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Author Topic: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm  (Read 1041 times)

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Offline PA_Walnut

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Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« on: October 12, 2017, 04:15:18 am »
I have the good fortune to be finishing up excavating a new site for my milling and man-cave. (which is a part time, for-profit endeavor). Saw mainly higher-grade and specialty material for retail sales. The space is appx 3/4 acre that is long and narrow (mountain sides don't easily relent).

Have a capable saw, and recently added a 2-blade edger, so processing is the easy part...it's the handling that's a killer. Need more/easier methods to stack/sticker from mill for air drying, better ways to get lumber moved to level surfaces and covered, more efficient ways to get from air-drying to kiln, storage for retailing, etc.

Since I kinda have a clean slate to start with on logistics, and I'm sure MANY have gone before me with this, I'm seeking tips, advice and layout schemes to help with all of this. Hoping to tap into the vast wisdom and ingenuity of those who've gone before me! Thanks.
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe

Offline WDH

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 08:12:27 am »
You will need a drying shed.  It is best if you can pour concrete pads for your lumber stacks.  You want to touch the boards as few times as possible.  I use a pallet system on purpose built pallets. I sticker off the mill and move the stacks to the air drying pads under the shed with a tractor with forks on the FEL. You can stack pallets of lumber on top of each other, and the level pad assures nice flat boards.  The weight of the packs also helps keep the lumber flat.  The greenest packs go on the bottom, and the driest packs (that were on the bottom at one time) are stored on top waiting for some space in the kiln. 

The pallet system lets you move the packs around easily with the tractor.  With the kiln, you need to be able to load the pallets directly into and out of the kiln without touching the boards.  Stacking into and out of the kiln by hand is not the way to go.  Once dry, the pallets go to the planer room where the boards are only touched for the second time.  Once planed they go on the tractor forks and are moved to the final storage space.  This space needs to be humidity controlled to keep the boards at the desired moisture content, so it must be an enclosed space. 

This is how I do it.  I am a one man operation, and you can do this with minimal equipment.  A good tractor or fork lift is essential.  So is the air drying shed and an enclosed space to store the kiln dried lumber. 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Here is FF member Scleigh in front of the kiln.  The pieces of pink foam are used to plug the holes between the pallet runners.



 


Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5640SU, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 08:35:18 am »
As above, and i'll add:

Think about prevailing wind and weather patterns when you site your buildings. Ideally you want your drying sheds and drymill area upwind of the green mill.

Standardize your pack width. Lengths are going to vary some what but having width constant means every sticker can be interchangeable with every other sticker.

Allow lots of room between structures, allow for expansion and even then you should be able to swing tree length logs and log trucks between them.

Think about drainage, and runoff. Noise and neighbors.Electricity. Hardstand.... you might not need them this week but factor it into a long term plan in case.

Every time you pick up a board except the first time and the last time costs you money. Figure out how to do the minimum amount of board handling between log and sale and you're halfway there.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline Sixacresand

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 08:50:53 am »
In hind sight, I feel I would have been better off keeping my first manual mill and investing in a FEL forked tractor and buildings.  With a hydraulic mill, milling is easy.  Everything else is hard work without support equipment.  Somebody on the FF stated that milling was all about lots of material handling with a sawmill in the middle.  I believe it. 

Offline red

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 09:07:30 am »
You are only making money when the blade is in the wood .  Having the biggest fastest sawmill sitting idle while you move a log by hand is not how to make money.
We have a lot of good boys and girls in harms way
lets all support them and their familys.

Offline pineywoods

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 10:08:16 am »
WDH speaketh with wisdom...In most cases, I touch a board only once. Saw through and through, use forks on Mr Kubota to lift stack off the mill, sticker and stack from the fel. I skimp on stickers, sticker more so to prevent mold rather than drying. Load the entire stickered stack on customer's trailer, again utilizing mr kubota. Yeah, I give the stickers to the customer, it's cheaper than hand loading one board at a time. I can make a weeks worth of stickers (dry syp) in the time required to hand load one order. I do have a solar kiln, it gets loaded the entire stack at once, thanky mr kubota.. 
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2017, 08:08:31 am »
WDH (and others) thanks for the tips. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. My current system(s) require way too much handling...WAY too much.

