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Sawmill

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by Old Doug, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. Old Doug

    Old Doug Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Mo
    I would love to find another job and just need a part time deal i think. I have thought for years about a small portable or home made mill. Has any of you guys did this? My brother logs mainly walnut but also some oak he ends up with some walnut that isnt big enuff for some of his buyers.
     
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  2. terex herder

    terex herder Senior Member

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    Nov 11, 2017
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    Location:
    Kansas
    If the big guys won't buy them, you will probably do even worse. My understanding is the large walnut sawmills steam the sapwood so it colors and matches the heartwood. You wouldn't have that option, so your yield would be even poorer.

    Walnut is supposed to be the most rot resistant native wood. I have often wondered if the smaller logs could be cut for trailer decking and cribbing. When I was looking to sell logs ISTR anything less than 7' or less than 13" diameter was worthless to them. The sawmills call most Kansas trees gunstock lumber, as thats about all the longer you can get a good log.
     
  3. chroniekon

    chroniekon Senior Member

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    Apr 1, 2011
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    Location:
    Albany, Or
    I built one 20 years ago. This guy lives about 30 miles away. https://www.linnlumber.com He has since retired and sold to somebody else, so I don't know how it all works now. At the time he would sell his stuff as a complete kit with plans to build the track or as a partial kit and you could build as much of it as you want yourself. When I did it, I was able to build most of it myself. I did buy some of the parts from him (the 19" pulleys that the blade runs on, the belts or 'tires' that go on the pulleys, the hydraulic tensioner assembly and some blades) He gave me an assemble video and the plans for the track. I watched the assembly video over and over and sketched out a set of drawings from that. There are lots of subtleties and a fairly long learning curve to get everything right. There wasn't much info out there 20 years ago, I think now there are several forums just for sawmills.
     
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  4. Tones

    Tones Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Ex land clearing contractor, part-time retired
    Location:
    Ubique
    A tree lopper who injured his back now cuts slab wood ,dresses it ,stains and polishes on order. He has created a monster, people wanting bench tops, shelves, solid timber doors etc. He started by selling at local markets, now all his work is word of mouth and c ash. :)
     
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  5. Old Doug

    Old Doug Senior Member

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    I was try to think of a partime job. i guess if it didnt work out i could sell the mill.
     
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  6. Michael Kast

    Michael Kast Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2020
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    58
    Occupation:
    finish carpenter
    Location:
    Mandale NC
    I plan on buying a mill in the next year also. To my mind, if you are willing and able to make a market for your product you will work as much or as little as you want. There is a market here where people with portable mills are hired by homeowners to mill up fallen trees for the novelty of being able to build something from the wood of a tree that fell on the property. It is a romantic idea... They get hundreds of board feet of lumber so they can someday build a jewelry box or a night table.

    I think they charge like $75 an hour plus travel time and cost of blades. Not a bad little part time gig.
    And there would certainly be no 10/99s involved. In the end the customers get a lot of rough sawn hardwood for a few hundred dollars. It seems like a pretty good deal for everyone.

    I am buying a small mill so I can mill up my own lumber from trees I am clearing on my land. I'm not sure it will go any further than that. I convinced my accountant that I needed a Takeuchi track loader to move logs around :D
     
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  7. Bumpsteer

    Bumpsteer Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Mechanical designer
    Location:
    mid Michigan
    As a mill owner, you get what you pay for.
    4 of us went in on this one, that hasn't been an issue, nobody else uses it anymore.
    I can tell you what you don't want if planning on making a buck with it.
    We'll start with manual feed, it sucks. Manual rotate, it sucks on anything over 16" diameter.
    Manual load, ok if you have something with forks, otherwise, it sucks.
    Manual raise/lower is not an issue. A good autolube is a must also.
    The more manual the mill is, the more a helper is required.
    Deals are out there on used mills, just have to look and be patient.

