Start-up Guidlelines

Small Scale Sawmills in Indigenous Communities

“Got timber?”   “Check.”

                  “Got a sawmill?”    “Check.”

                                      “Your community needs lumber?”   “Check.”

                   “Got a successful sawmill business?”                                                 “Not so much?  “we can help”

If over 70% of Indigenous communities in Canada are located in the forest, why is it that so few been able to develop viable small sawmill operations to meet their lumber needs? The purpose of this Guide is to help create more successful small sawmills in forest communities, to help you ask the right questions and get the right answers before you begin an expensive investment.


Using your forest

Does your vision for your community include using the forest around you to create fibre value-added fibre products and sustainable forestry jobs?

IDSS can help you with training and developing a crew that will be able to harvest enough trees and mill enough lumber to build value-added products.

Lumber industry

World lumber market prices are now seven times what they were a little over a year ago. With the current prediction, current lumber shortages and high prices could last 2-3 years and settle at arounf $1 000 per thousand Board feet. 3x the pre-2020 cost.


Raw materials + labour and ongoing demand for housing & lumber should deliver a succesful sustainable business.


A perfect mix

Forsest-based First Nation communities have all the ingredients necessary to operate a profitable business or a social enterprise. They have trees, and community youth and members who need jobs with skills.


The necessary tools

Introduction to Forestry

A brief overview of Boreal forest ecology and the importance of forestry to the Canadian Economy. Students will gain a beginning knowledge of

  •  The characteristics of the Boreal forest and factors that contribute to forest health
  • Methods of removing wood that are respectful of the Boreal ecosystem, and various methods of assessing timber volumes.

Students will also be introduced to methods of identifying cut areas and timber permits. Practical sessions in the forest will include tree species identification and timber volume assessment.


Chainsaw Operators Course

Pre-requisite: Wilderness First-Aid or Standard First-Aid

This program is designed for anyone who uses a chainsaw. From professional cutters to weekend firewood producers. All will benefit both in safety and efficiency. It covers:

  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Safe handling practices
  • Proper tree felling techniques
  • Routine care and maintenance of the saw.

Completion of this certificate is a required part of the longer Harvesting courses.


This course is designed to provide students with the basic skills needed to safely operate small to medium sized sawmills. Students will learn to calculate lumber volumes such as cubic meters, cords, board feet and lifts. They will learn how to adjust saw settings depending on log size and dimensions of material desired.

Students will learn to handle lumber efficiently, place stickers to allow for proper air drying, dry pile lumber, cover lifts, check for moisture content. It is recommended that students also learn how lumber is graded and participate in the grading when the grader comes to stamp their lumber.

From Our Organisation

Make Your Own Opportunities

IDSS Boreal Home Building Business goals are to improve the quality and quantity of housing in northern communities.

Creating sawmill business opportunities and increasing local value-added production.

Workshop Registration Form

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