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Author Topic: how much can a hobby mill handel  (Read 10807 times)

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Offline NSwoodworker

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how much can a hobby mill handel
« on: February 22, 2012, 01:52:44 PM »
hello . I have  a question . I am thinking of buying a  mill , in the under $4000 "hobby" range , woodmeizer lt10 , timberking 1220 , or the woodland mills HM 126 . are some of the ones i am looking at , smg has one that apparently has an attachment that will cut clapboard siding which would be really nice .

I am not planning to do custom cutting  or any commercial work , however i want to use the mill to cut the wood for a house , garage , and horse barn , as well as fence boards. I am going to guess that will be around 40k to 50k board feet of lumber . probably cut over 1 to 2 years , and stacked to dry .  the plan would be to mill the wood for the garage first and build the garage so there is a workshop to work from and build a section on the side where the mill can be set up so it is easily operated in all weather . then keep milling stacking and drying lumber until i have enough to build the house .

the question is will the smaller hobby mills stand up to this kind of use ?
I would love to buy one of the bigger mills with hydraulics , but for the extra money i can buy a better tractor and handling gear . after the initial push to get the wood milled the mill will not be used as intensively , it will be a hobby mill after that used for cutting wood for various hobby projects where as a better tractor will be used regularly . so i would prefer spend my money there given the choice .

has anyone used this level of mill to do this quantity/type of milling b4 ?
I am at least a year maybe 18 months away from starting the project , and would prefer to get as many kinks worked out in the planning stage as I can . any advice on this would be appreciated .

Offline homesteader shane

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 02:06:05 PM »
welcome
I'm running a Norwood Lumber lite and it is great. Its a small manual mill and will cut all day. I have done decks, beams and siding with it and it has never had a problem. We've had the mill about 7 years now and made a trailer for it and now I'm mobile. A mill is a great investment and I have nothing but the best to say about the Norwood company
This is the biggest log I'v had on it 18 foot poplar and 28inch around



Good luck

Offline Riggs

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 02:20:21 PM »
+1 for Norwood, only had mine a few months, but they are a great company
Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.~Ernest Hemingway

Norwood ML 26

Offline Ianab

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2012, 02:33:22 PM »
I don't think you will have any problems cutting that amount of wood, even with a "light duty" mill.

When you look at them, there is not much to go wrong. They have a commercial Honda or similar engine. You can expect that to run for years. There are various bearings, guides, belts etc that are considered wear parts that you may need to replace from time to time. As long as you you don't abuse the machine there is not much that can go wrong with a steel track carriage.

So the mill is likely to need maintenance over a year or so of regular use. But that's not the same as "worn out".

The big difference is the production rate of those small mills. Cutting in your own time as a "hobby" they are simple machines and easy to keep running. Trying to cut commercially you can't really cut enough per hour to make money. But the more complex mills actually have more parts to fail, and you would actually spend more on maintenance on a larger mill.

Ian
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Offline hackberry jake

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2012, 02:57:43 PM »
That's a lot of cutting, I've had my ex boardwalk jr for a little over a year and I've probably just cut around 5k board feet so far. I don't have much free time to mill either though. I have at least another 4k board feet worth of logs waiting on me to cut.
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Offline NSwoodworker

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2012, 03:20:55 PM »
That's a lot of cutting, I've had my ex boardwalk jr for a little over a year and I've probably just cut around 5k board feet so far. I don't have much free time to mill either though. I have at least another 4k board feet worth of logs waiting on me to cut.

yup i figure it will take a solid year of steady cutting to get it all done . most of the mills i am looking at like the LT10 seem to be rated for 150 to 160 board feet / hour , i figure that is under ideal conditions but that once i know what i am doing i should be able to average 100 BF/H . so 400 to 500 hours of cutting to get 40k to 50k bf of lumber .
if i can do 10 hours a week i should have it all done over a year , and by the time i am done the wood i started with should be well seasoned and ready to start building with .
it does not all have to be done to start , the garage first , i figure 7 to 10k , the house 20 to 25k  , the horse barn and the fences can come after .
a lot of work , but if i take my time it should be do able and it should save me a bucket of cash . and easily pay for the mill and my labor in savings .
plus it is a good excuse to buy a mill and a tractor which i will have after the project is done .

it all looks great on paper ,i just hope it is manageable in real life  .