Now that I've added an edger, it's gotten worse as the front-end, WAY outpaces the back end processing and handling!  :-\

I also end up with all kinds of sizes: 6', 8', 10, 12 & 4/4 through 12/4, so that makes the stickering/stacking a real PITA.

I have been working toward a pallet system similar to yours. Can you please give me some details as to what works for you? Many thanks.
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe

Offline paul case

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2017, 08:34:40 am »
Scott and I have 2 different schemes on our mills for unloading
The old mill with no dragback we have made a ''dead deck'' that will catch boards and hold a log so that we can load 2 logs saw one then unload and saw the other before needing to use the forklift. We make boards and cants and so we almost always have 2 or 3 stacks going. The outside slabs take a ride on the band and go in a rack at the far end of the mill. Boards get pushed onto the dead deck and are stacked after the log is completely cut up. The cants from the heart get unloaded and stacked right by the hydraulic box and the boards make a couple stacks beside cants.

The new mill with the drag back drags everything back to a set of rollers right by the hydraulic box. Cants and ties go on a stack straight back, slabs too but they go in a rack next to the ties. Boards get sorted and stacked next to the hydraulic box. We stack up all our boards that need edged and edge a bunch all at once. It usually would only take a half a day per week, depending on what we have orders for. Ties make more boards for edging, 3x4 cants dont make many boards.

Tom had some neat schemes for set ups on here........somewhere.
PC
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Offline Percy

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2017, 12:10:32 pm »
I cant remember which one of you said ""A sawmill and all its peripherals are just a life support system for a blade." Pretty accurate IMO. Keeping that in mind as you design/progress will help. Like Red said, figure ways to keep the saw cutting as many hours a day as possible, all the while, dealing with the mess you are making. For me, and the products I make, one of the biggest upgrades was a dragback system(stock option on my LT70). Into the next cut quickly, but still have to quickly deal with what was just dragged off. What Paul said.
Its not the "years in your life" but the 'life in your years" that matters...Abe Lincoln

Offline DDW_OR

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2017, 01:49:24 pm »
Following.
"let the machines do the work"
"work smarter, not harder"

a 30 HP tractor (or bigger  ;D ) with pallet forks is great.
TimberKing 2000, Mahindra 5520 4x4, Max22 4x4, Bobcat Excavator 331, E80, Multitek 1610EZ
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2017, 09:37:29 pm »
Yes!! I have a 62HP tractor with forks and a grapple. It gets more use than any equipment on the grounds!
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe

Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2017, 06:23:12 am »
Good info...keep 'em coming. I'm looking for better ways to sort/move material from the mill to holding for the edger vs. onto sticks. I have my edger close to the mill so I can get right to it, but going from the mill to the stickers needs improvement.

My wife needs to move faster!  :D
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe

Offline tmbrcruiser

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2017, 03:18:00 pm »
Not sure if what works for me will work for you but here goes.
1.Slabs and lumber is returned by the mill to me. Slabs go out the side door.

 
2. I can pass lumber straight back to be stacked and stickered on the carts or mover it to the drop down table to be edged the to the carts.

 
3. I have five carts so that I can sort by length or width. Using a 506C JCB to move partially loaded cart form the front to access loaded carts in the back only take a few minutes.

  A box on one side holds stickers and a cart on the other holds 4x4s to use between bundles.
4. When the drop down table is full I move to edging and drop the trim to the floor to run through a chop saw then to the cart to be banded for firewood. One fifth cord bundles sell to camp grounds.

  

 

Hope my system makes sense and helps.
Once you get sap in your veins, you will always have sawdust in your pockets.

Offline woodyone.john

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2017, 07:20:36 pm »
Timbercruiser,I would sure love to see a plan veiw of that.
Saw millers are just carpenters with bigger bits of wood

Offline Percy

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2017, 08:03:59 pm »
Not sure if what works for me will work for you but here goes.
1.Slabs and lumber is returned by the mill to me. Slabs go out the side door.

 (Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
2. I can pass lumber straight back to be stacked and stickered on the carts or mover it to the drop down table to be edged the to the carts.

 (Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
3. I have five carts so that I can sort by length or width. Using a 506C JCB to move partially loaded cart form the front to access loaded carts in the back only take a few minutes.

 (Image hidden from quote, click to view.) A box on one side holds stickers and a cart on the other holds 4x4s to use between bundles.
4. When the drop down table is full I move to edging and drop the trim to the floor to run through a chop saw then to the cart to be banded for firewood. One fifth cord bundles sell to camp grounds.

