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anybody using a swing blade portable mill?

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14950
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I would like to come and assist for a day.

I especially would like some experience using a skillmill:  http://skillmill.com


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14950
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Oh my - this is old. 

I now own a skillmill ....

Wyatt Smith


Joined: Feb 19, 2010
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6

Cool!

How do you like it?
How large of boards can you make?
How would you rate it compared to a bandsaw mill?

I've always wanted a portable sawmill.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14950
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The skillmill whips out 4x4 posts really fast.  If you want to leave a slab behind that is really big, you could do that, but it's tough to get it square.


Wyatt Smith


Joined: Feb 19, 2010
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6

What radius of blade does it use? 
It might be better with an electric version instead of internal combustion?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14950
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Not sure of the radius or diameter.  Maybe about 10 inches in diameter? 

I like the electric much better - quieter and no worries about breathing in exhaust.

solomon martin


Joined: Jan 17, 2011
Posts: 102
    
    1
Skillmill looks pretty cool... I have a friend with a timber-grizz portable bandsaw that is about the same size but can take 36inch logs.  Any advantages/disadvantages anybody see between the 2?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14950
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here is my mill in action:



And here is another swing blade mill I recorded a few months ago:




Caleb Larson


Joined: Feb 02, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Missoula,MT
    
    1
I run a brand X swing blade mill.
http://www.brandxsawmills.com/

I would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have about swing blade sawmills.

Here is a pic of a curved log I cut for a timber frame truss.


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For more info or to register
contact Caleb Larson @ ruggedtraditions@gmail.com
                  


Joined: Jan 31, 2011
Posts: 92
I second the question about these types VS bandsaw mills. Can anyone elaborate on the strengths/weaknesses of each design? Eventually I'm looking at getting a smallholding and a small mill is a high priority on the purchase list.
Caleb Larson


Joined: Feb 02, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Missoula,MT
    
    1
The major benefits I have found with swing blade mills are:

Faster sharpening and blade life between change outs.  With most swing blade mills you can re-sharpen/tune the blade without removing the blade.  Typical resharpen times are around 2-3 minutes.

I saw a lot of reclaimed and partial damaged/rotten/checked logs.  With a swing blade mill you have a lot more versatility in cutting around unwanted portions.  This allows me to use a lot of logs that are normally considered worthless.

Less turning of logs. with a swing blade mill you cut both vertically and horizontally, in doing this you dont ever need to turn or move the log. For example if you want to cut a 2x6 you cut down the log 6" deep and then turn the head and cut the 2" side cut on the return pass. With a band saw you have to cut slabs and then turn them on end to make the opposing cut. The only time I ever turn logs is if I want to cut a very large timber over 8.5"x17" or large tabletops.  I regularly cut 8x8 and 8x16 timbers.  I have also cut timbers as large as 16"x24".

More Consistency in sizes.  Using the "setworks" most mills use you can quickly easily cut of 2x6 lumber accurately and fast.

Straighter Cuts. Swing blades mills typically make straighter cuts, this is partly due to the ease of sharpening so you always keep your blade sharp. With blade mills you often make smaller width and depths cuts this makes them straighter as well.

Inexpensive maintenance.  I have only purchased 5 blades with my mill and have cut in excess of 80k board feet.  I did have a learning curve and ruined several blades in my own operator ignorance.  Consistent water cooling is key, lock your logs down well and dont try to cut to fast when your in difficult wood.

I found the brand X mill to be excellent.  I looked at the lucas and peterson mills as well but after talking to with brand x and getting a demo at their shop I purchased local(the are built in MT!)

The only disadvantages I have found are larger kerfs or 1/4" if you are cutting a lot of 1" boards this can be costly.  I mostly cut large timbers for my timber frame business so this was not an issue for me.  The other disadvantages is cutting width with an 21" blade your are limited to 17" wide boards if you cut from both sides.  If you only want to cut wide planks for tables or furniture buy a bandmill.  I get around this by using a chainsaw for a finish cut or I flip the log over and saw down from the other side till I get the thickness I want, this has worked great for me.

The lucas and peterson mills are designed to be extremely portable keep this in mind when considering. They were designed to take the mill to the log, not the log to the mill.
I found the brand X, which is stationary to be much more stable and better suited for my log yard.

