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Author Topic: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers  (Read 15814 times)

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Online WV Sawmiller

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General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« on: February 25, 2018, 09:50:02 PM »
   Because of rain and mud I am suffering from cabin fever and have been sitting around watching sawmilling videos and such and watching and maybe picking up a tip or two from others - sometimes from what they did right, sometimes from what they did wrong. It made me think about some of the handy tips I have picked up here and from experience in the past 3+ years I have been learning this. Keep in mind these tips are mostly for a portable sawyer with a hydraulic mill often working alone. Some may apply to you, others won't. You may have tried some of these and found they were counterproductive for you. I will keep adding to my written list as I go along and welcome any additions you have that I may have overlooked. Everything below has been discussed at least once, often many times. I just sort of consolidated several of them in one place.

Basic sawing:

1.     Make and use a cheat sheet pre-determine the starting points on your final face that allows you to finish on your mark for a desired board size when you reach the bed rails. This saves you a cut on most cants and prevents ending with a thick or thin board at the bottom of your cant. You may check and find your mark for cutting 8/4 will still allow you salvage a 4/4 that would have been thrown away in the slab. (Tension and stress raising the log and required trim cuts may still cause extra cuts to be needed.)

2.     Turn small logs and cants by hand this is often faster than using your hydraulic log turner which is generally designed for bigger logs/cants. I keep a mill special cant hook readily available at the head of the mill for this purpose. 
 
3.  Keep the log as far forward as possible for mobile milling you can save steps and time if you dont have to walk around the wheel each trip. Keep in mind this may make it harder to turn the log with you hydraulics in some cases (N/A to sawyers riding on fancy ride-along mill seats).

 4. Use your tape measure on cants and flitches to be edged. Instead of estimating the height of the dip in the cant or wane on the flitch, step forward and quickly measure from the bed rail and set your band height exactly for the cut. This is much more accurate and if it saves you an extra cut even once in a while it is time well spent. (N/A to sawyers riding on fancy ride-along mill seats but it does work for the rest of us.)

5.     Unless otherwise dictated, saw in standard 2 widths this makes stacking and tallying faster, easier and more consistent. When quarter-sawing, sawing for grade or directed by your client you may not be able to do this and you may have to saw truly random widths.

6.     Heart/pith checks as much as possible, before sawing position the log such that the cant will lay flat on the rails with any predominant heart/pith check/crack parallel to the rails. Ideally this will result in only one damaged board instead of every board having the same crack in it.

Edging:

1.     Edge your flitches against a cant this helps hold your flitches in a more stable and a more vertical position. I saw the cant to a standard point just below the width of the narrowest board I will be saving. Example: 3-1/4 cant when saving down to a  1X4, 5-1/2 cant when sawing 1X6, etc.

2.     Saw the flitches against the cant they came off For portable milling I put all flitches on the lifting arms and edge them against the cant they came off. This prevents double handling, extra equipment such as sawhorses, etc. and crowding your workspace. Stationary sawyers sometimes use edgers ors stage flitches and edge similar sized flitches to reduce cuts. Mobile sawyers often dont have the transport space or extra help to do this.

3.     Use a pivot stick when sawing more than 3 flitches. When you remove all the wane/bark off one flitch but bark remains on the others, to turn just one flitch, loosen the clamp, lift that flitch above the height of the others, place a cut off sticker a under it 2-3 feet from the end then bear down on your end to raise the other/rear end of the flitch then flip it and slide it back vertically into the stack to edge the opposite side.

4.     Use a spacer board for single/narrow flitches. If you find you need to edge a single 4/4 flitch or such too narrow to clamp tightly you can lay a 1X4 or 1X6 down flat as a spacer. This keeps pressure the length of the spacer board instead of just in the center where clamped.

Log Moving and turning:

1.     Make and use a MM log turner (MMLT) from the hook of an old cant hook connected to a short piece of chain. Open the moveable hydraulic clamp as far as it will go, hook the MMLT hook into the log, wrap and connect as much chain as needed to link the head of the clamp and the MMLT then close the clamp. This will move or roll the log the length of the clamp. Open the clamp and repeat as needed if more turning is required.

