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Author Topic: looking for my first mill...  (Read 2184 times)

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Offline CJBeav

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looking for my first mill...
« on: April 08, 2018, 08:11:18 PM »
Knowing what you know now, where would you start.  Brand ?  Size? Length? Features?  I Have a lot of old growth ash maple and I would like to mill it into wood I can use. Maybe 30-40 trees per year?  Thank you  Jerry 

Offline Magicman

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 08:48:04 PM »
I bought used but even if I bought a new one today I would not change anything.

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Offline thecfarm

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 09:36:44 PM »
How much money you got to spend?
I myself would not change a thing,manual mill and all. Kinda sounds like you just want to saw for yourself. But I do have a tractor to lift logs.
Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79

Offline WLC

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 10:17:51 PM »
Have an LT28 and wouldn't change a thing except wish I had bought the power feed for it.  Fits my needs well as is though.  I do have a tractor with loader to move and load logs with.  If no tractor, then hydraulics would be nice.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 10:44:12 PM »
I would look for a used mill and certainly a good choice is an LT40 hydraulic with low hours.  You are not too far from a WM service center, there are a lot of users of this equipment here to help.  In any case, keep it looking good, protected from the elements to maintain its usefulness and resale value.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline starmac

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 12:59:18 AM »
Lots of good mills and many different brands, I would say as long as you pick one with LT and HD in the model number you will be happy.
Old LT40HD, old log truck, old MM forklift, and several huskies.

Offline justallan1

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 08:43:21 AM »
If you are only sawing for yourself, when you want, at your own place, ETC. I wouldn't be looking for something with all the bells and whistles.
A big thing is to take the time to figure out what you need, spend a little gas money and check out a few just to make sure you really want one and to see what different mills offer.
After playing with these things for a few years now, I'd first recommend taking a look at your tree size, lengths that you want to saw, how portable you might ever need it and things like that.
I'd go take a look at your trees and figure what diameter 80% or more of them are then add 6-8" to that and look for that wide of a mill. You can change all kinds of things on a mill, but not the width!
I have an EZ Boardwalk Jr. and really like it. The thing is built like a tank, so it can take some abuse, I can add track extensions if need be, it's Honda powered and they are a forum sponsor.
Have fun and don't rush it, buy what you need.

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 09:08:58 AM »
I studied on mills for almost 5 years, I looked at several and helped on a couple.  Helping saw and having hands on time is an education and worth the time and sore muscles.  I decided on the Woodmizer LT35 Hydraulic.

I picked this one because it will saw most of the logs I will run across.  It has hydraulic log lift, log turner, clamp, back stops AND a debarker.  It uses a basic electronic setworks-Simpleset. It has power feed and power up/down for the head.  The hydraulics speed things up and reduce the hard labor involved in handling logs.

This mill fit my business plan and financial plan.  So far it has earned its keep.  I could have stretched the finances for a LT40Super Hydraulic but I'm semi retired and that would have caused me to work more than I wanted.
Woodmizer LT35HD25, Kubota MX5100, IH McCormick Farmall 140, Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill, Husqvarna 372XP, Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Offline samandothers

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2018, 11:00:00 AM »
Happy Birthday Justin!

I wanted to cut just for my needs or wants so did not need a production speed mil.  I decided I wanted portable and power feed and head.  Had equipment to load so no hydraulics.  I got the LT35 with a manual deck package that was on sale at the time.  Very pleased.

Offline DPatton

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2018, 12:42:12 PM »
CJBeav,

First I will say that 30 to 40 logs a year is not a lot. Many of the production guys on this forum will easily saw that many logs in one to three days. Some of them in less time than that. Heck my mill would easily allow me to cut thru a pile of 30 to 40 logs in 2-3 days.

Like some of the guys have already said, you need to know diameter and length of what you want to cut as well as what you are cutting out of it. In other words are you cutting only dimensional lumber (possible a swing mill)? Or are you wanting to produce wide live edge slabs? You also need to decide if you are willing to work a manual mill, or if you need a partial to fully hydraulic setup.

