Tips and How-To

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How To Fold Sawmill Blades

Folding and unfolding band sawmill blades needs to be done correctly. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to proper sawmill blade folding. Always remember to wear gloves and eye protection when handling blades in addition to keeping others at a safe distance when folding or moving blades.

 

Unfolding the Blade

1. Take the three-loop blade coil in your right hand.

Unfolding the Blade

2. Find the loop that creates a figure eight, and pull down with your left hand.

Find the loop that creates a figure eight, and pull down with your left hand

 

3. The two top loops will form a cross. Whichever blade loop is on top, hold with your right hand. Hold the other loop with your left hand.

The two top loops will form a cross

4. Hold the blade out and away from you. Slowly move your hands apart while rotating your forearms down and outward.

Slowly move your hands apart while rotating your forearms down and outward

 

5. Your blade is successfully unfolded.

Your blade is successfully unfolded

 

 

Folding the Blade

 

1. Raise the blade with teeth pointed toward you. Slightly squeeze the blade inward.

 

Raise the blade with teeth pointed toward you

 

2. Keep your arms locked, swinging the top of the blade down so it bends under.
Swing the top of the blade down

 

3. On the downward bend, bring your hands together crossing over each other.
Bring your hands together crossing over each other

 

4. The blade will form three loops. Lift the bottom blade upward with your left hand to catch all three loops in one coil.
Lift the bottom blade upward with your left hand to catch all three loops in one coil

 

5. Your sawmill band blade is successfully folded. Remember to secure the folded blade with a wire tie to ensure it won’t uncoil during storage or moving.

Folded sawmill blade

 

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How To Shop for a Portable Sawmill

Buying a portable sawmill is an important decision. First and foremost, you should buy from a company that you can trust. Next, look at the performance functions. A sawmill’s performance can be narrowed down to FOUR key areas: power, design, operation, and log handling.


Click Here for Wood-Mizer Sawmill Quick Selection Chart


1. Power

When you need portability, gas or diesel is your answer. Wood-Mizer offers the world’s best engines with a proven track record of performing in climates found in North America.

NEW! Tier 4 - Ultra low emission and 12.5% average lower fuel consumption diesel engines now available.

 

 

For stationary applications, electric motor sawmills provide the best results. Compared to gas or diesel, they are generally less expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. Electric mills are also quieter, cleaner, and have a longer life.

 

 


 

 

2. Design

Now, Wood-Mizer is the only sawmill manufacturer that gives you the choice between a monorail or twin rail sawmill design.

 

Monorail Sawmills (LT Series)

Wood-Mizer has long been the only sawmill manufacturer of the monorail cantilever design, holding several patents on this technology and trusted by 70,000 sawyers throughout the world. Wood-Mizer's open side of the cantilever sawhead allows for minimal leveling during set-up, easy off-bearing with the trapezoid bed, and sawing of odd shaped logs.

Twin Rail Sawmills (LX Series)

LX sawmills feature a rigid LXFrame sawhead tower that travels on twin parallel hardened steel bars and holds the saw head, engine, and operator control console. LX sawmills saw wider and deeper than standard model monorail sawmills, but leveling is not as simple. Features such as tubular bubble levels and fine adjustment outriggers help reduce set-up time.


 

 

3. Operation

There are two main things to look for when you are determining the sawmill operation: Feed System and Operator Control Location.

 

Feed System is how you move the sawmill head through the cut.

With the push feed system you easily move the head through the cut, keeping a steady pace.

The crank feed system features a hand crank that you turn, allowing the head to travel smoothly down the track.

The advanced electronic feed system uses an electronic motor to automatically power the head down the log.

 

 

Operator Control Location is where you are positioned when you operate the sawmill.

Walk-along
This operating position gives you a watchful eye over the quality of your cut, any possible obstacles, the cutting speeds, and blade performance. Walk-along controls are standard on all portable sawmill models.

Ride-along
The ride-along seat travels with the sawmill head controls, giving you the same visibility but without the steps. This option can be added to any LT40-LT70 sawmill built with the standard walk-along controls.

Command Control or Wireless Remote Head Controls
These two options allow more flexibility on operator position for the LT40 Hydraulic - LT70 sawmill.

 

 


 

 

4. Log Handling

Manual Log Handling (LT10 - LT35)
If you aren’t afraid of physical labor and have the time to put into handling logs, the Wood-Mizer manual mills are a practical choice. Logs can be turned by using a basic cant hook or the manual assist Log Deck Package.

 

Cant Hook
This simple accessory enables a single operator to rotate even larger diameter logs. Available from 28" to over 6' long.

Log Deck Package
(LT28 & LT35 Manual)

Manual Winch
The manual winch allows a single operator to load logs weighing several thousand pounds onto the bed and is used in conjunction with the manual log turner to rotate logs.

Log Turner
This simple accessory, when used in conjunction with the manual winch, enables a single operator to rotate larger diameter logs.

Toeboards
Mounted on the sawmill bed’s front and rear cross members, the toeboards enable you to lift either end of a tapered log by hand crank.


 

Hydraulic Log Handling (LT35 Hydraulic - LT40 Hydraulic)
Hydraulic Log Handling PLUS (LT40 Super Hydraulic - LT70 Super Hydraulic & LX450)

Wood-Mizer hydraulic sawmills take charge when productivity and efficiency are your top priority. With these mills, you not only get precise cuts but you also get the added ability to load, level, clamp and turn the logs with ease. Hydraulic Log Handling PLUS means faster hydraulics for maximum productivity.

 

Hydraulic Log Turner
Turning a log or cant for the next cut is easy. Just move the lever on the control box.

  1.   Claw turner (LT35HD, LT40HD & LT40 Super)
  2.   Bi-Directional chain turner (LT50, LT70 & LX450)
    • Moves twice as fast as claw turner
    • Moves in either direction

Hydraulic Log Side Supports
Raise and lower remotely through the control box.

  1. Side support (LT35HD, LT40HD & LT40 Super)
  2. Vertical side support (LT50, LT70 & LX450)
    • 15" high, massive 2" diameter
    • Hardened chrome for superior durability

Hydraulic Log Clamp
Special two-plane clamping system simplifies sawing of stressed logs. Cuts as close as 1" from the bed are possible. (LT35HD-LT70 & LX450)

Hydraulic Loading Arms
Logs can be loaded in seconds with the throw of a lever. Each arm features a self-leveling, heavy-duty cylinder. (Lift up to 4,400 lb logs.) (LT35HD-LT70 & LX450)

Hydraulic Roller Toeboards
Two extra-wide roller toeboards compensate for log taper and allow easy log positioning. (LT35HD-LT70 & LX450)

 

Wood-Mizer Sawmill Quick Selection Chart

  Setup Type Log Handling Sawbed Design Max Width of Cut*
Sawmill Model Stationary Portable Manual Hydraulic Monorail Twin Rail Standard Wide
LT10       19.5"  
LT15         26"  
LT15GO         26"  
LT15WIDE         35.5"
LT28       26"  
LT35     26"  
LT40       28" 34"
LT40
SUPER
      28" 34"
LX450         34"
LT50       28" 34"
LT70       28" 34"
LT70
SUPER
      28" 34"
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How To Market a New Sawmill Business

By Simon Petree, Green Leaf Forest Products

Given that about 60% of all portable sawmill owners make all or part of their income each year milling lumber and other wood products, it’s surprising how little attention is paid to marketing the business those owners depend on.  If you ask what sawyers depend on most for marketing, most mill owners respond, “Word-of mouth.”