    Ed
     
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  8. chroniekon

    chroniekon Senior Member

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    Apr 1, 2011
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    Location:
    Albany, Or
    I would agree with Bumpsteer. Mine is for the most part all manual. I have cut a lot of lumber on mine, but I don't think I would want to make a living off of it. Another consideration is blade sharpening, you should be set up to sharpen your own blades including resetting the teeth, but I found it to be a fairly time consuming endeavor. Sending them out is expensive, and here at least, a two week process.
     
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  9. treemuncher

    treemuncher Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Messages:
    244
    Occupation:
    eatin' trees, poopin' chips
    Location:
    West TN
    Have you done any of your research at ForestryForum.com ? Lots of sawmill guys and loggers on that board. I would expect a lot more background in the sawmill direction from those guys.
     
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  10. Tugger2

    Tugger2 Senior Member

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    British Columbia
    I have played with sawmills a bit over the years . The first one was a Bellsaw ,one of those kits you saw in the back of Popular Mechanics magazine . The kit came with all the basics for a headrig and carraige set up driven by PTO on a small farm tractor . Built the whole thing on timber framing and got to work sawing . It seemed like a lot of work to cut what might have a 1000 brd ft. of usable lumber , but it was enjoyable work. These days i have an LT 15 woodmizer bought it years ago for making special timbers for wharf projects . These are lowbudget sawmills great for making a few boards but tough to earn a living with.I know 2X4 s seem expensive these days ,but try and make enough of them to earn a living . Its the kind of business that if you have the passion and dedication to slave away at it you can get it going,but then you need a timber supply which might be possible to. Last of all you need a market for every stick you cut thats the tough one. Used to see small mills here burning a lot of stuff they just couldnt market.
     
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  11. Tones

    Tones Senior Member

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    And Tugger I think that's why the bloke I mentioned decided to value add.:D
     
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  12. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Retired
    Location:
    Hermann, Missouri
    Been four NEW mills spring up around here, eating up the profits the older mills used to depend on. The new guys are not making a ton of money either where two are considering bailing.
     
  13. Camshawn

    Camshawn Well-Known Member

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    Jan 25, 2017
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    Location:
    Langley BC
    Next door neighbour was in the tree business and we talked about buying a small mill together but he went in another direction. Glad that didn’t work out.
    Fellow across the street set one up as a means to keep busy as he was semi retiring. With the number of people staying close to home this year, he is more than full time cutting slabs, fencing, dunage, and firewood as well as making live edge tabletops.
     
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  14. cuttin edge

    cuttin edge Senior Member

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    Finish grader operator
    Location:
    NB Canada
    I went to demo for woodmiser at on of the local construction expos. The salesman ran his own mill for years. He said that sawing lumber for framing is one thing, but you can ruin a hardwood log if you don't know how to read the grain. How you make your cut can make the difference between a furniture piece and stove wood. Any truth to that?
     
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  15. Tenwheeler

    Tenwheeler Senior Member

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    Georgia
    I am not sure but will ask about that. KIMG1225.jpg
     
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  16. Bumpsteer

    Bumpsteer Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Mechanical designer
    Location:
    mid Michigan
    Yes, have to pay attention to what the piece of wood does as it's being cut. Rotate the cant as needed to get stable boards.

    Ed
     
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  17. aighead

    aighead Senior Member

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    Apr 25, 2019
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    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    I was very close to getting a sawmill too but the price was prohibitive for the amount of dead trees I have. I went with the chainsaw mill instead but I haven't gotten good at using it yet. When I started thinking about it while my pile of trees is sizable I think a sawmill would tear through it very quickly...
     
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  18. Truck Shop

    Truck Shop Senior Member

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    SE Washington St
    It's right there in the HEF rules on page 42--You can't have a thread about sawmills without a sawmill song.

     
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  19. Tugger2

    Tugger2 Senior Member

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    British Columbia
    The economic reality of small time sawmilling by Mel Tillis .
     
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