Thanks Ianab that was what i was wondering , would hobby  mills stand up to the kind of use / volume i want to throw at it in the first year of so .

Offline hamish

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 04:20:34 PM »
I have had my Norwood ML26 for almost a year now, and works great.  I have cut almost 20K BF thus far.  Once you have theings figured out and have yourself a good off bearer you can easily cut 600-1000 bf/day.
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Offline ely

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 04:20:57 PM »
manual mills do the work that you are prepared to be there for. ive built an entire home off my norwood.

Offline POSTON WIDEHEAD

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 04:34:37 PM »
All these mills are great....Woodmizer, Norwood, Cooks, Timberking and all the rest.

If the money's right, look down the road 3 years and think about how your milling business may be doing.

I started to buy the WM LT35. I am glad I got the LT40HD. I had no idea I would be this busy in just 1 year.


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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2012, 05:08:40 PM »
after the initial push to get the wood milled the mill will not be used as intensively , it will be a hobby mill after that ...
Famous last words.  Does not take into account dreaded sawdust disease, where one must saw more and more to quell the cravings....Sure it will be a hobby mill, along side your new hydraulic one.  ::) ::) ::)  Welcome to FF. 
DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT Woodmizer Million Board Foot Club member. 2019 LT70 Super Wide 55 Yanmar,  LogRite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.  2001 F350 7.3L PSD 6 spd manual ZF 4x4 Crew Cab Long Bed

Offline bandmiller2

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 08:20:55 PM »
NSW,the mill will probibly hold up as well as you.The manual mills are pretty much the same mill without the hydraulics and electronics.Their pretty simple and will run along time with rudimentary maintance.A simple roof will extend their usefull life.Oh and welcome. Frank C.
A man armed with common sense is packing a big piece

Offline cypresskayaksllc

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 09:20:40 PM »
I wouldnt put too much into the bdft/hr the sawmill companies advertise. There are a lot of variables.

I wonder if any of the sawmill mfgs hit metal in their sawmill competitions :)
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Offline NB sawdust

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2012, 10:23:25 PM »
I have a Norwood mill , I feel like I got a great little mill for the investment.Very simple to repair/ rebuild if you do manage to wear it out .

One tip I can offer you , build yourself a small log deck setup. Something like a couple 6x6 cribbed to the height of your mill. With my setup I left enough room to walk between the deck and the mill.I use the tractor to fill up the deck and when I am ready for another log I lay  2 pieces of 4x4 between the deck and the mill and easily roll a log onto the mill .

This saves alot of time getting on and off your tractor , helps production alot . It also is easier on your mill. I used to hit the mill with the tractor and knock it off it's blocks alot >:( now I put enough on the deck to saw till I am ready for a break .

P.s. I will look for a pic to post.

Offline DanG

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 10:56:08 PM »
Welcome aboard! :)

Those little mills can handle more wood than you can.  Handling the logs and lumber is a lot more work than the sawing.  More power and hydraulics can cut down on the time that sawing takes you away from that other stuff. ;)
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Offline WDH

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2012, 12:06:20 AM »
Your production numbers are unrealistic on that size mill.  I have a Wood-mizer LT15, and I have kept extensive records.  I have averaged just a little over 100 BF/hour, mostly sawing alone, but that also includes times when I had help.  That is 100 BF/hour of engine-running-time hours, not just elapsed time.  You also have to figure in all the time that you will spend felling logs, skidding logs, prepping logs, and loading logs.  You will spend as much or more time on that end as you will sawing.  For every 8 hours that you spend sawing, you will spend at least that much time fooling with acquiring and handling logs, stickering lumber, and dealing with the slabs and the sawdust.  I would say that you should cut your estimate in half of what you think that you can do in a year with a hobby mill.

50,000 BF of lumber also takes up a lot of space.  Just building the racks to stack this much lumber on and just acquiring enough stickers to stack all this lumber is a big job.  I don't want to throw cold water on what you are thinking of doing, because I believe that it will work and be a very satisfying enterprise for you.  But, you have under-estimated reality in your productivity assumptions.  To cut that much wood in that time frame, do not go with one of the low horsepower manual mills.  Get at least 15 Horsepower, preferably 25 horsepower.   You are also going to need a lot of shed space to stack and dry this much lumber, so think carefully about what happens after the lumber is sawn on the mill.  That is an easy part to ignore unless you spread it our over a long period of time.  The logistics and handling will eat your lunch.