Here are a few links on swingblade mills.
http://www.brandxsawmills.com/video%20request.htm
http://www.lucasmill.com/
http://www.petersonsawmills.com/index.php

Great videos are available online search around. By far the  best way to learn how they work.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuxVre4WJeU

http://www.petersonsawmills.com/mill_ops_video_index.htm

http://www.google.com/search?q=lucas+mill&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&oe=UTF-8&rlz=1I7GGLL_en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbo=u&tbs=vid:1&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wv


If you guys have any other questions let me know and I will answer them as best I can.
Mark Vander Meer


Joined: Dec 12, 2009
Posts: 74
We also run a Brand X mill, I agree with ruggedtraditions on the benefits and such.  We've had our mill 6 or 7 years and milled about 400 mbf to date.  We have 3 tracks situated  around Western Montana - it's easier to haul dry product than green logs.  We transport the saw and power-head to each site.  This week we put together this timber-frame.  Mill in the background –right.


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Caleb Larson


Joined: Feb 02, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Missoula,MT
    
    1
Hey Mark, Its Caleb.  I met you several years ago.

Its great to see you guys are doing so well with your mill. 3 tracks is a great idea.

Great Job with the Traditional Joinery!

Did you ever see the Silver Park Timber Frame Project downtown? 

This is a link to a audio slide show my wife put together for the timber framers guild.
http://www.montanaphotojournalist.com
Mark Vander Meer


Joined: Dec 12, 2009
Posts: 74
Caleb! You rascal!  Great to hear from you.  I had a feeling I would know the “timber framer from Missoula”.  I thought you were out in Frenchtown?  Love the 45 degree angle on your saw.  My saw is older and doesn’t have that feature.  The Silver Park video is great!  We should probably join the Timber’s Framer’s Guild.  Looks like a great organization.  Keep up the great work and come visit sometime. 
Bill McRoy


Joined: Sep 11, 2010
Posts: 19
Paul, have you considered the Logosol mill?  http://www.logosol.us/sawmills/  Very versatile, work is done at waist height (much easier on low back), nothing to sbumble over (watching the swing blade operate I see many trip hazards).  Logosol chain is easy to sharpen, inexpenisve to replace, many local saw shops for saw parts/repair, etc...  I have owned mine since 1999.  Cut is smooth.  Mill is light and easy to transport. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14950
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Bill wrote:
Paul, have you considered the Logosol mill?  http://www.logosol.us/sawmills/  Very versatile, work is done at waist height (much easier on low back), nothing to sbumble over (watching the swing blade operate I see many trip hazards).  Logosol chain is easy to sharpen, inexpenisve to replace, many local saw shops for saw parts/repair, etc...  I have owned mine since 1999.  Cut is smooth.  Mill is light and easy to transport. 


How quickly can you get lumber?

I see that they have an electrical unit - very nice!

how much would a mill cost?

What is the size of the kerf?

Bill McRoy


Joined: Sep 11, 2010
Posts: 19
paul wheaton wrote:
How quickly can you get lumber?

I see that they have an electrical unit - very nice!

how much would a mill cost?

What is the size of the kerf?


Therse are not production mills.  There are videos on YouTube showing the cutting speed.  I am type A and find it fast enough that I don't get bored.  There are Bd Ft/day numbers quoted somewhere I might be able to find. The price depends on what you want (M-5 $2000, M-7 $2699 Woodworkers Mill $2378, all without the saw).  You might be able to put a saw on that you already have or purchase locally.  The electric powerheads are around $2500.  Saw kerf is about 1/4" but as soon as you cut up one log that is odd sized or a specialty piece (crotch, etc..) that couldn't be cut at a commercial mill, you have rocovered your loss to kerf.  Plus the sawdust is fantastic for humanure compost use.
                        


Joined: Apr 03, 2011
Posts: 6
Location: Oshkosh, WI and Grand Marais, MN
I have a logosol M-7 mill with a big 123cc Stihl saw engine on it. It cuts very well and is fun to use, but you are right, it is not a production sawmill. If you had some real specialty wood or purpose, I guess you could make a living with it but not just sawing pine, spruce, or cedar lumber. But they are extremely well designed and made. They are a really great homesteader type sawmill, much more affordable and more useful than a bandsaw mill. I love mine, but probably will sell it this Summer because of my health.
    But I used to have the best portable sawmill ever designed, and that's a Mobile Dimension Sawmill.  http://www.mobilemfg.com/portable-sawmills.html
    They have a main circular blade and two edger blades that travel with with the main blade, so every pass of the saw down the log gives you an fully edged board, and there is almost no slab at all. You start off at one edge of the log and cut a 1x2 or 1x4, and just keep going. And you can literally, and I mean literally, saw the biggest logs in the world, but just mounting the saw track right on the log, starting at one corner and sawing it up. Wonderful machines, nothing compares to them for production sawing with a portable mill.


Harmon Seaver
 
I agree. Here's the link: food forest dvd
 
subject: anybody using a swing blade portable mill?
 
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