American Made Portable Sawmills. Small bandsaw mill
Chapter 2: Portable vs. Stationary Sawmills
In a world where so much seems to be made of plastic, the sawmill industry continues to thrive. In 2019, the sawmill and wood production industry generated an estimated 35 billion in revenue, mainly thanks to residential and commercial construction sales. From house framing to pallet construction, sawmills provide the wood products consumers demand and need. According to IBISWorld research, the industry will continue to grow with the housing market and can prove profitable for sawmill businesses small and large.
Sawmill owners or those looking to enter the industry have many options when it comes to choosing the best machinery for their business. Some entrepreneurs who own forested land may be interested in starting a small business with a portable sawmill. Others might want to work under any weather conditions with a stationary sawmill indoors. Anyone curious about owning sawmill machinery would consider factors such as production needs and whether they’d be sawing at a base site or remote location. Large facilities need stationary industrial-quality sawmill equipment for efficiency and high production levels. They also require machinery like Band saws to cut large logs.
A portable sawmill and a stationary sawmill each has its place in the wood processing world. In this chapter, we’ll cover the differences between portable sawmills, stationary sawmills and industrial sawmills.
What Are Portable Sawmills?
Portable sawmills became popular in the 1800s when they were used to bring the mill to the harvest site. In the past, they may have been powered by steam or water. Today, most portable sawmills run off a gas or diesel engine.
Portable sawmills are small sawmills that sit on a trailer or, at times, can rest on bricks or wood blocks. Some of these can fit in the bed of a truck or may be towed in a trailer. One or two people may operate a small portable sawmill.
Modern portable sawmills are easily moved and are often used to manufacture specialty wood products by hobbyists. They are generally Band mills with blades that are around 2 inches wide. The sawyer must feed a log into the machinery. Maximum log sizes range from 16 to 20 feet in length and 18 to 36 inches in diameter. Portable sawmills can’t produce dry lumber. Therefore, sawyers still need to plane and dry wood after using a portable sawmill.
Landowners might own a portable sawmill to harvest trees from their property for a profit or manage tree growth on their land. With a portable sawmill on hand, they can mill trees that have been damaged by storms or insects rather than leaving them to rot. Portable mills are also popular machines for DIYers. For example, many sawmill owners use their equipment to complete a project, such as building a barn or shed. The lumber is also commonly used to construct furniture, cabinets and other crafted objects. These smaller sawmills allow landowners with acreage to process timber without having to transport logs to larger facilities. People who own portable sawmills might also provide milling services to neighbors.
It’s unlikely you’ll find portable sawmills used to process wood for house construction. Building laws may require a grading stamp, which prevents sawyers from using their land’s lumber to construct homes.
What Are the Types of Portable Sawmills?
Generally, there are three different types of portable sawmills. The type you would choose depends on how you intend to use the sawmill, how much lumber you need, and how fast you need to saw.
The various kinds of portable sawmills include:
- Chainsaw mills: A chainsaw mill is a tiny portable sawmill built to be used by one or two operators, and meant to cut wood in remote areas. A chainsaw mill can fit in your hand, so you can easily carry it to faraway locations. The basic chainsaw mill has a steel guide bracket attached to the chainsaw bar. Some have a track and frame system mounted to the chainsaw. They produce a kerf of about 0.40 inches. Chainsaw mills are inexpensive but slower than other mills and make rough cuts. Although you will need further milling to obtain a finished surface with a chainsaw mill, it may be the best option for working in small areas, dense forests or over rugged terrain.
- Swing blade sawmills: Swing blade sawmills have a moveable head that travels along a track to cut a log. It uses a circular blade and has a kerf range from 0.20 to 0.30 inches. A swing blade sawmill can take hours to set up once you’re at the worksite, and it’s heavy to carry. You would likely need several people to help with the transportation and operation of a swing blade sawmill. The main reason businesses use this type of sawmill is for cutting speed.
- Band mills: Band sawmills have a saw head with two Band wheels and a frame that guides the saw head through the log. This type of portable sawmill produces the smallest kerf of between 0.06 to 0.12 inches. Band mills are highly portable and easy to set up and operate. They typically produce smooth, high-quality surfaces. You’ll find Band mills available in small manually-operated sizes or large builds designed for processing plants. You can choose one with a configuration and cutting speed to meet your needs.
How Much Does a Portable Sawmill Cost?
Portable sawmills are generally priced from 3,000 to 10,000. If you want a heavier-duty portable sawmill with a hydraulic feeder system, you may be pushing 40,000 to 70,000. Pricier options can come with a conveyor and transfer table and are more like a mini industrial mill. Hydraulics also add to the cost but reduce manual labor. Sawyers have more than 70 manufacturers and a wide variety of models to choose from when selecting a portable sawmill.
Other expenses such as labor, repairs, fuel and transportation of the mill can add several hundred dollars to the cost of owning and operating a portable sawmill each year. It’s also worth considering the additional equipment needed to run a portable sawmill, whether it’s used for a hobby or small business. This includes a pickup truck, chainsaw and tractor for transporting logs. You’d also need space to dry and store the wood and a building to keep the sawmill when it’s not in use. Usually, lumber is air-dried, but some sawmill owners build a kiln.
What Are Stationary Sawmills?
The term stationary sawmill often refers to a small sawmill, like a portable mill, which is kept in a woodshop, barn, garage or something similar.
Traditionally, a stationary sawmill is a large Band saw or circular saw. One benefit of owning a stationary sawmill is it allows production under almost any weather conditions because it’s usually located under a roof. The downside is logs must be brought to the mill.
Stationary sawmills are usually larger than portable sawmills. Some business owners may require a stationary mill to process big logs. With both portable and stationary sawmills, you load the log yourself unless you have a feeder system.
Portable vs. Industrial Sawmills
Industrial sawmills are used in commercial facilities to produce a range of consumer products, whereas portable mills are more for hobbyists. Industrial sawmills are modern machines built for high production, accuracy and efficiency. They are designed for manufacturing large quantities of quality lumber while reducing labor and energy costs. Some industrial mills invest millions in their facility, sawmill machinery, storage areas and handling equipment to produce lumber sold at stores.
An industrial mill relies on specialized equipment to increase throughput. A typical industrial sawmill layout includes hydraulic-powered debarker machines, log carriages for transporting timber, Band saws and circular saws, and edgers and trimmers. Circular mills are used for cross-cutting or sawing across the grain, and Band mills are used for rip-cutting or sawing along the grain. Some commercial mills have two to four stations set up for log processing.
