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I'm glad you found my place, take a little time to look around and I hope you enjoy the website and seeing some of the things I have made.
This page shows the step by step photos of a portable chainsaw sawmill that my friend Chuck and I built and my reasons for the changes we made. Before I get started telling you about building the mill I want to say thanks to some local businesses here in Fort Smith that helped me and recommend their places of business as a good place to shop.
611 Phoenix Ave
Fort Smith, AR
Shamrock Bolt and Screw Company
3731 Wheeler Ave
Fort Smith, AR(479) 648-9401
Davis Structural Stee
l610 South Y St.
Fort Smith, AR(479)783-0888
You can buy a great set of plans to build a mill like the one we built from the website below.
People that own sawmills always argue about which kind of sawmill is better, a chainsaw, bandsaw, swinger or a circular mill. All have their advantages and disadvantages, but I guess it comes down to this for me. I'm the one who will be using it and I built it to suit my needs.
Now if you just can't stand the thought of someone using a chainsaw mill and you want to give me a portable bandsaw, swinger or circular mill, great! I would love to have it and use it. Other than that you not going to change my mind about the bandsaw or circular being any better.
This is from my personal experience. I have milled and helped others mill using some of the big name commercial band sawmills and circular mills, some of those mills cost tens of thousands of dollars and I have also milled on some home built chainsaw mills that cost a few hundred. I will put the quality of the lumber cut on a good homebuilt chainsaw mill up against any bandsaw or circular mill, commercial or homebuilt.
A bandsaw or circular mill might saw through a log about a zillion times faster than a chainsaw mill, but the most expensive one of those mills can't saw straight accurate lumber any better than this one.
Here's the information about the mill. It's powered by a modified Stihl 066 chainsaw with a 32 inch bar. It took me over 18 months of looking at other peoples mills, planning, daydreaming and gathering the parts and then 3 months for me and my friend to build it because I kept making changes and adding what I thought of as improvements.
Now that it's finished I have to say it was worth all the time and trouble to get the mill built the way I wanted, I can't describe what a great feeling it was to cut the first log on it.
Don't let the 3 month build time discourage you if you are thinking of building a mill. I only worked on it a half day here and a couple of hours there every week or two. Truth be told, I bet we have less than 40 hours in the build time.
The saw carriage is a Procut design, but everything else on this mill is what me and my friend dreamed up and put together.
If you decide you want to build a mill similar to this one, here's the place to get the complete plans.
This is Chuck getting the chopsaw lined up to cut the steel for the carriage.
Making the first cut on the inch and a half tubing that will be used for the carriage frame.'This is me cutting therest of the tubing to length.One side of the frame welded.Adding the top pieces.Tacking it all together.Frame is almost finished, we thought.I decided to add corner braces.Adding the 2X4 tubing that the wheels bolt to.Ready to weld them.Once again, I was thinking that the frame was almost finished.Starting to bolt the hardware on that will raise and lower the saw.Not really liking how it's turning out and starting to think of the first changes.Close up of the sliding bar clamp.Bolted the chainsaw on for the first time and decided the frame is not wide enough for what I want it to do.Widened the carriage frame to38 inchs, moved the hardware that lifts the saw to the inside and added the sprockets and chains.I decided to mount the height control on the end away from the saw head, I will also mount a remote throttle control on this side. This is the side I will be loading the logs on and turning them when I'm milling.Added a flat piece of metal with a groove cut in it to the center of the frame so I can tighten the chain to prevent it from sagging.Thought about using a small sprocket but used a piece of polypropylene that a friend that owns a machine shop gave me.I will attach a handle to the 50 tooth sprocket to turn the 20 tooth which will turnthe 36 tooth below it. It should end up being 4 turns to move the saw 1 inch.Almost finished, I think.Built a handle and installed it, the height control is finished.Guess it wasn't finished after all. I didnt like how much of the all thread was sticking up above the nuts so I trimmed it off and lowered the handle a inch. Now it's finished.Had a problem with the vibration from the saw making the height control start unwinding and the saw start dropping lower. Chuck sliced the top off of a 1 inch piece of thin tubing and drilled a hole through it so I could weld it on the bar that I adjust the chains tension with.Slide the keeper pin through the chain and it locks everything in place so the saw can't move.Started building the log bed. It is 14 feet long so I will be able to cut a 10 foot log.Tacked together.Put the log bed up on the trailer to find where the balance point is. I still have to add more cross pieces. The trailer is a small boat trailer that I removed the runners that the boat sat on.Finished welding in all the cross pieces and tacked the frame to the trailer, it's getting close to being finished.About to weld on the 1" angle iron that the carriage will ride on.The angle iron track is in place, ready to weld. I decided to place it inverted, like a upside down V because I think it will be less likely to get bent that way.Put the carriage up on the tracks and pushed it back and forth to make sure the tracks were the right distance apart.All welded up and ready for a light coat of paint to keep it from rusting.Put the first coat of paint on and bolted the saw on the carriage just to see how it looks. Still have to build the log bunks, fences and dogs.
