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Author Topic: Question for circle saw owners  (Read 1389 times)

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Offline backwoodsdave

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Question for circle saw owners
« on: September 13, 2018, 10:56:06 PM »
Having been bit by the sawmill bug Iíve been wondering what advantages there would be in owning a circular saw in addition to my small band mill, something like a belsaw m14 type setup, there use to be a couple around here in the 80s but seems they went away when the band mills got popular, I donít know of any operating in this area at all, maybe thereís a reason, I grew up around logging and sawmills and as a youngster enjoyed seeing the mill in action, being a mechanical type person I think it would be very satisfying to make lumber with one, I know finding one may be a chore but I also wonder what would be a realistic price range for a decent pto driven unit, also what disadvantages are there to cutting marketable lumber with a circle saw, this would mostly a hobby saw for myself, maybe sell some extra or do some beam cutting etc.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 06:47:38 AM »
For the most part, circle mills cut a whole lot more wood than a band mill.  Sure, there are expensive band mills that will out produce some of the circle mills, but from a cost standpoint, you'll get more mill for the money.  Those Belsaws go for under $5k.  You can find bigger mills for a bit over that price.  Sponsor Sawmill Exchange has a listing of mills for sale.  Look at the list on the left.

Advantages are reduced saw costs, more production.  Disadvantages are reduced yield due to saw kerf, you might get wider boards, depending on the type of timber you're cutting, the mill is stationary.  

If you're cutting small diameter logs that aren't too long, a Belsaw can do well.  When you get into logs that are a much longer than your carriage bed, you'll have problems with them bowing, due to stress in the logs.  A bigger carriage means more headblocks and longer lengths.  
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2018, 07:12:14 AM »
Larger size circle mills can certainly get some production, but for a small scale operation it's hard to justify. 

A good addition to a band saw is a Swing Blade / Chain slabber to handle the oversize logs. 
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline jdeere540a

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 07:23:47 AM »
There still seems to be a few around my part of NH. Mostly just sitting. I got mine by trading haying the owners field for two years in trad for the mill. I had to totally rebuild the wood frame, change the mandral bearings and have new wheels made for the carriage. It was a lot of work but saws good and enjoyable to run now. Keep everything in adjustment and take your time and they make nice lumber. Mine was built in the 40s and I still use it a lot.

Online moodnacreek

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 08:15:28 AM »
Try to stay away from the Bellsaw. An earlier model Frick, Meadows or similar manual mill set up on steel beams is the way to go.

Offline Bert

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 08:31:24 AM »
I dont think you can go wrong adding a cheapish circle mill to the mix. Even a handset mill will produce alot of lumber in short time. Set up properly, there will be no issues with quality. For the rustic crowd, the circle sawn look cant be beat. As mentioned above, Id go with a Frick, Meadows etc. Much more mill for the money.
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Offline backwoodsdave

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2018, 10:33:32 AM »
Try to stay away from the Bellsaw. An earlier model Frick, Meadows or similar manual mill set up on steel beams is the way to go.
What would be some things to consider as far as staying away from belsaw ? In particular the newer ones with the metal frame instead of a wood frame.

Offline Bert

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 10:51:39 AM »
Ive never had a bellsaw but have seen them in operation. Not saying there is anything wrong with them but are pretty lightweight compared to the others mentioned. To me its just a homeowners grade vs professionals grade kind of comparison. For here and there type sawing Im sure a bellsaw would be just fine.
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Offline jdeere540a

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2018, 12:39:08 PM »
Backwoodsdave
The biggest problem with a belsaw is the carriage is very light duty also the mandrel is light compared to the bigger mills. As long as you keep that in mind and don't get rough with them they work good. They won't out produce bigger circular mills but they do cut faster then most band mills when set up right.    Also heavy duty mills like a frick are way stronger but very hard to run alone. The only way you will get full production is to have a 2 or 3 man crew.

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2018, 01:04:12 PM »
The Bellsaw has very annoying problems that are hard to correct. I used one for years and made improvements on it and still maintain it for the present owner. The set works is horrible, there are no tapers and all but the smoothest logs get caught on the carriage. It is at best a cheap little saw rig handy for small straight logs like cedar.  A real old time hand set sawmill in good condition, although slow, can saw nasty, hard , dirty and frozen logs into lumber and last a life time. It can be endlessly up dated and automated if wanted.

Offline backwoodsdave

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2018, 02:38:37 PM »
Appreciate all the good info, certainly plenty to think about for sure, one thing I noticed when looking at a few photos and videos of the belsaw and frick style mill is it seems the pto driven belsaw would be a little more user friendly if working it with one man if I had to, reason being the drive unit located on the opposite side of the mill from the operator, if Iím correct in that observation that is.

