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Prep for First Mill Run

Started by scogar, December 04, 2023, 09:00:04 AM

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I have been scouring the forum for various answers to the multiple questions I have. Many I have found and a few I just haven't worded well enough and thus haven't seen an answer. I successfully made it back from St Louis a few weekends ago after meeting Stanton and taking possession of my EZ Boardwalk 40. It is in the driveway in ATL which is not really level (that's important for a question). I have lined up a Cat 259 Skid steer with a grapple attachment for a week between 12/26-01/02 and I hope to make a dent in my log pile (about 100+, mostly pine and a mix of RO and WO, 18 ft long, 18-30ish dia). If I can't make a dent, at least I'll get some experience on this mill.

I have some old PT 2x10s that I hope to cobble together to make some frames to have some of the wood rest on (picture floor joist orientation) and keep it 10 inch off the ground. I'll buy a pallet of cinder blocks and put the frame on those giving me a bit more space off the ground as well as use some cants and cinderblocks on top. Also some of the first smaller pine logs will be used to make blocking and stickers of some sort b/c I don't have enough PT laying around.

With that in mind some of my questions are:

  • How many blades for a week's worth of milling? I have 11 new Timberwolf Blades from Stanton but expect I need more. Keep in mind the only way I can clean the logs is with a brush of some sort
  • I'd like to power the mill up in my driveway and maybe cut a short piece of wood solely to test it. My driveway is not level in length or in width so the trailer is effectively racked a bit. Simply to test it do I need to keep the rails in the same plane with respect to one another...for the test I'm not concerned with perfect cuts?
  • When I am at the site actually milling, I know my rails need to be coplanar but I assume that the trailer itself can be on a slight slope front to back. And if I orient it so the bandsaw wants to slide toward the log then to a slight degree it should be self feeding. The problem I have is that I truly have less flat land than I would want and I would rather not chase perfection if I don't need to.
  • I expect to lift many of the bigger logs with the grapple just enough so I can buck it from 18 feet to something less. I'm leaning toward 10 foot lengths on the pine 1X material because I can use that as siding in the garage and basement (9 foot ceilings). Make sense or are there any other suggestions?
  • As for drying, I have to use wet stickers...I will run the numbers again but don't think I can justify the time and expense of buying 1x3 strapping at HD and having it ready. I'm not too worried about discoloration of the pine. If it can be planed out great, if not it can be painted. Am I being an idiot on this? I am even willing to restack once or twice if needed.
  • If one only has a rough idea of the things that need to be built, what would you suggest the most useful lumber dimensions are? I realize this is inherently a stupid question as one cuts wood for a specific build...but I don't have one yet. I hope to build a woodworking shop, a mill shed, some other smaller outbuildings so as for the pine I am leaning toward a lot of 1X material as well as 2x4, 2x6, and 2x10. For the oak, again 1X and maybe some 2X turning blanks to make stair spindles and porch spindles...If this question can be answered I'd love to hear what others have done or wished they had done

I'm going to reread everyone's earlier comments to me specifically on this mill so I am as prepared as I can be but I can say I am looking forward to this and think I'm in for a wild ride compared to my chainsaw mill. I'll have more wood than I can shake a stick at.

I realize there are a lot of questions here, so apologies if I'm overstepping.


Congrats on the new mill!

Here's my $0.02 worth.  

How many blades for a week?  

A blade every 200-400 board feet wouldn't surprise me at all.  That could mean a blade every 2 logs depending on log size. 

3-4 blades per day on a manual mill.  


Near level would be best even for a test cut.  

The four leg head carriage will like near level best I would think. 

Green stickers?

Dry are best but I cut lots of green stickers for customers often.  Most often they are for barn or framing lumber.  

We do what we have to do sometimes.  For any special use lumber, light color lumber for furniture, cabinets or unpainted trim dry stickers are "best ".  

What dimensions to cut?

It sounds like you have a good idea. 
Woodmizer LT50, WM BMS 250, WM BMT 250, Kubota MX5100, IH McCormick Farmall 140, Husqvarna 372XP, Husqvarna 455 Rancher


I would suggest a little 4" stock for table legs.
If you saw 4x4's then after drying and removing the twist if any you might be down to 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 or less.
Just a suggestion.
W-M LT40HDD34, SLR, JD 420, JD 950w/loader and Woods backhoe, V3507 Fransguard winch, Cordwood Saw, 18' flat bed trailer, and other toys.


John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Ford 545D FEL, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/36" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.


Other than to remedy the excitement of getting a mill, why waste time with a "test cut". If the bed isn't level it's likely you won't be happy with the results. 
Take the time to build a good sturdy level bed support as your wood will never be better than your bed. 
With a 4 post mill, if your bed isn't right, the saw will start to bounce side to side which is a real pain.
Change is hard....
Especially when a jar full of it falls off the top shelf and hits your head!


I see guys who go around sawing with their pick up full of blades but you can't buy bulk until you learn the style you like. Cut 1x1 sticks and stand them up under a roof or overhang. they dry fast.


Do you have any help? Equipment? Without either and stacking, stickering and slab removal, you will be lucky to process one 30" log a day. With help and some sort of loader, maybe two a day. If I was closer, I'd come help you that week.

Use the same wood for stickers as you're cutting.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Ford 545D FEL, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/36" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.


