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General Forestry => Sawmills and Milling => Topic started by: 54Dutchman on January 26, 2012, 04:01:26 PM

Title: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: 54Dutchman on January 26, 2012, 04:01:26 PM
I am new to this forum and sawmills.  I would like to get a sawmill to get lumber for a couple of buildings I will be making, so i am more of a hobby type than professional sawyer.  I have been reading this forum and looking at a lot of sawmills. I am starting to like the features of the swing saw units were the log is not moved once you are set up and you can get the dimensional lumber with out having to resaw a slab.  But maybe I got it all wrong ???  In some of the for sale adds people were getting bandmills to up their production from the swing blade mills.
Any views on this would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: mad murdock on January 26, 2012, 04:12:09 PM
Welcome to the forestry forum 54Dutchman.   I haven't run a swing blade mill, but have seen them run.  They are fast, Peterson used to make the skillmill, which was aimed at the entry level market, but I don't know if they are currently making it. 
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: terrifictimbersllc on January 26, 2012, 04:25:40 PM
I could imagine extremes in log size and which level of bandmill is being compared, that could make production differences between the two mill types swing ( :D no pun intended) considerably one way or the other.  But I think most would agree that for sawing up intermediate diameter logs into lumber for buildings, by someone who has learned to handle either mill fairly well, whatever difference, if any, which exists in production rate, would not be big enough to be a main reason for choosing between the two types of mills.  Capability, versatility, cost, and ease of use in the intended application are more important factors to consider when deciding between the two mill types.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Chuck White on January 26, 2012, 04:32:11 PM
I really have no idea 54Dutchman, I've never seen a swing mill in operation.

I just want to welcome you to the Forestry Forum.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Ianab on January 26, 2012, 04:40:58 PM
What Swingmills do BEST is cutting dimension lumber from larger sized logs. About the only thing that bill beat them at that is a Twin saw design, but those are bigger and more expensive.

A swingblade should way outperform a manual band sawmill. Just the lack of log moving between cuts makes up a lot of time. Not reloading flitches to resaw, and generally a higher cutting speed.

A more powerful band mill with hydraulic log handling and all the power extras will be close, until the logs get over about 36" dia. Then the Swingblade sawyer starts smiling and the band miller starts scratching his head.

On smaller logs the swingblade looses a lot of it's advantages. You can still saw small logs perfectly OK, but so can something like a LT15 band mill.

What swing mills have going for them is their great portability, and flexibility. Big log in a remote place? No worries, haul the mill in (behind a quad bike if necessary), set up and mill. Haul everything out the same way.

If you are working with limited equipment, that ability to take the mill to the log, and set up around it where if fell is some cases is an important factor.

Ian
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: hackberry jake on January 26, 2012, 05:32:44 PM
Entry level bandmill, $4,000. Entry level swingmill, $8,000-$12,000. Widest board off entry level bandmill, 24". Widest board off entry level swingmill, 6". I've seen a Lucas run and they are faster at producing 2x4s and 2x6s by far, I chose band because sometimes I need 2x8s, 2x10s, 2x12s, and wide boards for tabletops, bar tops, etc. The biggest advantages I see in the swing mill are portability, cost and life expectancy of blades, speed, ability to mill very large logs, and the dedicated slabber option.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: cypresskayaksllc on January 26, 2012, 07:45:57 PM
Sometimes I wish I had a swing mill for those big logs. Or some dynamite. 
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Slabs on January 26, 2012, 07:52:14 PM
Sometimes I wish I had a swing mill for those big logs. Or some dynamite.