All that said, it looks like an exciting project.  Go for it!
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Offline papow22

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2012, 12:35:06 AM »
 8) 8)  :D Well,being a deep subject,I own lm 2000 just a plain jane it cuts as fast as I want to work it,But my Father before he past on made he circle mill with log stoppers with the ability to let one log at a time,also a log turner and a breast roller also a set of rollers for lumber with the ability for the tail sawyer to able to move the pile for the loader to remove the lumber also rollers to push unedged lumber to end where you can stack later on in the day.or while the sawyer was touching up the saw teeth.Also sawdust conveyer to remove the sawdust from the mill into a old jeep we used carry the sawdust to where we bucking up the logs.
                           As for cutting amount of lumber depends on the weather your helper and how is your heath of you and your loader logs also.
                                    But are looking at one man mill or extra man or a full crew of guys.My father mill only took father and son to do the work of a full crew cause we work at it together, not against each other.For when you got help that help out around the mill you MUST really appreciate the help..
                                   For we cut enough lumber in one day @ 8 hrs ,it would take me a couple days to do same amount,but with a band mill the lumber feels smoother than a circle mill.But you have lot to take into account but one thing I'd do is my way of doing it,Is going around and having coffee with the owners and asking all sort of Questions.They sound stupid but you'll find that there no stupid questions,just the ones you never asked.Just my 2 cents  eh! 
Lives to do sawdust,run a trapline,hunt big game,live life to it's most.Got 4 mills a circle mill,(2 band sawmills) Norwood's 2000, Trim Saw,Beam Machine (chainsaw mill).

Offline Nomad

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2012, 06:46:01 AM »
     WDH hit it right on the money.  With an LM2000 I found that less than half my time was actually used putting the blade through the wood, and that's with a pretty good helper and a tractor, and logs that were already stacked.  Working alone it goes down quite a bit.  That's with cleaning boards, stacking and stickering right off the mill.  And don't forget; the bigger the board the harder it is to handle!  A 12' 2x10 is a real handful toward the end of the day.
     Figure about half an hour a day for basic cleaning, sawdust removal and lube.  Planning to sharpen your own blades?  Budget time for that, too.
     Along with room for lumber storage, don't forget about someplace for your slash/sawdust pile.  It's gonna be a lot bigger than you imagine. :D
     I think what you plan to do is great!  It's just going to take you a bit more time than you think it will.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2012, 08:23:54 AM »
WDH is right. I cut my own trees down and saw them out. Takes some time to get them out of the woods to the sawmill. Than I'm fussy and I clean up the mess in the woods and get some firewood too at the same time.
NB sawdust is right. Build something to put the logs onto than roll them onto the mill. I use 2 pieces of inch flat stock to bridge the gap between the 2 logs that I put down and the sawmill. Keep any and all equipment away from your mill. I can broke anything that I just walk by.
NS woodworker,welcome to the forum. By the way what species will you be cutting?
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Offline tcsmpsi

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2012, 09:50:55 AM »
Build yourself all the help you can, as soon as you can.  Wasted movements are time eaters, and give more opportunity for 'uh-oh's'. 

When I ordered my mill, I started clearing a spot for it, a path to the spot, accessible, and provision of the first logs to mill.

 

 

These are the first logs, being stacked, utilizing the forks I had to build for the fel.

 

 

Getting the mill, I built a permanent drying rack (posts set into the ground with beams across them). 

 

 

The project for the first logs/lumber, from whence they came, and built over/around that permanent drying rack (predetermined).

 

 

In order to harvest trees in the back of the property, I've had to build two bridges.  What hurricanes and drought haven't provided as harvests, I generally pick and choose to best enhance the property, environment and life in general.

The first additions to the millshed, were a treated wooden floor and a 'toolbox' (room).  Much more stable is the floor than the ground, eases cleanup and thusly promotes a non-cluttered walkway (especially since it's a manual mill). 
I bolted the jack feet to the floor.

