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Author Topic: Advice for more efficient solo milling  (Read 1005 times)

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Offline jovol

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Advice for more efficient solo milling
« on: January 07, 2020, 01:53:22 PM »
Hey all, I'm looking for some advice on how you all use roller tables to make your lives' easier. Particularly the slabs, god I hate moving those around. I don't have many pictures on my phone right now to share, but here's one: 

 
I mill as a contractor at a local lumberyard, and they fortunately have a ~25' x 15' tall shed I work under. At the front of the mill and to the side, you see the slab rack/pile. In the foreground are my skids for loading 3-4 logs onto with my skid steer. Straight out the front of the mill is where I deadstack the boards (they get stickered by other guys later on). The system works pretty well, except I HATE dealing with the slabs and flitches (I edge the waney boards on the mill), especially since I mill alone here. Do you all have any good examples of setups with roller tables to deal with these darn things?

Thanks,
John
2017 LT50 wide, 2004 LT40 G28 (for sale), ms250, ms661 42 granberg, Logrite fetching arch, 2000 New Holland LS180, Ford 6.0s

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2020, 03:21:30 PM »
   I am likely real small potatoes compared to what you mill. I don't have any roller tables. I throw my waste slabs on the back side of my sawdust pile from the chute on a couple pieces dunnage and when the stack gets too big I move it with my little JD tractor and FEL. If I get lucky somebody buys them for firewood first before the stack gets that big and we load them directly from there and I don't have to move them myself. 

   BTW - I really like those runners you have set up in front of your loading arms and feel guilty I have not set some up yet but I ride my ATV through there and they would be in my way. I might ought to find another ATV path.
Howard Green
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Offline 47sawdust

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 05:09:18 PM »
You are in the right place.Yellow Hammer,Peter Drouin,Percy,Bandmill Bandit to name a few are worth a look at their operations.
Good luck
Mick
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2020, 07:48:33 PM »
Roller tables/gravity conveyors are great for getting slabs off the end of the mill for me.  The slabs go down hill to either a rack or the forks of the loader.  The rack is configured for the loader forks to go under to transport the slabs away for firewood.
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Offline PAmizerman

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2020, 10:03:26 PM »
Here is what I do. It's not perfect by any means but it works for the limited space I have. It really saves my back.


 

 
The roller is offset to the side but close enough that I can leave one end of the slab on the mill and one on the table. That way I never lift a full slab.
I can saw a full log before I have to organize the slabs.
If I had the room I would put the rollers on the right not the left. 

Finished lumber comes straight back. 
Flitches to the right. 

The key is keeping the blade in the log as much as possible. I have a dragback and command control so I drag the board or flitch back and get back to cutting. As the mill saws I deal with the materials.
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Offline PAmizerman

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2020, 10:15:35 PM »
When I used to edge on the mill I would lay 4x4's on the roller table and throw all the edgings on it so I could just lift them off with the machine and dump them in the rack.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2020, 10:39:41 PM »
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is how I do it. It requires a drag back and table, and all pieces come back to me for routing.  Nothing gets lifted by hand except to be slid either onto a pallet or roller table.  Bark slabs slide off the table to the side onto a gravity roller that rolls downhill 10 feet and plops the pieces onto the parked forks of the loader.  All the stuff to get edged comes back on one pallet, all the finished lumber comes back into the other pallet. I never move more than a couple steps, except to roll another log into the arms.  This is the view I have when working, and if I have to leave this space, something is wrong.  Since I have a roller on the end of the dragback table, many times the sawmill will push the board on the pallet and I done have to touch it.  

With the dragback, I can get a board back onto the table and rolled onto the pallet in about 10 seconds or less.  I never lift an entire board.  I try to not lift anything, sliding and rolling is much easier.  I follow the architecture principle of the Kitchen Triangle, where everything can happen with an absolute minimum of walking and moving by the operator.  Efficiency is crucial when sawing, every step saved is movement and time saved.  




YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a piece of tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not pieces of trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  Dont burn the cookies.

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2020, 11:22:52 PM »
 

 I have 3 10 foot sections each has off load racks.  Slabs go on the first one product on the other two.  

 I tend to wait and drag back several at a time.   I have 6x6 s in front of the mill just like you do to stage logs on. Banjo
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Offline boonesyard

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2020, 12:31:53 PM »
I see most everyone flat stacks finished lumber and boards to be edged right off the mill. How long can/do you wait to sticker it? 
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2020, 12:47:37 PM »
It depends on the species and the weather.  The colder it is, the longer you can wait.  I routinely have my employees sticker stack all the wood I've sawn during the week on Saturdays.  I also don't buck logs to length, I will saw them up full size and then put the best part of the board on the pallet so I can pack saw them later to get the best wood.  If the cut ends are 4 feet or longer, I'll sticker them too.  It saves 10X time packsawing and than bucking every log to length with a chainsaw before milling, only to find the bucked section of log in the mud had some excellent wood that was now wasted.  

If you use dragbacks, then log length really doesn't matter that much, because the machine is doing the work.  
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a piece of tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not pieces of trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  Dont burn the cookies.

Offline Brucer

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Re: Advice for more efficient solo milling
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2020, 11:54:34 PM »
Here's an old post on the subject. On post #12 I show some pictures of my layout and my home-made roller tables:Roller tables at the mill

The slab rack design I eventually came up with lets me empty the racks by hand very quickly, so I don't have to keep getting on and off the loader: Evolution of a slab rack

Everyone has different equipment, different products, different amount of space, etc. There's no universal "best" approach. Look at what other people have done, use the ideas that fit your situation, and don't be afraid to experiment.

The most inefficient thing you can do is to shift something and leave it, with no plan with how to deal with it later. It took me a while, but I had a plan for everything that came out of the saw yard. Think about using "buffers" -- organized intermediate storage spots right in the middle of your work flow that will let things accumulate until you have enough material to be able to deal with it efficiently. For example, flitches would get piled in front of the edger, organized roughly by length and width. When there were enough to edge efficiently, my part time helper would come in and we'd run the edger for a few hours. All the edged board would get piled by width at the end of the edger and when we were done my helper would trim them to length. Then she'd fetch the loader and move them to the drying piles. Lots of buffer piles in the process, but all arranged for efficiency.

When a slab rack was full, I'd strap the bundle, tip the rack, and roll the bundle onto dunnage, to be picked up by the loader next time someone was operating it. Slab bundles were set on dunnage in long rows, green wood going in one side, dry wood coming off the other side when customers came for it. The different lengths were in separate rows so there was no messing about pulling out what the customer wanted.

It was really tempting to use the loader for everything, but every time I walked to the loader, got in, started it, and then later parked it and walked back to the mill, I was losing 5-10 minutes a time. When I got that out of my system I was getting an extra hour or more a day of milling time.
Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions.
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