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Author Topic: Spout your opinions one and all Off grid, no access property. Which mill?  (Read 1688 times)

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Offline joman209

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Heres the critieria. I have a cabin project with only boat access (45mins). The mill will have to brought over to untamed land and dropped off with a skid steer to start milling wood for the project this summer.  
The mill will need to be moved around by a quad or skid steer.
Gas or diesel?
Lt 15 or the larger lt 28 so I can do 24' spans?
Cost not the issue.

Let me know your thoughts and experience on mobile mills. Eventually I would like even use a quad to move the mill around if I can so I'm leaning to the lt15 for that reason, but do no like being cramped in to mill longer beams etc. 
 

Offline Ianab

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Thought about a swingblade mill? I can move mine around behind a quad bike if I need to, and log length is only limited by the amount of extra track you buy. You can cut beams larger than the cut size  by flipping the log over, and you have a skid steer to help with that. 
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Offline hamish

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How big is the boat and what kind of topography are you talking about?

As you have mentioned a skid steer, must be pretty tame.  IF cost is not relative to the equation hire it out.
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Offline Southside

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There is a learning curve to running a mill and a significant learning curve to sawing quality, stable, lumber, creating expensive, designer firewood - not so much.  So, if this is a journey then by all means buy a mill, learn to run it, and do as you propose.  On the other hand if this is a destination, then hire a portable mill to come to your location, be involved with the process, but gain the advantage of the knowledge the sawyer brings with him or her to produce quality lumber you can use to build your cabin with a minimum of wasted time and material.

    
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Offline joman209

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topography is west coast rain forest, logged out 25 years ago. So some big stumps, and some good trees that were dumped and left at the time. What I mean by no cost issues is on the mill. I would just fly a motorhome in there and relax in luxury, but that is not me. lol. I like doing things on my own, within my limitations though. Havn;t heard of a swing mill. Do tell. 

Offline Don P

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Click the Lucas mill tab at the top of the page or the Peterson tab on the left column of the page for swingmill info, both are good mills. I've set up roller tables under a Lucas to extend the length capabilities as well. Hit the Turbosawmill tab as well.
An Alaskan chainsaw mill can create large long beams if you wanted to go with the lt15 for boards and typical lumber and use the chainsaw mill for the few big sticks. A 25 year old log in a rainforest is probably not a structural piece of wood. Good luck on the adventure, sounds like fun :)
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Offline barbender

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They've got the good stuff out there though, Don😉 (maybe a big red cedar laying there?). 
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Ianab

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Havn;t heard of a swing mill. Do tell.


Swing blade mills use a small circle saw blade that can tilt 90 deg and cut either horizontally or vertically. They can be made fairly light as the rails and carriage only support the saw head. The log sits on the ground, or preferably some wooden bunks, and usually isn't moved during the sawing process. 

This is my little mill, it's the smallest model Peterson make. Lucas and Turbo Sawmill are other brands, same general idea, but some differences in how they manage the rails. Lucas system raises and lowers the rails to adjust the cut height, Turbo Saw use a single beam to support the saw. But the basic idea is the same. Check them out on the sponsor links, they all have videos of the operating. 



And it's portable. 



These mill are more popular in Australia / NZ and remote locations as they are easy to transport, and simple / reliable to operate, and the full size ones can handle oversize logs. 
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Dana Stanley

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I would be looking for the lightest 36" band mill on wheels! Here is the lt 15 in the jungle, not 36" or on wheels but, illistraights how it can be carried in in sections. https://woodmizer.com/us/Success-Stories/ArtMID/5109/ArticleID/277/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-bush-sawmill
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Offline 47sawdust

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You're only limited by your imagination if money is not an issue.Any mill that can be broke down for transport then re-assembled will work.Mobile Dimension mills were transported by hand ,mule,etc,same with the LT15 WM.,swing blade mills as well.Check out MightyMite they are in Portland Oregon,still in business and might do a custom build.
Welcome and good luck

After re-reading your post the LT15 does seem like the best choice.You can add endless track sections as needed.At a demo WM had multiple sections of track set up and were sawing 2 logs at a time(end to end).Forum member elk42 has such a set-up with a dedicated log turner traveling on the unused section of track.Check out his gallery for pictures
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Offline offrink

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I have a woodmizer LT15 wide and once the mill is on the track it can be moved fairly easily. I believe it states in the manual that 3-4 people can hand load a track and mill into the back of a pickup truck. Sometimes it moves to easily if you dont have it secured down well. 

Offline Woodpecker52

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Lt 10 with extra trackway would look like an easy transport.   I have a lt15 and you could transport it by boat, just add extra sections of track.  I once carried an extra section in the back of my Toyota highlander small suv with the seats all down.
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Offline Don P

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They've got the good stuff out there though, Don😉 (maybe a big red cedar laying there?).
If so it would make fine siding or paneling :)
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Offline Crossroads

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In the 90s I worked for a salvage logger and the old buck skins that were left from the 30s and 40s were the only thing we were logging. Its surprisingly how sound a lot of them are, but they were big and some were buried. With those big logs in mind, I would lean towards a swing blade that could be set up around the log. 
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Offline joman209

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How big is the boat and what kind of topography are you talking about?