 (Image hidden from quote, click to view.) 

 (Image hidden from quote, click to view.)

Hope my system makes sense and helps.
Makes alot of sense!! I watched your sawmill build and now I see your plan is working out. You thought it out well!!  smiley_thumbsup smiley_thumbsup
Its not the "years in your life" but the 'life in your years" that matters...Abe Lincoln

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2017, 09:59:10 pm »
For full retail sales, the sawmill is just the beginning.

Pallets or skids, and standardization of sizes is one of the most important things to increase efficiency because it increases ease of transportation, handling, storage and inventory.   

Covered space, concrete and gravel are also extremely important.  Mud is not a friend. 

Next is true forklift. We have a front end loader which is great for moving logs, but our true, highly maneuverable loading dock forklift will run circles around it.  It requires concrete and gravel.

A sawmill with a dragback is important. I can place a pallet behind my mill and have it drop the boards directly onto it, without touching them.  When the pallet gets about 800 bdft of lumber in it, I drive the forklift under it and set in a new pallet. 

If you are going from log to retail, it's all about handling.  Here's a typical flow and how many times the same board may be handled in an inefficient scenario.  Log goes to mill (1), then boards off the mill (2), slabs off the mill, sawdust off the mill.  Some boards edged, all boards moved from mill and palletized and stickered (3). Pallets moved to air drying shed (4) Air drying shed to kiln (5).  Kiln to stickers removed and deadstacked for planing (6).  Deadstacked rough lumber transported to planer shed (7). For a single sided planer, four handling of each board, once in ( 8 ) once out and flip (9) around to front of planer and second time in (10) second time out (11).  Then lumber edged or straightlined if necessary (12).  Then pallets of finished lumber moved to warehouse storage (13). Then lumber moved from warehouse and placed for convenient retail (14).   Then lumber placed in customer vehicle (15). 
Sawmilling is only one little step.  Handling is the constant activity. Millions of pounds per year.  You may not have to do all the steps, we cut some out ourselves, but you can see how it can rapidly get out of hand. 
Hobby Hardwood Alabama.com
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Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 05:56:51 am »
That all makes sense....working on ways to handle it less. There are more steps in my process than I intend, but need to be more than some, I'm guessing, since i'm dealing with high-end/speciality material. (slabs, figured wood, etc) so I generally sweep the sawdust off them really well (both sides). Stickering them with breeze-dried sticks ($$$), coat the ends--at the log stage when possible, etc. etc.

Currently taking the bite to build pallets/units for stickering purposes. Been sawing some lower-grade 2x's and 1's and assembling nice pallets. I'm thinking/hoping that this investment will pay dividends for a long time.

Thanks for the time and food for thought. All are very helpful!  8)
I own my own small piece of the world on an 8 acre plot on the side of a mountain with walnut, hickory, ash and spruce.
LT40HD Wide 35HP Diesel
Kubota M62 Tractor/Backhoe

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Small Mill Workflow Paradigm
« Reply #17 on: Yesterday at 04:18:29 pm »
That all makes sense....working on ways to handle it less. There are more steps in my process than I intend, but need to be more than some, I'm guessing, since i'm dealing with high-end/speciality material. (slabs, figured wood, etc) so I generally sweep the sawdust off them really well (both sides). Stickering them with breeze-dried sticks ($$$), coat the ends--at the log stage when possible, etc. etc.

Currently taking the bite to build pallets/units for stickering purposes. Been sawing some lower-grade 2x's and 1's and assembling nice pallets. I'm thinking/hoping that this investment will pay dividends for a long time.

Thanks for the time and food for thought. All are very helpful!  8)
Yes, there are several more steps that must not be ignored, but are separate from physical handling.  Details are only details until you ruin a load of wood, and they they are not details anymore.  I use a diaphragm pressure sprayer, a Graco, to quickly endcoat logs.
Pallets must be flat, so I typically plane both he the runners and boards. 
I installed a Lubemizer and it has virtually eliminated manual sawdust sweeping from boards.
Get a pallet strapping kit, for handling bundles on the loader, as well as to ease transport. 
Slabs and dressing them to sales quality is a whole other process, taking more time, effort and machinery. 
Efficiency is the key.
Hobby Hardwood Alabama.com
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