Took it out on a little 30 mile roadtrip to see how it towed and handled behind my small truck. It tracked great around sharp corners and it's long enough to see when backing. It also ended up light enough that I couldn't tell I was towing anything. I'm very happy with it!Decided since I was not building this mill for any kind of big production I could do away with the remote throttle andkeep it a little more simple. Tore it back apart again to move the saw to the same side as the height control.Building the sliding log dogs was easier than I thought. I have been thinking of dozens of different ways to build them and while I was in a hardware store looking at pipe it hit me. I used 1/2 black gas pipe and put a 3/4 inch T fitting over it. Then I screwed a 3/4 to 1/2 inch adapter in it and screwed another 18 inch piece of gas pipe in that.The dog slides back and forth as smooth as glass.Two 6 inch pieces of 1/2 inch all thread welded into a T with the point sharpened and run through a long nut.Cut a V shaped notch in the end of the pipe and welded the long nut in place.Welded the jack holders to 4X4 thin plate and welded them to the sides of the frame.I mounted 4 jacks on each side which might be overkill, but I would rather have too many than not enough.This is Chuck welding the log bunks on. The tubing that the 2 inch heavy wall fences slide up and down through are welded to the back of the bunks. You can see it by Chucks left hand.
Welding the front and back side of the bunks. You can see the heavy wall tubing I'm using for the fences hanging down. The bunks are 1/2 thick.
I made the first cut with the mill beside Chucks welding shop as soon as we were done welding the log bunks. The cedar log I'm cutting was given to me by a man that had to cut out of his yard after a storm knocked it down. I have had that log laying beside my shop for 2 years and I loaded it up and hauled it over to Chucks with me so we could try the mill out. I was grinning so big it made my face hurt!The cut turned out very smooth. You can see how the log dogs work in this photo.
You can see the fences on the left side of the log. The slower you push the saw through the log the smoother the cut will be. The saw lines you see are not more than a 32nd of a inch high and I was pushing as fast as I could to see how quick I could make the cut.
Here's a good pic showing the dogs.
This one shows the heavy wall 2X2 that I used for the fences.
I was surprised how well it cut considering I had not fine tuned the carriage yet.
Fences up, jacks down.
Water Lube/CoolingSystemHere's a update since I finished the mill, I had been reading about water systems the band sawmills have on them and thinking about the one that was on a band mill I used a few years ago and thought I would try it on my mill.While I was milling some cherry Chuck used a pump up sprayer to spray water on the tip of the sawbar.I was surprised in how much of a difference it made in the speed I could saw through the log. When I don't use the water, the dust is a lot worse and it bakes on the bar until it has a pretty thick build up making it harder to push through the log. The water worked so well I decided I needed a water system, I built a 5 gallon system for about $20.00. It's a 5 gallon bucket with a 1/2 inch plastic boiler valve. I drilled a hole through the side of the bucket, put the boiler through with a 1/2 faucet lock washer on the inside to hold it. Then drilled a 3/8 hole in a plastic cap and glued in a brass fitting with a 3/8 piece of rubber hose on it.This is the end ofthe sawmill build, I hope you have enjoyed seeing and reading about it coming together. If you are building a mill maybe there is a little information here that you can use.