One of our neighbors uses black powder.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: jueston on January 26, 2012, 08:30:49 PM
everything that i think has allready been said. swing mills start out a little more expensive, they are more portible, and faster at cutting demensional lumber, but limited in what it can cut.

the bandmill can cut wider and and will cost you less to start....

the best thing to do is go see both in action, then you will get a feel for them...

and welcome to the forum
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: sawguy21 on January 26, 2012, 10:10:14 PM
I am not a miller but have watched both work. The swinger was fast but as has been said, board width is a limiting factor. The big Wood-mizer was sweet, I would love to have one,  but throat size precluded large logs.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: 54Dutchman on January 26, 2012, 10:22:14 PM
Thanks for the warm welcome 8) 8); I will stay looking for a swing blade. A used one will better fit my budget Now just to know were to find it ??? ???
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Bill Gaiche on January 26, 2012, 10:25:07 PM
54Dutchman, welcome to the FF. Cant answer your question but you will have all the info you need on here in a short time. bg
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: terrifictimbersllc on January 27, 2012, 07:29:04 AM
Thanks for the warm welcome 8) 8); I will stay looking for a swing blade. A used one will better fit my budget Now just to know were to find it ??? ???
If you're not in a hurry, be patient and keep your eyes open and search here and various other places.  It seems like now and then older swing mills come up and sometimes go for practically a song.  Compared to what a new one costs that is.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: woodsteach on January 27, 2012, 10:42:42 AM
Welcome to the forum,  I have a brand x swingmill and am straight south of you on the nebraska, kansas border.  If you ever get this far south stop in and see a swing mill work.  I cut lots of 2x4's and 4x4's  for shipping dunnage.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: customsawyer on January 27, 2012, 01:40:33 PM
First welcome to the forum.  The answers depend on what you are cutting and what you are cutting the lumber out of. Both mills have advantages and both have disadvantages. Set down and ask yourself what you want to be able to cut and what size logs are you going to cut it out of. I have band mills and do enough big logs that I wish I could afford a swing mill too. If I had the swing mills I would be sitting here wishing I had a band mill to go with them.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Mooney on January 27, 2012, 03:24:42 PM
Swing mills and band mills of various brands compete in the Portable Sawmill ShootOut every two years side-by-side. Although it's not a race, Independent Sawmill & Woodlot magazine records the board feet per hour on each mill, miscuts percentage, lumber recovery, etc. That would be a good resource to see how they perform next to eachother. The magazine does a good job of highlighting the strengths of the various mill types. The PDF of the ShootOut issue is actually free right now at the below link.

https://sawmillmag.com/app/home/index
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Peder McElroy on January 27, 2012, 06:59:34 PM
I have a Lucas 618 and also a Woodmizer lt40hd. The swing mill is faster for the 2x4 2x6 &  6x6's ,you can change to what ever you want to cut quickly. I set up a slabber with my Alaskan mill for the wide stuff. The Band mill is good for larger stuff like 2x8 2x10 2x12 and beams.I feel lucky to have both,but the Lucas 618 was the first and I was happy to have that.
Peder
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Dave VH on January 28, 2012, 05:30:38 PM
I got to play with Steve on his mobile dimension mill, I was very impressed with the overall efficiency of it for dimensional lumber.  I can't see how a bandmill could compete when it comes to dimensional lumber.  That being said, there are a lot of things that that mobile can't do that a bandmill can.  Steve and I agreed that for true versitility, you need both.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: losttheplot on January 29, 2012, 10:50:58 PM
I purchased a used manual band mill almost 1 year ago.
(lumbermate 2000)
I am a hobby sawyer, just cutting some trees to build some buildings.
I have cut around 10,000 bdft in the last year.

To collect and move logs I built a log arch a couple of months ago,I tow it with a pick up.
I load the logs onto the mill by hand with a pee-vee.

90% of what I saw is Douglas Fir with diameters of 10 - 24 inches.
The logs are often crooked and I turn them often to relive the stress in the wood as I saw it.
I have had great luck obtaining stable lumber using the techniques I have read on this forum.

I would say that from the time it takes me to collect the log then get it onto the mill.
Saw the log and off load the lumber by hand onto the pick up ( 8x8's I off load one end at a time  :( )
Move the lumber and re stack it on stickers.
Clean up the mess and deliver the slabs for free fire wood.
Then maintain the mill.
The time the blade is in the wood I count as a break from the hard work.
I think the time the blade stays in the cut is just a small part of the equation.

There is barley any time left for constructing the buildings that I now need to house the mill and all the wood I have stacked under bits of leaky tarps all over the place.