Industrial sawmills are also designed to process large logs that a portable sawmill couldn’t handle. For example, industrial Band saws use blades that are typically 4 to 14 inches wide, whereas portable sawmill blades are around 2 inches wide.
Also, unlike portable or small stationary sawmills, you would not load logs yourself with industrial equipment, which uses conveyor belts to feed logs.
Overall, modern industrial sawmills are highly technical and efficient and use digital technology to increase precision and improve other aspects of the sawing process. For more information about industrial sawmill applications, call us at 1-800-233-1969, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
American Made Portable Sawmills
1 of these companies make some (or all) of their sawmills from components 100% sourced here in America, although the others still assemble their mills here in the United States.
There are also a few details about the manufacturers and also affiliate links to retailers where you can get the latest prices, shipping costs, customer reviews, special offers more, where available.
Their simple but innovative designs allow the sawyer to easily operate and maintain their portable sawmill investment while sawing and producing lumber with the utmost quality. Unique designs including their 15 degree angled head. Their model 40 mill can cut up to a 40″ diameter log and over a 34.5″ wide cut. This and easy maintenance are just a couple of features that EZ Boardwalk customers enjoy.
EZ Boardwalk portable Band saw mills are made in Emden, Missouri using domestic and international sourced components.
In the 1960s, Granberg acquired the rights to a bar-mounted chain saw mill, nicknamed the “ALASKAN.” The Alaskan MKIII set the the industry standard for over 50 years. Today, the revamped MKIV continues in that proud tradition and is relied upon all over the world by all kinds of people. The Granberg Edging Mill (c.1966) and the Granberg Alaskan Small Log Mill (c1998) round out the ALASKAN mill family. No matter what your needs, Granberg has a mill to suit them.
Granberg International products are made in Pittsburg, California using domestic and international sourced components.
Weighing just four pounds, the Haddon LUMBER/MAKER is a high-quality, all-steel chainsaw attachment that ensures a straight cutting path. It’s like having a handheld lumber mill that attaches to any chainsaw bar in minutes, with no drilling required. Now you can cut great lumber of all sizes and thicknesses for hundreds of projects.
Hud-Son Forest Equipment
Since 1949, with commitment to our customers and passion for excellence in sawmills and wood processors, Hud-Son has become a leading USA forestry equipment manufacturer.
The Sawyer portable sawmill is made in Barneveld, New York with domestic and international sourced components.
New England Pine
New England Pine is proud to be a provider of professional forestry equipment and provide milling guidance and equipment to customers throughout the USA. They are active in investing and engineering new forestry equipment right there in CT.
New England Pine chainsaw mills are made and powdercoated in Connecticut using domestic and some international parts.
TimberKing’s solid-welded four-post head, twin beam log deck and big-beam power core combine to create a mill that can power through the toughest jobs under the toughest conditions day after day after day. Often imitated, never equaled, the BIG 3 are at the heart of the TimberKing Advantage.
TimberKing portable sawmills are made in Kansas City, Missouri, using domestic and international sourced components.
Timbery portable sawmills are proven in the field and have outperformed other sawmills at several competitive events including the Great Portable Sawmill Shoot-Out held every other year at the Paul Bunyan Show in Ohio.
Timbery portable sawmills are made in Indianapolis, Indiana using domestic and internationally sourced components.
Since 1982, Wood-Mizer has brought personal and portable sawmills to people all over the world who want the freedom of sawing their own lumber for projects or profits. Engineered for performance and quality, Wood-Mizer offers a complete line of portable sawmills for woodworking hobbyists to full-time sawmill operators.
Wood-Mizer products are made in Indianapolis Batesville, Indiana using domestic and international sourced components.
Any product, such as Portable Sawmills, that are produced using any amount of labor, materials, engineering and/or intellectual propert that is sourced from here in the US, we then would consider that item to be, at least in part, made in America, no matter where the final assembly takes place. Below is our own ‘grading system’ we used to rate the above brands.
Any brands marked with a gold star (100% value) shows that some (or maybe all) of their products are made in the USA using virtually all domestic sourced materials labor.
A silver star (75% value) shows their products are assembled in America using domestic labor and a mix (of any proportion) of both domestic and imported parts.
A bronze star (50% value) shows that their products are assembled in the U.S. using all imported parts.
An ’empty star’ (25% value) indicates that the product is designed or engineered in the US, and/or some of the parts have been produced here, but are sent elsewhere to be assembled into a final product.
Overall the above 8 Portable Sawmill Brands scored a combined rating of 81 % 100 ‘Made in America’.
The manufacturers on this page might produce the same type of tools in other countries as well. Many businesses alter their brand names, manufacturing practices or product designs with little or no notice, so if there are questions that still remain, we suggest contacting the manufacturer directly.
Manufacturers listings were last reviewed for accuracy on 12/17/2021 by Dave Hurley.
This site does not have any relationship, business or personal, with any of the manufacturers in the above list. Our reviews are limited to the issue of being made in the USA, and are impartial, although we are a participant in several affiliate networks, including Amazon and others, which are advertising programs, and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Is a Portable Band Sawmill Right for Your Business?
There are many different portable Band sawmills on the market to choose from. They are possibly the most common type of portable sawmill. A Band sawmill is made up of a saw head with 2 Band wheels. They have a flexible steel Band blade that tracks around the Band wheels. It has a frame with a track that guides the saw head through the log. The operator or sawyer pushes the saw head into the log to cut.
A Band Sawmill can produce anywhere from 100 board feet per hour for the smaller manual hobby mills to 600 board feet per hour for the fully loaded hydraulic models. If you are a weekend warrior and only want to saw a few logs at a time, a small 10 horsepower manual mill might be the best choice for you. If you are looking for a higher production machine, one of the automated hydraulic mills will be the right choice. The best place to start would be to determine your production needs and purchase a mill that can keep pace with your needs.
The thin Band saw blade on these mills will allow for less waste going to the sawdust pile and more boards in your stack of lumber. This translates to more profit for your bottom line. Another benefit of this blade is that you can get a very smooth cut on the surface of your lumber. Many Band sawmill owners make lumber to build their own homes. The lumber off a Band mill is almost as smooth as the lumber you can buy at a lumber yard.
Yet another benefit is that the blades for these mills are very inexpensive. Most blades are around 25 each. This gives you the ability to take a chance and cut logs that may contain metal. The worst you will do is destroy a cheap blade, most of the time the blade can be resharpened for less than 10.