Some of those decisions will likely be based on if and what you are going have for supplemental equipment. In other words can you get the logs to the mill or do you need to take the mill to the logs? Do you have a way to handle the logs onto the mill or do you need a mill that will load the logs for you? knowing those things will help you decide if you want to have a fixed mill, a portable mill, horizontal band mill, circle mill, swing mill, an extra wide slabber, etc......

You also haven't given us any type of budget you have in mind. Budget will play a key roll in making a decision too. Knowing these things ahead of time will help you make a wise mill choice. One that you will be happy with for years to come.

You have asked a key question in features. If you ask any sawmill operator in the country what is their most important feature you will get several different answers. My most important features are portable,  bidirectional chain log turner, and hydraulics in that order. Only you can decide what features are most important to you. Answer those questions and the members on this forum will point you in the right direction.
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Offline CJBeav

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2018, 07:02:36 PM »
Thanks for all the sound advice, your comment are why I have questions..

I do have a nice John deere with a loader for log handling, I can buy what ever I want, but if I spend more than 10,000.00 I may be looking for a new spouse.

I am not interested in my own sawmill business, like I said 30 to 40 logs a year for personal use and for friends. But If I enjoy using the mill a 100 a year could happen.  Also I like building things so the custom lumber sizes would come in handy.

Magicman,  That is one awesome setup you have, But may be way more than I need. But researching your setup has tough me about hydraulics. 

JustAllan1,  you are right on base with many things, One is tree size, I have some big trees,  the other is take my time, But  some of these trees have to come down this summer.  

DPatton, I need to understand  the different types of mills and yes I have a lot to learn, thanks for helping out.  I have had the opportunity to be in a business for almost 30 years now and I know the importance of experience with equipment. Many of you are around it and live it everyday. 
 
Now a few More questions in my Hunt:

Horsepower?  my research shows some units with 9hp and similar sized units with 23hp  what dictates horsepower?

Is a band saw mill a suitable choice for cutting trees that have been down for years? 

Blades?  Sharpen them myself or send them out? 

Thank You Gentlemen,   Jerry 

Offline samandothers

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2018, 07:55:20 PM »
My LT35 is 25HP and has served well.  Would smaller do, maybe.  Never heard folks say I am over powered. 

I would suggest a sharpening service until you get into it and see how much sawing you are doing.  

Offline starmac

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2018, 08:27:35 PM »
My mill is an older lt40 hd, it does not have the setworks. It also does not have the 2 plane  clamp, which or the roller on the toe boards, and from what I understand I can not put the operators seat on it, but works well for my use. I am not sayingI would not like to have the newer super with a diesel, but it does everything I need. I picked it up with 15 new blades, the auto sharpener (older drag style) and setter, 15 new blades, canthook and an older 2 blade edger for the sum total of 10 grand. That was the cash price, I did some trading and actually had 1250 bucks cold hard cash in it.It was tuned up and ready to go, everything except the edger, which needs an engine. A month or so later I picked up 30 more blades and the shingle and lap siding attachment and a new drive motor for an additional 200 bucks, there are deals out there if a guy isn't in a hurry and has a little luck.

There is an older lt40 super diesel on the sawmill exchange right now for 14,000, no clue as to shape, but unless the main frame has been damaged, the rest is just parts and time, and fairly simple to repair or even rebuild.
Old LT40HD, old log truck, old MM forklift, and several huskies.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2018, 08:40:01 PM »
One more thing,shows,expos and anything to do with sawmill demos. I looked for 20 years before I could get one. I suppose Vt is too far for ya? One coming up in May. 8) 
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Offline B@kerLuke

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2018, 09:42:04 AM »
If you are looking for a good mill on a $10,000 budget, I would suggest a Baker 18M or 18HD.  Either one is a great mill for what you are looking to do (30-40 logs a year).  It will do far more than that, but not break your bank (or your marriage!).  They are built heavy duty, and will serve you for many years to come.  A new one will put you in the $11,000 to $12,000 ball park.  They are portable, so easy to move around your place.  I'd be happy to talk with you more about it.  Check out our website: Baker Products - Home, and feel free to contact us.  We would love to build you one.

