• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

chainsaw powered sawmill? anyone have firsthand experience with these?

 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
first off, I would love to get a REAL sawmill, unfortunately at this point in our economic situation, that's just not happening. I was curious about those little dinky things that you clamp a big chainsaw in and use. How long did it take to completely ruin the saw? I would imagine this would burn up a saw and pretty much have to be considered an expendable item rather than treating a chainsaw well and having it last for many years... I'm no stranger to using high quality big saws btw...

Any advice, tips, warnings about these things? I may or may not get one, we have a sawmill just a couple miles from the house, but they are incredibly hard to deal with and I've finally given up even trying, now just buying my lumber from lowes like everyone else...

I hired a portable sawmill to come to my place a few years ago and saw up about 40,000 board feet of lumber, but I've been using it, let some of it rot from neglect, and will use the remainder this spring, so I'm looking for a way to do some more myself... I've got a pretty good idea of how the 'real' machines work, I spent alot of time out there bothering the operator and watching the machine function

Also, any other ways to mill your own lumber in the sub-$1,000 dollar range? I'm an excellent fabricator with a really nice metal working and automotive shop on the premises so building stuff isn't out of the question provided it isn't too complex (read time consuming) or expensive to purchase components for...
 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
also, some of the videos I've seen, look pretty slow, but everyone I have seen are of people sawing ridiculously large logs, are they any faster on 18 inch-22 inch logs? Mainly I'm just wondering if it is worth the money for a big saw to sacrifice, the cost of the little mill itself AND your time out there? Feeling accomplishment aside, is it really worth it monetarily?
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've seen a few well built homemade bandsaws. Asking for permission to share details. Once you get that far, look at Wayne Kieth's homemade bandsaw mill http://youtu.be/7S4J0xd--i4 I think his uses a diesel engine out of an old Volvo 240D but you could probably use any decent small engine since I think many bandsaw mills run 5-20hp lawn mower engines.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
By the time you buy the BIG saw and the special ripping chain and the mill...you are getting really close to a small bandsaw rig used.

You lose so much more lumber to saw kerf on the chain that means an extra board per log or more! That adds up, too.
 
ben harpo
Posts: 76
Location: Illinois, zone 6b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alaskan sawmills work! They work fine on smaller diameter logs too, just use rails to guide it.

The biggest drawback is you have to manually support the saw and keep it in contact with the guides, and you have to manually push the blade through the log. It can also be a challenge to secure the log to waist high sawbucks, especially when you need to roll the log and secure it again.

Two close friends of mine do fine woodworking starting with trees. And, they love 'em!
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's a screenshot of the post of that DIY bandsaw that you could turn into a mill. The wheels are plywood that he turned on a lathe.
Screenshot_2014-01-11-18-14-47.jpg
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_2014-01-11-18-14-47.jpg]
 
Mike Sved
Posts: 42
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
http://www.procutportablesawmills.com/index.html

This guy provides an impressive pile of real-world data comparing his years of chainsaw milling to bandsaw mills. His cost per board foot analysis may help you choose. He also sells plans for making your own CSM.
 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
thanks for the info so far I'd never consider purchasing a big saw brand new, prices are prohibitive, but a used saw with good compression can be had pretty easily right now with so many folks out of work and selling off tools.

I DO really like the LOGOSOL type, stumbled across those last night, they look like they're a pretty good mix of easy to use and make straight cuts as well as cheap... The Alaskan kind sounds pretty nice too, I've been looking at those.

Building a bandsaw mill is probably out of the question time wise, I'd spend so much time getting to work right that I don't think it would really pay off in the end at least not for me. I certainly COULD do it, just don't really want to haha... I've not seen even used worn out ones for under 5 grand, that's a pretty good chunk of change to drop. also, around here we only have 1 steel shop and they have a 100% markup on steel comparitively to other steel prices I've heard about, finding 'scrap' steel is impossible due to the fact that the local meth addicts have taken every bit of scrap steel to the recyclers. I like to see things recycled, but for folks who like to build things out of other broken things this has been a real bummer.

I wouldn't be sawing anything other than white or yellow pine with it, any hardwoods would be a waste as I'd rather use those for heating anyhow.

I'll spend some time checking out those sites though, thanks for the info!
 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
for those of you that have used an 'alaskan' type sawmill, how hard is it to keep the setup level on the log? I'm referring to after your first cut with rails and the 'mill' is laying on the log? I would imagine the weight of the saw motor would make the mill want to tip over to that side... is this just my imagination or is it something you have to fight with?

edited to add*

I am leaning a bit more towards the alaskan type of mill... the big plus I have seen with it is that you are not required to move the log at all (unless you need to flip it for some reason)... I'm just concerned that they're a little harder to use than they look like they are...