The downside of all this is that the thin blade is also very flexible and prone to diving. Anyone who has run a Band sawmill for any period of time has experienced this annoying tendency in Band sawmills. You get halfway through a cut and hit a tough knot or maybe a little dirt making the blade dull and your blade begins to move around. The end result is wavy boards or even worse a broken or stuck blade.
This is where a Band sawmill shines. Depending on the make and model you choose you can get a Band sawmill that will cut a 40-inch diameter log or bigger. Making wide boards is something that these mills excel at. Small mills will cut a 20-inch wide board and some of the bigger mills will cut up to a 36” wide board.
and Resale Value
Portable Band sawmill range widely, manufacturers have models available for every budget. The small manual mills start at around 3,000 and go up to around 10,000 depending on the size of the mill. Mid-size sawmills range in price from 6,000 all the way to 20,000. It all depends on what make and model you are purchasing. Finally, the large fully automated hydraulic mills can break the bank at a whopping 40,000 or more.
Don’t let the scare you, though. A portable Band sawmill will retain its value very well if you maintain it properly. You can expect to get anywhere from 70% to 90% of its original value when you sell your used mill. In some cases, used mills have gone for the same price or more than they were new.
Just how portable is a portable Band sawmill? Well, quite simply it will go just about anywhere a vehicle towing a trailer can go. So if your woodlot is accessible by road or two track then you probably can get your sawmill to the log. Just make sure you have enough logs at the woodlot to justify the time invested in moving your mill to the job site.
Small-scale sawmilling on the farm: Is it right for your operation?
At one time, just about every pioneer farmer had a sawmill in the yard and nearly every small town had a hardware store with a lumberyard. Not anymore. Most small town lumberyards across Canada have shut down and as a result, people have become accustomed to driving sometimes an hour or more just for a couple of two-by-fours. It is frustrating and it doesn’t make sense. That frustration has created strong demand for local custom and retail sawmilling services, especially in areas a bit further removed from major retail centres. There is also strong demand for niche lumber sizes and products. Wood is still a very popular building material. And, there are many more good reasons to take a serious look at the potential of adding a small-scale sawmill to your farm. Technological advances among small-scale sawmill suppliers over the past two decades have resulted in more accurate, more dependable and less labour-intensive sawmills, particularly with improvements to hydraulics and computerized setworks that control mill functions. Companies have also added edgers, debarkers, planers and moulders to their lines of value-adding equipment. Today, there is a wide variety of entry level and advanced small-scale sawmill products available with extra options. (See sawmill suppliers sidebar.) Small-scale sawmilling isn’t limited by the amount of space needed to produce wood products. Many Canadian farmers have established an entire operation on just a portion of their farm yards. It can get a bit messy, though, so deciding where to put the sawmill enterprise is an important consideration and it may require a burn pit. Farm-based sawmilling can also be done during less busy times, after daily chores and during the colder months when the crops are in. It’s a great way to avoid becoming a couch potato especially in winter, because despite all the technological advances, running a sawmill and piling lumber is still physical work. As business builds, it could also be a way to eventually work from home and avoid the commute. So the question is why don’t more farmers supplement their income with a sawmilling business in the off-season or year round? The main reason is that launching a sawmilling venture is a long term commitment to learning. It may look easy when those boards start to fly off the back end of a bandsaw mill, but without a doubt, it took a lot of planning, education and trial and error to get to that point. It likely involved learning how to operate the sawmill properly to produce quality products to encourage repeat business; learning about sawblade selection, sharpening and maintenance; finding and securing log sources; calculating transportation costs from the log source to the sawmill and marketing the custom sawmilling business. For some, farm-based sawmilling will always and only be a hobby. For others, it may prove to be the opportunity they have been looking for to improve farm incomes and/or quit their day job. Here are some important considerations before making that sawmill purchase: It is necessary to gain access to an inexpensive and consistent supply of healthy and mature timber. Potential sources include healthy woodlots located on the farmer’s property. Other options for those who don’t own a woodlot are bidding on government-sponsored timber auctions, purchasing logs privately from nearby landowners and larger diameter logs from large, commercial sawmills, or negotiating the purchase of salvage timber from oilfield, mining or hydro companies, or from municipally-owned landfills and tree removal service contractors. After locating and securing a reasonably priced wood supply, it is necessary to calculate how much time and effort it will take to harvest the wood, if required, and deliver it to the yard. Transportation costs based on distance from the source to the sawmill are a key component when drafting a business plan. Whether to purchase your own picker truck that can double as a delivery truck for local deliveries or be contracted out is a consideration. The next step is probably the most important one, and that is to calculate whether it is possible to saw lumber in your farmyard and make money. While the cost of the sawmill, blades and accompanying blade sharpening equipment is an important factor, it is not the most important one. The most important factor is calculating how many board feet of lumber of various sizes and quality you can ‘reasonably’ expect to produce over an eight hour work day from your wood source. That number will vary widely depending on what species of wood is being sawn into what sort of wood products. For softwood products like spruce, pine and fir, board feet is the standard measurement used to calculate both the cost to produce the lumber and its selling price after mark up. Hardwood products like maple, birch, aspen, beech and oak tend to be measured in square feet and also valued on an appearance scale because they often are used in appearance applications. The biggest rookie mistake among new sawmill owners is a lack of understanding concerning the volume limitations of producing lumber on a bandsaw mill. There is definitely a daily ceiling on how much production a bandsaw mill can produce per day, no matter what species are being sawn or what products are being manufactured. A bandsaw mill is not designed for volume. So that is why many successful sawmillers FOCUS on custom sawmilling and specialty sizes not offered by building supply retailers. In these cases, there is potential to mark up products and services to reflect the effort and value of the end product. Another rookie mistake is expecting to make a lot of money producing commodity lumber like two-by-fours from a low volume bandsaw as the foundational product for the business. In reality, the easiest product to manufacture by both beginners and experienced sawyers on any sawmill is square timbers. They are also highly profitable and in high demand because they have so many industrial, commercial and residential uses. For example, a 6 in. X 6 in. timber, measuring anywhere from 10 to 30 feet, could require only four cuts on a bandsaw mill, versus numerous cuts to break a log down to produce two by fours and two by sixes that are cheap as dirt in retail stores. Here’s the key formula — fewer cuts means more volume per eight hours, less wear and tear on equipment and ultimately, more money in your (See sidebar, The Vohs Experience). Focusing on timber production first opens the door to breaking down that timber into various dimensional lumber sizes, as customer demand dictates, with