"let the machines do the work"


I have never see a 40, but did look at the website. Kinda looks a rugged mill, like the Thomas I have. I have leveled it once, when I set it up. But it does have 6 legs to keep it level.
A manual mill is a lot of work and time.
That's why I say, If I don't do it, it don't get done.
Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79




Here's a couple pictures of my original setup with my Jr mill. Initially I decided to keep my mill stationary. After I had it three years I made the cement pad on the platform to raise to make the work easier.  You can add Jack's to stabilize it but the trailer axle assembly makes 6 Jack's a problem.  I don't really think 4 is enough. Just wanted to put the pictures up of my Boardwalk set-up.  Have fun ยน/⁴ of the time will be actually sawing the restis material handling and organizing. You will need more bands. :)


I like 10' logs the best, I can handle most of the green softwood lumber coming off the mill. As  above unless you hav help, you will be limited to 1-2 logs a day. 
I would spend the time to set up the mill properly. 
When you get the skid steer use it buck up your logs and build a log deck . That way you can keep sawing your logs without needing the skid steer. make sure you have lots of space around the mill to carry your lumber to stack and sticker and build bundles without needing the skid steer. Keep your dunnage pile neat as it will defiantly help with manual clean up. I always tell people after we are done sawing you dunnage pile will be as big as your log pile and your stacked and sticker lumber pile will be larger than your log pile. 
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor


All great advice so far.  Likewise, don't let the stickers get you in your own way, and don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good (speaking very much from personal experience).   Cut a big pile, get them drying, and just start using them.  It's (obviously) way better than nothing, and a good way to get your bearings on  your new rig.   As for how to mill the logs, it's good to have a sense, but it will really come with trial/error and experience, and don't be afraid to draw pictures and draw out scenarios on the log ends themselves.  The learning curve on this is a bit logarithmic. You'll get lots of valuable insight when you start and are though a couple dozen logs, and then it turns into the long game of forever thinking about how to coax and tease out for both volume and grade, which is honestly my favorite part. I lay awake at night thinking pleasant thoughts about deconstructing conical shapes on my mill. Good luck!  My boys (14 and 9) now roll their eyes at me every time  I say this to them, but as Pete Culler, a boatbuilder, designer, and author once opined, "experience starts when you begin!". take care-Josh
Keep 'em guessin'.


Thanks Everybody. I ordered another 10 blades. This will make 11 Timberwolf and 10 Cook's SS.

I like the idea of adding 4x4s for table legs and other uses. I'm also somewhat fantasizing about stair treads, spindles and rails out of some of the oak. We'll see. I may cut for these dimensions and use for something else in the long run b/c it's not dry or some other reason.

Supposedly I will have some help that week. At least part of the time. My buddy claims that he'll be there the whole tie, but we'll see if he's up to it. I also have a line up of sturdy 23-25 year old men (children of friends) who are more than excited to take part in the shenanigans. I suspect I'll have a good day with a bunch of people, a few days with me and my buddy, and a bunch alone.

Re: bucking and prepping for later...I didn't consider cutting the 18s down to 10 and 8s while I have the skid steer. I had intended to pick up a log, buck it if/as needed for weight, mill, stack and repeat. I probably will combine this with bucking only that way I can do some work without the skid steer. I'm not confused that a 10 foot 25 inch log is going to be really any easier than an 18 footer to a man or two...but I'll get a feel for this. In my driveway with the chainsaw mill, it was easier because i had a hard surface and worked where the log was. At the property, I'll have to get the log to the mill over a recently cleared lot - I expect more work

I guess that's it for now. Now it's time to look into the various greases, lubes, and gas preservatives that Stanton recommends


The first cut or two every time you use the mill is a "test cut".  I think your time would be better used in making a spot for the mill.

As for stickers, just try to use the same species of wood.  They will not react to each other and make bad blemishes on your wood.

In deciding wood dimensions, of course you need the 2x4's.  Design those structures you need and make your cut list.  Then go out and then earmark the logs for each type of cut.  You will find that you will have to modify your cut list to fit your log supply.   Or conversely, look at your logs and see what logs are suitable for what use.  You might end up with wider planking or narrower planking.
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Except for pine stickers for pine -- pine on pine will stain - we call it 'sticker stain'
2016 LT40HD26 and Mahindra 5010 W/FEL WM Hundred Thousand BF Club Member


Maybe with your pine but with SYP I use green stickers a fair bit without issue.  The exception being in the dead heat of summer. 
Franklin buncher and skidder
JD Processor
Woodmizer LT Super 70 and LT35 sawmill, KD250 kiln, BMS 250 sharpener and setter
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Woodmaster 725 and 4000 planner and moulder
Enough cows to ensure there is no spare time.
White Oak Meadows


Scogar, the 18' log is a problem but your real problem comes from trying to  stack and sticker an 18' bundle level. A flat lumber yard can do it easily, us small guys have a real problem with that. You can saw all the great looking lumber you want, BUT if you want good looking lumber in 1 year, the stacking and sticking is KEY.
I am portable and the amount of times I get people to rebuild bunks would make your head spin. I refuse to leave a pile of badly stack and stickered wood. Next year when they go to use that wood they will blame me, not their bad stacking job.
IDRY Vacum Kiln, LT40HDWide, BMS250 sharpener/setter 742b Bobcat, TCM forklift, Sthil 026,038, 461. 1952 TEA Fergusan Tractor


Disclaimer - I don't own a sawmill and only helped when I hired a mill for my trees.   I would make sure you have plenty of help.  Moving all that lumber takes a lot of work.

Look at your entire work area in advance.   Think about the work and material flow.  You need to have plenty of maneuvering space and designated place for finished product, sawdust, and waste.  With a pile of 100 logs you have a lot of material to allow for.

While you have a skid steer and grapple I would definitely consider bucking  a large quantity in advance.  If you have enough help, some could be working on the bucking and staging operation while you and the rest of the help are milling.

Have the process thought out so your help has something to do.   Nothing worse than just standing around with nothing to do.

And don't forget to have someone take some pictures.

Good luck.

Doug in SW IA


Just make sure your helpers don't stand on the sawdust shoot side of the mill when it is running in case you break a band.
al glenn

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