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Dipping your toes into Milling your own logs...best way?

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Forum topic by kocgolf posted 05-29-2018 10:29 PM 3685 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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kocgolf

332 posts in 2234 days


05-29-2018 10:29 PM

So I’ve been trying to decide if I should get into some milling for a couple years now. I don’t really have the time for new hobbies, but with two relatives nearby with a few acres of trees, it’s tempting. My brother in law now has a very accessible cherry tree down, and my father in law has a oak and a walnut that might be worth exploring. I myself have small trees that need thinning, a couple mid-size hickory and birch.

I know this could quickly turn into a “get a mill!” debate, let me be clear that I don’t EVER see myself getting that serious. Even if I had the money and desire, I really don’t think I have the space to store it. I think the very most I would ever do is a few smaller logs here and there every year. I think if I did it at all it would be purely hobby based. I don’t have a big chainsaw myself, but my father in law has at least one 20” Stihl.

I always figured if I did this I would get a Alaskan mill. Now after researching, I’m wondering about the vertical Granberg Mini Mill or even the Prazzi beam cutter for a circle saw. Izzy Swan did such a cool little video on that beam cutter and it’s abilities with small logs. Also, would it be safe to use a beam cutter or the like to cut “less than through” cuts if I can’t quite make the width? I can just focus on the small logs if it’s not. Would there be any way to quarter saw with these types of mills?

I’m wondering what my best investment would be. I REALLY don’t want to invest a lot in this. I want to give it a shot and be ok with walking away if it’s just not my thing. I’m prepared to work hard and sweat. I know that’s the trade-off.


18 replies so far

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avsmusic1

273 posts in 741 days


#1 posted 05-29-2018 11:37 PM

I think chainsaw mill is still your best option. You could get a decent set up <1k all in that would cut 90% of what you’re likely to encounter

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AZWoody

1352 posts in 1280 days


#2 posted 05-30-2018 12:58 AM

Look up chainsaw mills on Amazon. There are a lot of Chinese made versions that are not very expensive and well rated. They should be pretty easy to modify or fix if something breaks.

It’s a lot of work and takes time but if you’re only sporadically using it, it will get the job done, and well.

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msinc

448 posts in 560 days


#3 posted 05-30-2018 06:08 AM

You can “mill” boards with a big handsaw…...and you can drive your car with your feet if you want to, but that don’t make it a good idea!!!! It really sounds like you have enough logs at your disposal right now to pay for and justify a small band mill. The big difference is that one way is hard boring work and in the end you are throwing good money away. The other way, with the right tool/machine for the job, is pure unadulterated fun.
I used to hear a lot of old timers talking about what hard work it was to saw logs and how they were referred to by others back in the day as “saw mill trash” for doing it…...I wake up and cannot wait to get cutting logs every morning. Not because I need to, been retired for 5 years, but just because it is fun to operate a band mill. Of course, stacking all that wood is another story. But, if you really like woodworking there is nothing better than knowing that you are not going to run out of wood any time soon!!!! It also don’t hurt when you mess up doing it…just grab another board off the pile.

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jdh122

1024 posts in 2874 days


#4 posted 05-30-2018 09:51 AM

Have you looked into hiring someone to come with a portable bandsaw mill? It can be pretty reasonable as long as you have enough trees to make it worthwhile. I’ve heard of people doing it for half of the lumber, although around here they all charge cash, mostly an hourly rate, some an hourly rate plus a flat fee. Check Craigslist.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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kocgolf

332 posts in 2234 days


#5 posted 05-30-2018 11:15 AM

See! It’s these kinds of comments like msinc that are dangerous to me! I know it’s fun (I mean it looks like a blast) and it would be very rewarding. But I barely have enough time to woodwork at all right now with a young family. If I had a mill, then I would need a bigger truck, a bigger trailer, a bigger winch, more moving log tools, my own giant chainsaw, and a place to put all of this. Pretty soon I would be Matt Cremona. Now, that would be excellent, but if I’m honest with myself, I want to spend my time creating woodwork projects, not creating wood.

I have a feeling I will go with the chainsaw mill, and maybe a bigger chainsaw if it gets to be a hassle borrowing a bigger one from my brother in law, and if my little one isn’t up to the challenge. I might even just go with something like this Timber Tuff cutting guide. I kNOW it won’t be as fun, but I’m serious about just wanted to spend a minimum to get through even 1 or 2 small trees at this point.

Also, the huge majority of my work is small stuff, and I want to keep it that way. I have absolutely no use, or shop tools, to deal with giant crotch slabs and the like. I just want little boards anyway!

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AM420

147 posts in 440 days


#6 posted 05-30-2018 12:12 PM

Have you thought about calling any local mills and see if they’ll run your logs for a small fee? Should still save a lot of money over buying lumber if you’re getting the logs for free..

It does sounds very tempting though to be able to personally take a project from tree to a finished piece all by yourself.

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kocgolf

332 posts in 2234 days


#7 posted 05-30-2018 12:17 PM

I have thought of that, and have a mill not too far away. I don’t think the cost is too great, but I don’t have the equipment to move the bigger logs. My little trailer is rated at about 1000 pounds tops. Its doable for a couple small logs, but I really was hoping to avoid that transportation hassle. I don’t have any other equipment for loading the logs either. At least with boards I could just drop them there after they were cut with minimal help.