end products priced accordingly, based on the time, effort and equipment wear and tear needed to achieve that final product. Remember, every cut costs you time and money. While there are bandsaw mill products available, like the line of Canadian-made double-cut bandsaw mills sold by Select Sawmill, headquartered in Plantagenet, Ontario, that deliver higher production because they saw in both directions, it’s possible that a bandsaw may not be the best option for the new sawmiller if the goal is to produce volume. A better option might be an affordable high quality thin kerf circular saw. Many examples of the Kara line of Finnish-made, small scale, circular saws are already in use in several rural-based, sawmilling businesses in Canada. Another option is circular sawmills offered by Canby, Oregon-based, Mighty Mite Sawmills. Then finally, there is the selection and maintenance of sawblades. A dull sawblade translates into the production of a lot of extra sawdust, slower production and costly wavy lumber that may end up in the burn pit. Realistically, however, beginners should expect to produce a considerable amount of wavy lumber early on. Chock it up to a learning experience, but work hard to get better at both sawmill operation and blade maintenance quickly. It is necessary to sharpen sawblades regularly, and depending on the amount of production, a blade change may be required twice a day or more. Whether a sawmill is purchased new or used, sawmill retailers provide the required equipment and should provide blade maintenance training on how to keep blades sharp. There are both manual and automatic sharpening systems available, with the benefit of the automatic systems being that they have the computer-controlled, ‘set and forget’ option. With manual systems, it is a required hand’s-on time commitment every day, rather like the need to feed livestock on a daily basis. For example, Christiansen Lumber, located near Big River, Saskatchewan, uses a Wood-Mizer Turbo 7 blade, with a deep gullet seven degree hook angle, and 7/8 in. pitch in their newer Wood-Mizer LT70 electric bandsaw mill. The blade on Christiansen’s bandsaw is 1.5 in. wide and.055 in. thick. Learning a bit about sawblades is part of the sawmilling experience, with the eventual goal of determining what works well for you and sticking with it. “That’s really where the rubber meets the road because if you don’t have sharp blades your sawmill is useless,” says Christiansen Lumber owner, Dean Christiansen. “That’s why I spent the extra money and bought their (Wood-Mizer’s) best grinder.” To sharpen blades, Dean uses the Wood-Mizer BMS500 sharpener. “It’s an improvement over my old drag grinder, where it would come down over the face of the tooth and then drag back,” says Christiansen. “This sharpener has a CBN grinding wheel made with a special material which comes down and hits the tooth in one grind. You are getting a perfect grind every time.” His sawmill requires six sharp blades every day, as blades are changed every 1.5 hours. They are a good example of a company that has learned and evolved along the way for over a decade, having developed a keen understanding of the importance of blade maintenance. They are also located in a rather remote area in northeastern Saskatchewan. Wood-Mizer is one of the most popular small-scale sawmill suppliers in North America, but there are other options. The Will Vohs experience
Many current small-scale sawmills are designed to minimize the labour requirement and also offer power options like electric, gasoline or diesel.
For just about every successful, farm-based, custom sawmiller, there is an ‘Aha’ moment. For Alberta farmer and sawmiller, Will Vohs, it was when he did a quick comparison between what log buyers wanted to pay him for raw logs and how much money he could make selling sawn lumber from that same wood resource.
One of the easiest and most profitable wood product from small scale sawmills are square timbers because of how few cuts are needed to create them and because they have residential, commercial and industrial uses.
He says that he can manufacture a 12 in. X 12 in. X 20 ft. timber on his bandsaw mill and sell it for 250 compared to the 50 to 100 per raw log that log buyers wanted to pay him 10 years ago. It’s even less now. He operates a seasonal custom and retail sawmilling business on his farm near Caroline, Alberta. His sawmill is a Wood-Mizer LT40 Band sawmill equipped with a debarker that he purchased for 30,000 about 12 years ago. Dorian Lavallee, Wood-Mizer National Sales Manager in Canada, says for a small scale sawing business, they recommend the LT35HDG25 portable sawmill starting at 30,000. For a full time sawing business, he recommends an LT40HDG26 starting at 40,000.
The ‘Aha’ moment for Caroline, Alberta area farmer, Will Vohs, in his decision to manufacture and market his own lumber was when he compared how much forest companies wanted to pay him for his standing timber versus what he could make selling wood products from that same timber.
Vohs also focuses on lumber dimensions not readily available from retail lumber yards and recently milled a load of 1 in. X 10 in. boards for a friend. He generally cuts nothing smaller than 1in. X 6 in. and as large as 2 in. X 12 in. He produces a fairly high volume of 2 in. X 6 in. and 2 in. X 8 in. for cattle fencing that he uses both on his own farm and sells to others. Waste wood from sawmilling is processed through a small wood chipper, with the material used in Voh’s cattle operations. First-cut slabs are processed into firewood for his home and shop. When queried by friends and neighbours about the wisdom of making this investment into a Band sawmill, he points out that the cost of the sawmill was about the same as a round baler. Having spent a couple of decades raising cattle, he says he’d rather be sawing lumber than baling hay.
Will Vohs was fortunate in that he had a good quality woodlot to source his logs and also a building to both install his small-scale sawmill and stack his wood products.
“I don’t have the pressure of harvest and haying weather anymore,” Vohs says. “The sawmill is really nice that way. If the unit breaks down, it’s not that bad because there is nothing spoiling on you right away. You can just fix the sawmill and carry on.” Today, between running his sawmill, custom grazing cattle for other area farmers, and offering farm services to his neighbours, Will says, “I am plenty entertained every day.” The Gary’s Mill experience
Gary Francis operates and stacks lumber from his Timberking small-scale bandsaw mill. He says on a good day, he can produce about 800 board feet per hour.
Tired of plying his skills as a sawyer for other custom sawmilling businesses, Nipawin, Saskatchewan, area resident, Gary Francis, dreamed of one day working from home and putting up his own shingle. A few years ago, he took the plunge, with a business simply known as ‘Gary’s Mill’. The backbone of the business is a Timberking 2200 portable, one-man, Band sawmill that he purchased two years ago. “The wood doesn’t sit here for very long,” says Francis. “There’s a big demand for Band saw lumber because it has a smoother finish and the boards are true from one end to the other.” Gary’s Mill manufactures a variety of custom wood products, the most popular being
The entire sawing enterprise for Gary’s Mill, located just outside Nipawin, Saskatchewan, is handled within his farmyard.
dimension lumber from 2 in. X 4 in. to 2 in. X 10 in. He also markets live or rough edged 1″ lumber primarily for corral windbreak boards and timbers in a variety of dimensions, some as large as 10 in X 10 in. Lately, he has also been manufacturing thick and wide planks for customers wanting to use the material to make tables and benches. There is a good, local market for 2 in. X 8 in. and 2 in. X 10 in. dimension lumber for use as corral planking. Francis is investigating if he can qualify for a grade stamp so that his dimensional lumber can be used in building construction, as well as the addition of a planer/moulder to expand his product line. “When I went shopping for a bandsaw mill, I wanted fully hydraulic features, with a board return and debarker, which to me is critical because wood logged in the summertime can get pretty dirty. Dirt and bandsaw mills don’t mix,” Gary says. “And I wanted a diesel powered unit because it is more user-friendly and cheaper to operate than gasoline.”
