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Author Topic: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills  (Read 3536 times)

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Offline TKehl

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #20 on: March 19, 2017, 11:01:30 am »
As the happy owner of a swing mill, I can say bandsaws have a place.  I'd like to eventually add one to complement (not replace) my swinger.  They are much faster cutting live edge slabs and have better recovery from curved logs as long as it fits through the throat.  I think they can be faster on short and small stuff as well.  I also have plans to set the bandmill up as a resaw with some add ons.
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #21 on: March 19, 2017, 03:46:56 pm »
I am intrigued by the swing blade mill for a number of reasons. The first is that these mills typically can handle much larger logs than bandsaw mills. In my area I have a large supply of large logs free of charge from tree services who are too far away from the large woodmills to make transporting them a realistic option.

I'd suggest thats a perfect scenario for a swingmill or a twinsaw such as a Mahoe or Mobile Dimension. Much depends on the kind of volume you're looking to do in a day: theres a lot of difference in output range between the likes of say the little Turbosaw and a Peterson ASM. There are also portability issues - as with all mills the bigger it gets and the more it can produce in a day the less portable the mill is.

Would you be taking the mill to the logs or taking the logs to the mill?


Second, the swingblade mills don't require the logs to be turned like on a bandsaw mill which adds considerable cost to the operation.

Yeah well - thats what they say. I'd suggest I've got more real world tonnage through a swingmill then every one of the mill manufacturers involved combined and I turn the log 95% of the time when cutting because I obviously think its worth the trouble. But you don't have to, particularly with large logs in stable species.
Smaller logs turning the log can really push your recovery up and definately push the quality of your recovery up a long way. D&L do one thats trailer mounted on like a bandmil style deck with turners and clamping - I dont know the mill but it looks like a good thing to me. Problem is you come back to size limitations in the logs again. Turbosaw have also done a fixed deck for the gladiator model and most of the twinsaw manufacturers have a fixed or trailer mounted deck option as well.


Third the swingblade mill can be set up around a large log eliminating the need to even lift the log off the ground until it is whittled down to a manageable size.

Definate plus. Hard to beat a Lucas in that situation

Fourth. the rigid nature of a circular saw blade prevents it from wanting to deflect over or under grain patterns in the wood.

oh they'll deflect alright. Maybe not often and it takes something ridiculously hard to make it happen but it can happen. On the bright side you kinda know that a bandmill would have probably broken before it got that far but seeing a circular saw rise over a knot and jamb is both weirdly fascinating and a major PITA. Sometimes you just got to slow the feed rate down.

Fifth, the circular saw blades are extremely easy and inexpensive to sharpen which could save approximately $100 per day in expense. And if you want an occasional slab they offer chainsaw blade slabbing attachments.

Another definate plus for circles is blade maintenance for sure. I'd suggest if you logs are sourced from tree service comapnies then circles are the way to go. For forest grown logs where theres not much chance of nails etc etc its still the way to go in most cases. Yah you loose a bit to kerf but if you take the blade savings per day and buy more logs you still win unless you're cutting stuff thats very valuable

Next, the swingblade mill can much more easily quartersaw wood with less waste than a bandsaw mill so there goes your argument that swingblade mills produce more waste because their blades are wider.

yup. and beat the pants off them at backsawing too But a bandmill has advantages when you're chasing width.

And finally, wood produced on a swingblade mill doesn't require a second process of edging which saves a huge amount of time and expense. 

yah but you've still got to resaw some for grade, fix up the occasional missawn board, recut them straight if they spring (not required if you roll the log during cutting which is why I do it). Aint no avoiding a certain amount of rehandling if you saw timber.
But the volume of timber you need to rehandle will be a lot less then a band. And its not the cost of an edger thats the issue - its the cost of the man to operate it.


I can't see any reason someone would want a bandsaw mill other than the fact that small bandsaw mills can be had for a few thousand dollars which satisfies the hobby mill market.

I can. Theres a lot of them out there for a reason - its about horses for courses. When you're sitting all day in logs 18" round the hydraulic turning and clamping functions standard on a midrange bandmill are advantage bandmill
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Online terrifictimbersllc

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2017, 05:58:23 pm »
I use both band mill and swing mill in portable milling.   I use the band mill if it can do the job.
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #23 on: March 19, 2017, 07:26:59 pm »
i think one of the things with swingmills is there is a lot more variation in capacity then there is with an equivalent bandmill. Some are more portable, some more flexible, some have higher output.