I could probably come up with 2-3 grand if I found a super deal on a bandsaw mill that needed some work, I've been looking for one though and they just don't seem to exist in that price range. Spending 5-8 grand for one seems to be about the norm for my area in used condition... I'm not looking to produce a ton of wood, just some every now and again when I need it and when it is convenient to do so... I can't imagine having time to work a sawmill for extra cash to make up for the cost of the unit like I can do with my other farm equipment... that's the only way I can justify the expense of having a couple tractors around etc...
 
M Foti
Posts: 170
Location: western n.c.
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
so... this is what necessity looks like...


feel like less of a man yet? hahaha I do
 
Mike Sved
Posts: 42
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
M Foti wrote:so... this is what necessity looks like... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02QWRo1W4II

feel like less of a man yet? hahaha I do


That's crazy! I half expected him to use one hand to drink a beer while cutting.
 
ben harpo
Posts: 76
Location: Illinois, zone 6b
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


This is me learning to do it in central america.

We were just quartering logs to use for posts. Ripping a 2x8 takes a lot of practice but every village has guys who can do it. The logs we were working on were just felled and they curved and popped as we were ripping because there were internal forces stored up in the trunk. Using the tip of the saw like that it's possible to rip a curved line without much trouble. It is amazing how much fine control one has moving the tip of the saw in small circles and walking forward.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Pie
Posts: 1692
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
179
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the 1970s my father bought a chainsaw mill to use with his Homelite C5 chainsaw. We lived in the sub-arctic boreal forests of of Alaska and he'd found a few exceptionally-large birch logs with healthy heartwood, none of the black center-rot that was standard for the larger paper birches in that climate. Being the closest thing to a hardwood available in those forests, he carefully dried those logs and milled them with that chainsaw mill into square dimensional lumber he could use for woodworking projects (specifically, building a set of quality kitchen chairs for our cabin).

I was a pretty small kid but I remember endless hours of fussing, tinkering, and swearing as he attempted to get clean square boards out of those logs. He was eventually successful -- he got enough wood to make four very nice chairs, two of which still exist in good condition -- but he never used that mill again or tried another project. It was very much harder and very much fussier and very much less practical than he had hoped or expected. As far as I know, he never used it again after milling those few birch logs.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow that video was neat. We have milled some planks using a logosol timber jig. It too hours of fiddling and faffing but we eventually got around 30 decent boards (most of which went to building our wood shed). Interestingly he seemed to do that job faster than we did, and ended up with equally serviceable boards.

Looks like I need to get out and practice more! I've sawn a log down it's length before, but that was more to make processing firewood easier than a serious attempt to cut straight.
 
Kevin Hedrick
Posts: 21
Location: S.E. South Dakota
1
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I run an Alaskan mill often. I have it attached to stihl ms360. I is pretty easy to guide true. On my first cut, I attach a piece of true lumber with screw using wedges where needed to support the board. The board needs to be slightly longer than the log Im milling so I have support before I enter the cut. As long as you get your first cut true, every subsequent cut will be true, provided your saw cuts true, meaning no bent bar or unevenly sharpened chains..I can usually use the slope of a hill to let gravity push the saw through the cut, if not a hill, then a saw horse or another log propping one end up. If you use wedges to lift the board you are currently cutting every 2 feet or so it takes a great strain off the saw. It makes the whole process easier. One of the best investments I have made really. As others have mentioned, it does remove a little wood, about 3/8" per cut, but my compost pile doesnt mind the additional organic waste.. In smaller bandsaw type mills, I have seen a lot of drift, which in turn ends up being planed waste anyhow. I bought mine used for about $105. I've cut maybe 2000 boards with in about 3 years time. Im a woodworker by trade, so it has been a real money saver. Especially since I use salvaged logs (read free money).. If you get into this venture, you will be looking into other awesome inventions such as solar kilns and curing.. Super fun stuff.. I have tons of pictures of my mill and lumber I have milled, if you ever want to see, I would be happy to dig them out.
 
ben harpo
Posts: 76
Location: Illinois, zone 6b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great idea ripping downhill!

For a few trees a year this is a great solution. Kevin, at what volume would you consider upgrading to a bigger mill?
 
Kevin Hedrick
Posts: 21
Location: S.E. South Dakota
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ben harpo wrote:Kevin, at what volume would you consider upgrading to a bigger mill?