A front end loader at Gary’s Mill allows him to move logs around the yard and load them onto the sawmill carriage. A loader also comes in handy for loading wood products onto customer trucks or flatbeds.
Among the features Gary appreciates about his Timberking 2200 sawmill is its sturdy construction. Advertised as a one-man sawmill, Gary says that based on the Timberking 2200’s design, one person can definitely both operate the sawmill and stack lumber, estimating that with the right log mix, he can manufacture about 800 board feet per hour. Sawing a 16 ft. long, 12 in. wide log takes him about 40 seconds per cut. He appreciates that the Band mill’s setworks and hydraulics minimize the amount of manual labour required while also speeding up production, especially with his history of back problems.
He uses 1.5 in. wide, 7/8ths pitch, double-hard blades that are 177 in. long. Blade use and sharpness varies depending on the logs he is sawing. To sharpen blades he uses Timberking’s Talon automatic sharpener and manual setter. Sources Here is a list of popular small-scale sawmill providers. The key to any purchase is preferably local after-sales technical, parts, and training support. Also, do they have an expanded product line to help you grow your business? Wood-Mizer. (bandsaw) www.woodmizer.ca Norwood. (bandsaw) www.norwoodsawmills.com Timberking. (bandsaw) www.timberking.com Select Sawmills. (double cut bandsaw) www.selectsawmill.com Baker Products. (bandsaw and scragg) www.baker-online.com Hud-Son. (bandsaw) www.hud-son.com Logmaster. (bandsaw) www.logmaster.com Mighty-Mite. (bandsaw and circular saw). www.mightymitesawmills.com Kara. (thin kerf circular saw) www.kara.fi Helle. (carriage and scragg). www.4helle.com. Tony Kryzanowski
This sawmill practice also is in parts of the US. Dozens of people are buying or building Band sawmills in western NY in my area. Weather for profit or pleasure, I think this awesome. Thom Dunnski more than 2 years ago
Ultimate Guide to the Best Portable Sawmill
From childhood it’s always been a dream to build our own home. specifically a timber frame house.
Call us dreamers, but we never gave up the hope.
A couple years ago we decided to purchase rural land and, among other things, begin learning to make our own lumber and beams.
We had dabbled with chainsaw mills to see if we could make it work and reduce cost. Did we forget to mention debt free was also part of the vision for this home?
While the chainsaw mill proved formidable, the sheer size and volume of beams and lumber needed made us realize if we wanted to mill a precise frame in a timely manner and with reasonable labor, we were going to need a portable sawmill of some kind.
We hope that this page can serve as a resource to others looking to do research on the best portable sawmill for their needs.
We’ll share which sawmill we chose, things we’ve learned from that choice and our experience with the sawmill so far… the good, bad and even downright ugly.
The Best Portable Sawmill: A Consideration Guide
If you’ve been researching portable sawmills for more than five minutes you’ve realized that portable sawmills can be had in many different sizes, configurations and even different designs.
Suffice it to say we’ve learned there is no such thing as the best portable sawmill; all sawmills have their pros and cons.
Here are some of the major considerations you’ll encounter when deciding which portable sawmill is right for you and your needs.
How will you be moving logs?
I’ve got a bomb to drop on you; LOGS ARE HEAVY.
When folks peeped our logs and then our portable sawmill they said, “You and what army and gonna get those up on that mill?”
Probably the first thing I’d ask someone looking to buy a mill wouldn’t be about the mill at all; It’d be about logs!
Our average log while milling our timber frame was a 20″ green Douglas Fir, 28 feet in length and weighed in at approximately 2000 lbs.
Have you ever tried to push a 20′ long car with cant hooks and knots on its wheels up a ramp? Good, now that we’re on the same page…
One major awakening that happened within a day of getting our mill was the sobering realization of moving logs to the mill.
Formerly, we’d only moved logs 30 yards or less using mostly block and tackle or let gravity to do the work.
Then we brought our chainsaw mill the log from which we could easily move the slabs we created.
Mind you, all we created was 1.5″ rough-sawn slabs. I doubt we could have carried anything over 2″ thick; slabs that thick are just too heavy, even for two people.
When you’re looking at a mill you first need to think about how the heck you’ll get the mill to the log like a trailer mounted mill with good road access or you’ll use heavy equipment.
Can you move logs by hand?
Unless you’ll be making very small lumber (under 8 feet in length) and working with logs under 20″ in diameter, moving by hand is not only a chore but physically dangerous!
You can do it, but do so with full disclosure!
Can you drag logs on the ground?
If the bark is left on initially the bark can provide protection but you’ll be forced to debark the log before milling or risk doing crazy damage to your blade(s).
Debarking is a good idea anyway as bark is full of blade-gobbling matter.
If you can lift and carry the logs you can often get by without debarking which saves a lot of labor! Blades are cheap compared to a chiropractor.
Moving logs with equipment.
This wasn’t exclusively for moving logs but for a host of things including building our home, snow removal and digging our water system to name a few.
Moving logs was high on the list, however.
Even for this 15,000 lb machine, a 28 foot long 24″ green Douglas Fir log proved formidable.
With practice we got it down to a few minutes to load a log without jarring the mill, risking injury or damaging our grapple.
What about log loading ramps and cant hooks?
When our mill first arrived we purchased log loading ramps which included cant hooks.
It took us ONE log to realize for our use, primarily beams for our timber frame home, this wasn’t just hard work, it was potentially lethal.
In one afternoon we had attempted to safely move a 20 foot 18″ green Larch (Tamarack) butt from our flatbed to the mill using ramps and scared ourselves silly.
One wrong move is all it takes.
Consider bringing the portable sawmill or chainsaw mill to the log.
If you can’t move logs then you’ll want to FOCUS on a mill that you can bring to the logs themselves.
For going-to-the-log applications we’d FOCUS on circular saws or chainsaw mills.
Their portability and ability to be set up in difficult locations make them a clear favorite.