While it is true that as soon as you set the edge of a blade against the end of a log people begin to notice, and slowly you begin to build a business, but your business - whether full-time or part-time - will never live up to its potential for profit unless you take steps to do at least some marketing.  Don’t forget, most voters can’t name the two senators from their state.  Don’t think you’ll build much better public recognition of your business without at least some effort to actively introduce yourself to the public you depend on.

So, let’s talk about three marketing steps you can take almost immediately with very little effort and little or no cost.

 

 

First, name your business. Or if necessary, rename your business and put some thought into the name you choose.

Think about the success Wood-Mizer has seen over the past three decades. Do you think the company would have had the same success had the founders named the fledgling company after themselves, “Laskowski and Tekulve Sawmills?”

The name “Wood-Mizer” has proven to be a powerful marketing tool and I doubt it cost the founders anything more than a little thinking time to come up with a name that’s become a legend in the industry. 

When you’re inventing a name for your own business, think about some concepts that are important to people today.  Those concepts vary depending on where you live but as a beginning, the term “urban wood” calls to mind images of environmental responsibility, recycling, and woodland preservation, especially to customers living in and near cities.  Other terms like “local,” “green”, “recycle”, “sustainable” and “renewable” are important buzzwords today as well. 

When naming your business, think about what is important to your customer and try to work something into the name that tells the customer you are likely to care about what they care about.  Not every name is going to be a home run but you can make a better living hitting singles than striking out.  “Farm to Market Sawmilling” is much more likely to evoke a positive image in a customer’s mind than something like “A to Z Sawmilling” will. 

 

 

When you are happy with the name, consider signage, especially if you live or have a workplace along a road with good traffic. 

Stick a sign out there for people to see every day as they pass by.  Got a work truck?  You can get a magnetic sign pretty cheaply and slap it on the doors of your rig. Everywhere you go, it goes.  If you’ve ever traveled and stopped somewhere because you noticed a sign or billboard you know that signs sell.  Have a sign painted that travels with you as you move your portable mill from one place to another. That way, potential customers will see you sawing and signage will give them a way to contact you.

Last and not least, think about social media.

Start by taking a look at Wood-Mizer’s Facebook page; thousands of people follow their page.  That is amazing. You can sign up for a business page on Facebook for the same price Wood-Mizer paid - nothing.  You’ll also be starting out with the same number of likes Wood-Mizer started out with - none. But don’t expect thousands of “likes” right away. 

 

 

 

You will have to pay attention to the page to benefit from the page.  Nothing is more forlorn than a Facebook business page where the last entry was made two years ago, but the rewards can be significant if you make a conscious attempt to assure you are current.

Begin by asking customers to "like", "follow", and "share" your business via Facebook.  Then, at least once a week, post something about what you are doing whether it is milling a special log, cutting for a restoration project, or simply getting on with the everyday life of your business. 

Keeping in touch with the customer is the “word-of-mouth” of today’s world. But again, don’t forget to keep your page current. Blogs and websites can be effective too but, they do require more work and sometimes an investment.  If you’re not all that comfortable with a computer, start with just the Facebook page.  It’s easy to maintain, doesn’t consume much time, and will give you a chance to explore the territory.  Then, as you get more comfortable, expand your social media horizons to other networks such as Twitter and Instagram.

Deciding to take the big step and become a startup business can be a daunting task, but it is also an exciting step into an unknown future. Growing your business is work and it’s best to get off on the right foot. Begin your marketing effort the very day you decide you’re going to be a business owner.

Simon Petree owns Green Leaf Forest Products near Lynden, Washington.  He is currently writing a book aimed at sharing the lessons he’s learned milling more than five million board feet of lumber, timber, slabs and other products during the fifteen years he’s been in business.

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How To Select a Sawmill Blade Type

Wood-Mizer offers bandsaw blades to meet every type of wood cutting application from green softwoods to dry hardwoods. Offering more than 60 bandsaw blade profiles with an extensive array of combinations based on hook angle, tooth set, width and thickness, which Wood-Mizer sawmill blade and type is best for you?


 

Manufactured from “carbon” steel, SilverTip blades can be used on both portable and industrial sawmills and is also suitable for horizontal resaws. Carbon is the most common steel used in narrow-band sawing and can be resharpened, but typically not as often as a blade made with high-alloy steel.

 
  • Width 1", 1.125", 1.25", 1.5", 1.75", 2", 3"
  • Thickness .035, .038, .042, .045, .050, .055
  • Softer than “high-alloy steel”
  • Typically not resharpened on horizontal resaws using narrow widths (1”, 1.125”)

Blade Snapshot
SilverTip is an ideal blade for primary and secondary breakdown as well as for high volume sawing environments.


 

DoubleHard’s original blade material is manufactured from “high-alloy” steel and is designed for portable and industrial sawmills. With induction hardened teeth, DoubleHard blades deliver twice the toughness and twice the sharp life compared to standard carbon blades.

 
  • Width 1.25" - 1.5"
  • Thickness .035, .042, .045, .050, .055
  • Harder than "carbon steel"
  • Tough, non-chip material
  • Durable blade even with multiple resharpenings

Blade Snapshot
DoubleHard is a durable all-purpose blade for sawing softwoods, hardwoods, knotty woods, and frozen woods.

 

 

 


 

Bi-Metal is made from “high-alloy” two-piece steel with a wire-welded, hardened tooth tip. Generally used for primary breakdown sawing in portable or industrial sawmill operations, Bi-Metal blades hold a sharpened edge up to three times longer than carbon blades.

 
  • Width 1.25", 1.5"
  • Thickness .042, .050
  • Maintained with CBN grinding technology

Blade Snapshot
Bi-Metal offers a longer sawing sharp life than most carbon and high-alloy blades and is engineered for production sawing environments.


 

RazorTip Carbide blades utilize a very hard “triple chip tooth” configuration with an alternating “carbide” raker tooth that can withstand the hardest of hardwoods and provide a very smooth finish.

 
  • Width 1", 1.125", 1.25", 2", 3"
  • Thickness .035, .038, .045, .055
  • Requires diamond wheel for resharpening

Blade Snapshot
RazorTip Carbide is a tough blade that stays sharper longer in the most difficult sawing conditions such as tropical hardwoods, kiln dried lumber, engineered wood, and more abrasive materials.