Offline ButchC

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2018, 10:47:04 AM »
I can tell you what I bought and am real happy with but best advise I can give  to attend some shows and pay attention to whats going on at the various mills and decide what fits his situation. Questions to ask yourself include How fit are you? working by yourself or have some help? How much support equipment do you have or willing to buy? What are your lumber needs? what are your lumber wants? What sized logs? Is spending 50K going to make you cringe? How about 25k? 10 or 5K?  Its very easy to get sucked into the little bit bigger, little bit longer, little bit more automatic and little bit more expensive pattern  and next thing you know you have talked yourself into a full production mill that sits and does nothing the bulk of the time and cost you a LOT of money. The more productive  mill you buy the more important support equipment and help is to keep it sawing.

All that being said I do have an answer for your question.   30 logs a year isn't much even for the cheapest manual mill and certainly doesn't demand a hi capacity hydraulic mill unless you have disabilities or lots of unneeded money sitting idle. I do understand man toys, I have a bunch  of 'em.  Last time I actually counted I was near 35 logs last year and spent very little time doing it. I have several times run 4 logs into lumber after work on a weekday, simple math is  I could have done it all my sawing in 2017 in 8 days after work  and I am no spring chicken.
I own a Peterson JP and it does everything I need around the place and is easy for one man to run, easy for one man to store away, still has the original blade on it and has another like years worth or work left in it.  Maximum finished size is 6"x6" single cut and 12x6  double cut. The JP fit my pocketbook, lumber needs,support equipment and my physical abilities perfectly, I love it.
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Offline TKehl

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2018, 01:47:49 PM »
If they are large diameter, you may want to look into a swing mill.  

Keep in mind with a band mill that the advertised max log diameter is not the same as the maximum largest single cut.  Max cut width (between guides) is less.

HP on the under $10k range is dictated more by your budget and time than much else.  Lower HP = lower price = longer to make each cut.  Still will cut good lumber, just slower.  Is your time worth a larger engine?
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline mad murdock

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2018, 04:22:53 PM »
One other point worth considering about swing blade mills, log handling needs are greatly reduced as one can quarter saw a log without ever moving the log. Takes a lot of physical work out of the  milling process. 
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Offline Darrel

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2018, 05:48:33 PM »
CJBeav, like Magicman, I bought my mill used and I've had it 4 years now.  It's Wood-Mizer LT40 hydraulic with a 24hp gas engine.  I'm very pleased with it and would not change a thing.  It does everything I ask it to do and more. If I ever decide to sell it, I'll be able to get my investment back and maybe even a bit more. 

Yes there are a lot of mills out there and many would work for you, but as others have said, take a look at the logs you need to saw and eliminate all the mills that won't cut your biggest logs. This will cut down your choices. Then look at what's left and use things like budget and how hard you are willing to work to further narrow down your choices. 
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Offline CJBeav

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2018, 07:58:31 PM »
Gentleman Thank you for all the solid advice.  A swing mill is something I have never considered, but after watching them in action I see why they are the choice for many.

Butch,  I agree it is not wise to invest a ton of $$  only to have it sit. Could I buy a new 40,000.00 mill Yes but for what I am going to do IMO it is not wise.  your post makes me realize what a novice I am.

After searching thru much internet research. it is intimidating how many Manufactures there are. many of these being small shops.  

I must admit most band Saw Mill  users are very loyal and supportive of their brands!

Now I understand the HP thing better TY TKEHL, HP is Speed and Speed is $$ if you are in business or in a race. It is not dictated by the type of wood you are cutting.