Have equipment or small logs (under 16″)? Then a bandsaw mill might be just right!
There’s more to consider of course, but to get the most from a bandsaw mill being able to safely move logs is vital.
Keep in mind that having a mill in a fixed setup and moving the log is far more efficient overall. Moving the mill to the log has many inherent inefficiencies.
Plan to make lumber, beams or both?
The second question I’d ask someone looking to buy a mill would be about the primary use of the mill.
I say primary because most all mills are pretty versatile and can make a lot of cuts with some creativity.
It’s about what you plan to do day-to-day that really should be the FOCUS.
This will make it far less confusing when shopping for a mill as the different mills have clear strengths.
Bandsaw mills are great for large beams.
For us lumber is important, but not as important as the beams we’d be using to make our 36’x36′ Douglas Fir timber frame house.
What made this frame challenging to mill was the length of the longest timber at 27 feet (final dimension in the frame is 25 feet 6 inches, but we always over saw!).
This one fact put the circle saw family out of contention. For many of them the longest cutting length is 24 feet.
Then let’s look at the largest beam we’d need to cut at 8 inches by 15 inches.
Even for the largest, non-production circular sawmill available, 15 inches is a substantial cut and would require creativity to produce.
With a 10″ kerf you’d need to make two passes and hope they’re spot on!
We needed 8 of these pieces… So while it’s within the abilities of the circular mill, pieces this size are by no means a strength.
Most entry level bandsaw mills have no problem with this beams of this dimension.
For us the bandsaw mill with it’s “limitless” track extensions, ability to make large and long consistent cuts for the beams made it the clear winner.
The cost of the timbers made it very worthwhile for us to mill all our own beams.
Circular saws may be better for lumber.
For lumber production a bandsaw mill often requires more steps to produce lumber than a circular saw.
Additionally the circular sawmill can cut in both forward and back passes (bandsaw mills cut only on the forward pass) cutting operator fatigue in half.
There’s another perk to circular saws when it comes to smaller lumber under 10″.
Because of how the mills are designed, you can “flip” the blade from a vertical position to horizontal. This feature makes it possible to literally “carve” a laundry list of pieces out of a log.
On one pass you might want to harvest 8″ tall pieces. You only need two pieces of lumber say 2 inches by 8 inches, you could use maybe a couple 8 inch by 8 inch beams and maybe a couple 4 inch by 8 inch pieces you could later trim to 4 inch by 4 inch pieces.
That’s all doable quickly with the circular sawmill. The same cuts would take quite a bit more processing with a bandsaw mill.
For mass produced common dimensional lumber it would be a close tie.
The bandsaw mill would require more effort for the same product as the log must be rotated to make additional cuts.
Remember that the circular saw blade could “swing”? That ONE feature removes the need to re-position the log.
Length to be Milled
We’ll hit it again in case you jumped straight here!
For us, the primary use of our mill was to cut the timber frame for our home. Our longest timber was 27 feet.
Just this one fact put our needs outside those of even the largest non-production circular sawmills.
We were forced to FOCUS our research on bandsaw mills.With their “limitless” track designs you can cut to nearly any conceivable length.
Of course at some point the curve of the earth begins to become a factor…. you get the idea.
If you intend or at least need to have the option for long lengths, let’s say over 20 feet, you might want to consider a bandsaw mill.
Circular sawmills are however available and capable of cuts upwards of 25′, but you begin diminishing the strengths of that type of mill such as portability.
Width to be Milled
As we looked at the timbers needed for our mill we wanted to consider our largest timber.
This turned out to be our carrying beams measuring 8 inches by 15 inches.
While this is feasible with the larger, non-production circular sawmills, it would require creativity.
This just put one more vote for us in the bandsaw mill direction.
For most circular sawmills, the largest single pass cut depth, vertical or horizontal, is 10 inches.
If you’re looking to make mostly dimensional lumber or posts under 10 inches you’d be set.
Can you cut larger? Yes, but more effort and skill are needed and the process becomes a bit cumbersome.
Most bandsaw mills can easily handle cuts in the 28-inch range and the top-of-the-line mills can make 36-inch cuts.
Something worth noting is the design of the mill head, however.
So while a 36-inch cut is possible you will be limited on the depth of that cut.
Most mills have drive belts which have a cover that intersects the “throat” of the cut.
When cutting at maximum width you’ll be limited on depth.
Sorry guys, you can’t cut a 10 inch by 36 inch slab… DARN!
Here we’re not so much discussing slabbing. We’ll touch on that now!
When we talk about choosing a sawmill most of us want some versatility.
Slabs, however, require a lot more thought and the right equipment to do well, creating quality pieces that have high value and maybe most importantly, reduce effort.
When most people are talking slabs, we’re looking at single pass cuts 36 inches and larger.
Most bandsaw mills aren’t set up for cuts this size.
Most max out around 36 inches and at that width their depth can be limited.
This is in part due to their inherent design and also somewhat attributable to physical limitations of the blade length.
There are people who have built massive slabbing bandsaw mills however, so it can be done!
For mills on the market, however, the selection gets quite narrow.
If your slabs are 36″ or less, bandsaw mill is a great option!
For a dedicated slab machine, or to keep your slabbing options open, a circular sawmill with a slabbing conversion can be a great option!
This opens the door to cut slabs up to 9 feet.
Wait, there are still logs out there that big?
SERIOUSLY! Gonna need a crane for that sucker!
Production Business vs. Hobby
When maintaining profitability matters, choosing the right mill takes on a whole new level of seriousness.
While side jobs and “favors” can be done with most any mill, profitability is often ignored.
Hands down, profitability often comes down to a couple of things: reducing labor and increasing production.
It really depends on your “niche” though.
Portability over complexity could be more profitable if you’re frequently milling on location.
Either way, bandsaw mills here really start to shine.
With features like hydraulic loading, hydraulic turning, debarkers, automated head drivers, programmable repeatable cuts and board returns much of the “heavy” lifting is done by the mill.
Quickly, any of the weaknesses of the bandsaw mill are equalized and production soars while operator fatigue drops.
With the ability to have the mill basically “set up” on a trailer the time it takes from arrival to milling is just a few minutes reducing “windshield time” and increasing billable time!
Expect to see handsome cost increases for features like those on a production mill, but this cost is quickly realized in profitability.
For hobby mills, maximum features at a budget friendly price point is often desirable.
For this you’ll once again find bandsaw mills shining bright.
Models are available that can be expanded as needed keeping the initial investment low.
These entry-level models often have less automation and require more effort to operate.