I started with a Lewisaw. D&L's mills are all based on that design but the original Lewis with the parallelogram frame is the grandfather of them. It was very portable, as in hump it up a mountain and helilift the lumber out portable. Limited production and takes two people to operate one but yeah... you can hump it up a mountain on your back and cut a board when you get there. The little turbosaw with the chainsaw powerhead is probably the most portable option now for real remote work like that but I havent seen/used one to know: if I was young enough to do it all again I'd look real hard at that one.

The automatic mills like the Peterson ASM and the Turbosaw gladiator are way out there in production above the rest of the swingers. Both are relocatable rather then portable, but both make up for that with increased production once set up. The double cut feature they both have is a selling point - the ability to remove a couple boards from the back side of a log to help balance stresses while sawing can be a decided advantage in some timbers. And never underestimate the ability to cut a wide board with ease quickly and repetitively. At that production point though you also need to start to look at the twinsaws, and much will depend on what product your trying to get out as to which is the better mill. The swingers both offer more flexibility then the twinsaws, at the cost of lower throughput. You want to see a big log reduced to dimension lumber and sawdust in short order there aint much in the world will keep up with a Duncan beam saw or a 1212 Mighty Mite.

D&L I have not seen their mills except tube videos so cant speak for real world functionality and build integrity. But I do like the look of the trailer mounted D&L with the hydraulic log handling package. I think in the right logs it might take a bit of beating compared with anything else on the market - bandmill log handling without the band is how I look at it. If the logs can fit onto the trailer, and you can get the trailer to the log its hard to see how you could go wrong with it. Other then that the "ground rail" type design I personally think is limiting.

Lucas sit kind of in the middle. Portable enough to get them into a tight spot but not ultra lightweight portable for humping up hills. More production then the lightweights though. Less production then the bigger automatics but far more portable then them. Real good for big logs in backyards and the like. Accurate. And dammed near indestructible with regular servicing and wear part replacement as required. I've worked with an ATS Peterson which is the equivalent mill and far prefer the Lucas - personally I think they're about the best bang for your buck mill out there, but its all relative. (I own one but dont think Im biased - I'd probably not buy another based on where my business is at now)

Whole thing in this is that you as a purchaser have got to make choices around what features you need most. Theres a lot of nuanced difference in the offerings from the manufacturers and what features you need is determined by your log supply and product mix. The mill that you want to carry on your shoulders isnt the mill you want in an urban backyard isnt the mill you want breaking down oversize logs in a production sawmill operation isnt the mill you want to tackle a pile of 12" diameter logs with. And swingers cover the whole range of these scenarios.

The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline plantman

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #24 on: March 19, 2017, 10:06:01 pm »
I've only watched a few videos on the lucas so perhaps you could fill me in. That frame work they supply looks kind of flimsy and as though it would wobble around quite a bit. Am I wrong ? Is it required that they be set up on dirt where they can be staked in ? Or do they set up on pavement just the same ?

Offline plantman

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #25 on: March 19, 2017, 10:22:39 pm »
One of the tree services I work with recently gave me logs from a typical large white oak they were removing. The stalk wood was about 3.5' in diameter and a 12' log probably weighed about 7000 lbs. They were too big for me to lift with my skidsteer so I thought that I could use an Alaskan mill to cut them up but ideally I would like to have a swing blade mill that I could simply set up around them.
While I also got the branches which were about 12 - 18" in diameter they tended to be bent and therefore I imaging that the usable lumber I obtain from them will be limited. I foresee that large logs will ultimately yield me the most wood for my time and effort. They are also the logs that the small tree services have the most difficulty getting rid of. From a loggers perspective I feel like I'm sitting on a gold mine of free wood here. So I'm just trying to imagine which mill will do the job. I am imagining that 1/2 the time I might be going to where the log is and 1/2 the time I might be taking the logs back to my location.

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #26 on: March 20, 2017, 01:51:39 am »
A Lucas will wobble and shake a bit: pretty much all portable mills will move around somewhat. If they're rigid enough to be solid they basicly arent portable.
They can wobble and shake real bad if overfed, same as all the swingmills do. Its an operator error thing and I think we all learn to take 2 x 5 inch passes rather then a single 10 inch cut in the horizontal plane. its part of the tradeoffs involved: they dont have the weight to carry the power to feed the number of teeth it takes to make a clean cut that deep. So you take a smaller bite at it which you can do. Twinsaws dont have that option which is one of the advantages swingmills have over them.