2.     When MHE is not readily available, make and use a pivot under logs as needed to center them on the loading arms position a piece of a 4X4 or equivalent under the center of balance of the log to be moved/turned and roll the log on to it with a cant hook. With both ends of the log off the ground the log can now be turned easily by hand or with a cant hook.

General:

1.     You can always make them smaller within equipment, transport and storage constraints, whether logs or stock lumber bigger/longer is always better. A slightly oversized 2X12 can be cut down to 2-2X6s, 1-2X8 and 1-2X4 or 3-2X4s, etc. A 31 log can be cut into 3-10 logs, 1-10, 1-12 & 1-8 log, etc.

2.     Blades a 4 degree blade will cut softwood and hard wood. A bigger hook angle may cut faster in some woods but a smaller hook angle will cut more different kinds of woods better. When loading up for a distant mobile job keep this in mind and pack accordingly.

3.     Keep plenty of business cards and gloves handy if/when spectators show up to watch you milling give them a couple of cards and if extra help shows up make sure you have extra pairs of cheap gloves available to offer for them to use.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline 51cub

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2018, 06:18:14 AM »
Thank you for this! This is perfect for me. A little reading now and then to pick up one or two things. Also, the idea about the gloves. I usually have mine in the truck anyhow, but alot of people, and rightfully so, don't want free help from somebody who wants to learn
I believe in the hereafter, because every time I take two steps into the tool crib to get something I wonder " what did I come in here after"

Offline Chuck White

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2018, 07:15:21 AM »
If you edge on the mill, stop sawing when the cant gets down to 5 inches, and edge your flitches against the cant!

The reason for the 5 inch height is, at that point you still have enough of a cant to saw against for stability, and it's now low enough that you won't be making a lot of marks on the top of the cant, since 5 inches is not a standard size, vs 6" or 4"!
~Chuck~
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Offline DDW_OR

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 11:25:11 AM »
THANK YOU!

my setup is stationary, but i have learned a lot from your posting

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2018, 11:31:55 AM »
 slow connection, posted twice ::)
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2018, 03:04:28 PM »
WV Sawmiller this is an important thread that will help a lot of us beginners.  Thank you for the insights.  I look forward to other experienced sawyers to add their tips.
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2018, 05:34:20 PM »
Chuck,

 I generally save down to a 1X4 out of my flitches to maximize my yield and minimize my waste. I have no trouble using or selling a 1X4 board as many people use them for strips under a metal roof and such.

 If I am sawing 1X4's out of my flitches I stop when my cant is at 3-1/4". I'd cut the cant if I were to stop at a 5" cant. If I am sawing nothing below a 1X6 then I stop at 5-1/2". My cheat sheet is set up for 1-1/8" drop per cut which is what I set my SimpleSet to. These leave me a 1/8" kerf and a 1" board after each cut. So for 4/4 boards my starting points/marks that I set my SS are:

1"
2-1/8"
3-1/4"
4-3/8"
5-1/2"
6-5/8"
7-3/4"
8-7/8"
10"
etc.

 

  I find plenty of support for a 1X4 or a 1X6 against a 3-1/4" cant. If I were edging nothing smaller than 1X12's I'd probably use a 10" cant.

  If you are not saving anything below a 6" board I'd agree with the 5" (Actually 5-1/2" in my case) cant.

   BTW - I never make marks against the cant because it is always at least 1/2" below the blade.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2018, 07:56:18 AM »
If you are sawing wood for furniture, especially high value hardwoods,  saw the boards at 1 1/8" thick.  A lot of people saw at 1" thick, but the boards can be tough to get flat, straight, and planed on both sides to 7/8" thick.  That extra 1/8" makes all the difference.
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2018, 08:33:31 AM »
Saw straight!  Do whatever it takes.