A tradeoff to reduce both purchase cost and also overall maintenance costs.
Portability, Mobility Setup
When discussing one feature of sawmills it’s hard not to touch on others because they’re all so intertwined.
We’ve touched on portability a couple times now when thinking about our ability to move, or not move, logs.
This also came up when we talked about running a business versus a hobby mill.
Portability can range from “toss it in the back of your pickup” to trailer-mounted with hydraulic stabilizers!
A host of factors need to to be considered.
We wanted to ability to anchor the mill for a prolong period of single-location milling as we cut our 118 piece timber frame from 55 logs.
After all that was done, the mill turned into a road block, restricting access and use of our property (only because we have yet to mount it to its trailer).
We also wanted the ability to travel to mill for ourselves and help others.
Sometimes moving logs is much harder or less convenient than moving the mill.
For this reason we opted for a mill that can be mounted on a trailer as well as stand alone.
For “arrive and saw” operations the trailer mounted, tow behind, bandsaw mill is hard to beat.
Towable behind most full sized pickups (ya know to carry all the other stuff you’ll need to run a mobile mill!) and setup requiring under 15 minutes you can be milling more and assembling less.
If chasing logs that can’t be moved is your thing a circular sawmill is the way to go, but it’s quite a specialty and keep in mind that you’ll need special accessories to open the door to slabbing.
Why else would you go all that way to a log you can’t move?
Several mills offer a lower cost entry level stationary option with the ability to add a trailer package later.
One of the trophy that belongs bandsaw mills is their narrow kerf at under 1/8″. Why is this so important? Two reasons!
WasteWe never saw it (no pun intended) coming, but we created a MOUNTAIN of sawdust with our chainsaw mill making lumber from just ONE pine tree.
We harvested enough lumber for our hot tub deck decking.
For every 4 boards we cut we turned one potential board into sawdust or about 20% waste. The kerf on our chainsaw, even with a narrow kerf ripping chain, is right at 3/8 inch.
The larger 10 inch circular saw mills feature a 5 tooth blade with a kerf at 1/4″.
The kerf on a properly “set” bandsaw blade is under 1/8″. 1/3 the kerf of our chainsaw mill and 1/2 of a circular saw mill!
Even with this “thin kerf” we still managed to create over 10 cubic yards of sawdust when milling the 55 logs that make up our timber frame.
WOW! Unless you’re in it for the sawdust, anything you can do to reduce waste is more lumber in your….uh…? Kiln. IN YOUR KILN!
Aside from a sharp blade/chain the next factor that dictates effort required is the width of the kerf.
With the chainsaw mill a “fast” cut on a 8′ long 16″ log took about 3 minutes.
That same cut with a sharp bandsaw blade would take under 30 seconds. E.F.F.O.R.T!
When you’re at this for 3 straight weeks, 12 hours a day, that effort becomes apparent VERY QUICK!
Using the same math it would have taken us approximately 4.5 MONTHS to mill our frame with a chainsaw mill!
And it would have been WAY less accurate.
NO. THANK. YOU!
Hands down bandsaw mills provide incredible value for the dollar!
Used units can be found for several hundred dollars.
Those on a budget can own a fantastic little mill.
High production, automated, feature rich models will require a much larger investment topping 70,000!
If that mill generates an income this investment will provide a healthy return for years or generations to come!
Circular saws are harder to acquire, often require more shipping and have an overall higher acquisition cost starting in the 8,000 range.
To be fair, an entry level circular sawmill is a formidable machine.
To gain access to the larger 10 inch circular saw mills expect a much larger price tag.
When contemplating budget consider a few things beyond the features.
What about upkeep, maintenance, repairs, warranty and resale?
All of those contribute to what the vehicle industry calls “true or total cost of ownership”.
It’s a way of looking at not just the price you’ll pay at the showroom, for example, but to actually operate, maintain and ultimately the price you’ll be able to fetch if you decide to sell.
It’s not a secret that the companies who’ve been around for decades and their core business is sawmills are going to provide a better “after sale” experience.
Some of these companies even provide amazing support to second hand owners of their mills.
It’s really a tribute to their longevity when an early generation of their mill is still in operation.
What better way to build a legacy than to support these owners!
Often lower priced “hobby” mills come with little or no support, can be more difficult (or VERY DIFFICULT) to service, repair and maintain and resale value is weak for all the same reasons.
If your skill set leans toward DIY and you’re up for the challenge this might be less intimidating than someone who needs or wants a more “plug and play” mill.
Parts, Serviceability Warranty
Sawmills break. Fact. After-sale serviceability is perhaps more important than anything!
Hit something metallic in a log, break a belt or drop a log in the wrong spot, all real and common things that happen.
The ability to get your mill repaired and back in service without major headaches should be considered in the buying process.
The best companies don’t just make sawmills, they’ve got as many or more people dedicated to servicing, repairing and improving their products.
Some even keep all service records for customers so when they sell the mill the new owner has an entire service history.
Kinda like that guy who kept all his oil change receipts on that Honda Civic for 300,000 miles?
If you plan to use the mill professionally or operate VERY remote, having easy maintenance and serviceable parts on hand is imperative to success.
Downtime is money for any sawyer, but when parts are out of reach and the job must get done you won’t regret having a machine built with service in mind.
Then again if milling is your hobby, maybe grinding, welding and fabricating is too?
So if you love to tinker, all you need to know is will your grounding clamp fit on the steel! It is made of steel, right?
Steel SHOULD not, in nearly every case, dull from exposure to wood.
However other things like heat (friction) and debris like rocks and dirt from moving logs, whether barked or not, will most certainly dull any blade over time.
Many sawyers lament that they went all day on a blade and then all of a sudden hit something and BAM; the blade was dulled in an instant.
An all too common experience with sawing logs.
Sharpening is probably the most frequent and most challenging maintenance required to keep your mill running cool, cutting accurately and productivity high.
Bandsaw blades requires an additional process called “setting” the teeth.
This establishes a slight opposing bend to alternating teeth establishing the “kerf” to be slightly thicker than the blade to prevent binding during cutting.
This needs to be done each time the blade is sharpened and must be very consistent.
Inconsistent “set” will create inconsistent and undesirable cuts.
Thankfully the cost of sharpening for bandsaw blades is quite affordable to have done professionally by a service like Woodmizer ReSharp.
At around 7 per blade you simply ship the blades in a box, they sharpen, set and ship them back to you in about a week.
Blades that have excessive damage or are at end-of-life are simply recycled.
We purchased two boxes (15 each box) of blades.
Once we consumed the first box (cut over 20 logs) we sent it in for sharpening and used the second box in the mean time.
If you’re sawing constantly like we were we’d go through a box in about a week, roughly the time it takes to send in a box for sharpening.
Circular saw blades can be sharpened on the mill by the owner with jigs provided by the saw manufacturer.
Keep in mind that circular blades have a much higher overall cost than bandsaw blades.
Hitting something like a rock, spike, fencing or conduit (yes, people hang conduit on trees!) can render a blade junk, beyond sharpening.
If you plan to be sawing logs or materials that have a high probability of containing debris then a bandsaw might be the only way to go due to reduce blade cost.
Engine Type Altitude
The second you’ve committed to which platform you’ll choose, bandsaw or circular saw, you’ll suddenly realize there are now many more options that must be chosen.
One of the biggest decisions, and hardest to later change, will be engine type and power output.
Currently the most common power plants available are single and two-cylinder four stroke gasoline engines ranging from 10hp up to 25hp.
Some companies do offer a single cylinder two stroke diesel option on some mill models.
Electric models are also available if you’ll be installing your mill near a power supply.
When looking at power plant options consider blade width, production speed, hardwoods, longevity and NOISE!
You’ll want to take your time considering where you plan to saw (altitude reduces power) as well as noise (urban nor suburban milling might restrict decibels allowed) before making your selection.
We chose the 25HP Kohler on our mill for it’s excellent cost/value/power/efficiency balance.
We can saw large logs, at higher altitudes (above 5000′ above seal level) and maintenance costs are very low.
Noise is acceptable and we aren’t anticipating excessively high hours of operation over it’s lifetime.
Portable Bandsaw Sawmills
- Ease of loading
- Ease of transport
- Availability very good new and used units
- Longest milling length
- Deepest / Widest single pass cut upwards of 36″ wide and 16″ deep
- Available diesel engine
- Blades are affordable, quick easy to replace
- Very narrow kerf 1/8″ or less
- Hydraulic systems available to increase production, reduce labor
- Hook up and tow portability
- Available automated milling features
- Production speed making lumber
- Production speed creating wide mix of output from single log (2×4, 4×4, 4×6 etc)
- Moving large or old growth logs onto mill can be impossible
- Blade sharpening not easy for mill owner
- Sensitive to foundation, easy to mis-calibrate
- labor to operate (rotate log, cuts only on forward pass)
Portable Circular Sawmills
- Ease of sharpening, can be done by mill owner
- High production, cuts in both directions
- Creates “circle sawn” look, which is value added
- Set mill up around massive logs, mill in place, no need to move log
- Production speed creating wide mix of output from single log (2×4, 4×4, 4×6 etc)
- Less labor, no rotating log to make cuts
- Available slabbing attachment for up to 60″ wide slabs
- Length of cut limited to 18′. Longer length compromises portability./li
- Depth of cut limited by diameter of circular saw, often 10″ or less in single cut
- Portability and Setup
- Thicker kerf = more waste, more effort
- Blades are costly if damaged by metal or stones in logs
Look for Demo Models
Many manufacturers attend regional events open to the public including agriculture shows, home shows, construction trade shows and logging conferences.
At these shows they offer demonstrations and a chance to test some of their equipment.
It is common that the units used at a show are available for sale at a reduce rate given their previous use, but have all the same warranty benefits of a new machine.
At those same shows it’s common to find show specials offering a reduced price for sales made at the show. Just ask!
Refurbished Portable Sawmills
Many of the companies who’ve been around for many years have units that either were leased, sold with financing and later had to be reclaimed due to default or a customer may have returned a mill shortly after purchase for one reason or another.
These mills are then serviced and available for sale with a limited warranty. They probably sell fast though!
Buy Used (From Someone Wanting to Upgrade)
Many first time sawyers start small and over time either find themselves wanting to pursue sawing professionally or their needs change and are looking to upgrade.
Sales reps have such a close relationship with their clients that they might be aware of someone who is ready to upgrade once their current mill is sold.
Just ask if someone knows of someone looking to upgrade!
Call Local Dealer Ask About People Who Want to Sell
There are times when a mill is for sale but maybe the owner doesn’t know much about it or would rather let someone else handle the sale.
Whether a family member is deceased or maybe someone is simply too busy this can be a great way to find a used machine not listed elsewhere.
Must-Have Portable Sawmill Accessories
- Equipment / tools to move logs
- 3000 lb Log Grapple
- Bed extensions if you’ll be milling long logs
- Trailer package if you plan to mobile mill without requiring disassembly
- 2 (yes 2) Cant hooks. One person can create more force with two hooks. Less damage. Less effort.
- Laser Level to level long logs or logs with lots of taper
- Log ramps if you don’t have equipment
- Taper wedge (prevent log from rolling off mill and help adjust/hold tapered end)
- C clamps to prevent taper wedge from moving on bed
- Spare blades
- Spare belts
- Engine cover
- Hour meter, if one isn’t included to aid in maintenance intervals
- Blade tension alignment tool
- Blade tension gauge
- Belt tension adjustment tool
- Operation manual
- Various wrenches for retightening and adjusting mill
- Impact driver to speed up assembly or maintenance
- Framing square for marking beam on butt cut
- Loggers tape measure for quickly measuring long logs and log diameter
- Large air compressor to remove sawdust from track, drivebelts and head height adjustments
- Wood stickers to stack lumber and beams
- Chainsaw to cut up and remove waste slab wood for firewood or chipping
- Board foot or cant size calculators for maximizing log yield
- Moisture meter to monitor drying
- Quality construction work clothes that can stand up to sawmilling
10 Bandsaw Mill Tricks for EASY ACCURATE Cuts
- Blow off entire track after each cut
- Slow down on your first two cuts, make sure they’re square. Less waste. Less effort.
- Square off the mill deck for accuracy
- Fasten or secure the mill to prevent frequent mis-calibration moving logs
- Change your blade right before your final cuts
- Calibrate the mill before final cuts
- Push cants off the mill forward to process into firewood
- Think ahead about what lumber you’ll actually use down the road, instead of making random thickness cuts
- When decking logs, place log butts at the mill head end for easier leveling
- Use a floor jack to raise tapered end to centerline to maximize usable board footage
- Keep in mind your mill head max cutting diameter includes cruck, taper, bow and knots!
Enjoy this post? Follow our home build!
While we enjoy sawmilling and timber framing, most of our time is spent doing other tasks on the build such as icf construction, installing our radiant floor heating, drilling concrete, soaking in our diy hot tub… you get the idea Learn about our entire build here.