Family Trees: A Father-Son Sawmill Operation
By Tarryn Guarino
Bringing Eastern White Pine from the Forest to Your Home
For Peter Glidden, a long and busy work day begins at sunrise—and he wouldn’t have it any other way. For him, there is no typical “day at the office”—he and his father Larry operate a small, family owned sawmill in rural Maine. And that means Peter’s work days are as unique as each of the eastern white pine timber planks he mills alongside his dad.
“We sort of stumbled into this business about four years ago, and it’s been nothing but busy ever since,” he explains. “My dad, Larry, he came home with the first portable mill. He used to say he couldn’t saw enough wood in a year to make a picnic table . . . but not anymore!”
So, what’s the best part of owning and operating your own sawmill?
“I really [enjoy] going out to view and buy the wood,” Peter says. When the big trees come down, local foresters contact the Gliddens to come out and take a look at the timber. The premium pine is chosen from trees that have fallen naturally, a process known as selective harvesting. This is an environmentally friendly practice that provides perfect timber, while remaining sensitive to the natural growth of the forest and avoiding deforestation. Peter has no problem scouting out choice timber from these fallen pines.
“I hand pick everything, based on the quality of the wood and what I know we need,” Peter explains. To create the handcrafted wide planks for Carlisle, he personally selects the wood he knows will provide the perfect finished product. The Gliddens operate two small sawmills, and while the work can be a bit noisy, the job also allows for plenty of time outdoors in the natural wilderness.
“The actual sawmills are indoors, but we do a lot of our work outside,” Peter explains. Whether heading out into the forest to survey some potential timber, or admiring the finished boards outside of the workshop, the Gliddens are truly connected to nature—and their craft.
Peter’s genuine love of the land and the wood is clear from the moment he starts talking. When asked about his favorite part of the job, he answers without any hesitation, “The craftsmanship, definitely. I take a lot of pride in the grading of our wood. It’s all hand done. Eastern white wide planks are a great quality wood, and I take a lot of pride in the work that we do.”