 

 

It has evolved, and continues to evolve, as time and resources allow.  I believe you will find it much more efficient to have a large enough shed to stack/dry your lumber before you start doing so. 
Indeed, actual sawing time is the 'gravy' of the process.  Mine is set up to be a one man process.  Harvesting trees has its own time, application and maintenance.

And, of course, what others have mentioned.   

Any of mills you have mentioned, and many others, will hold up to the work.  The real question is, will you?     :D  ;)
\\\"In the end, it is a moral question as to whether man applies what he has learned or not.\\\" - C. Jung

Offline NSwoodworker

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Re: how much can a hobby mill handel
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2012, 11:06:20 AM »
I am very glad i posted , the info/advice given is exactly the sort i need to know b4 starting this project.

to answer a few questions :
I had not thought too much about storage , i was thinking that I would take the time to stack the boards  between loading the next log . I know that I will have to sort based on size and quality because I have to have any structural wood inspected b4 I am allowed to build with it .
so I was thinking of a space for stuff i need to pass inspection , and a space for stuff that i don't need to have graded . piles stacked with stickers and the top covered with a tarp with the sides up allowing for air flow .
I am definitely going to have to give more thought to work area/storage area layout .

The local species which are readily available are :
spruce and pine  . Maple is a common hard wood .Oak ,birch , hemlock and white cedar are native as well but not as plentiful . i was thinking most of the structural wood would be spruce .

I anticipate doing most of the milling on my own . I can probably grab a helper every now and then but I don't want to count on it . I would rather plan to do it myself and be great-full of any help , then plan on having help and be POed when it doesn't show up .

I was originally thinking of using the tractor to drop the logs on the carriage , a couple of the mills i am looking at have raised cross members and claim that this makes using a tractor to place the loges easier and reduces damage to the mill . This seemed to be a practical design feature and would be a factor in deciding which mill to buy , if i don't make a log delivery system .
I had not previously thought of a log delivery system , I have seen a few on the videos i have watched but wasn't planning to build one . Having read the advice given  i think a log delivery system will be a must have , it will save me time and reduce the wear on me and the mill .

I am getting  that my hoped for production rates are on the high side . I will have to work out as many efficiencies as i can .

I also have to look at the cost of having wood delivered vs cutting it myself . From what I am told , log prices are down in this area , but i don't know what that means in terms of a price per delivered load. I have a customer of mine who would know , next time he is in I will ask him what a truck load of spruce logs of the size a band mill can handle  would cost delivered . I think i would harvest the more valuable stuff like maple myself , i anticipate that I will need less of this as it will be finish wood for floors cabinets ect . this is also wood i would be suing last in the project so i can pick away at harvesting it and have it ready to cut when needed.

From the foresters I know , there is not much money in the logging side of things , which leads me to believe there is not much money to be saved by doing it my self , given the quantity of wood i want to do , and the fact that I don't have pro gear like harvesters ,  skidders and boom trucks . I would be doing it with a truck , tractor and a chain saw . If i was doing smaller quantities or over a longer length of time i would just cut all my own but for what i plan to do ,in the time frame i am looking at ,  i have been thinking that buying logs if I can get them at a good price may be the way to go . I am going to have to explore the cost of buying logs .

The government literature i have been reading indicates that the average logging truck load of saw logs  yields about 4500 board feet of lumber( I assume this is the tractor trailers that i see around loaded with logs ) .
Does any one know if that is an accurate figure ?
 Does anyone want to guess at any rough costs on what a truck load costs delivered over say 50km ?
( I know prices will vary quite a bit but i was just wondering )
I can get govt figures on stumpage and cubic meters and stuff but it is all a jumble of formulas that at the moment makes little sense to me . What i need to know is how much wood is on the average truck and how much $$$ am i going to gave to give the guy for an average load .

Assuming it is 4500 bf/ truckload then i am looking at 10 to 12 truckloads of wood over a year to 18 months to get the lumber I need , basically 1 truck load a month is what i was figuring , but maybe 1 truck load every 2 months is more realistic.

thanks for the advice and info everyone has given ,it is appreciated .
Corrections/changes  to the plan at this stage are a lot easier and cost a lot  less than  corrections/changes once I am under way .

Thanks again for all the advice .


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