Some would think it obvious, but....I don't saw portable but I have a constant stream of customers who call me and want me to saw their wood, despite the hassles they have to undergo to transport them to our location.  When I tell them CL is full of portable sawyers and it will save them a lot of work, the answer I usually get back is that they know, but they have heard these guys have bandsaws and can't saw straight.  Obviously this isn't true of all portable sawyers, or well aligned mills, but that is the public perception around here.  Unfortunately, my own experience is the same, as one of the main reasons I bought my first mill several years ago was because the first 2 different sawyers I brought my hard earned logs to, both butchered them up pretty badly.  So I would say do everything possible to meet or exceed a customers expectations of quality and competency, and you will set yourself apart.
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2018, 08:37:35 AM »
Danny,

   Good point. If I were chasing that market and cutting 1-1/8" boards my cheat sheet would read:

1-1/8
2-1/4
3-3/8
4-1/2
5-5/8
6-3/4
etc.

   I'd stop at 3-3/8 to edge my 1X4s or 5-5/8 for my 1X6s.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2018, 08:44:14 AM »
Helps to discuss use of the lumber before the sawing day, especially with an inexperienced customer who has a specific project in mind.  Get them to think about finished dimensions beforehand. Better than trying to design the project after the first log has been loaded onto the mill.  

I hate this discussion:  (Sawyer) Ok what are we sawing out of this one?   (Customer) Whatever you can get.  Or,  (Customer) What do you think?   :D
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2018, 08:45:10 AM »
What Danny and WV says about sawing hardwood to 1-1/8" is very true, and is probably one of the other top complaints I hear from customers, i.e. the last time someone milled their hardwood, it was cut thin and wouldn't finish out to 3/4 inch.  This also has something do with cutting straight.
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2018, 09:03:56 AM »
TT,

   Its almost funny but sad in another way but what you say is exactly what most customers ask me too. It is rare, but nice, when the customer actually knows what he wants out of his logs. 

   When he asks me what I'd cut out of this log I tell him "What ever I needed that it would yield." I do often salvage some 4/4 that would go to waste while cutting 8/4 (if the customer concurs) and I may suggest a short crooked log would make some nice benches or such if they want some.

   What I like is when they give me a cut list at the start with something like "I need this much 8/4 for framing and cut the rest into 4/4 for sheeting." Then I know what to cut and have some flexibility too. 
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Darrel

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2018, 09:49:05 AM »
Keep your mill properly maintained and aligned.

When I bought my used LT40 it took me a week to get it running good. New belts, replace grease zerks, electrical, alignment, alignment, alignment.  I don't think I spent more than $100 on parts but time is also money. I think I could do every thing I did then in a day now but still. . .
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Offline Percy

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2018, 10:07:19 AM »
One I learned way back, if you are cutting a log large enough that it approaches the limitations of your mill, do a dry run with no blade on the mill and see how low, how much you need to notch with chain saw, or position log better or yadda yadda. It is a time saver when cutting the monsters :D
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2018, 10:17:22 AM »
Percy,

   Good suggestion. One I have seen before but not tried yet although I should have on a walnut crotch I sawed last week. Would have saved me some extra effort. On really big ones you could use the no blade tip then after cutting the first/widest cut, you can gun barrel the log to whittle it down till it will fit the rest of the cuts.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Magicman

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2018, 10:18:15 AM »
Nice tip Percy.

You always know where you are going before you leave home, so you should always know where the sawmill head is going before it leaves home.  On big logs, I regularly travel to the log end and lower the sawmill head to the sawing height before sawing.  This insures that the blade guide, etc. will clear the log's end.  Backing out of a cut is never fun.  :-X
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2018, 12:41:04 PM »
    Starting on the big end is another tip that will help prevent back-outs too but that is not always possible. Also a knot or sweep may cause a roadblock before you even get to the end. The no-blade tip/check would identify these issues too.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2018, 01:07:58 PM »
I mill for myself, and primarily cut cedar and fir/pine.
I use a T-square i made out of some 1x
put the T-square across the rails on the big end of the log. then put a spring clamp on the vertical part of the T-square, either at the top of the log or at the center of the log.

then move the T-square to the other end and raise the toeboard till the log is level

this photo shows how much i need to raise the log
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Re: General Sawing tips for portable sawyers
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2018, 01:43:38 PM »
I only move the small end up half the difference of the tall end. If the big end is 20" high and the little end is 16" high I would bring up the small end to 18" This centers the pith.
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