And to think it all started when I found a little sawdust in my pocket................................. ...... ;)

Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Okrafarmer on March 18, 2012, 01:40:52 AM
One question I have-- what happens to a swing blade when you hit a 16-penny nail? Bands can be resharpened and I have sawn right through 16-penny nails before and finished my cut. I know swing-blade mills can be resharpened too, and usually more easily, but what kind of damage will be done from hitting that big nail?

I looked at a Peterson swing-blade mill for sale recently-- if I had the money I would definitely have bought it.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Ianab on March 18, 2012, 04:09:45 AM
Depends how serious the hit is. A bit of soft fence wire or a small nail it will probably breeze through.

You might take the edge of the carbides, and need to stop and give it a serious sharpening from a nail or 2.

Or worst case you will bust some carbide tips right off, and need to swap blades for your spare(s).  It costs me $40 to get my blades re-tipped, but you can buy a jig and do it yourself for about $2 tip.

You can also keep sawing with a few tips missing. Heck I wondered why things were slowing down one day, think "must need a resharpen", checked the blade and only had ONE tooth left.  :D

So hitting metal on average probably has about the same effect on your pocket as it does with a band saw.

Ian
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: bandmiller2 on March 18, 2012, 08:52:05 AM
Dutchie,just about everything has been said.A swing mill would do what you want,without alot of equipment to move logs.They usally come with sharpeners.When your done it can be dismantled and stored in a garage or cellar.The only thing your giveing up with the swinger is those wide boards and there not manditory for building. Frank C.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: tjhammer on March 18, 2012, 09:19:12 AM
welcome 54dutchman

  I have two swing mills one I built and one I bought,the brand x can use 2 blade sizes I run a 8 1/2  mostely also have a 9 1/2 blade that I can double cut 19 in wide board but all the trouble wide boards bring I usually stay with the 8 1/2 and when I quarter saw its just a matter of changing the way the log is cut,I made a jig to weld the saw bits on the blade it takes 5 min to change a blade and no time to sharpen and like Ianab said I have finished up a log with one tooth
         tj
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Okrafarmer on March 18, 2012, 09:26:01 AM
That's good to know, Ianab! Now all my objections to buying a swing mill have been overcome, except price.  :-[ Not to mention I don't even have enough money to buy a band mill right now.  :-[  :-\  :'( I have been using my boss's band mill and would really like to step up to something like the Peterson I looked at. It had the 8" blade (by the way, you can actually make a 16" board with an 8" cut) and it had the clip-on slabber, it had a 6" gearbox as well as the 8", and at least 2 of each size of blade, and it had the lap-siding attachment. It had both high and low track, and an optional stabilizer bar. Seems like there may have been other stuff.

What I would plan to do if I had a mill like that, would be to make a lot of 8" lumber, but also as much 10-16" as I could by going backward with the head, and also, whenever I wanted to make a bunch of wide lumber, I would finish a large log to a cant, and stick it over out of the way until I had several of them, then switch over to slabber and work through the cants.  Ultimately I would like the dedicated slabber to be able to make those cuts interchangeably. Dreaming here, but I am totally sold on the swing mill now, I just need the money to make it happen.

But it's a goal now.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Okrafarmer on March 18, 2012, 09:29:54 AM
And one more question-- I think I know the answer, but how do swing mills do in really hard wood, like oak, hickory, persimmon, not to mention whatever hardwoods those of you in other countries have? I know the entry level band mill I use struggles more and more the harder the wood is.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Magicman on March 18, 2012, 09:57:29 AM
I watched Meadows Miller (Chris) saw a Red Oak log at our "Chickin Crispin" last year.  I do not believe that those blades would know the difference in hardness between any of the species.
 

 (http://www.forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/20011/3609/DSCN0465.JPG)
Chris used the sawmill's built in sharpener to do a touch up on the teeth before sawing.  Jonnywood from Columbia, Tn. looks on.
 

