Wind-Driven Sawmill

Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest invented a sawmill driven by a windmill. It cut wood about 30 times faster than sawing by hand.

Corneliszoon received a patent for his wind-driven sawmill. Workers found the mill during a 2004 excavation.

The windmill used a crankshaft to convert the steady wind into the up-and-down motion necessary to saw wood.

Besides being profitable, Corneliszoon’s mill also gave the Netherlands in shipbuilding by vastly lowering the cost of milled wood. Shipbuilding in England, Portugal, and Spain was bottlenecked by a lack of milled wood. However, thanks to the automated mill, the Netherlands thrived.

Despite that, the automation technology no doubt cost jobs these jobs were, hand-sawing logs all day, were extremely hard work. There is no mention that workers objected to automation rendering hand-sawing obsolete. Most likely, the workers went on to build ships rather than saw wood, a more interesting, lucrative, and cerebral activity.

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