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Any of yall use a bandsaw sawmill?


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I've been on the lookout for a good used bandsaw sawmill. I haven't been able to find one so I have been looking at new ones. Particularly the Woodland Mills. I want to see if any of you have any experience with them or what your favorite entry level sawmill is and why. Thanks in advance

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Out of curiosity, what's the problem you're looking to solve and how often do you anticipate needing it?  Reason I ask is that in some cases, a chainsaw sawmill might be a much less expensive and good solution, though the kerf is much wider. 

 

If you just have a couple of logs to do and you won't need it often, the chainsaw one might work out just fine. 

 

I don't have experience with either...

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I'm going to build a shop and finish up a barn plus do a few other products. I actually have a chainsaw mill, but they're really slow and you lose a lot of wood due to the kerf like you said. The band mill could almost pay for itself on those 2 projects. After that, it will be a toy. Or I'll use it for other wood furniture and cabinet projects.

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One of our shooting pards, Kid Colt, has a Woodland Mills HM126. I can probably find an email addy or phone number or something if you want to contact him.

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I apologize for the length of this.

 

I've been privately and commercially milling lumber for nearly 20 years, using various bandsaw mills by various manufacturers.  I've owned and used Woodland, WoodMizer and Linn Lumber Machines.  All of them are serviceable, with differing advantages or disadvantages.  Get one that is heavily and well built.  You WILL occasionally drop heavy logs. 

 

The Linn Lumber machine  is the best built (I built mine from a kit for about half- cost) most durable, and most economical, IMO.  It works reliably, and the seller has a complete line of parts and is totally responsive.  Get one with at least a 20hp engine. ( I use a 26hp Honda 670cc) Below 20hp, you will be slow,  disappointed and burn a lot of blades. 

 

I've milled all of the dimensional framing, siding and flooring  lumber for two large houses, milled t&g hardwood and pine flooring for six friend's homes, supplied a few thousand bf to our cowboy range for prop construction,  and commercially supplied several hundred thousand board feet of 2x8x16' to a local planing mill for commercial processing into rustic siding.  

 

First, realize that milling large quantities of anything on manual bandsaw  machines is physically  exhausting work, and a lot of it.  The milling work is just a small part.  Most of the labor is in felling, bucking, limbing, skidding, decking, loading, hauling and handling the logs and in necessary machine maintenance. 

 

Handling logs right at the mill site is itself a lot of labor, even if you have the heavy equipment to move logs around safely and efficiently.  The cost of tractors or skid steers quickly dwarfs the price of the mill. And today, the cost of tractor and vehicle fuel alone pretty much  eliminates much of the economics of self milling.

 

A 24" x 16' green pine log can easily weigh 3/4 ton.  Almost twice that for hardwood. 

Just camming the logs down in the mill and rotating them is a lot of physical labor, working in awkward positions.  It is definitely not for folks with old arthritic injuries to contend with.  If you have a couple brawny sons, that will help a great deal.  You'll need a couple stout, long pry-bars.

 

A high quality band/blade will last for about three or four clean (--i.e., pressure washed) logs before the blade starts to rise or fall at harder limb nodes and knots, requiring blade removal and  resharpening.   If logs are dirty, they eat blades rapidly.  Blades usually must be discarded after four resharpenings, or after thet hit one nail or jacketed bullet.

The cost of replacement blades and sharpening machines is not inconsequential. I buy blades by the case, 24 at a time.  

 

Milling just for yourself is a lot of fun, and neighbors and friends and their wives quickly will start asking for milling of special materials, or for ordinary dimensional lumber.  It is fun to help people out (I usually don't charge anything except a bag of home made cookies). But the truth is that those kinds of projects can devour your "free time".  

 

Prior to a major wildfire, I had millions of bf of pine, cedar and black oak timber.  That's not the case today, post-fire,  so for most of my milling work, I am now buying logs from local logging contractors. The positive economics of DIY milling was undeniable when I owned the timber, but less so now that I have to secure it commercially, or retrieve/haul it long distances at high fuel costs.  

 

I'm not trying to discourage anybody, because DIY bandsaw milling is hugely satisfying and a great deal of fun.  Anybody who comes over to watch (including their wives) seems to leave with visions of owning a custom mill. 

 

But you need to start down that road with clear eyes.  (I did not, and I quickly learned some hard, expensive lessons).

 

One last point.  If you want to start milling, and need to convince your wife before making the expenditure(s), just take her somewhere to watch a small mill in operation.  There is a fascination to seeing beautiful slabs come off of raw logs that literally captivates people.  But be ready for her to come up with all kinds of remodel projects.  Milling quickly becomes a lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Dusty Devil Dale
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12 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

If you want to get your projects done, hide it from neighbors and relatives.  

I hide from neighbors and relatives anyway!

12 hours ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

One of our shooting pards, Kid Colt, has a Woodland Mills HM126. I can probably find an email addy or phone number or something if you want to contact him.

That'd be nice. I appreciate it.

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1 hour ago, Pulp, SASS#28319 said:

Sawyer had a Wood Mizer, used it for several years and really liked it.  I can PM his phone number if you want to talk to him.

Wood Mizers are very good, albeit pricey, machines.  They are the easiest mills that I am aware of for log handling.  But don't drop a heavy log on their saw tracks. 

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