 (http://www.forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/20011/3609/DSCN0483.JPG)
And then made short work of the Red Oak log.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Nomad on March 18, 2012, 10:27:17 AM
     Last log I milled with my Lucas 10-30 was a hickory about 16' long and roughly 34".  The owner wanted 2x8s.  It was slower than cutting pine.  But it was still faster than my 2 offbearers!
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: zopi on March 18, 2012, 10:45:34 AM
I think Peder has nailed it...just own both! lol
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Dakota on March 18, 2012, 10:50:04 AM
Every time I have hit a big nail, I've had to change the blade and have it retiped.  For this reason, I keep three extra blades ready to go at all times.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: terrifictimbersllc on March 18, 2012, 11:08:25 AM
Damage is going to depend whether you hit it crosswise or sideways.  Nails will probably be the least of your metal worries.  Bolts and parts of your mill are worse.  Make sure you have full face protection on, if it can put out your eye it can also tear up your face or possibly worse put a hole in your neck at the wrong place.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Okrafarmer on March 18, 2012, 02:23:55 PM
Yes, I'm sure the swing blades can fling objects (including broken teeth) much harder than a bandmill. Hitting a horseshoe in the middle of a tree could be bad-- An old circle mill hit a horseshoe once while I was there-- not RIGHT there, but on the property and I got to see the cut and the damage afterward. Shut down sawing for the day. It was a club demonstration and I was hoping to get my cherry logs milled for free, but it was not to be. Hitting a horseshoe would be a bad day for any mill.  But not so bad for a band mill, only $25 worth of damage and a few minutes to replace.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Okrafarmer on March 18, 2012, 02:29:18 PM
I watched Meadows Miller (Chris) saw a Red Oak log at our "Chickin Crispin" last year.  I do not believe that those blades would know the difference in hardness between any of the species.
 
Chris used the sawmill's built in sharpener to do a touch up on the teeth before sawing.  Jonnywood from Columbia, Tn. looks on.
And then made short work of the Red Oak log.

What size or model of mill is that? (obviously Lucas, based on Chris's trendy garb).
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Magicman on March 18, 2012, 03:51:36 PM
I will have to defer to Chris for that answer, but I think that it was whatever size is their largest.

Chris is probably in the air or about ready to be by now.
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Ianab on March 18, 2012, 04:49:07 PM
And one more question-- I think I know the answer, but how do swing mills do in really hard wood, like oak, hickory, persimmon, not to mention whatever hardwoods those of you in other countries have? I know the entry level band mill I use struggles more and more the harder the wood is.

They do well on hardwoods, especially if it's nice straight grain and chips out nice and clean as you are cutting.

Some of the hardest cutting I've done is crazy grain Port Orford Cedar which is pretty soft, but the knots and crazy curly grain and tension gave me some trouble. Same place with some really hard bluegum eucalyptus (about as hard as white oak) and I could breeze through that.

But the worst that happens is you need to slow down on the gnarly stuff, there's not much you can't cut. Because the saw head is pushed by hand I don't think there is enough force involved to really destroy a blade and throw shrapnel like a big circle mill can. Even if you hit a horseshoe, the carbide tips chip off and you stop cutting. Main hazard is stray bits of wood, knots, small limbs etc that get cut lose and tossed by the blade. Those CAN hurt, hence the chaps and face shield recommendations, and keep bystanders away from that side of the mill.

Ian
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Hilltop366 on March 18, 2012, 05:34:02 PM
I see the Lucas 6/18 is $12,999.99, it is like apples to oranges but I would at least compare it to a band-mill around the same price for a $ to $ comparison of what you get, the Wood-mizer lt 30 is $12995.00,

A Cooks MP32 $12,587.00 30hp Kohler
Title: Re: Which basic mill is faster - bandsaw or swing mill?
Post by: Okrafarmer on March 18, 2012, 09:37:14 PM
I think if a person is mainly working woods under about 1,000 on the Janka scale, and/or mainly logs under 20" diameter, a small band mill works great. The more expensive hydraulic bandmills can handle larger and harder logs, especially with the use of a debarker to keep the blade sharper longer. Maybe I would have better luck with the hardwood logs if I were to use a blade specifically designed for hardwoods-- the ones I've been using are the ones that are supposed to work for hardwood and softwood. Maybe I should get some better blades. Then again-- that would take away from my "saving-up-to-buy-a-swing-mill" fund.