces and started it up again,” Ron said.

The mill was originally bought by Herman in 1960.

The shed is set back in a wooded area along Carver County Road 33, just south of New Germany.

Customers would bring in their lumber and Herman would cut it to size, depending on the dimensions and use of the wood.

The mill works by lifting the logs onto a deck, which moves the logs back to the carriage.

The logs than have to be rolled over. This used to be done by hand, but the Templins now have a log turner, which turns the logs while they pull on a lever.

Once the logs are situated on the carriage, they are run past the saw, which looks like a giant table saw.

The mill was rebuilt in the late ‘70s, and the Templins are in the process of rebuilding it again.

“We are looking to add new parts, and upgrade the mill,” Roger said.

Right now, the mill is not a “full-time thing.” But once the brothers have finished rebuilding and cleaning out the mill, they will be ready to take on more business.

The bulk of their business is making lumber for farm projects, such as barn frames and wooden planks.

They also deal with fireplace mantels, fence posts, grade lumber for furniture, utility poles, and more.

“You name it, and we’ve probably done it,” Ron said.

Herman also cut wood for the floor in Ron’s house.

Waste not, want not

Herman always told his sons there was a purpose for everything, even scraps of wood.

“Dad kept everything,” Ron said.

Pieces of wood are in abundance around the sawmill. Herman kept them to give to people, who would turn them into decorations.

Some people would mount clocks on pieces of wood they found, while others painted them.

In the winter, when it was too cold to work in the mill, Herman would sit in his shop and turn smaller pieces of wood into handles for hammers and rakes, and other tools.

“Dad would use the bark for firewood,” Roger said.

Even the sawdust is used. Farmers use it for animal bedding, and it is used during town festivals on dance floors, to keep them from becoming too slippery.

The job will go on

The Templin Sawmill has had an interesting past. Herman spent many hours in the mill doing what he loved.

The Templins have decided to carry on the business their dad started almost 50 years ago to make sure the Templin Sawmill has not only a past, but also a future.

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