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2018, 07:58:43 PM »
In spite of my negative comments, the bellsaw truly was a one man sawmill because there was no husk and power unit to walk around when sawing by yourself. If you could watch both mills in operation on a day when ugly logs had to be sawn you could see how a traditional mill can handle it and the bellsaw cannot.  When you are in the sawmill business you some times have to saw logs you never thought you would touch in order to fill orders like cribbing or blocking.

Offline backwoodsdave

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2018, 08:59:21 PM »
In spite of my negative comments, the bellsaw truly was a one man sawmill because there was no husk and power unit to walk around when sawing by yourself. If you could watch both mills in operation on a day when ugly logs had to be sawn you could see how a traditional mill can handle it and the bellsaw cannot.  When you are in the sawmill business you some times have to saw logs you never thought you would touch in order to fill orders like cribbing or blocking.
I appreciate all comments coming from folks with experience running these mills, and from what I've seen if I were to go into the sawmill business a step up would be wise I suppose, I'm usually a one man show the majority of the time and always have been when it comes to working, but I do recruit some help now and then when I need it, other than just always having wanted a mill to tinker with I have a longtime friend that is a custom home builder and he brought up the fact that no one has a circle mill close around and he has to source his rustic beams etc. from out of the county when he needs them, seems people like the saw mark look, that's what got me to thinking about a Belsaw again, it would just be another toy for me and my son when I needed help, and maybe sell off a beam or board now and then to pay for fuel and up keep etc.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2018, 05:59:02 AM »
A little automation can go a long way.  Even on a handset operation.  An offbearing belt by the saw gets rid of a lot of walking back and forth.  A set of green chains can move lumber and slabs away and be sorted later.   Low tech and can be run by either hydraulics or small electric motors.  

When considering a type of mill you need to figure out what type of logs you're sawing, what product you want to produce, and what mill most efficiently takes logs to product in your dollar investment scheme.  If you want a hobby mill, those old handsets are a lot of fun and not real expensive.  
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Offline backwoodsdave

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2018, 10:23:42 AM »


When considering a type of mill you need to figure out what type of logs you're sawing, what product you want to produce, and what mill most efficiently takes logs to product in your dollar investment scheme.  If you want a hobby mill, those old handsets are a lot of fun and not real expensive.  

Probably 90% of the logs I get and would be getting is standing dead pine, bug kill stuff I get from a good friend who is a logger, he also has a mill, an lt40, but gets way more than he needs so he just gives it away to move it, makes good lumber but the mills wonít take it but the timber company wants it on the ground or gone, the mill would be just a hobby but if a dollar is to be made I donít mind that either, I built my little machine shop to just have for my own use if I need it but it does make a dollar now and then even though Iím not in the machine shop business, but thatís always a bonus.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2018, 11:05:33 AM »
Im studying up here.  What do we mean by no tapers?  Is that to say the belsaw headblocks are ganged together and cannot offset independant of each other?
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Offline Don P

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2018, 12:52:59 PM »
Exactly. I keep my tapers behind my left foot and throw one in when needed, slow but there's always a way. A Belsaw would do fine in pine but you are limited to around 14' and pay attention to Ron's first comment about the short carriage.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2018, 01:03:25 PM »
I had to think that threw a few times Don.

i think youre saying you have a belsaw or some other setworks that cant advance the headblocks independantly, and to compensate you put wedges behind the log to kick the flare side out and correct the taper?

Edit-   well.. Maybe to kick the small end out and cut sidewood along the grain rather than through it.  I dunno, im no sawyer. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline Don P

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2018, 03:45:52 PM »
That's it. Sorry I was being obtuse :laugh:, yes I'll stick shims between the headblock and the log to put the heart or bark where it needs to be on the opening cuts.
If you go with a tapered log against the headblocks you'll go through the saw referenced off the taper of the far side. If I center the line of the pith parallel to the blade then I'm splitting the taper, or I can saw parallel to the bark which will make lumber with very little slope of grain running out of the board, stronger lumber. A bandmill has a bed roller that can be lifted to do the same thing

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Question for circle saw owners
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2018, 04:12:52 PM »
Thanks for the explanation.  

On big $ commercial saws with independant headblocks, how do they tend to move them and reference them to the operators eyeballs?  

I can imagine ballscrews and servo motors with rotary encoder feedback, or i guess i could also see hydraulic cylinders with linear glass scale encoders.

In general, i assume this dance is all up to the sawyers experienced eyeballs and the machine does whatever its told, whether right or wrong?
Revelation 3:20


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