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Author Topic: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln  (Read 1013 times)

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Offline BoilerUp21

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Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« on: August 31, 2021, 11:41:39 AM »
I have been looking around on here at sawmills and originally i figured i would go the bandsaw route (woodmizer HQ is only a hour or so away from me).

I have recently decided that a swingblade sawmill may be a better option for me and have been looking at both LucasMill and Peterson. This will be a 1 man operation and not having to turn the logs is appealing. Also, i much prefer QS and RS wood compared to flat sawn (both for stability and appearance)

I am currently in the market to buy some land to build a house on 5-20acres with the goal of clearing a couple acres and sawing the logs, stacking and let air dry for a year or so while the house is built.

I would then like to get an Idry kiln and start drying/selling hardwood on the side (this will be a night/weekend operation).

Ideally, i would get a sawmill with electric motor so i could operate indoors (less noise, maintenance etc...) eventually in the shop/saw/kiln building i am designing.

Looking for any issues people have had with electric sawmills (both bandsaw and swingblade) being underpowered or taking considerably longer to get through a cut? Not sure if anyone on here has an electric mill inside and what there setup looks like?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations or advice getting started in this endeavor.

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2021, 05:30:17 PM »
Welcome and good luck, I  can't comment as to electric motors on mill equipment. I can say  a small tractor and FEL would be worth while, what do you have for supporting equipment? 

Offline BoilerUp21

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2021, 10:20:10 PM »
Im glad you mentioned it. I don't have a tractor or skid steer, but would plan on getting one to move logs into the building and help load/unload the kiln.

Tractor seems more practical for numerous tasks, whereas the skid steer has better maneuverability and turn radius...still trying to decide which route to go on this.

Offline Iwawoodwork

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2021, 11:32:42 AM »
Don't forget about the small articulating front end loaders  with forks and bucket they are very versatile. I have a small used Waldon and it is great plus cost was much less than comparable skidsteer.

Offline muggs

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2021, 12:21:43 PM »
You're going to like electric, Do you have single or three phase?

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2021, 04:01:18 PM »
Tractor seems more practical for numerous tasks, whereas the skid steer has better maneuverability and turn radius...still trying to decide which route to go on this.


Keep in mind the type of ground you're going to be operating on. At my place a skid steer gets stuck almost anywhere off the driveway. Tractors have limitations but are lighter weight.
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Offline metalspinner

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2021, 08:41:40 PM »
Do you have any experience around a sawmill? Have you hired out the service before? Do you have small engine repair/maintenance experience? Diesel repair/Maintenance? Do you weld? Etc.

I have always toyed with the idea of owning a mill. Mostly as support of my woodworking and wood addiction. Not necessarily to run as an income source. 

But I do not have the desire to get into the support equipment and maintenance of the sawmill. The mill is just the supercool, showcase part of the operation. I think most of your time and energy will be all the other stuff.

Sawmilling is mostly a material handling endeavor... other than the expertise needed to produce a quality product.

I'm better off hiring a professional a few times a year.
I do what the little voices in my wife's head tell me to do.

Offline BoilerUp21

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2021, 09:36:44 PM »
Do you have any experience around a sawmill? Have you hired out the service before? Do you have small engine repair/maintenance experience? Diesel repair/Maintenance? Do you weld? Etc.

I have always toyed with the idea of owning a mill. Mostly as support of my woodworking and wood addiction. Not necessarily to run as an income source.

But I do not have the desire to get into the support equipment and maintenance of the sawmill. The mill is just the supercool, showcase part of the operation. I think most of your time and energy will be all the other stuff.

Sawmilling is mostly a material handling endeavor... other than the expertise needed to produce a quality product.

I'm better off hiring a professional a few times a year.
I recently had 1700BF of white oak milled and dried and have it stored in my garage. I have not run a mill myself, but am very experienced in woodworking and equipment in general. I have rebuilt a Jeep V8 and can tack weld ok...
My goal would be to run this as a side business for now until i retire (hopefully early).

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2021, 11:21:12 PM »
I have a band mill and never have run a swing mill do take this with a grain of salt.

The ability to roll a log to release tension can be essential to getting accurate lumber.  The bigger the finished lumber and the harder the wood is makes it more important to roll the log to deal with warping.

A swing mill will limit the number of big timbers boards wider than the blade to one per log.  With a band mill you can make as many wide boards as the lig will allow.

A swing mill wont get you any more quarter sawn lumber than a band mill.

A band mill ( on a trailer) CAN be much faster to move location to location and set up than a swing mill.

A swing mill could be good for very large logs.

A swing mill could also be good for off road where you cant get a trailer.  Although unless you are going to use the lumber right there you will probably want to get a trailer/vehicle in there to get the lumber out.

To me a quality band mill feels like it will stand up to much more abuse than a quality swing mill will.  No matter how carefully you are, by their nature a mill will be abused through normal use.

Metal major strikes on a portable band mill costs $20 for a new blade and 5 minutes to change it.  I am not sure what is involved with a damaged swing blade.  Some have inserts, some can be sharpened and some have to be sent to be reworked.