I do have concerns about Blades and the cost involved.

Now for the HUGE Question, would it make more sense just to have someone come in with their portable mill.  How would the costs compare?

As always  thank you for your input and expertise.   Jerry 


Offline Skipper11A

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2018, 12:41:43 AM »
Now I understand the HP thing better TY TKEHL, HP is Speed and Speed is $$ if you are in business or in a race. It is not dictated by the type of wood you are cutting.

Jerry, The HP thing is a balance between HP, blade width and thickness, and  hardness of wood.  A 100HP motor driving a 1- blade will not perform any better than a 25HP motor because that blade will begin to deflect (dive or rise) due to the hardness of the wood, regardless of how much HP is turning it.  You will notice, that the higher HP mills use wider (1- and 2") and also thicker blades so they remain straight in the cut.  The wider logs also cause blades to dive or rise and it doesn't matter one iota how many HP you have, because you will have wavy boards!  It's a balance.

Offline starmac

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2018, 12:57:00 AM »
I guess there is more than one way to look at that. It looks to me like the higher horspower mills have the torque to mill straight through a hard knot, where a lower mill may not, and make a smooth cut at a higher speed than a lower one.

I may be wrong in my thinking, but we are always seeing folks upgrading to higher horsepower, I have never seen anyone post that they would like to g lower.
Old LT40HD, old log truck, old MM forklift, and several huskies.

Offline Ianab

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2018, 01:48:22 AM »
This is true, but it still relates back to cost vs speed. The lower power mills cut slower, and when they hit a knot etc you have to slow down even more, or you loose band speed and the blade wanders. So yes when people have a motor wear out, they think "hmmm.. an engine with 10 more hp is only $xxx more" 

When they are in a small / easy cut the bigger engine is actually throttled back by governor, and might only be making 10hp anyway. But when the going suddenly gets tough, it can call on another 10+ as needed. Makes milling a lot easier as you can power steadily through those without having to "nurse" it. 

Like driving a 4 cyl car vs a V6 or 8. Sitting on a steady 60 mph you don't notice the difference. Pull out to pass on a hill, and you do  :D

There is a limit of course, where more power becomes impractical as the rest of the machine can't handle it. 
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Offline Darrel

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2018, 03:22:42 PM »
A band blade not running at its optimum speed will wander when the going gets tough. I've seen this even in 8" wide bands. When the going gets tough with a low horsepower mill the blade slows first then wanders. If you have enough power to keep the band speed in the sweet zone it is much less likely to wander. Another thing that shows this to be true is the fact that if suddenly your blade starts to wander is that the first thing you should check is drive belt tension as a loose drive belt fails to transmit all available horsepower to the blade. 
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Offline CJBeav

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2018, 07:15:45 PM »
Hello Everyone,  The Horsepower issue is an interesting one, and everyone has their experience.  I enjoy reading your comments because they all come form the experience of running your mills.

I beat the internet to death looking for used Mills the majority of the ones I found were very $$$. (there were not a lot)  Many of the bandmills were priced almost the same as new. As I did my research a few things came up...

Push feed compared to crank feed  is one better?  I think I would rather push the blade through, but one of the Mills I like is crank feed.

Log Table I would assume a welded frame is better over a bolt together frame.  is this an issue?

Thank you for all your comments, I am Learning....   Jerry

Offline Darrel

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Re: looking for my first mill...
« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2018, 08:20:57 PM »
The crank mills I have seen use a rope to pull the mill head through the log. So if you should choose one with the crank just untie the rope and push it on through a few logs. If you don't like it retie the rope, easy peasy. As for one being better than the other, as far as I know, the one you like is the better. Personally I don't like turning a crank all day, it makes my elbow hurt. Some folks really like the crank. 

I'm not knowledgeable enough to address bolts vs welds. 
1992 LT40HD

If I don't pick myself up by my own bootstraps, nobody else will.


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