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Author Topic: cutting slabs  (Read 1245 times)

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Offline Bigbuck

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cutting slabs
« on: February 16, 2019, 06:26:37 PM »
hell all, new here from ohio and looking forward to chatting with yall, so I am venturing into the wide world of sawing slabs, I'm looking into possibly purchasing a mill capable of cutting slabs, I am getting into table top epoxy slabs, so I need to look at possibly buying or building (I'm a welder by trade) a mill to handle those knotty logs without spending my life savings!! Amish had a 4 post style freestanding mill they were using to saw tops with a chainsaw, I have access to all the logs I could ever use, so in not really sure what my options are and turning to the experts for some guidance, I have been doing tops and other projects with reclaimed wood now, so any advice would be appreciated!!
thanks 

Offline TKehl

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2019, 06:52:08 PM »
Big is relative.  Size in mind?  Budget?

This would be a good thread to read from a couple days ago. 

http://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=105132.msg1636490#new
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Online WV Sawmiller

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 06:56:25 PM »
   Welcome to the FF. What kind of Material Handling Equipment do you have available to you? Wide, thick slabs are heavy! How are you set up for storage? Are you going to air dry then kiln dry the slabs? Air drying thick slabs is going to take a long time. I don't know the failure rate for drying green slabs but I am sure it will be much higher than for partially air dried wood. How are you going to finish the wood? I don't do such work but I see here several member post where they make a jig or sled and use a router then sand the wood after the surface has been finished to the desired thickness and straightness. Before you invest the time and equipment what does it cost to contract out the sawing in your area? I had a big walnut log that was too big for my bandmill slabbed up for me by another miller and he charged me $.50/bf. I don't know what the Amish you mentioned in your area would do the work for or if they have the equipment to do so but it would be worth investigating. 

   If you are not slabbing over 36" wide there are a number of moderately priced band mills on the market now that can do such sawing.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how this works out for your. Pictures are welcome and appreciated.
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Online Brad_bb

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 10:42:23 PM »
You can cut up to 34 or 36 inches on the woodmizer "Wide" sawmills.  
If you want to make wider single piece slabs, it requires a specialized mill like Matt Cremona's (he sells plans for it and he said it costs about $15K to build), https://www.mattcremona.com/shop/plans/wide-cut-bandsaw-mill-plans 
or a Petersen slabbing mill, https://petersonsawmills.com/portable-sawmills-for-sale/chainsaw-slabber-unit/
or a Lucas super slabber, http://www.lucasmill.com/Portable-Timber-Sawmills/Slabbing-Mills/Super-Slabber

Green slabs are worth less than dry ones.  And dry flattened ones are worth even more.  You make more money the more processing you do.
So you'll also need a device to make slabs flat after drying.  The router sled method is not necessary a fast process.  If you want to do it faster, there are a few ways but will likely cost as much as the mill.  

Also you'll need to air dry them for 6 months to a year, then they can go in a kiln.  You need to find the kiln service to work with.  You'll need to have a complete kiln load of the same species to load for a cycle(which will probably take 4-6 weeks due to thickness), or you need to work with the kiln operator to make up a partial load of your to go with someone elses(of the same species).  Kiln drying is always a bottleneck unless you have your own, but I doubt you'd want to jump into that until you get further down the road.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2019, 01:35:39 AM »
The Peterson, Turbo Sawmill and Lucas regular swingblade mills all have the option of a "clip on slabber", which replaces the circle blade with a big chainsaw bar. You also then have the option of the planer blade, again in place of the circle blade. So you can then use the same mill to plane, and even sand the dry slabs. 

You also get the ability to saw regular boards from normal logs if the slab market gets saturated or goes out of fashion. Also the portability of the mills means you can go to logs that are impractical to move out. 
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Online Bruno of NH

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 07:16:06 AM »
I sell slabs but I'm wondering how long the trend will last.
Things like this go in cycles. 
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Offline offrink

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2019, 12:15:13 PM »
Slabs will always be a hot market item!