Offline scsmith42

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2021, 09:45:31 AM »
Welcome to the FF.  

I own a Peterson swing blade mill, a Baker hydraulic band mill, dedicated slabber, and both Nyle and solar kilns.  Here is my 2 cents.

1. Get a hydraulic band mill and learn Yellowhammers “reverse roll quartersawing” technique. You will produce a much higher percentage of high fleck QS material with this method than using a swing blade, and it is much less labor intensive. An LT40h or LT35 would be an excellent choice for you.

2. Electric is fine. Typically an electric motor has more torque than a gasoline engine, which is good. You will need 3 phase electric service if you go electric.

3. Material handling is as much, if not more important than sawmill capacity. You need the ability to handle logs and lumber stacks. I would suggest either a compact track loader or skid steer of 90hp or greater, with a grapple rake for log and slab offcuts handling and a set of pallet forks for lumber handling. Farm tractors are not ideal for sawmill use because their lifting capacity is limited and you can’t see the tips of the forks well from the cab.

4. An iDry is not a good option for drying white oak from green. It works great for maple and other easier to dry species, or air dried lumber. A Nyle L200 works great on 4/4 oak. A good solar kiln setup (well insulated and double pane collector panels) can be a great pre-drier for white oak if you go with an iDry. In your area, a solar kiln may not get hot enough to sterilize for 6 months out of the year, hence my recommendation to use it as a pre-drier. You can augment it with auxiliary heat for the cooler months though, but you’ll need to really insulate it well. One nice thing about solar kilns is that they are more forgiving than other kiln types, which is important if you’re only working this part time. Plus you can leave dried lumber in them w/o having to worry about over-drying it.

5. If you go with both solar and a DH or vacuum kiln, size your solar kiln depth and height so that it takes the same depth lumber stacks as your other kiln. My Nyle, and the iDry typically would use a 4’ deep stack, but the original VT solar design was based on a 5’ depth. I changed the chamber size on mine to allow for a 4’ depth but 6’ tall stack, the same as what I use in my Nyle.

Best of success to you.

Scott
Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
Tom's 3638D Baker band mill
and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

Offline BoilerUp21

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2021, 09:56:49 AM »
Welcome to the FF.  

I own a Peterson swing blade mill, a Baker hydraulic band mill, dedicated slabber, and both Nyle and solar kilns.  Here is my 2 cents.

1. Get a hydraulic band mill and learn Yellowhammers “reverse roll quartersawing” technique. You will produce a much higher percentage of high fleck QS material with this method than using a swing blade, and it is much less labor intensive. An LT40h or LT35 would be an excellent choice for you.

2. Electric is fine. Typically an electric motor has more torque than a gasoline engine, which is good. You will need 3 phase electric service if you go electric.

3. Material handling is as much, if not more important than sawmill capacity. You need the ability to handle logs and lumber stacks. I would suggest either a compact track loader or skid steer of 90hp or greater, with a grapple rake for log and slab offcuts handling and a set of pallet forks for lumber handling. Farm tractors are not ideal for sawmill use because their lifting capacity is limited and you can’t see the tips of the forks well from the cab.

4. An iDry is not a good option for drying white oak from green. It works great for maple and other easier to dry species, or air dried lumber. A Nyle L200 works great on 4/4 oak. A good solar kiln setup (well insulated and double pane collector panels) can be a great pre-drier for white oak if you go with an iDry. In your area, a solar kiln may not get hot enough to sterilize for 6 months out of the year, hence my recommendation to use it as a pre-drier. You can augment it with auxiliary heat for the cooler months though, but you’ll need to really insulate it well. One nice thing about solar kilns is that they are more forgiving than other kiln types, which is important if you’re only working this part time. Plus you can leave dried lumber in them w/o having to worry about over-drying it.

5. If you go with both solar and a DH or vacuum kiln, size your solar kiln depth and height so that it takes the same depth lumber stacks as your other kiln. My Nyle, and the iDry typically would use a 4’ deep stack, but the original VT solar design was based on a 5’ depth. I changed the chamber size on mine to allow for a 4’ depth but 6’ tall stack, the same as what I use in my Nyle.

Best of success to you.

Scott
Thanks Scott! This is great advice. My issue with the hydraulic band mill is that in order to get the electric option from woodmizer, I have to go up to the LT40 Super to get the electric motor...Let me know if you have another recommendation.
I think initially, i will let the wood air dry and using a solar kiln combo to limit the amount of DH or Idry time needed.

Offline scsmith42

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2021, 10:37:42 PM »
You can duct the exhaust outside if you install inside a building. Do you have 480v 3 phase power available?
Peterson 10" WPF with 65' of track
Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
Tom's 3638D Baker band mill
and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

Offline BoilerUp21

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Re: Getting Started - Sawmill & Kiln
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2021, 08:18:06 AM »
You can duct the exhaust outside if you install inside a building. Do you have 480v 3 phase power available?
I am looking at properties currently and having access to 3 phase is on my list.


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