As you have mentioned a skid steer, must be pretty tame.  IF cost is not relative to the equation hire it out.
This is great guys! Thank you for all your info. Many other options to consider now. I didn't realize you could add sections to the lt15. It's quite amazing how that cedar stays sound. They logged it about 30 yrs ago, and left some big stuff laying on the ground, plus they cut stumps a long way up. Those butts broken down and milled are tremendously hard wood, even if they are 8' planks. Would that wood in the stumps be stable or warp like heck?

Offline TKehl

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First, how large is large and how long is long?  They are very relative terms.  A swing mill will go 24 with extensions.
 
Id go swing mill all the way. 
 
  • Can set it up around a large log as opposed to having to get the log on the mill. 
  • Will take a larger log than most entry level bandmills.  For under $10k new you can saw logs up to 48 diameter 20 long, have spare parts, and all maintenance/sharpening tools.
  • Blade sharpening in the field is a snap.  Doable, but not as easy with bands.  Can even retooth a blade for the swing mill in the field with silver solder.
  • Portability:  I can carry or roll every part of the mill. 

Offline joman209

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First, how large is large and how long is long?  They are very relative terms.  A swing mill will go 24 with extensions.
 
Id go swing mill all the way.  
 
  • Can set it up around a large log as opposed to having to get the log on the mill.  
  • Will take a larger log than most entry level bandmills.  For under $10k new you can saw logs up to 48 diameter 20 long, have spare parts, and all maintenance/sharpening tools.
  • Blade sharpening in the field is a snap.  Doable, but not as easy with bands.  Can even retooth a blade for the swing mill in the field with silver solder.
  • Portability:  I can carry or roll every part of the mill.  
I've looked at the Lucas mills and they seem like a great option. They are pricey for me up here. 23k for the 8" with a few gadgets. I don't like that they (Baileys)  charge a 15% tax for unknown costs on top of shipping. I'm looking to mill my rafters, 3"x24'. I like the option to set the mill up over a large cedar dead fall that can be huge and mill away. Anyone have experience Alder for building materials?

Offline Ianab

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Anyone have experience Alder for building materials?


It's one of the softer hardwoods, and not decay resistant. But it's commonly used for cabinets, trim, furniture etc. If that's what you have to work with, you could use it for inside wall panelling, and build your kitchen from it. (internal stuff basically) Something like Douglas Fir is probably better for actual construction, and if you have some old cedar that you can salvage it would make awesome external cladding. 

I can cut a 3"x24" beam with my little mill (and a tractor or skid steer to flip the log), and with a second set of rails, could make it 24ft+ long. Just be aware that it's only one oversize piece like that per log, the rest need to be regular dimensioned, but you will need a heap of 2X lumber as well. 
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Offline TKehl

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3"x24" is a challange with a basic swing mill.

How many of them do you need?  What about other lumber sizes?  

If you just need a few of the 3x24 and all else is closer to regular dimensional, then a 6" swinger (will cut a decent amount of 12" wide fairly easily) plus a chainsaw mill is a good option.  If you need a lot of wide boards, a bandmill starts winning. 

Offline joman209

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Sorry for the typo there guys. The beams I have planned are 3.5" x 9" x24'. That probably makes way more sense. If I mill fairly green wood for the rafters and try to keep it quartersawn material, will they still warp like heck? It would be topped off with 2" material as well on top, then roofed with Metal. No insulation and only wood heat when we are there for a couple weeks at a time, then they would be at outside temp. I was thinking that if it didn't dry out too quick and its all tied together it may remain stable. It is quite humid right out on the west coast. They would probably take years to dry without a kiln I'm guessing. Thanks for the insights! Keep em coming, I'm as green as a bamboo shoot.

Offline TKehl

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A 6" swing mill will do that without much difficulty.  Once you get a cant cut 9" wide and however tall, you can double cut (cut from both sides) to get up to 12" boards.  Not as efficient as smaller dimensions, but can at least get multiples from a log that way.  

On large logs, wanting the sizes you've mentioned, with minimal equipment, this is the way to go IMHO.

Offline cwk266

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Not a professional sawyer opinion a mobile dimensions sawmill is pretty handy.Breaks down really easy for boat transport,can be setup for mobile,stationary and or directly on the log if you have some monsters to play with.It can also be setup in different blade configurations to suite the desired product.Blade teeth can be sharpened easily and replaced quickly if needed which might be a big advantage over band saw blades especially is the logs are dirty.My use of the mill has been for my own needs around the farm cutting logs salvaged on site or locally also on the west coast.It is a handy universal tool I couldn't do without.Your needs for lumber will be more than just building the cabin.Good luck with project sounds fun

Offline Don P

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Quote
The beams I have planned are 3.5" x 9" x24'. That probably makes way more sense. If I mill fairly green wood for the rafters and try to keep it quartersawn material, will they still warp like heck? It would be topped off with 2" material as well on top, then roofed with Metal. No insulation and only wood heat when we are there for a couple weeks at a time, then they would be at outside temp. I was thinking that if it didn't dry out too quick and its all tied together it may remain stable. It is quite humid right out on the west coast. They would probably take years to dry without a kiln I'm guessing. Thanks for the insights! Keep em coming, I'm as green as a bamboo shoot.
Quartersawn has the most crook, flatsawn the most bow. You can correct bow in the 1.5" direction, not so with crook in the wide dimension. A 24' rafter 9" deep, I've got doubts, check the awc.org span calc., the WSDD manual there or the beam calcs in the toolbox here.
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