Hey if I could afford it and only had to rip one log down a year, i would own a wood mizer already lol. I think for it to be justifiable to me, I would need to be able to make it pay for itself within 2 years. If I was milling Maple that would be very very easy to do (not sure if you have seen the price of hard maple lately, but man.. ouch..). In my case the most expensive woods I am cutting up are red oak and red cedar.. Which isnt exactly cheap wood either, but where I live in the mid-west, they are few and far between. I bought the Alaskan mill when I lived in Nor Cal, and we had as many pine logs as we wanted. With an occasional maple, walnut etc. If I would have stayed there I would have likely purchased a woodmizer, top of the line, and it would have been worth it.. I have 6 cedar logs around 22-33 inches in diameter outside right now. When it warms up a bit I will make a short video of my partner and I milling up a few boards, and maybe a short clip on how we solar kiln it to dry in a reasonable amount of time. The milling is only really half of the battle. Getting it stacked properly for ventilation, banding our stacks to discourage warping, painting the ends to discourage checking and encourage moisture loss from the face grain rather than the end grain.. There is a little more to it than meets the eye if you want good sound lumber.. Quarter sawing, flat sawing, rift cut, pith removal.. Tangential shinking versus radial shrinking.. This is stuff worth looking into a bit. You can learn it as you go, its not really all that involved..
 
Jay Grace
Posts: 229
Location: Nauvoo, AL
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It's all about how well you can sharpen your chainsaw blade. Notice how he's not really putting any pressure on the saw. He's just letting the saw eat.
I used to work with a guy from Guatemala and they did ALL of their lumber this way. Because most of the time there was no lumber to buy and if there was lumber to buy no one had money to buy it.






 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bumping this as we have some new experience.

I've used the logosol timber jig previously. It worked and we got some reasonable boards but I never really likes using it. It felt slow to setup and the boards were never quite as good as you might have hoped. Probably we would have got better with practice.

More recently my dad bought an Alaskan mill, that clamps both ends of the bar securely. We use a ladder to make the first straight cut which works nicely (we had to manufacture a couple of metal brackets from angle iron to screw to the log). Big pluses are that you feel a bit further from the chain while cutting (safer?), the setup seems quicker and easier and even on our very first few cuts we made some nice boards.

We are only making rough cut boards for some outdoor jobs at present, but I've been pleased with how quickly it did them.

I've also cut some free hand boards - fine for rough planking and about as quick as the alaskan mill, but a lot rougher cuts.
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 188
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Check this for a home built one.

Bandsaw Mill
 
Tobias Eklind
Posts: 1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I haw a I have a Logosol Sawmill and I think it works great.
Have just Upgraded from a Stihl MS391 to electric saw with automatic feed.

Have some movies when I saw it.

Electric saw


Stihl MS391
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1131
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
7
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This thread led me to find this :
http://solarburrito.com/blog/homemade-saw-mill-for-200/

Swing blade sawmills seem like they may be easier to home build than chain or band saw mills.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1131
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
7
forest garden trees urban
 
brian hanford
Posts: 27
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
has no one ever looked at the harbor freight band saw mill its what im looking at for the move to our rural property.

http://www.harborfreight.com/saw-mill-with-301cc-gas-engine-62366.html
1,999$ right now
 
Luke Townsley
Posts: 131
Location: Dugger, IN Zone 6a
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
brian hanford wrote:has no one ever looked at the harbor freight band saw mill its what im looking at for the move to our rural property.

http://www.harborfreight.com/saw-mill-with-301cc-gas-engine-62366.html
1,999$ right now


I have a friend who just bought one. For the money, it's fairly impressive. Short track, and like most saws would benefit from a total alignement/workover/setup. My main concern is parts, and you will always need parts... Also, the track is short. He is going to buy some steel to extend the track.

I ran a lumbersmith for a while too. It is in the same price range, and ok for what it is. Very slow though.
 
Stephan Pappagiorgio
Posts: 2
Location: Fraser valley, BC, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used to have a custom cut sawmill business and have quite a bit of time on a 20 something horsepower bandmill, an alaskan mill, and a chainsaw carriage mill that I built myself. Coupled to those last two was a Husqvarna 395xp.

The biggest question to start with is, do you have a way to get the logs to a stationary mill like a bandmill or chainsaw carriage mill? If yes, then aside from just cutting posts and beams, anything over 1 to 2,000 board feet in a year and you should really consider just getting a bandmill from the get go.

There are ways to get small bandmills on trailers and out to the logs but it really works so much better if the mill is properly leveled and fastened to solid footings, and if you have something like a 50-75hp tractor with a set of forks to load the logs and offload slabs, cants, and lumber.
 
The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic