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  1. #1
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    Default Logistics of small sawmill operation

    Having just recently purchased a new bandsaw mill, I'm looking for advice on how to get the most out of the whole logs-to-lumber process. This thread is along the same lines as my previous thread Logistics of firewood hauling and splitting? which gave me lots of good ideas and pictures which I enjoyed very much.

    That said, I purchased a little Hud-son Homesteader HFE-21 sawmill to mill up white pine, poplar and red oak for various building projects around the farm. I've only gotten to mill a few logs with it but so far I really like it (I was previously using an Alaskan chainsaw mill.) It isn't terribly fast with only 6.5hp, but get the job done far easier and quicker than with the Alaskan. So far I've just used it with the provided 12' of track, but I built another section of track today so I can mill 16' lumber. A few pics of the mill as currently setup:

    Logistics of small sawmill operation-p1020066sm-jpg

    Logistics of small sawmill operation-p1020067sm-jpg

    Logistics of small sawmill operation-p1020068sm-jpg

    Logistics of small sawmill operation-p1020072sm-jpg

    Logistics of small sawmill operation-p1020075sm-jpg

    As mentioned, I built some additional track and will be setting the whole unit up on some nice straight 20' long 6x6 posts. I'll probably set some more 6x6 at a right angle to the mill as a place to set logs to bet rolled on the mill.

    So, my questions for those will sawmills (stationary or portable, circular or band):

    -What kind of equipment do you use to get your logs from the stump to the mill?

    -What kind of method or layout do you use to efficiently separate/stack/move lumber, slab wood, sawdust etc away from the mill?

    -I'll be stacking and stickering the lumber outside for now, what do you use as a good flat base for your lumber? To cover your lumber stacks?

    -Any other advice for a first time sawyer?

    Any info and pics will be much appreciated.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Logistics of small sawmill operation-p1020066-jpg  
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  2. #2
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    Default

    Nice little saw. I can't answer any of your questions, but how large a diameter log will that thing take?

  3. #3
    Super Member s219's Avatar
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    Cool mill -- what do they cost?

    I run an Alaskan mill myself, but have spend hours working with a friend's Wood Mizer.

    We use a tractor or bobcat with forks to load logs into the mill, and the same to collect cut boards for stacking (when using my tractor, the forks are clamp on which works OK in this case). Use a big scoop style snow shovel to deal with sawdust. Some lumber goes under a pole barn, other goes out in the open. Have plenty of sharp bands on hand -- with the Wood Mizer, we probably go through 2-3 per day (he has about 20 of them and periodically sends them out for sharpening).

    A tip -- if you want to avoid stain "stripes" on the boards, use dried stickers when stacking. If you use green stickers, which are typically sawn on site from scrap at the time of milling, you will get stripes. Might not matter if you plane the boards, but if you plan to use the wood rough sawn as-is, stripes can be an issue for things like siding or trim.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Platinum Member rmorey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    I've had a mill for over 10 years now. It's great fun to cut your own lumber. I have a pto skidder winch on the back of the tractor with 165 ' of 1/2" cable, which pulls the log to the tractor and lifts the front of the log off the ground for dragging to our staging area.

    I use log tongs hanging from a chain hook off the fel, to load the logs onto the trailer or onto the mill. A cant hook to flip the logs while cutting.

    Sticker the boards with 1"x1" made from trimming the edges of boards. I usually cut a pair of "bunks" from a "firewood grade" log to pile the lumber off the ground. Try not to mix species of lumber on you piles. They dry at different rates.

    Oh ya, dont forget to have some fun! Enjoy.
    Rick

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    My Dad had a Wood-Miser LT HD 40. For bringing logs out of the woods, he used a wagon chassis, with no bed. He made removable bunks/uprights for holding the logs in place out of 2" pipe. Usually just one wagon to haul logs to the staging area. He used a couple of telephone poles spaced maybe 8-9' apart to set the logs on. The mill had a set of self loading arms, so he would roll a few with a cant hook to get them to the loading arms. Then take the loader tractor, and crowd them forward to get close enough to roll them manually again.

    He had two other wagon chassis that were used to stack lumber on as he sawed, because usually some was cut 5/4, and other 10/4 out of the same log.

    There wasn't much slab wood. He'd saw everything 5/4 after the first initial cut to get the bark off. The smaller narrow pieces were later set up on edge, squared on one side, flipped, then cut into 5/4 X 5/4 sticks for stacking. He always tried to have enough sticks of the same type wood to stick with, so as not to stain the wood.

    For what scrap there was + the sawdust, he used an old pto manure spreader with the beaters removed. It was an old one from the farm that the metal was bad back on the beater end. Got a better spreader, so used this one as his scrap wood hauler. He just hauled it back to the woodlot, and had a spot where he'd stop, and let the spreader do the unloading.

    He also stacked some outside. Again telephone poles cut to length of 6-8', capped with some odd pieces to keep the creosote from staining the wood. He laid them approx. 24" - 30" apart OC. Did the end ones first, and got them leveled to each other. A straight edge was laid across them, and with a shovel, cut out what was needed to get the ones in the center to match.

    He tore down an old barn for a buddy of mine, and got all of the tin off the roof. This is what he covered the lumber with. It was either weighted down with concrete blocks, or like 11 ga. wire ran over the top, fastened to the ends of the sections of poles with spikes.

