This scene inside a sawmill around 1900 shows the first stage of milling a kauri log. ‘Breaking down’, as it was called, was the process of cutting the log into pieces, from which different grades of timber could be obtained. The man in the foreground is turning a wheel that moves the bench on which the log lies backwards and forwards. At the same time, the circular saws above and below cut the log into slabs or ‘flitches’. The other man is steadying the log and pulling the sawn slabs to one side. Probably for the purposes of the photo, a timber jack has been propped against one end of the log.
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