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Author Topic: Advice on sawmill design  (Read 829 times)

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Offline Jrpitdog

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Advice on sawmill design
« on: November 08, 2017, 10:05:46 pm »
I have been lurking for a while. I have plans to build a cabin a few years from now, probably a tf. Before that happens I want to build a sawmill. Some brief background on me. When I was 14 I started working for my brother inlaw and his father building sawmills, I was a parts fabricator first, then onto assembly. I have over 15 years of steel fab experience and am currently a millwright for a dim lumber mill. I work with saws, hydraulics, motors, chains, sprockets, sheaves and bearings every day. I dont have to many concerns about my ability to build a usable sawmill. My question to the forum is what design features are important to you on a mill. Im talking smaller mill not high production. For those that have built one what would you do differently/same? What features do you wish small mills had? The thing is I have experience fabricating but little experience sawing. So I want to hear from actual sawyers about what works and whats cumbersome or doesnt work. I will be cutting primarily lodgepole.

Offline ChugiakTinkerer

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 10:40:24 pm »
Welcome to the forum!

I'm a hobby miller still working on my first mbf.  Even without hydraulics or motorized advance, I can think of a few improvements to my mill that probably wouldn't be hard to implement if designed for from the beginning.  The first is sawdust management.  You're going to create a lot of sawdust, and I suspect with a little forethought and creativity one could devise a means to route and control the dust much better than what my mill does.  Another feature that is lacking on my mill but is common on more expensive mills is a single control to engage the throttle and the lubricant valve.  As it is I have to remember to turn the valve on before beginning a cut and turn it off after.  My memory is not the most reliable system.  ::)

A means of leveling the pith is essential.  It's doable with shims and bunk boards, but having adjustable toe boards (with rollers) makes it so much easier.  The last thing on my wish list is a log turner.  I'll probably modify an engine hoist with a hand winch to make it happen, but having something integral to the mill would make for a less cluttered work space.

Edit to add: Do us a favor please and update your profile to show your location.
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Online DDW_OR

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 10:43:55 pm »
Useful sawmill mods
http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,7789.msg1397352/topicseen.html#msg1397352

some of that lodgepole can be WIDE.

there have been a LOT of sawmill builds here
so, are you thinking of a sawmill that can handle 20' x 3'
Hydraulic or a manual that you can upgrade to hydraulic at a later date
computer or no computer

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Offline Jrpitdog

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2017, 10:52:50 pm »
Thanks guys, already some stuff to think about. I am going to have more questions, the horizontal mill is different to me, the sawmills I used to build were vertical.

Offline Jrpitdog

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 10:54:58 pm »
Maybe a couple hydro functions. Probably no computer or setworks. 30" wide maybe, my main purpose in building one is to have a tool to build a tf house.

Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 03:06:25 am »
The only thing I would do different would be to make mine wider.
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Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2017, 06:58:25 am »
Also give some thought about how you are going to get the lumber you make dried and ready for further use, open shed for air drying, log deck or something to keep logs off of the ground until you can saw them, purchase Anchorseal for ending sealing, lots of stickers, Logrite peavey/cant hook(s), and safety equipment, to name a few.  I'd take a look at what folks here have done and also look at the design of some of the bandsaw mills.  For example, without hydraulics you could make a log leveler like Cooks offers.  It works using bottle jacks.  Good luck and have fun.
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Offline Crusarius

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 08:04:42 am »
I can't really help much since I am in the same boat but I can link you to my build thread. It may help some.

I started with Linn Lumber basic kit just to get all the sawframe hardware. It was easier than sourcing all the parts myself and all came within a couple days of each other. If I was to start again I would just order the hardware from linn lumber, none of the steel. Getting precut steel limits the options for design changes.

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,97853.0.html
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 08:11:56 am »
Make it long. I have a Thomas,can cut 20 foot long. Never have,just wanted it. I can put a 16 foot log and have 4 feet of mill left over. Most mills you put a 16 foot log on it and you only have inches. This allows the head to be moved out of the way.
Moveable bunks comes in handy too. I can move my bunks and got stove wood on it. I have cut some short cedar for tomato cages. Worked great.
Make the frame rugged. Mine is 2x4 tubing,maybe 3/16 than 1/4 inch 2x3 angle on that.
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Offline Crusarius

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 08:14:28 am »
movable bunks? I want to see that. Never thought of that in my build.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2017, 08:49:06 am »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum Jrpitdog.  I am a sawmill user not a sawmill builder, but following your progress will be interesting.

I have often visited Montrose and have a fascination for the Uncompahgre having hunted 61 once and 62 many times.  Grand Mesa is also a favorite spot.   
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Offline Darrel

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2017, 10:11:53 am »
 First of all, welcome!

I too am a user and not a builder, but you have come to the right place.
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2017, 12:05:34 pm »
One thing I have yet to build for my mill is a place to put my
pry bar when trying to move a log against my dogs. I use a 5
foot pry bar but I have nothing to pry against. So I want to make
three of these to weld or bolt under my bed so I have a place to
stick the end of my bar when prying.