But regardless of movement they'll cut a board thats as accurate and straight as the operator makes them. Amazes me sometimes to watch mine working with a newb on it yet it still does okay. With me on there is no difference between the accuracy of the boards off it and the accuracy of the boards off my large and expensive circlular resaw : I'm a professional sawmiller and thats the result I should achieve. Albeit its a lot slower with the swingmill.

Mine pretty much lives bolted atop a permanant log deck on a concrete pad - its a rare thing for me to play portable sawmills. I've set up on concrete before with the support arms pegs out in the dirt, or on asphalt with the pegs driven in. Or dirt on slopes only a madman would play on. Or over a hole when the logs been that big that I had to dig it in to get the mill over it. Or atop 40 gallon drums on the side of a mountain in the jungle where we airlifted the mill in and the mill and lumber out: thats the beauty of the things, when the logs too big to drag home you can take the mill to the log.

The one thing I would say for sure is that theres no gold mines much left in this sawmilling caper.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline ButchC

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #27 on: March 20, 2017, 09:19:14 am »
Again strictly a beginner here but as LL stated the light weight equates to some shake but if the log isnt moving around the swinger still cuts very accurate lumber by my standards. It takes very little handle time to figure out how hard you can push the envelope, the mill will complain loudly when pushed too hard. My JP is set up on concrete and just sitting on it. I have no troubles with it moving around,  it operates nicely on it.  I am debating if I would be better off sawing out in the pasture? I believe that I can string the logs out and move the mill from log to log with less effort than it takes to keep the mess shoveled off the slab?
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #28 on: May 21, 2017, 12:59:03 am »
It's very interesting to see the comments about the swing blade nails like Peterson and Lucas, and now turbo saw. I had been looking  at bandsaw Mills.  I do wonder about one thing: with all the gizmos put on by Wood miser and Norwood, et als, to make sure the log doesn't move on the band Saw Mills, log dogs and all that, what keeps the log that's being sawed by a swing blade mill from moving?
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Offline dgdrls

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2017, 07:58:06 am »
Gravity mostly,  after that log dogs or notched bunks help.   I started with notched bunks.

D



  

 

Offline mad murdock

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #30 on: May 21, 2017, 11:22:19 am »
LtL, the Turbosawmill M6 that I have is definitely the "Swiss army knife" of portable mills. I put a Husky 395XP on it with a dual port muffler and it seems to pull real good even through a deeper cut. I posted a few pics of my latest milling foray in "cooking with gas" now!  I will be getting some more pics and hopefully a vid or 2 in over the next little while. Band mills have their place as you and others have stated, but for me, I like the portability and ease of the swing blade with the slabber option I have with my mill setup.
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #31 on: May 22, 2017, 01:25:23 am »
Sure looks like home built will rule for swing blade mill log dogs.  $800 on the Turbosaw site seems almost like a wave-off, to encourage self made, especially given all the detail they offer in the photos.  Even the $204 USD price from Peterson seems high; I bet the function, if not the device, will not be that hard to match.

Thinking of the portability comment: sandbags or lead shot bags could provide more weight to the bunks (bearers, per Peterson) in a way that retains portability.  Break a load of any size into reasonable parts....

Thanks for the help thus far, and for allowing me to tag along on this thread.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #32 on: May 22, 2017, 03:23:38 am »
You certainly can fabricate your own.

One thing to consider, the commercial ones use a hard aluminium. If you accidentally graze them, you don't de-tip your blade. Because the mill has no "deck" as such, it's possible to have your bearers high enough for the blade to hit them. Skim a wooden bunk? No problem. Skim an alloy dog? No big deal. Hit steel? You are swapping out a blade.

If you are setting up semi stationary on a firm surface, you can always rig up a "stop" that keeps the blade 1/4" off the dogs.  But if you are mobile, the sawdust tends to build up, and you reset the bunks for different length or taper of log. By the end of the day you are sawing on a bed of sawdust and the bunks are a few inches higher. Yeah I know, I could shovel the sawdust away... but that's hard work  :D
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2017, 05:00:28 pm »
I'm buying a Kobalt battery powered blower just to keep near the mill (the new 80v batteries are stupendous)!  Hey I really appreciate the advice you're giving me.  Talked to Left coast for a hour today about the Peterson.  Dither dither!
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Offline NZJake

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2017, 05:53:07 am »
Hi there,

Jake here. I'm in Europe on holiday with the wife right now. If you message me your phone number I'd love to have a chat.

Just attended the Ligna Expo in Germany with the diesel Auto. Sawed up 20 ton of Poplar alone and at the stand. Sawing was the easy part. Filling the container on the final day with slabs and sawdust not so fun on your own lol...

Here is a link to some footage.

Just did some figures:
Sawing alone...
28 seconds a board
27mm x 150mm x 5.5m
.022 cube per board
45 boards per cube
21 min per cube/422bf
2.85 cube per hour
1202bf per hour
Wife says I woke up one morning half asleep uttering thin kerf and high production, I think I need a hobby other than milling?

Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2017, 11:49:27 am »
I have the Luca 10-30 mill and love it.  That being said you might want to find out what mills folks have in your area or in a distance you'd be willing to travel.  Most folks are more than willing to demonstrate and maybe let you run their mill.  It would help to have an idea of what you want to do with the mill and what you might grow into.  I started out with a Granberg Alaskan chainsaw mill (still have it), went to a bandsaw mill and sold it due to a health reason that seemed to solve itself, and now have the Lucas mill.  I see another bandsaw mill in my future.  I like running all of them.  I also see me getting the slabbing system, planer attachment and sanding attachment for the Lucas mill.  I have 2 logrite peavys and 1 Chinese-made cant hook.  For my current work the Lucas is handy in that I can roll them into the mill or set the mill around them.  As you can tell from my rambling there is the factor of getting hooked.
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2017, 02:26:59 pm »
Again, Mr Peterson, a nice video of a nice looking mill going back n forth for 10 minutes, but no commentary, captions, explanations, nothing.  Production figures in the post, great but as the the site owner Jeff has so succinctly posted, somewhat meaningless since actual results are dependent on so many factors.  Yes, impressive machinery, but a very very very very very very repetitious video.  And the "drill winch", when will TS offer a permanent motor drive?  It makes the mill look like it's some sort of prototype or experiment.

Norwood videos are slick n polished and their site leaves questions that should not go unanswered, but they do narrate the videos helpfully and informatively though of course with a strong marketing undertone (nothing wrong with that as long as the information content is high).

Woodmizer, a bit like TS, kinda like: here it is, isn't it impressive, been here forever so we undoubtedly do it best, got the resale thing down (and they do appear to), and I have my order pad in hand.  Their web site needs attention.

Peterson & Lucas, better in some ways.

I'm not from Missouri or NZ, but please, show me...more.  You're asking for a lot of money from us, sawmill & accessory makers!  Rant mode off.

PS--how about a well edited video showing a pro sales/tech person orienting a prospective or new sawmill owner either being shown a machine at a sales site or one being picked up, with questions and answers as the mill operates?  Is that a seed of an idea for one or more of these companies?  I'd love to see it!

What we really need is for the PBS Motorweek folks to review sawmills!  What a great job they do!  Host John can sneak in more inoffensively presented but still informative facts during his reviews than anyone I have ever seen.  He zaps things for the careful listener but avoids offending the companies that provide the cars, masterfully.  It's been a while since we shopped for a new car/truck (too much spending on other toys) so he may have retired.  Hope not.
www.ordinary.com (really)
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Peterson WPF 10" Hi-Lo
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Liebherr 621C, Bobcat A300, 430
NH TN90F, Kubota B3000
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Ford/Chevy/Porsche
and a few more...
Did I mention, a very small bank account?

Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2017, 05:37:50 pm »
Take a look at the Woodland Mills and Cook's company videos.  They cover the technical and feature aspects of their mills and then they demonstrate the mill by cutting a log.
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Offline dgdrls

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2017, 09:53:47 pm »
You'll only get so much from a video
Test drives are the only way you'll know for certain.
Get out and make some visits to folks who have
the style mill your interested in,

If you're not in a rush, go to the 2017 Paul Bunyan show in Ohio
it's the Sawmill Shootout this year you should see plenty of mills
and have staff right there to help.

D

Offline NZJake

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Re: Looking for opinions on swingblade mills
« Reply #39 on: May 28, 2017, 02:33:26 am »
Hi again,

One thing I've learned in business you can't please everyone. I've accepted that. If you are truly interested in learning about our sawmills check out our YouTube channel that holds almost 100 videos (some with commentary). You can also check our website out and even download our phone app. There is a lot of information available to you if it's needed.

Mill comes standard with handcranks. We do have the electric option but just seems extremely expensive and over engineered compared to a simple rechargeable drill. It's accurate and practical. For that reason I will always recommend them to owner's.

See us at the shootout!! I'll be operating the mill by myself there too.




Thanks.
Wife says I woke up one morning half asleep uttering thin kerf and high production, I think I need a hobby other than milling?