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Fresch

272 posts in 1977 days


#8 posted 05-30-2018 01:05 PM

You will lose ~8” of bar length putting the mill on; ~4” for the sprocket end and~3” at the dogs.
So:
Mill = Alaskan ~$150+ ” Beamcutter ~$30
Saw = 60cc or bigger Craigslist, Homedepot, new, $250-$700
Bar. $50-$90
Chain $20-$502”x6”x10’ =$20
Drill, bolts,etc, should have
Get into milling =$350-$1000
Place for cut wood to dry for ~1yr.

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kocgolf

332 posts in 2234 days


#9 posted 05-30-2018 01:25 PM

Leaning towards a beam cutter and chainsaw at this point. I feel like for 1-2 logs this summer it will be enough. If I just don’t have the time or don’t find it rewarding, that’s no big loss. I will still use the chainsaw plenty even if it’s not for lumber.

I’m sure plenty people will have love/hate opinions on the beam cutter, but it looks like such a small investment for decent (careful!) results for 1-2 small trees. Maybe next year I will want to go bigger with an Alaskan.

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Jack Lewis

288 posts in 1134 days


#10 posted 05-30-2018 02:03 PM

Hey AZWOODY chime in on this. You are doing both milling and woodwork besides running a different business.

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

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msinc

448 posts in 560 days


#11 posted 05-30-2018 02:17 PM


See! It s these kinds of comments like msinc that are dangerous to me! I know it s fun (I mean it looks like a blast) and it would be very rewarding. But I barely have enough time to woodwork at all right now
- kocgolf

It really is a blast and don’t forget, you can sell what you don’t have to have or what you don’t use. Honestly, if I did it over again I would buy a much smaller mill. I got a pretty big one and at the time I was worried if it would be big enough and have enough horsepower to get the job done. Now, looking back, for what I do I could have gone with a mill just about half the size of what I got. In one sense I am kinda glad I have the capability, on the other hand I could have had a smaller band mill that ran for way less money and did everything I needed it to.
I will say that the biggest advantage over chainsaws is that you don’t lose a board with every two cuts. Not a big deal if you are just milling poplar or pine…get some really nice, highly figured, exhibition grade walnut or cherry and it hurts to see what you are grinding up. Nothing wrong with trying one, but I would say that within one year of playing with a chainsaw rig you will be looking at band mills.

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kocgolf

332 posts in 2234 days


#12 posted 05-30-2018 06:26 PM

Oh, I know almost for certain that I will get addicted and have second thoughts and wish I could do it full time. That is the problem. I’m afraid to start because besides woodworking I already have 2-3 other time and money hungry hobbies. I know I would want a band mill. But with that would require a lot of other add ons like a better trailer, truck…etc.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5726 posts in 2869 days


#13 posted 05-30-2018 09:40 PM

I built a dehumidification kiln to dry rough lumber, and that has been a great adventure. I expressed interest to my wife about maybe getting a bandsaw mill, and she reminded me how my current sawyer broke his pelvis when a log rolled on him.

Considering how affordable milling services are in my area, I decided to just buy rough lumber from sawyers or homeowners. Sometimes they are already air dried, which is a perk.

Have fun.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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msinc

448 posts in 560 days


#14 posted 05-31-2018 02:13 AM

Yeah, in all honesty if there were a saw mill nearby that was reasonable in both costs and time I would not have bought my own. Like most folks that do woodworking it’s not that I need an endless supply of wood. One saw mill owner sold mineral rights to his land and got rich….he don’t worry with a saw mill anymore. The other one I used had his wife get sick and no telling when he will be back online so I just got my own.
I don’t know, I am still glad I have it and probably would have ended up with one eventually anyways. It is something I have always been interested in. Probably the neatest thing about it is when you luck onto what looks like might be a nice log with some good figure hidden inside and you saw it up to find it better than you ever thought it would be. That said, one of my favorite woods, hickory, has proven to not have much figure. I always wondered why I hadn’t seen any….now i think it must be because it just doesn’t get that way.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

796 posts in 1275 days


#15 posted 06-03-2018 06:14 PM



See! It s these kinds of comments like msinc that are dangerous to me! I know it s fun (I mean it looks like a blast) and it would be very rewarding. But I barely have enough time to woodwork at all right now with a young family. If I had a mill, then I would need a bigger truck, a bigger trailer, a bigger winch, more moving log tools, my own giant chainsaw, and a place to put all of this. Pretty soon I would be Matt Cremona. Now, that would be excellent, but if I m honest with myself, I want to spend my time creating woodwork projects, not creating wood.

- kocgolf

i might add danger to the equation.
young families get older. they need hobbies and ways to learn how stuff works. to do that, they will need a hobby that requires the ability to learn how stuff works. said “hobbies” can also make product that can offset the price of equipment.
as ypoung family grows, they can be employed…..eeerrr… HELP produce product and learn how to market it.
as young family grows older, they have a productive company that is making money while dad retires early to make stuff.

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