I hope. 

Offline Bigbuck

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2019, 01:21:40 PM »
I do have a large skid steer for handling logs and access to a kiln, I would like to be able to saw 40 to 50 inch slabs if necessary but I'm thinking 36 would be plenty big enough for the time being, ideally I think a band saw that could handle 36 inch logs would suite me just fine for now
thanks all for the replies!!

Offline Mike W

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2019, 01:39:36 PM »
As budget was a really big factor with my mill purchase, and wanted the capacity to cut a 36 dia. log, it was going to have to be a manual mill to fit the $$ to be invested, as I already own the support equipment to handle the material.  I ended up choosing the WM LT15 Wide which is capable of cutting a 36" dia. log and the ability to add as many track extensions I wanted going forward easily.  I also was looking really hard at the Hudson Oscar 336 which has nearly the same specs as the LT15 Wide.  As mentioned already, there are several budget friendly mills on the market that can handle the capacity you are looking at.  If time is on your side, you might keep an eye out there on any used mills coming up for sale and possibly gain a few additional "bells and whistles" for the same budget as a new mill.

Offline Bigbuck

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2019, 07:32:24 PM »
I have also ben kicking around the idea of using an Alaskan style mill but not sure of the quality of slabs it will produce...….. or the ease of use

Offline Mike W

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2019, 07:43:22 PM »
I also have an Alaskan saw mill attachment, hence the new LT15Wide band mill is now sitting in the front yard.  They have their place in the world of milling wood, very portable if milling needs to be where the tree was felled, large (really large) slab capacity available, etc.  They are a lot of work to run, a lot, and slow (even with a ripping blade).  There is also a lot more loss of wood due to the width of the cut with a chain saw -vs- bandsaw mill.

you might just look into that, then after using it for a while, you will really appreciate the band mill if you end up going that way :)

Offline Ianab

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2019, 08:19:37 PM »
I have also ben kicking around the idea of using an Alaskan style mill but not sure of the quality of slabs it will produce...….. or the ease of use
Quality of the slabs produced by an Alaskan style mill should be good, similar to a well set up bandmill. The speed and ease of use is where they are lacking. Even the chain slabbers on the swing mills are relatively slow, and they have 20+hp pushing the chain . 
If you can live with a ~36" wide cut, then a wide manual bandmill will do the job, with the skid steer making the heavy work easier. 
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2019, 09:45:06 PM »
An Alaskan mill like the Granberg, is a special use mill.  You don't want to cut lumber with it.  Like Mike W and Ianab said, they are for when you have to mill portable because the log can't be moved, they are for really large logs.  I have used my Granberg Alaskan mill to mill several really big Ash, Walnut, and Honey locust logs into slabs, and one really big Ash log into an 18.5 inch cant.  I could then move it.  I do not like to use it in summer.  Too hottt!  Cool weather is better.  You can mill roughly 1 foot per minute.  So about 10 minutes for a pass on an 8-10foot log.  Plus there is a lot of set up time for the opening cut when slabbing.  There is also time for refueling, adding bar oil, resting, and sharpening.  If you do one log in a 7-8 hour day, you're doing ok.
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Offline cbla

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2019, 07:43:25 AM »
An Alaskan mill like the Granberg, is a special use mill.  You don't want to cut lumber with it.  Like Mike W and Ianab said, they are for when you have to mill portable because the log can't be moved, they are for really large logs.  I have used my Granberg Alaskan mill to mill several really big Ash, Walnut, and Honey locust logs into slabs, and one really big Ash log into an 18.5 inch cant.  I could then move it.  I do not like to use it in summer.  Too hottt!  Cool weather is better.  You can mill roughly 1 foot per minute.  So about 10 minutes for a pass on an 8-10foot log.  Plus there is a lot of set up time for the opening cut when slabbing.  There is also time for refueling, adding bar oil, resting, and sharpening.  If you do one log in a 7-8 hour day, you're doing ok.
I will second that. I have a 36 inch Alaskan mill and I use it only for logs that are hard to get at or that would be cut into firewood. my use is hobby and for the odd job. I would not want to be doing much production milling with it.

Offline offrink

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2019, 10:19:28 AM »
I run an LT15 wide and a ms880 with a 59 or 72” chainsaw mill. The chainsaw mill is way slower but we don’t touch logs under 40”. We do live edge only with the chainsaw mill. Doing live edge on a 70” wide oak on a bandsaw mill is prohibitively expensive and nearly impossible to move. Each has its place. We actually got the bandsaw mill as an after thought because we were leaving to many good logs behind that were being cut up for firewood. 

Offline dmoore1983

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2019, 10:24:55 AM »
Not to butt into the conversation but this is coming soon.  

Forestry Forum Sneak Peak  :laugh:

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Available for shipment in July(ish)


There may be some minor spec changes but nothing too big.
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Offline offrink

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2019, 05:35:52 PM »
So $25,000+ to do 55” for that saw versus $3,500 for a chainsaw mill that can do 72+”. I guess it depends how often you large pieces and have the ability to move them. A 50” oak 10’ long is more than the biggest skidsteer can lift so you will need a front end loader or  a full size off road forklift to move it. 

Offline 123maxbars

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2019, 10:59:28 PM »
Not to butt into the conversation but this is coming soon.  

Forestry Forum Sneak Peak  :laugh:

LX250 Portable Sawmill | Wood-Mizer

Available for shipment in July(ish)


There may be some minor spec changes but nothing too big.
Thanks for that link Duston Been wanting to see how it looked, I could do some damage with that saw, 
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Offline charles mann

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2019, 01:50:03 AM »
So $25,000+ to do 55” for that saw versus $3,500 for a chainsaw mill that can do 72+”. I guess it depends how often you large pieces and have the ability to move them. A 50” oak 10’ long is more than the biggest skidsteer can lift so you will need a front end loader or  a full size off road forklift to move it.
depending where it is located for retrieval. i hauled hm 2 sections of pecan that weighed 12,300 lbs. i loaded them onto my gooseneck. not sure of the first pecan i brought hm, i didn't scale it at the local tck stop, but it stretched a weld on d-ring that has a wll of 10,000# and breaking limit of 15,000#. it turned it from a d shape, to a v or triangle or broached arrow shape. what kept it from snapping, idk, but i up graded to a wll of 15,000 and breaking of 24,000#. haven't yet found a log to stretch it yet, and if i did, i don't think my winching system would even be able to handle it.  
now, if such truck and trailer can't get into that location, then yes, the alaskan at $3000 is a much better investment, than $15,000 hm built, $26,000 lx250, or their wm1000, @ $70,000, plus getting 3ph to the mill. but what about support equip in that remote location? how would 1 much a 50"+ x 2.5-3" thick slab?  
nearly every log iv brought hm either greatly exceeds my tractor's lift capacity, or is rite at its max. but milling some of those logs just won't do with an alaskan, simply bc the branch/canopy section of the log it just too orly shaped, to get a good level cutting plane. which is why the mill I'm building, will be capable of slabbing 76" logs, and hopefully, have it built for around $12,000, maybe $14,000 after some hydraulics are added at a latter date. 
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Offline Ianab

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Re: cutting slabs
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2019, 03:29:43 AM »
The log handling issues are where the swingblade / chainsaw slabbing mills come in. At 36" it's practical to move logs with modest machinery, But once you get much past that, they start to get a heck of a heavy. Then you consider that most of those oversize logs are one offs. Means it's not worthwhile to get in the heavier machinery needed to move one log. 

But under $20K and you can get an 8" cut swing blade dimension mill, a chain slabber, AND a slab planer. That all fits on the back of a pickup or utility trailer. It's also enough mill that you can take on regular custom sawing work with it, especially if it involves over size logs. 

Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)


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