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Author Topic: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features  (Read 9523 times)

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Offline Parafiddle

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Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« on: December 11, 2014, 10:34:34 PM »
I'm interested to hear everyone's opinions on what your "must have" or "highly desired" features are for a bandsaw mill.  There is lots of great information about a wide variety of mills, but since it will likely be several years till I'm in a position (money, time, location) to purchase one, a particular model is of less interest to me than what features to look for as I do my research.

Since many factors come into play as to what is needed or not needed depending on a person's situation, I'll lay out a scenario for the sake of reference: 

- I see myself pursuing this as a semi-retirement job starting in my late 50's.  Because of age and the declining physical abilities/stamina that goes with it, I'm wanting a saw that won't wear me down too badly. 
- I see this as being a one-person operation (myself) and sometimes having a helper to help stack wood.  The helper may be my 5'1" petite spouse or possibly an elderly landowner that I might be sawing for (not counting on a strong young man). 
- I would likely first purchase the saw for my own use in the hopes of being able to acquire urban hardwoods that are being removed and milling them down for my own woodworking projects in order to learn the art of milling and then growing it into a business where I would do custom milling for others, to include travelling to other states (seems like a nice way to travel AND get paid for it). ;-)
- Though I want the capability for decent production rates, my needs will be less than that of someone that is making his entire living on the production rate of this mill, as I look at this as a semi-retirement job.

My only experience with milling is watching some videos on the Internet and reading posts on this forum so please share your ideas/opinions as well as the reasons behind them so as to help me (and other novices like myself) to learn.  With those ideas in mind, here are a few things that I thought would be desirable:
- Hydraulic mill for ease in loading and maneuvering of logs.
- Board return (not sure what the proper terminology is) to move the newly cut board from the log to make it easier to handle for stacking (saw it on a video for a Cooke's HD3238 mill).
- Either a stationary or a portable control station (so I don't have to walk back and forth with the saw all day).  Any advantages/disadvantages to either one?  What about the chair that rides with the saw head (Wood-Mizer)?
- Easy, accurate, repeatable saw settings for thicknesses, etc.
- Easy one-person operation!
- Built to last.
- Easy to tow to the job site (to include out-of-state).
- High enough production rate to make it profitable.

Also, what accessories do you consider mandatory/desirable to have (blade sharpener, edger, etc)?

Sorry for the long-winded post.  I'm looking forward to hearing ideas and opinions.  Feel free to mention brands and models of mills that have the features you like as a reference as you see fit.  Sometimes you have to compromise and buy something that has the most (but not all) of the features you want.

Finally, a tip of the hat to everyone on this forum for all of their helpful advice and sincere willingness to help people out.  I have followed this forum for a couple of years and am always impressed with how cordial and genuine people are on here.  There are plenty of forums on the Internet that quickly spiral downward into shouting matches and insults.  I have yet to see something posted on the Forestry Forum that was not respectful, helpful and useful.  Even when people disagreed on a topic, there was mutual respect for differing opinions, which is a breath of fresh air these days.  If only the people in Congress could act as well as all of you do.

Merry Christmas!!  smiley_christmas

Offline hunz

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2014, 11:12:07 PM »
Howdy there!,
  Well I'm not sure I will be able to answer all the questions in your full post, but here goes.
  It seems you have a pretty good grasp as to what you see as "necessities" in a mill. I am obviously much younger than you, and with only 5 years under my belt here is my humble opinion. I personally would buy an LT-40 super hydraulic. Why? I intend for it to be my last and final mill purchase. I currently have the lt-35 hyd, and while my sweet orange honey does all I ask of it, there are a few reasons for me wanting an upgrade.
  1) I want command control, I am not a fan of sawdust baths in my eyes, ears, hair, and lungs. A pet peeve is when I enter the cut sometimes, a speck of thick saw dust flies 100mph right in an eyeball causing me to go blind for 30 seconds...no fun, and extremely aggravating. It happens daily not to mention the other small bits that coat my eyes throughout the whole day.

2) setworks are a must. I only have simple set, and I do love it, in comparison to the manual scale on my old mill.

3) A hefty diesel engine is in my future. My 25hp gas Kohler gets the job done with a quality cut, it just takes some time on the bigger ones. I have seen a 51hp cat operate, and.....it's like a sesna vs a private jet.

4) On occasion, pitch build up on my blade and drive wheel can be a real hindrance on production, when having to stop and clean. I would like lubemizer, a standard blade drip doesn't do the best job in conifers.

5) Auto clutch is a must for a guy who is only getting older, although I think that even applies to me at 26

 6) definitely buy a mill with a quality debarker. Many on here swear by there's. I know the before an after, and I noticed a significant improvement in band life.