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How To Increase Sawmill Blade Life

Reduce downtime and keep sawing with these 10 helpful tips to increase your sawmill blade life expectancy.

1. SHARPEN YOUR BLADES

Use Wood-Mizer's resharp® blade sharpening service or your own blade maintenance equipment to ensure your bandsaw blades maintain maximum precision and performance.

2. PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL

When installing a new sawmill blade, make a few cuts at a moderate speed to "break in" the blade. Also, minimize skim cuts when only one side of the set tooth is sawing.

3. MAINTAIN DRIVE BELT TENSION

Keep drive belts tight to transmit higher horsepower to the sawmill blade, especially with new belts that need tightened more frequently.

4. UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT WOOD SPECIES AND MOISTURE CONTENT

Trees vary in density, which requires different cutting techniques and feed rates. Wood density change as logs dry which makes sawing more difficult.

5. LUBRICATE YOUR BLADES

Lubricating the sawmill blade can lead to higher sawing performance, reduced pitch build up, longer life between blade sharpenings, and overall blade life.

 

6. CLEAN BEFORE YOU CUT

Dirt, rocks, sand, and other foreign material that may be in the log will wear the teeth considerably faster. A debarker can help with this.

7. MEASURE BLADE TENSION

Periodically check hydraulic tensioners, air bags, and springs, because proper tension is critical for maximum blade performance and cutting speeds.

8. EXAMINE BLADE WHEEL BELTS

The blade wheel belts must be in good condition to reach peak performance because worn belts can lead to blade tracking problems. Swapping drive side and idle side can extend belt life.

9. INCREASE FEED RATE

Feed rates should be as fast as possible while still maintaining a straight cut because cutting at slower speeds reduces overall bandsaw blade life.

10. EXAMINE BLADE GUIDE ALIGNMENT

If the blade guides are tipped upward or downward, they will cause the blade to cut in the same direction. Keep rollers tight and make sure the blade is not continuously contacting the back guide or roller flange.

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How To Get Your Lumber Grade Stamped

By Dan Cassens, Professor of Wood Products at Purdue University

Although local enforcement and rules differ in each part of the country regarding whether or not you need to have an official grade stamp on your lumber in order to use it for construction projects, we’ve found that many people don’t know how to go about doing it right in their area. Many err on the side of caution, not using lumber that they could be using, and others build whatever they want, however they want, hoping the inspector won’t notice. The right solution is knowing your local requirements. This article intends to give you an overview of how you can use your own lumber in permitted structures, and give you resources to take the next step to using and/or selling lumber that will meet your local requirements. We’re not talking about using your own lumber for trim, flooring, paneling, etc. The rules for lumber used in the actual structure of the home is what is important.

 

 

Five Steps to Using Your Own Lumber in Permitted Structures

Anyone contemplating producing lumber for construction should follow these steps before sawing.

1. Check with your local city, county, and/or state building code office to find out the exact requirements in your area. Requirements and the level of enforcement vary. Don’t be satisfied until you have seen the rules yourself. Keep a copy for future reference.

2. Purchase the softwood grading rules book that applies to the species of lumber you’ll be using. Thoroughly review the pertinent parts of the book to make sure you understand what the standards apply.

3. Once you have a written plan on how to proceed, contact the appropriate softwood lumber grading agency to discuss your plan with them and to make certain that your lumber will meet all of the requirements, such as thickness, widths, and lengths, moisture content, and required other items. Checking out all of the details before sawing can save time and wasted materials. (If going the self-certification route, make sure your certification is up-to-date)

4. Saw and dry your lumber according to your specific plan.

5. Schedule a visit with the lumber inspector, make sure you have enough time for his visit, and your area is properly laid out for inspection. Make certain any documentation is prepared and available should the inspector ask for it.

 

The Grade Stamp

As part of a structure, each piece of lumber carries a certain amount of load. Softwood grades for dimension and timbers have been established according to engineering methods that determine how much load each piece is capable of supporting. When a building is inspected, the inspector will look for a grade stamp on the lumber. This grade stamp is the only way for the inspector to determine if the lumber used in the structure is acceptable. The grade stamp is extremely important to building inspectors, as it is required by all building codes. The code is usually enforced at the county level, where a building permit is required before any construction can begin. The building can be rejected if the lumber is not grade stamped. The level of code enforcement can vary by county, however a lack of enforcement does not mean you can disregard building codes. Be certain to check with your county building inspector and permits office to determine exactly what is required. Past experiences may not predict future expectations. There may be some state and local exceptions when the lumber is produced and used for one’s own building projects.

 

Example grade stamp above showing Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) as the agency, the grade as No. 1, kiln-dried (KD) to 19 percent moisture content, heat treated (HT), and producing mill lumber 406. The species is not given but implied as SPIB deals exclusively with Southern Pine lumber.

Understanding the Softwood Grade Stamp

Grade stamps are used in the softwood industry as a means for the seller to provide the buyer, building inspector, or other interested parties with five pieces of important information. A softwood grade stamp provides several types of information required by the ALSC (American Lumber Standard Committee)

1.       Trademark- identity of agency quality supervision

2.       Mill identification- product manufacturer name, brand, or assigned mill number

3.       Grade designation- i.e. No. 2 or Stud Grade

4.       Species- individual species or combination

5.       Seasoning- moisture content classification at time of surfacing

a.      S-Dry- 19% maximum moisture content

b.      MC 15- 15% maximum moisture content

c.       KD- kiln dried to moisture content indicated in grading rules

d.      S-GRN- over 19% moisture content (unseasoned)

e.      HT- heat treated

 

 

Getting Your Lumber Graded

Producers of small quantities of softwood or hardwood lumber to be used in construction can call for a “certificate inspection.” When a certificate inspection is requested, the grading agency will arrange for their first available or nearest inspector to travel to the location of the lumber. The lumber is grade-stamped, and a certificate is issued in regards to the inspection. The lumber is then eligible to be used in building construction. The owner of the lumber should be prepared to turn and move the boards for the inspector. Also, presorting the lumber by widths and lengths is important. Additional sorting by estimated grade will further speed up the process. The lumber may be rough or surfaced. Lumber having moisture content in excess of 19 percent will be marked “S-GRN.” Air-dried lumber or that with a moisture content of less than 19 percent will be stamped “S-DRY.” Sawyers should be certain that they follow the size requirements set forth by the rule writing agencies for different species. In order to finish to the sizes required, lumber must be cut oversized to allow for shrinkage during drying, planing, and sawing variation.

 

The Bottom Line

In most of North America, using your own lumber for construction material is an option available to you, and in some places, it is actually encouraged and rewarded. We hope that this short introduction to the topic has given you some good direction to finding out how to go about it in your own area. Rules can change, so ten years from now, when you pull out this article again to reference, the bottom line will still apply: Find out what your local requirements are, and abide by them!

 

Resources

For current rule writing and grading agency lists:

American Lumber Standard Committee

www.alsc.org

alsc@alsc.org

301.972.1700

Canadian Lumber Standards Accreditation Board

www.clsab.ca

info@clsab.ca

613.482.2480

 

About the Author: Dan Cassens is a professor of Forest Products in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. In one way or another, he has been handling wood and or trees every day for the last 40 years. He attributes an increase in his knowledge about wood from operating his Wood-Mizer LT40 portable sawmill for more than 20 years.

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How To Choose a Portable Sawmill

It’s easier to decide you need a sawmill than it is to make good choices about the sawmill you eventually buy. Ask me. I almost made the common choice of going non-hydraulic when I bought my first Wood-Mizer.

Actually my first mill was an old “portable” circle sawmill a friend had stored “out behind the barn. It didn’t take long operating it to realize portable band sawmilling was clearly the superior option for me.

Today, about five million or more board feet later, I’ve learned a little about what you should and should not consider when choosing a sawmill.

I started with that old circle mill because it didn’t cost me anything beyond milling a few boards in trade but for most of us, cost is important once the decision to purchase is made. But don’t make the mistake of thinking cost is all-important. I’ve seen plenty of my fellow sawmill owners regret the emphasis they put on the initial cost of their mill without considering other things that are just as important over the long term.

 

An important question to ask before signing on the dotted line is, “What do I intend to use this mill for and, beyond that, what am I likely to use this mill for?”

Research done at Auburn University a few years ago showed me some important things anyone looking to buy a sawmill should consider. The study found, for example, that nearly half of the people buying a portable sawmill were replacing another mill because, “My previous sawmill had limited production capacity and I needed a more productive sawmill.” Another important finding of the study was that nearly 1 out of 3 mill owners might have intended to use their mill mostly for hobby use but, by the time they’d had the mill for awhile they ended up earning all or part of their income with the machine. It’s inevitable. Start milling a few sticks for your own use and pretty soon people will start showing up and asking, “Hey, can you do that for me?”

 

It’s been my observation that whether you are buying a portable mill strictly for hobby use or, to earn all or a part of your living, you are almost sure to find you end up using the mill a lot more often and for milling a wider variety of lumber, timber, and other products than you imagined when you first decided you wanted a mill.  My advice is, you’ll almost never go wrong buying a little more mill than you think you need but you will certainly regret not buying enough mill.

 

 

Do some thinking about the type of product you intend to mill. 

If you intend to make a full or part-time living with your portable sawmill you will definitely need a mill with full hydraulics to be successful. On the other hand if you’re going to be milling long length boards or timber for your own contracting company you may be more concerned with easily cutting long lengths.  You might not need hydraulics and want to focus on something like an LT15 sawmill that can easily be extended using bed extensions.

 

 

Another element to consider is cost and production over the long term instead of the short. 

When I began to mill, I quickly learned that if I wanted to make good wages from portable sawmilling I needed to have high production and charge by the board foot instead of by the hour. With my LT70 and EG200 twin blade edger I usually average $200+ per hour charging 35 - 40 cents per board foot.  I could never charge that much an hour to custom sawmill but because I have the right equipment (especially an edger) and charge for production, not by the hour, I have been financially successful.  In my 15 years of portable sawmilling, I have never had my Wood-Mizer not carry its own weight in a month, even when making payments on it.

 

Last, reliability and service are all important.

I remember looking at other, and often cheaper, brands when I was looking for my first thin-kerf portable sawmill. I ended up buying a Wood-Mizer and now many years down the road I am so thankful I made the decision to spend a little more for a higher quality machine; and especially for the legendary customer support that comes with every Wood-Mizer.

My LT70 is currently 7 years old. It has a remote station and many electrically controlled features. Combine staying outdoors year round in the rainy Pacific Northwest, along with the sawdust, dirt, and dust every operation will have and you will eventually need to do some maintenance on your machine no matter how much you try to baby your mill.

My mill is way out of warranty but I still have free access to Wood-Mizer’s troubleshooting service.  One phone call and a person that can walk you through a problem to a solution is available.  Believe me, having an expert to help you use a voltmeter to figure out wiring issues when you truly do not understand wiring and electronics is HUGE!  The troubleshooters know you are stressed and broke down.  They are experts at walking someone like me through the diagnostics needed to fix problems both mechanical and electric.

You get what you pay for in the sawmill world but by considering your sawmill purchase carefully you can help make sure you are getting what you need to be successful over the many years your machine will serve you.

 

 

Simon Petree owns Green Leaf Forest Products near Lynden, Washington.  He is currently writing a book aimed at sharing the lessons he’s learned milling more than five million board feet of lumber, timber, slabs and other products during the fifteen years he’s been in business.

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How To Choose a Sawmill Blade Profile

Understanding sawmill blade geometry and terminology can be complex. Here is a crash course in identifying different parts of a bandsaw blade and how to choose a blade profile that is best suited for your sawing application.

 

A. Tooth Spacing - the distance between each tooth from one tip to another. The term "pitch" is also used in reference to tooth spacing as the number of teeth per inch on a bandsaw blade.

  • Shorter spacing is used for resaw purposes, while wider spacing is for higher horsepower (25+HP) sawmills

B. Gullet - the area between teeth that captures and removes sawdust while providing strength in the tooth. The tooth height must be tall enough to allow the gullet to carry out all of the sawdust from the cut.

C. Tooth Height - the distance from the lowest point of the gullet to the tip of the tooth.

  • Blades designed for cutting softwoods (balsam, aspen, cottonwood, sycamore, pine, and poplar) have taller teeth
  • Blades designed for sawing frozen logs or extreme hardwoods (white oak, hard maple, ash, hickory, and kiln dried) have shorter teeth

D. Hook Angle - the number of degrees that the tooth face leans forward of 90 degrees. The hook angle should be chosen based on the type of wood you are sawing.

  • 4° Sawmill Blades - Our lowest hook angle for sawing frozen, dense hardwoods and knotty softwoods.
  • 7° Sawmill Blades - Solid, all-around profile with a good gullet capacity for higher horsepower (25HP+) sawing in hardwoods.
  • Turbo 7° Sawmill Blades - Only available from Wood-Mizer, this aggressive, high-performing profile is engineered specifically for extreme and exotic hardwoods. 
  • 9° Sawmill Blades - Ideal blade for lower horsepower (24HP and below) sawing frozen wood, hardwood, and small diameter logs.
  • 10° Sawmill Blades - Very popular all-purpose blade for sawing mixed hardwoods such as red oak, cherry, walnut, soft maple, and poplar.
  • 13° Sawmill Blades - Our highest hook angle good for sawing softwoods such as pine, fir, and spruce.

E. Tooth Set - distance the tooth is bent beyond the body of the blade.

F. Blade Width - distance between the tip and base of the blade.

  • Wider blades for higher horsepower (25+HP) sawmills and a faster feed rate
  • Narrow blades for lower horsepower sawmills and more difficult sawing

G. Blade Thickness - you guessed it! Thickness of the blade.

  • Thicker blades (.045", .050", .055") provide faster feed rates and better cutting performance in difficult sawing conditions such as knotty, frozen, dry or extremely hard material, but requires higher horsepower (25+HP)
  • Thinner blades (.035", .038", .042") provide longer flex life with lower horsepower sawmills where production or speed is not a primary factor

H. Kerf - the width of the cut.


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How To Quarter Saw Lumber

There are several reasons to consider quarter sawing your lumber because the grain patterns in some hardwoods are in great demand. For example, quarter sawn oak is more valuable than plain sawn oak. Quarter sawn wood is also more dimensionally sound meaning it will not cup or dish while drying and will shrink less than plain sawnlumber. Due to these advantages, woodworkers, cabinet makers, quality furniture shops, and craftsmen typically prefer quarter sawn lumber to work with. However, not all lumber will increase in value when quarter sawn due to the amount of handling and time involved to produce. Quarter sawn lumber refers to the angle at which the tree’s growth rings intersect the face of the sawn board. Although there are differing opinions on the term, fully quarter sawn lumber is generally defined as growth rings that are 80 to 90 degrees to the face of the board. The quarter sawing method can also produce rift sawn lumber which is considered to have growth rings that are 45 to 80 degrees to the face of the board.

 

 

 

 

 Advantages of Quartersawn Lumber

Disadvantages of Quartersawn Lumber

 Heavy ray fleck is a valuable characteristic to woodworkers

Often results in 20% lower yields from logs

 Half the shrinkage in width vs. flatsawn lumber when drying (3% vs. 6%)

 Lower lumber production rates

 Dries flatter with less risk of checking during drying

Requires 15% or so longer drying times

 More stable in an environment with varying humidity

Shrinks twice as much in thickness vs. flatsawn lumber

 Wears more evenly when used as flooring

Has spike knots compared to circular knots which reduce strength

 

 

 

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How To Charge for Sawing Services

There are no limits to the approaches you can use to charge for your sawmilling and custom cutting services. However, the three of the most common methods are to charge by the hour, by the board foot, or by sharing the finished lumber.

 

By the Hour

The most stable or secure method for pricing for the mill owner is a flat, hourly rate. Rates vary from location to location and range from $65 to $105 per hour plus extra charges for travel, broken blades, etc. Pricing on an hourly basis transfers all of the risk of daily output to the customer. It encourages the customer to have his logs clean and easily accessible, and to provide a person to help handle the materials to get the most value for their money.

 

 

By the Board Foot

Cutting by the board foot is the most common method used in the industry. This pricing method gives you the ability to make the greatest return in a day, but potentially exposes you to the lowest returns as well. Pricing varies by species and location but ranges from $0.25 to $0.50 per board foot of sawn lumber. This pricing method places all of the risk of productivity on the sawyer since the customer is only paying for the lumber they receive. That is why this method is preferred by a great number of businesses in the industry. Charges for broken blades, cleaning muddy logs, travel, etc. can be set beforehand.

 

On a Share Basis

One of the most lucrative approaches to charging for custom cutting can be to accept a percentage of the finished lumber from the owner of the logs. In most circumstances, this pricing method is advantageous to both you and the customer. With this pricing method, the customer doesn’t need to pay any money up front to have his lumber cut. The sawmill owner, in many cases, can get significantly more money by selling a portion of the lumber on the open market. Generally, the percentage of shares varies with the species cut.

 

All three methods have advantages, but the key is to anticipate which method would be the best pricing policy for that specific job. Identifying which pricing method will work best for you will become easier over time as you are exposed to more and more cutting situations.

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How To Hire Local Sawmills

Looking for sawmills in your area? If you have storm damaged or dying trees on your property, a local sawmill owner can help turn your logs to lumber. No matter where you live in North America, Wood-Mizer portable sawmill owners have been providing valuable services to their local communities for decades. By hiring a local sawmill owner, you are not only keeping your money in the local economy, you will also end up with a specialty wood product that no lumber yard or box store can offer – lumber from your property that is cut to your specifications for whatever woodworking projects you have in mind.

Finding a Local Sawmill

To find local sawmills near you, take advantage of the Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer Network. This free easy-to-use directory allows anyone in the United States and Canada to browse portable sawmills by state, and lists information to find the pre-qualified sawmill service that best fits your needs. Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer members can offer many services including portable milling, buying logs, selling lumber, kiln drying, large log sawing, and sawmill demonstrations. Wood-Mizer tries to recommend only the best of the best, and we encourage you to give us feedback on your experiences with hiring a sawmill business from our online listing.

 

Hiring a Sawmill Service

Sawing logs into lumber is one of those skills that can be described as, “Takes an hour to learn, but a lifetime to master.” Here are a few things you should know when you go to get your logs milled by a local sawmill owner:

Do some research

Like in any industry, there are good sawmill businesses and there are ones that don’t have any business being in business! Be sure and get a couple references from the business owner, find out how long he has been sawing, and do a little homework. Wood-Mizer sawmills cut straight, true lumber when they are properly maintained and are using correct blades. If you hear that a sawmiller doesn’t cut straight boards, you may want to try the next sawmill business in the area.

 

Know a little sawmill lingo

Cants, flitches, kerf, quarter sawn, dimensional lumber, board foot are just a few terms that sawyers use that you’ll want to be familiar with. Be sure and read our Sawmilling and Forestry Glossary to learn more about how portable sawmills work and what the various terms mean.

 

Find out how the price will be determined

Sawmill businesses typically charge by the board, board foot, or by the hour. When sawing more valuable lumber or when more manual labor is required, sawyers will often charge by the hour. When sawing standard sized lumber and large orders, sawyers often charge by the board or board foot. Prices will vary greatly depending on what is being sawn and what equipment is being used. Keep in mind that higher prices may reflect more efficient production, where lower prices may reflect smaller equipment being used and more time involved to produce the needed lumber. 

A terrific service that Wood-Mizer owners can offer is portable sawmill service. Depending on how far you are away, there will be some sort of travel fee. 
 

Many sawmill owners offer a reduction in their charges if you provide a helping hand. Although Wood-Mizer sawmills are able to be completely operated by one person, having another set of hands to stack boards, get logs ready, and other things really helps speed up the overall production. Be sure and supply the sawyer with someone that is not afraid of some good old-fashioned hard work! 
 

Metal in a log can break a blade, or at least dull it enough to prevent further use. Sawyers usually charge a fee for hitting metal. It is primarily your responsibility to check your logs for metal. Be aware that metal hides very easily and that yard trees are notorious for having nails and other metal hidden deep inside the log. Using a metal detector can help you find elusive metal in logs.

 

What will you do with the lumber?

If you want to use the lumber to make wood furniture, cabinets, millwork or other interior wood projects, it will need to be dried first. The sawyer may offer lumber drying services or you may need to find a place to sticker and stack the lumber to dry yourself. If the sawyer has a lumber drying kiln, he can accomplish this much faster for you, and the lumber value will be greater than if it simply air dries. Download our Introduction to Kiln Drying Guide for more information on drying lumber.

 

Take advantage of our Pro Sawyer Network to find local sawmills in your area and let us know how your experience went!

 

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How To Saw Logs into Lumber

There are many different sawing methods and techniques to turn logs into lumber including live sawing, cant sawing, plain sawing, grade sawing, and quarter sawing. To get you started, here is an introductory course in sawing your logs to lumber.

Live Sawing

Live sawing, also known as slab sawing or through and through sawing, is when a log is sawn about halfway through on the opening face and then turned once to the opposite face for sawing until the log is finished. Although this can be the easiest and quickest sawing method, live sawing means that every piece of lumber must be edged after it has been sawn to get the highest value. Live sawn lumber is often wide and heavy, lower in grade, and can have excessive warp during the drying process. Live sawing is generally recommended for lower quality logs because of these disadvantages.

Cant Sawing

With cant sawing, the first cuts are made across the top of the log and flipped 180 degrees to saw the second cuts across the opposite face. Once rotated 90 degrees to saw the third side, and rotated another 180 degrees to saw the last side, the log is squared into a center piece called a cant. This cant is either sent to another machine for further processing or sold as a large and heavy timber. Cant sawing maximizes sawmill production in board feet per day and is commonly used throughout the hardwood sawing industry. Primarily used on medium and low quality logs, cant sawing can save valuable time and effort when working with low grade and low value lumber.

Plain Sawing

Similar to cant sawing, plain sawing begins with rotating and sawing the outer sides of a log into boards until the center is squared into a four-sided cant. Instead of leaving the cant as is, it is rotated and sawn to produce the maximum amount of lumber. If needed, the boards are then edged by sawing the rough edge off. Although there are many different techniques for achieving the best quality and yield from a log, anyone can get great lumber from plain sawing.

 

Grade Sawing

With grade sawing, the log is sawn, turned to a new face, sawn and turned again as many as five times. Financially, grade sawing is the best sawing method for medium and high-quality logs, even though it may be difficult to turn a log on some mills and daily production volume may be lower.

Quarter Sawing

There are several reasons to consider quarter sawing because the grain patterns in some hardwoods are in great demand.

 

 

 

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What is a Board Foot?

A board foot is a wood measurement for a piece of lumber 12" wide by 1' long by 1" thick for estimating purposes. Board foot, or board feet, is commonly abbreviated as FBM, BDFT, or BF. Learn how to figure board feet in your next stack of lumber below.

 

How to Calculate Board Feet

Sawmillers and most suppliers use board feet as a unit of wood measurement. It's important for you to know and understand how to calculate board feet and board feet pricing for your sawmill business.

The basic calculation for board feet is:

Thickness X Width X Length / 12 = BDFT
1" T X 12" W X 1' L / 12 = 1 BDFT

A 2 X 4 - 10' has 6.667 board feet:

2 X 4 X 10 / 12 = 6.667 BDFT


A 2 X 10 -16' has 26.67 board feet:

2 X 10 X 16 / 12 = 26.667 BDFT

 

To calculate the board footage for a number of pieces at one time:

PCS X T X W X L / 12 = BDFT

 

To calculate the board footage in an 84 piece unit of 2 X * - 12:

84 X 2 X 8 X 12 / 12 = 1,344 BDFT

 

It's important to remember that 5/4 stack-like deck plank, is considered thicker than 1" stock. This means when calculating board footage for 5/4" stock you must use 1.25 as the thickness instead of 1.

 

For example, to calculate the board footage of a 5/4 X 6-14' piece of material:

1.25 X 6 X 14 / 12 = 8.75 BDFT

 

Compare this to the board foot calculation for a standard 14' board:

1 X 6 X 14 / 12 = 7 BDFT

 

Another way to quickly calculate board feet is to memorize the board feet in each lineal foot of standard dimensional material. For example, there is .667 board feet in 1 lineal foot of 2 X 4. To calculate the board footage by the length:

.667 X 10 = 6.67 BDFT

 

The table below lists the board feet in a 1' piece of lumber for each dimension:

Lumber Dimension  Board Foot Measurement
 1x4  .334
 2x4 .667
1x6 .5
2x6 1
1x8 .667
2x8 1.334
1x10 .834
2x10 1.667
1x12 1
2x12 2
5/4x4 .416
5/4x6 .625

When calculating the board feet in a random width product, such as oak boards, you use the actual width in inches, not the nominal width. Since you use the actual width in inches in the calculation you also enter the length in inches as well, then divide by 144, instead of 12  because there are 144 square inches in a square per board foot.

Let's say you have a piece of random width oak with an actual size of 7/8" thick by 7 3/4" wide by 63" long. The board foot calculation for this piece would be:

1 X 7.75 X 63 / 144 = 3.39 BDFT

Now you know how to calculate board foot in a piece of lumber. Learn how to charge per board foot in the How to Charge for Sawing Services article. 

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Milling Your Own Lumber Video Series

Finding affordable lumber has always been a mainstay for woodworkers, and when you tie our dwindling natural resources into the conversation the time is right to look at milling your own lumber. This seven-part weekly video series takes you through how to find logs, how to operate a portable sawmill, details on types of sawing methods, stickering and drying lumber and advice on using a mill as part of a business. Learn what you need to know to understand Milling Your Own Lumber.

Hosted by Popular Woodworking Editor Andrew Zoellner, former Purdue University Forestry Professor and Cassens Lumber Owner Dan Cassens, and Smock Valley Timber Owner Logan Wells, the Milling Your Own Lumber Video Series is brought to you by successful sawmill business owners and experienced woodworkers so you can learn how to find, mill, and prepare lumber for your wood shop with complete confidence.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 1: Why Own a Sawmill?

Dan and Logan introduce sawmilling, the emergence of urban wood, where to find logs, setting up a portable sawmill, and loading a log.  

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 2: Plain Sawing or Live Sawing

Logan walks through the process of plain sawing or live through and through sawing. Learn how to identify defects in the log, position the log on the bed, determine the opening face, how to operate the sawmill, and decide when to turn the log while sawing.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 3: Edging Lumber

Logan demonstrates how to produce square edge boards on a sawmill and on a twin blade board edger.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 4: Quarter Sawing & Other Sawing Techniques

Dan and Logan demonstrate how to quarter saw a log with a bandsaw mill as well as how to produce rift sawn lumber, dimensional lumber, and live edge wood slabs.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 5: Sawmill Blades & Basic Sawmill Maintenance

Logan discusses choosing sawmill blades based on sawing different types of material, sharpening blades, and how to change a sawmill blade. Logan also covers basic sawmill maintenance including checking drive belt tension, blade alignment, engine, side supports, bed sections, and common wear items.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 6: Air Drying & Kiln Drying Lumber

Dan walks through the most important part of the sawmilling process – drying lumber! Dan covers stacking, how to air dry lumber, measuring moisture content, and kiln drying lumber, in order to reduce stain or damage to the lumber after its been sawn.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Part 7: Grading & Pricing Lumber

Dan discusses how to calculate board feet, a high level overview of grading lumber, and resources to help price lumber competitively in the market.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Extra: A Conversation with Dan Cassens

Cassens Lumber Owner and Former Purdue University Forestry Professor Dan Cassens talks about why he owns a sawmill and the many benefits of milling your own lumber.

