Before setting up your mill there are a few
things I suggest you do that will help you in milling
lumber and save you some frustration. At your intended sawmill site
put down brow logs, these are 2 logs set about 6 to 8 feet apart, running
parallel to each other and you can stack your saw
logs on these brow logs. Putting saw logs across these brow logs not
only raises them off of the ground, it also keeps them cleaner. By
choosing the size of these brow logs you can raise the log to the height
of the sawmill, which makes it really easy to roll the log onto the
mill. If you have the room, you can use full tree length brow logs,
with the butt ends closest to the mill, then the tops are only about
2" to 4", which makes loading your sawlogs onto the brow
logs really easy, with just a gentle incline up to the but end at your mill.
You can also deck a lot of logs on brow logs, so you can cut longer, without
moving logs around.
There are a few other things you should do to make cutting lumber just a little
easier. The #1 help is building a small trestle or table beside your mill (
with a gap between mill and table so you can walk through ) so you can lay any
cants or lumber you are going to resaw onto this table. Hauling heavy cants or
lumber slabs off the ground for resawing is no picnic, but laying them on and
sliding them off the table helps tremendously. This table should be built so it
won't move around when using it. If the mill is going to stay in one place for
a while, then set 4 posts into the ground, with top crosspieces, this is fast
to do and will not move around, and should be at waist height. You could use
the brow logs as a table, but it is a little low to gain any benefit.
Another thing to do is put a pivot rod on the side of the mill. This is just a piece of rod sticking up, then you can pull the cant on top of this
rod, pivot one end over the table, then lay the cant down on the table. This speeds things up a lot and helps with the reloading of the cant onto the mill
for resawing, and also saves your back.
Rollers are great time savers. I installed one on each end of Procut and backed up the yard pickup to the end of the mill, so as I cut the lumber, I
could roll the plank right into the truck. I also put rollers on the end of the side table to do the same thing. This actually saves you considerable work over
a period of time, as you are not taking lumber and stacking it, just to have to move it again.
Rollers are easy to make for around $20. 2 pieces of flat steel, 2 small pillow block bearings, a piece of pipe, and a readyrod to match the
inside diameter of the bearings and pipe. This is just a few things to help you saw lumber, there are tons more, but the above are major helpers, that you
this point you may be asking, but what is the easiest
way to cut lumber from the logs. As a novice or
recreational sawyer your only concern at this point should be getting
lumber out of that log. Do not concern yourself with grading the lumber,
it takes experience and time to know how to cut a log for grade. If
you really want to learn fast, there are lots of books at your local
library that will give you an understanding of lumber grades. Right
now, our main concern should just be cutting that log. A lot of recreational
sawyers load a log onto the mill and cut what is called through and
through. They start at the top of the log and take off a first slab,
lower the saw down 2" and cut off a plank, and keep doing this, removing
the planks as they go, until they finish the log. These planks are
then put back on the mill 2 or 3 at a time standing verticle, flat
sides straight up, and are resawn ( edged ) to the width they need.
This is ok, but it is a lot of work, and is really hard on the saw,
it will also be quite slow, as each cut has to be the full width of
the log every time, and if you have a large log,
it will be very slow.
The other way to cut once the log is on the
mill, is the edged method. You slab off the top
of the log, and depending on the size of the log, you could cut off
another 2" plank. Then you wind down the saw the WIDTH of the lumber you need,
4" for 2x4, 6" for 2x6 etc. You cut this cant and remove from the mill and
again wind down the saw to the WIDTH of lumber you want, and cut another cant
and remove. You want to get as many cants out of the log as you can, as wide as
possible on each cant. Sometimes this is a combination of cants and 2" lumber
slabs. Once the log is finished and the bottom slab is removed, you reload a
cant sitting verticle ( flat sides up ) and then you cut your 2" lumber from
these cants, you will now have edged lumber coming off the mill.
The difference in the edged method is substantial
and actually applies to any sawmill, as cutting
wide widths all the time slows a mill down drastically, unless you
have 30 hp or more. To understand these two methods take a piece of
paper and draw 2 circles side by side, these are your logs. On one
circle draw lines across the circle representing 2" cuts, this is the through and through
method, do you see how many wide cuts there are especially in a larger log. Now
do the same thing on the other circle, only this time draw only 4 lines,
representing say 3 6" cants out of a 20" log. You would only have to make 4
wide cuts with this method, and cutting lumber out of these cants afterward
then you are only cutting 6" wide, which is very fast. I have cut 2x4 and 2x6
at up to 30 feet a minute using this method, and it is far less frustrating.
is a comparison table for you that actually compares both methods that I did as a demonstration at a forestry exhibition in 1984, log loaded ready to
on 20" log 12 ft long
on 21" log 12 ft long
|Cutting Lumber - 9 cuts - 19 minutes
||Cutting Cants - 4 cuts - 10 minutes
|Removing Slabs and Lumber - 10 minutes
||Removing Cants - 7 minutes
|Reloading and Edging - 15 minutes
||Reloading and Resaw Cants - 16 minutes
|Using an 090 132cc 11.5 hp
||Using an 090 132cc 11.5 hp
|Total Time - 44 minutes
||Total Time - 33 minutes
The time difference over a period of time is substantial.
The Edged Method
This is faster and it is much easier on the saw, bar, chain, and it also uses far less fuel and generally makes the day
less frustrating. It is much heavier work, but with a pivot on the mill and
table beside the mill it is alright. You will not get as much lumber out of the
log with this method, but the loss is minimal.
Through and Through
This method gives a little more lumber out of the log, but takes more time.
It is very hard on the saw, bar, and chain and also uses a lot more fuel.
It is easier removing the 2" lumber slabs and edging, but in my opinion
it is not worth it. The day seems to go more slowly and it is more frustrating
making those wide cuts consistantly.
I would also like to say here that after all
the years cutting logs on any of the portable sawmills
I have used, I have noticed one glaring fact. It is always faster to
cut logs in the 12" to 18" range, handling these logs is easier, and
the cants coming off are smaller and lighter to move around. You go through the
log faster and lumber comes off the mill at a rate that does not leave you
frustrated with how long it is taking. The day just seems to go much easier,
and everything seems that much smoother.