Hope that confirms some of your research! Good luck!
Dream as if you'll saw forever; saw as if you'll die today.



2006 Woodmizer LT40D51RA, Husqvarna 372xp, Takeuchi TL140

Offline dgdrls

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2014, 06:06:45 AM »
Good morning Parafiddle,

I know you indicated a bandmill but have you eliminated
 a dimension mill, such as a Mobile dimension, Mighty mite or Mahoe
or a swing mill, Lucas or Peterson?
They are easy to operate, are stationary or available with a trailer
and the swing mills are truly portable.
All can be operated by a single person.

Another option to consider,

Merry Christmas  to you.

DGDrls

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2014, 11:25:17 AM »
What you describe would be something like a Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic Command Control mill. It will have the autoclutch and setworks, remote operator station, productivity and ease of towing and setup. I think you can opt for the dragback or add it on your own, definitely available on the Super Series. YellowHammer has an LT40 Command Control with a diesel engine. You can also get basically the same thing in a Super, but with higher horsepower, double the hydraulic speed, and faster setworks and head travel speeds. I don't know what would be comparable in other brands but I'm sure you will get some feedback from those owners too.

I think the options you are looking at put you in a good position for one person low impact sawing at a profitable level. Setworks make things simple and repeatable. A remote station keeps you in one spot and not walking any more than necessary.
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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2014, 01:24:59 PM »
At your age, all the log handling features & definately get a good debarker.  Banjo
Never explain, your friends don't need it, and your enemies won't believe you any way.

Offline woodyone.john

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2014, 01:43:09 PM »
number 1 to include is a debarker if its a bandsaw you're after.diesel motors have lots of advantages over a petrol one. all the hydraulic functionalitys you can get if you get a 'log on bed' as opposed to log on ground type. at the lower end of the scale board return takes up room that allows larger cants to be cut and larger logs to be broken down. If i might suggest,figure out what mill you need by considering what wood (trees and logs] you have access too. this will tend to indicate what products you will produce.hope this helps cheers john
Saw millers are just carpenters with bigger bits of wood

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2014, 07:56:24 PM »
at the lower end of the scale board return takes up room that allows larger cants to be cut and larger logs to be broken down.

Not on all mills, on my Cooks the return takes up zero room. Must have a different concept on what you are talking about.   I am with you on the debarker though.  banjo
Never explain, your friends don't need it, and your enemies won't believe you any way.

Online YellowHammer

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2014, 08:56:24 PM »
What you describe would be something like a Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic Command Control mill. YellowHammer has an LT40 Command Control with a diesel engine.
Yes, Parafiddle, what you describe is my (or any body else's) Hydraulic LT-40 with options.  I can comfortably mill by myself and still have reasonable production, or I can have a helper and work them to death, or I can have two helpers and make them both sweat and move a lot of lumber in a hurry. 
 
YH
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Take steps to save steps.

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Offline MobileSawmillNJ

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2014, 10:06:54 PM »
Para,
To offer another perspective, and one that may somewhat mirror your own situation, tomorrow marks my 2 year anniversary as a sawyer, having taken delivery of my TimberKing 2000 at that time.  I had just turned 50 years old, left a job in NYC selling financial products, and went at it.  Also, Hurricane Sandy had just swept through, leaving massive amounts of wood for the taking. Sandy actually encouraged me to step up from the 1600 (partial hydraulics) to the 2000 (full hydraulics), and I am SO glad I did. 

My suggestion for the most important option for any mill whose operator plans on cutting medium to large logs?  A skid steer loader!  I tried peaveys, winches, truck pulls, log decks - anything and everything I could think of to move those monster oak logs onto the loader arms.  I consider myself to be in very good shape for my age, strong, and determined.  However, some of these logs just would not budge.  I actually tore a muscle in my chest trying to roll a particularly large and heavy log.

Add the fact that the flitches are also heavy, and need to be moved away from the mill. Finally, the cut lumber needs to be lifted and carried to the stacking area.  Sure, you can do it one board at a time, but if production is what you seek, it makes more sense to me to leave the stack on the mill and remove them all at once.  Also, the TK has (as I'm sure others do as well) Toe-boards that lift the finished boards off the deck for easy loading. 

Obviously there is a significant additional cost, and if you plan on just milling softwoods, smaller logs, and cutting mainly 2x4's and 1x6's, then you can certainly get by without a loader.  However, I could absolutely not be doing the work I'm doing without one.  When I hire out on a job, the loader comes with, and increases my productivity exponentially. When I cut 30" wide oak slabs, 2 or 3" thick and 8 - 10' long, EVERYONE on the job is happy that the loader is there!