 

Milling Your Own Lumber Extra: A Conversation with Logan Wells

Smock Valley Timber Owner Logan Wells talks about his background in forestry and why he started milling his own lumber.

Sawmilling and Forestry Glossary

A

All-aged Forest
A forest stand where trees of all ages and usually all sizes are growing. Seldom found in nature.

 

Annual Ring (or Growth Ring)
The growth layer of one year as seen on the cross section of a stem, branch, or root. It is composed of early and late wood.

 

B

Board Foot
A unit for measuring wood volume. A piece of wood 1'x1'x1", or a piece measuring 1’x3"x4" both contain 1 board foot of wood.

Bole
The main trunk of a tree.

 

Bolt
A short log, or a squared timber cut from a log.

 

Buck
To saw felled trees into shorter lengths.

 

C

Cant
A portion of a log sawed on all four sides.

 

Cant Sawing
A sawing method to cut a log much like grade sawing on all four sides until the center of the log is squared into a cant. The cant is either sent to another machine for further processing or sold as is.

 

Cant Hook
This traditional logger's tool is used to roll, lift, move, and pivot logs using the handle as a pivot lever. Two cant hooks are recommended for basic log handling capabilities.

 

Catface
A well-defined healing or healed wound, usually near the base of a tree bole.

 

Check
A lengthwise separation of the wood. It often goes across the rings of annual growth. Checking is usually due to mechanical stresses during drying and is not considered to be cull unless found in large amounts.

 

Conifer
Usually evergreen or cone-bearing with needles or scale-like leaves. Pines, spruces, firs, and cedars are conifers. 

 

Cord
(1) A standard cord is a stack of cut wood 4' high, 4' wide, and 8' long.
(2) A face cord is 4' by 8', but the stack is made of sticks under 4' long. These are usually 12”, 18”, or 24" long.

 

Crown
The leaves and branches of a tree.

 

Cull
(1) A tree or log of marketable size but having no market value.
(2) A tree or log which cannot be used for the intended product and is not measured. Cull includes such things as rot, crookedness, cavities, and too many branches.

 

D

Deciduous
A tree which loses all of its leaves at some time during the year. May include some conifers, such as larch.

 

Diameter Breast Height (DBH)
Tree diameter measured at 4 ½’ above ground level. This is the standard place to measure tree diameter.

 

Dimensional Lumber
A term used for lumber that is finished or planed and cut to standardized width and depth specified in inches. Examples of common lumber sizes are 2x4, 2x6, and 4x4.

 

 

E

Even-aged Forest
A forest in which all of the trees are within 20 years of the same age. This is in contrast to an all-aged or uneven-aged forest.

 

 

F

Flitch
A portion of a sawn log which is insufficient for finished lumber (due to bark or defects on one or more sides). Usually intended for remanufacturing into lumber or veneer.

 

 

G

Grade Sawing
A sawing method when the log is sawn, turned to a new face, sawn and turned again up to five times.

 

Grading
Evaluating and sorting trees, logs, or lumber according to quality and value.

 

 

H

Hardwood
A term used to describe broadleaf (usually deciduous) trees. Oaks, maples, ashes, and elms are hardwoods. 

 

Heartwood
The inner core of the tree. It is usually darker in color than the outer sapwood.

 

I

 

J

 

K

Kerf
The width of a cut made by a saw in a piece of wood.

 

Knot
The part of a branch which has become part of the body of a tree stem.

 

 

L

Live Sawing
A sawing method to cut sections of a log halfway down, the log is flipped 180 degrees, and more sections are sawn from top to bottom until the log is finished. Also known as slab sawing or through and through sawing.

 

Log Rule
A table which has log volume based on log diameter and length.

 

 

M

MBF
Equal to one thousand board feet.

 

Moisture Content (MC) 
The amount of water in lumber measured as a percentage of the lumber's oven-dry weight. In a living tree, wood has a moisture content of 75% or higher.

 

 

N

 

O

 

P

Pulpwood
Wood cut to be converted into wood pulp to make paper, fiberboard, or other wood-fiber products.

 

Pruning
Cutting of live or dead branches from standing trees. With forest trees, pruning is doen along the trunk to remove the side branches which can cause knots in the wood. Pruning produces a high-quality, knot-free wood.

 

Q

Quarter Sawing
A sawing method generally defined as lumber sawn with growth rings at angles of 60 to 90 degrees to the widest face.

 

R

 

S

Sapling
Small trees, often less than 20’ to 30’ tall.

 

Sapwood
The outer part of a tree. Its main purpose is to carry water and store food.

 

Scale Stick
 A flat stick, similar to a yardstick. It is marked so log volumes can be read from it when the stick is placed on the small end of a log of known length.

 

Seasoning
The process of drying lumber or other forms of wood by natural (air-dried) or artificial (kiln-dried) processes.

 

Slash
What is left on the ground after logging, pruning, or other forest operations including tree tops, branches, and bark.

 

Stand
A group of trees in an area that are enough alike in composition, age, and condition to be set apart from the surrounding forest. A forest stand is said to be pure if 80% or more of the trees are of the same species. If less than 80% of all trees are of the same species, the stand is said to be mixed.

 

Stickers
Made of dry species of wood, stickers are wooden spacers placed between layers of lumber during drying.

 

Stack
Several layers of stickered lumber. Also known as a pile.

 

T

 

U

Urban Forestry
A field developed in the 1970s that deals with the management of urban trees, parks, and green spaces for a better environment. Also known as urban wood.

 

V

Veneer
A thin sheet of wood cut on a veneer machine. Veneer is often used for plywood facing and requires big, high-quality logs.

 

W

Windfall
A tree uprooted or broken off by wind.

 

Y

 

Z

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How To Saw in Cold Weather

Whether we like it or not, winter weather is inevitable, but that doesn't mean you have to put the "freeze" on sawing. As colder temperatures arrive and logs begin to freeze, here are helpful tips, reminders, and answers to common questions, to compete with the sawing challenges faced by sawyers this time of year. With the proper sawmill and blade maintenance topics covered below, you can keep sawing like a pro all winter long!