    For logs that had been dragged, he went to flea markets, and bought all the old wide wood chisels, like 2" wide he could find. Got some Chrylsler torsion bars from junkyards, and welded them to the chisels for handles. He used these the chip & peel the bark from the dirty logs. Not easy work, but a lot less mess than power washing, and lots easier on the blades.

    He bought one of those de-barkers you put on the end of a chainsaw bar. Used it once, then went back to his chisels, saying he could do it faster that way.

    Hopefully, some of how he did it will give you a little food for thought.

  6. #6
    Super Member /pine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    ...I'm looking for advice on how to get the most out of the whole logs-to-lumber process...
    IMO, to get "the most" out of "logs" beyond just being able to saw them into rough dimensional sized lumber...you need to be able to dry them to less than 15% (less is better) moisture content and you also need a heavy duty planer (the deeper and wider the better)...
    ...with the above (along with a mill) you can produce the same quality dimensional (frame or finish) lumber as any retailer/wholesaler...
    Slash Pine
    blunt and succinct yet sincere...in the immortal words of Popeye..."I yam what I yam"

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    Wow, lots of good advice already in here, I'll try to add a little info:

    For starters I plan to use white pine for 2x framing lumber, poplar for siding, oak for fence boards, roof purlins, etc and black locust for posts and rot resistant lumber (sill boards and so forth). Eventually I'll build a solar kiln, get a good planer and start using the dried/finished lumber for interior carpentry and some small furniture project. For now it'll be just rough cut lumber for barns, sheds and fencing.

    I cut a load logs this week and used my skid steer with forks to carry them out of the woods to my truck and trailer to bring home to the mill. The wood lot is on our other farm 2mi away. This setup worked OK, but not great. With the addition of a set of tire chains and a grapple the skid steer would seem to be a good option in the woods. Hauling them out of the woods and to the mill is my concern right now, as my pickup and equipment trailer isn't an ideal setup. As mentioned, a hay rack running gear with some log standards would be good, which I could pull with one of my tractors. I also thought about making a set of log standards for my 2-ton C60 flat-bed dump truck. It would haul a lot more, but not be as good in the woods. My goal is to carry the logs to a truck or wagon and not have to drag any to keep them clean, not sure if that is a realistic goal or not.


    For those who asked about the mill, it can handle a 21" dia log and with the stock 12' bed will saw lumber about 9' long. It uses a 6.5hp Briggs Vangaurd engine and the cost was $2800. Not fancy and the bed has to be perfectly level for it to work well, but it saws very well and seems to be quality made (maybe a little more 'refined' than the older Hud-son models).
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  8. #8
    Elite Member Gordon Gould's Avatar
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    I use a small dump truck to ship logs. Most farms around here have one of those. If you have a grapple on your skid steer on the woods landing you can easily load the truck then unload at the mill by dumping. A dump trailer would work to. If you can justify it a log loader trailer would be the cat's meow.
    "If you're not making any mistakes then you're not doing anything"

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  9. #9
    Veteran Member Mike476's Avatar
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    Most of my milling came from logs off my own property so skidding them to the saw wasn't difficult. If I were to look off the property though I'd have to look hard at the right trailer to tow with.

    Nice little mill the Hud-son, milled with a comparable mill a friend lent me a few years ago. To answer some of your questions from my experience;

    -What kind of equipment do you use to get your logs from the stump to the mill?
    Off my own property I use my back blade and chains, with them I can keep the log off the dirt while skidding. If I were to do civiculture from a different property I'd look at a proper winch, on my property I can clear what I want.

    -What kind of method or layout do you use to efficiently separate/stack/move lumber, slab wood, sawdust etc away from the mill?

    I take waste materials off site, for sawdust I use the loader, slabwood I hand load into my truck and drop off up our road, neighbours that burn wood take it when dry for kindling.

    -I'll be stacking and stickering the lumber outside for now, what do you use as a good flat base for your lumber? To cover your lumber stacks?

    I use PT 4x4's spaced 4 foot apart on sand bed, spacers are actual half inch PT spacers from the lumber yards, they look to get rid of theirs so I drop by and pick them up whenever I'm in town. As stated, you want to use dry stickers.. To cover initially I use good quality tarps (rubber impregnated) tied off to 8 three foot long pieces of rebar driven into the ground that I welded two large washers to the end of for tie downs.

    -Any other advice for a first time sawyer?

    A little soap in your cooling water; check your balde tension often on new blades; keep your saw clean; keep your walkway clear of excessive sawdust and debris from the mill and be safe. I try to leave it as log for a year and then as board for a year before we use it. Building inspectors here have to be able to grade lumber, handy when you want to construct something requiring inspection from rough sawn full dimensional lumber.

    You can sink a lot of money into this kind of work or, if time permits, you can do a lot with some improvisation and a little patience (as seen in the photos). Safety first of course, my wife and I milled enough lumber to build our hay shed, walk in for the horses, my woodworking shop and most recently a barn. Had a LOT of fun doing it! You're off to a good start with a nice little mill, enjoy!

    Logistics of small sawmill operation-massey-mill-003-jpgLogistics of small sawmill operation-massey-mill-007-jpgLogistics of small sawmill operation-massey-mill-010-jpg
    Mike

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  10. #10
    Platinum Member rmorey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Logistics of small sawmill operation

    Our mill has a 5 gal. jug for water to drip on the blade. We add a jug of windshield washer to it. Keeps the blade clear of sap and sticky sawdust. (pine/spruce/hemlock)
    Rick

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