Offline mikeb1079

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2014, 11:37:46 PM »
mobile saw makes an excellent point about material handling....remember that the actual milling is the easy part.   ;)  moving heavy stuff around is the hard part. 
that's why you must play di drum...to blow the big guys mind!
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Offline woodyone.john

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2014, 12:01:48 AM »
What msnj saysx2 for sure
Saw millers are just carpenters with bigger bits of wood

Offline Parafiddle

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2014, 12:03:37 AM »
Thank you all for the great information!!  As a novice, I don't know what I don't know, so all of this information is useful to me.  I work as an analyst, hence why I do lots of research.

MobileSawmillNJ - it sounds like you are now doing what I hope to do in the future.  You make a great point about having the equipment to move cut logs, etc.  What kind of set-up do you use to get your mill and skid steer loader to the job site in an efficient manner?  Any tips for a person starting up?  Interested in anything from pricing your jobs, advertising/finding work, contracts/policies when taking on a job, equipment taken to the job site, and maybe most importantly, lessons learned (both good and bad) while starting and running your business. 

Would love to see pictures of how people are doing things as well.  Thanks again for all of your information and ideas!!  Please keep them coming!  Learning a ton of stuff with every entry I read.  ;D

Offline ladylake

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2014, 06:27:19 AM »
 From Mobilesawmill   (it makes more sense to me to leave the stack on the mill and remove them all at once.) 
 If doing that take a good look at how fast the head goes up and down,  the new TK mills are really fast but my older B20 is rather slow up and down and most times I get the boards off as I saw them.   Steve
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Offline MobileSawmillNJ

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2014, 11:05:43 AM »
Para,
Right now I have two trucks, an old F-600 that pulls a 9 ton trailer with skid steer on it (New Holland LS190) and a diesel E-350 van that tows the mill, and carries all the blades, fuel, tools, etc. to each job.  The goal for me is to get either a Roll-off Dumpster truck (F-650) or a rollback tow truck and put the skid-steer in/on the bed, then haul the mill behind it, so I can use just one vehicle for jobs.  Since we travel typically 20 - 60 miles each way to jobs, this can add up pretty quickly. 

To Steve's comment about removing boards individually, at 52 years old, I try and conserve as much energy as I possibly can, and let the machines do the work!  Hydraulics are a beautiful thing, and Aleve only does so much at the end of the day!! 

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2014, 01:38:31 PM »
Personally I don't like it when I have to get any where close to my mill with a set of forks.  Easy to bend stuff up, but lots of folks do it. 
Never explain, your friends don't need it, and your enemies won't believe you any way.

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2014, 01:43:30 PM »
I load and unload my mill with forks, but nobody else does. ;) So far I've only skewered a tire. :D
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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2014, 01:59:14 PM »
The only time I ever load a log with the forks is if I already have logs lined up in front of the mill to load with the arms, and I need to mill one out of turn for some reason.  then I load on the back side of the mill.  Don't think I have ever unloaded with the forks....I use the drag back arms.  I have pulled back a cant that was probably 20 x 20  and 10 foot long before.  The ac 36 has a big roller at the end of the mill ....so that when you drag lumber or a cant back ...If you didn't have roller tables you could get your forks in front of it and move the cant on to the forks pretty easy...I guess that's as clear as mud.  Banjo
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Offline Andries

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2014, 03:36:15 PM »
Parafiddle:
My first comment would be that your request for advice and information would come darn close to describing the entire Forestry Forum. I consider myself a novice after owning for five years and milling for cash for three. The collective experience, knowledge and goodwill on this site is outstanding. Have a look at the FF Gallery (at the top of the left hand banner) for thousands of photos of mobile and stationary setups. Once I got my bearings re the who, what when and where of this site, it became clear that there were many people doing similar work to my own. . . heck, there might even be a role-model or two out there. Your questions and advice seeking lies here, in spades. It's good that you'll have a few years before you buy your mill - it'll take you a while to digest info and form your own opinions. There'll be members in your State, introduce yourself and remember, nuthin' beats hands on experience! Imitation can be the most sincere form of flattery.

The second comment is that this site is managed and moderated to excellent standards. There have been some unruly types that have been taken out to the woodshed, or (rarely) shown the door. There is an 'Alpha Dog' that has a benevolent yet no-nonsense style that garners respect from the Forumites, and yet is out of sight for the most part. In my opinion, excellent leadership.
Best of the Holiday Season to you.
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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2014, 05:35:05 PM »
 :P
Boy, back in my day..

Offline redbeard

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Re: Bandsaw mill "must have/highly desired" features
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2014, 05:55:20 PM »
Removing 500lb beams and even 2000 lb. Cants you will be forced to sharpen your fork lift skills. Hydraulic mill is low maintenance for the long haul. Like Ladylake said fast up n down is a great feature TK 2000 - 2200 is my next mill might be awhile my B-20 still runs like new 8yrs old now.
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