 

 
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Offline Crusarius

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2017, 12:24:16 pm »
Thats a good idea. I think I would just use angle then stitch weld it to the side of the bunks.
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Offline Jrpitdog

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2017, 01:01:30 pm »
Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions. I will probably start gathering parts soon, I hope to be able to get some from our boneyard at work!

Offline scrout

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2017, 01:11:18 pm »
movable bunks? I want to see that. Never thought of that in my build.


Offline Jrpitdog

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2017, 01:12:10 pm »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum Jrpitdog.  I am a sawmill user not a sawmill builder, but following your progress will be interesting.

I have often visited Montrose and have a fascination for the Uncompahgre having hunted 61 once and 62 many times.  Grand Mesa is also a favorite spot.

Thanks,  my family and I love the western slope. I usually hunt 65, otc archery for me 😁

Offline JRWoodchuck

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2017, 01:15:27 pm »
My mill cuts 18'2" and the only way I am able to do that is with toe rollers (these make is real easy to push a log for and aft.) to get the log perfectly where it needs to be right in front of the blade (about 1/8" away.) I would make my mill longer. My bunks are spaced 3'3" oc and I have a backstop drop in of each of them for cutting different length stuff also handy.
Home built bandsaw mill still trying find the owners manual!

Offline Jrpitdog

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2017, 01:16:32 pm »
So if youall could have a couple hydro functions what would they be? Log lifter? Turner? Saw travel?

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2017, 01:45:47 pm »
So if youall could have a couple hydro functions what would they be? Log lifter? Turner? Saw travel?
Have the hydraulics to the heavy or repetitive work
i would say these, in this order
Saw travel
log stops/log clamp
Turner
Log leveler, toe boards

a Log lifter can be a tractor to load the log onto the mill

a good source for hydraulic parts is
http://www.surpluscenter.com/
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Offline Jrpitdog

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2017, 02:17:28 pm »
So if youall could have a couple hydro functions what would they be? Log lifter? Turner? Saw travel?
Have the hydraulics to the heavy or repetitive work
i would say these, in this order
Saw travel
log stops/log clamp
Turner
Log leveler, toe boards

a Log lifter can be a tractor to load the log onto the mill

a good source for hydraulic parts is
http://www.surpluscenter.com/

Ah yes surplus center I know it well, its where i ordered most of my log splitter parts years ago. I also know the boneyard at my work well😉

Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2017, 04:23:39 pm »
So if youall could have a couple hydro functions what would they be? Log lifter? Turner? Saw travel?

Wheelchair motors are great for Saw travel...
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2017, 06:03:55 pm »
Build high off the ground, even 2 story, in the back corner of the lot under a shed roof that sheds the snow out of the way. The mill should feed a nice lumber yard where it's easy to get around. I wish I had do ne this everyday.

Offline bandmiller2

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2017, 08:26:25 pm »
Pitdog, I built my own band mill about 15 years ago and really had to change little. Have the bed of the mill at a handy working height. If you will have hydraulics you might as well have a turner and power feed. I chose to build a two plane clamp/turner and it does 90% of my clamping and turning. Leave yourself enough room around the band wheels to make band changing easier. Frank C.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2017, 08:48:43 pm »
 Picture of the bunk out.


 

Picture of it in place. This is the 2x3 track that the heads rides on.

 

 
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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2017, 09:30:02 pm »
I like it. I may have to integrate that on mine. But I think I have the spacing pretty good to make it so I won't need it.
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Offline DbltreeBelgians

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2017, 10:58:08 pm »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum Jrpitdog.  I am a sawmill user not a sawmill builder, but following your progress will be interesting.

I have often visited Montrose and have a fascination for the Uncompahgre having hunted 61 once and 62 many times.  Grand Mesa is also a favorite spot.

Thanks,  my family and I love the western slope. I usually hunt 65, otc archery for me 😁

Welcome to the Forestry Forum Jrpitdog. Im envious of you living in Montrose. I grew up in Grand Jct and I got married in Gunnison Co up the Alpine Plateau Road at my parents place at Arrowhead Ranch. I hunted  fudd-smiley in 66 and some on Grand Mesa but not for quite a while now. I have a sister that still lives in Jct and someday Id like to come back to the Western Slope when I retire.

Brent

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Advice on sawmill design
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2017, 11:34:22 pm »
Make it high enough.  Mine is about mid-thigh height.  If I have to turn a BIG log (manually), I hop up on the rail or even the bunk. 

I have moveable bunks designed after theCfarm's:

 

 

 

Sorry for the blurry pictures.  The 2x3 rail is supported by cutoffs of the material I used (IIRC 5# structural steel channel).  I had to grind off a little on the bottom of the channel on the bunks so they could slide in.  I use a 1/2" bolt to lock them in place.  The uprights are 3# structural along with a 2-" square tube to hold the log stops.

The T handle is a bolt to lock the log stop at the desired height.  The horizontal 2" tube has a slider for the log clamps.  The 2x3 angle is the actual log bunk.  The space between was supposed to have a jack to lift a toe roller - never got around to making them.

What I would do different (and will make them this winter) is better log clamps.  I have a not so good cam-like system that tends to move and lift the log a little.  I'm going to make the simple push down cam lock that someone posted on here - just have to find it again for the name credit.
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