 

 

Winter Sawing: 10 Tips for Sawing Frozen Logs

 

TIP 1: Lower the blade hook angle

Sawing frozen and partially frozen logs or cants can be treated like sawing hardwoods. The best option for frozen wood is the Wood-Mizer Turbo 7 bandsaw blade. This profile utilizes a taller tooth with deeper gullets that are capable of pushing the sawdust out of the cut, resulting in less sawdust on your lumber. The Turbo 7 blade is available in:

DoubleHard Bandsaw Blades - 1.25” x .045, 1.5” x .045, and 1.5” x .055
SilverTip Bandsaw Blades - 1.25” x .042, 1.5” x .045, 1.5” x .055, 1.75” x .055 and 2” x .055
Bi-Metal Bandsaw Blades- 1.25” x .042 and 1.5” x .055
 

Wood-Mizer 4 and 9 degree blade profiles are also good options for wintry conditions on lower horsepower bandmills that use 1.25” wide bands. 

 

TIP 2: Narrow the blade width

Narrow blades can have less resistance and clean out frozen sawdust more productively. Try a 1 1/4" blade over a 1 1/2" blade in the winter. This can be important with especially higher horsepower engines.

 

TIP 3: Pay special attention to partially frozen logs

In the early periods of cold weather, more attention may be required when sawing the outer “jacket” boards because logs freeze from the outside in toward the heart. As logs lay through frozen temperatures and long nights, the entire log will be frozen. In the spring as weather begins to warm, logs will also thaw from the outside in. The most difficult time to saw logs is when they are partially frozen because the blade cuts in and out of the frozen material. Sawing partially frozen logs can be done successfully, but will generally require a little slower feed speed in order to monitor each cut.

 

TIP 4: Keep feed rates up and consistent

Keeping your feed rates up, even while sawing frozen logs, helps clear chips and sawdust out of the cut and keeps them from refreezing on the lumber. Freezing rain, ice, and snow build-up will slow down your machine's warming up process and can affect the life of your mill. For the best results, keep your feed rates consistent and monitor your lumber for quality as it comes off the mill.

 

TIP 5: Monitor blade guides

Check blade guides frequently and if loose, tighten the guides or replace. Also keep the blade from riding hard against the blade guide flange. It is very important that blade guides are level and not tilted up or down. Use the blade level gauge to check this.

 

TIP 6: Switch drive and idle side blade guide belts

Periodically swap the drive and idle side blade guide belts and replace as they flatten and wear. This also keeps the blade from riding up against the flange.

 

 

 

TIP 7: Check the blade guide arm

The sliding blade guide arm should be tight and provide the same amount of flange clearance while it’s all the way in or opened. This provides blade stability in the cut.

 

 

 

TIP 8: Use proper blade tension

Sufficient blade tension is essential in sawing frozen wood. Tend to use higher tension if possible and use a blade strain gauge which provides actual tension in blades per square inch (psi).

LT15/LT28/LT35 Sawmills Blade Tension

 

LT70 Sawmills Blade Tension

 

 

 

TIP 9: Monitor drive belt tension

Do not over or under tension the engine drive belts. Keep them snug and not loose.

LT15/LT28/LT35 Sawmills Manufactured in 2016 or Later Drive Belt Tension

 

LT15/LT28/LT35 Sawmills Manufactured Before 2016 Drive Belt Tension

LT40/LT50 Sawmills Drive Belt Tension

TIP 10: Change hydraulic fluid

If your cold weather sawing keeps you in a temperature range that stays below 60º F, we recommend running Mobil Aero HFA hydraulic fluid. This will give you faster hydraulics and be less demanding on the electrical system of your mill when sawing during colder temperatures. When temperatures begin to reach 60º F and above, we recommend changing back to all-weather fluid. Make sure all hydraulic cylinders are in the closed position when changing fluid and note that Wood-Mizer standard hydraulic sawmills take one gallon of fluid while Wood-Mizer super hydraulic sawmills require two gallons.

 

 

 

 

Winter Sawing FAQ

Q: How long should I run the blades during winter sawing?  

A: Frozen logs can be treated like extreme hardwoods and may require changing every 1-2 hours of sawing or as frequently as 6-8 logs depending on size and species. It’s better to change bands frequently rather than running them until the tooth tips are rounded.  Be sure to use your debarker or remove mud, rocks, etc. from the log bark before sawing. Keeping the logs off the ground when storing and transporting can also assist in keeping logs clean to extend your blade life.

 

Q: Do I still need to use lubrication on the blade in winter sawing?  

A: Yes! Frozen chips or sawdust will heat up during sawing and then refreeze to the lumber or blade. It is always beneficial to keep the blade clean and eliminate any pitch build up on the band that can negatively affect performance, sharp life, and overall flex life. Common additives can include water, our LubeMizer® additive, Pine-Sol, and vegetable oils. Liquids such as windshield solvent or antifreeze can be added to water to keep from freezing. Remember, never add flammable or environmentally unfriendly fuels or liquids.

 

 

 

Q: Do I change anything when sharpening blades?  

A: Not really! The most important thing is to bring a fresh, sharp point to the tip of the tooth on both the face and back side. Don’t hesitate to go around the blade a couple times to sharpen the tooth. Use a magnifying glass to evaluate the outside corner of the tooth tip that does the sawing.

  

Q: Do I need to set the blade each time I resharpen?  

A: Most Wood-Mizer tooth profiles offer a sufficient amount of tooth set which allows the bands to cut longer. Lower tooth set can saw with better accuracy and performance in frozen wood. So rather than using set at .025 - .027 it is possible to use .022 - .024 on .045 thick bands and .017 - .019 on .042 thick bands. It is very important that set is even on both sides of the blade. Sawing in frozen wood is also a good time to take advantage of the Wood-Mizer ReSharp® blade sharpening service available at convenient locations throughout the United States. 


Winter sawing can be the most demanding for your sawmill. As always, keep your mill well-maintained, aligned properly and covered when not in use. Wood-Mizer sawmill blades are more prepared now than ever for these colder days ahead and now you are too. Follow these cold weather tips and you'll be sawing frozen wood with ease throughout the winter season!

 

 

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Building a Wood Kiln Video Series

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 1: Kiln Delivery

This is a series of videos that will show how Nathan Elliott of Out of the Woods Forestry constructed a chamber for his Wood-Mizer KD150 Kiln. In this first video, Nathan receives delivery of the wood kiln and introduces what to expect from the video series that will document the entire process of building a lumber drying kiln. Nathan also explains his reason for getting a kiln and his overall expectations.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 2: Gathering Materials

How to construct the kiln and footage of gathering materials.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 3: Floor Construction

Constructing the floor for the kiln chamber.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 4: Chamber Construction

Construction of the chamber building that will house the lumber drying kiln.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 5: Insulation

Constructing the ceiling and beginning the insulation of the kiln chamber.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 6: Vents

Completing the insulation and the installation of two vents.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 7: Door Construction

Constructing and insulating doors for the kiln.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 8: Chamber Complete

Completion of the kiln and the specifics of all the instruments and components of the unit.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 9: First Load of Drying Lumber

Specifics of drying each species of wood and the capacity of the lumber kiln. Loading the kiln and the settings for drying the first load of lumber.

 

Building a Lumber Kiln Part 10: Video Series Complete

Results and suggestions from first load of drying lumber.

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