Exploring the World of Bandsaw Mills
This article explains why bandsaw mills remain so desirable today, and an explanation of the benefits they hold over other saw mills.
In the past, do-it-yourselfers who were unsatisfied with the lumber they found at the big box stores or their local sawmill would have had few options. However, those days are gone. These days, it's possible to find a portable sawmill that you can set up and work yourself. But with over 200 companies currently offering these mills, how do you find the one that best fits your needs? The right mill for you will depend on how much milling you intend to do, and will take into consideration such things as the size of the logs. Also, running a portable sawmill is a demanding job and you'll need to consider how much effort from you is required to run the machine. For instance, will you load the logs yourself, or will you need a hydraulic loader to do it for you?
The most popular sort of portable sawmill is the bandsaw mill. One advantage that bandsaw mills have over circular mills is that you will get at least 20% more lumber from a band mill due to the mill turning less of the lumber into sawdust. These mills range significantly in size and cost. Here are a few things to consider about the major varieties:
If you're a hobbyist who won't be milling every day, consider a manual saw. These are the least expensive. However, they may also be too small for your needs and may not have enough power to cut larger logs. A manual saw will come with few extras, but may be purchased for around $10,000 or even less. For a few thousand dollars more, you can get a mill that will include some labor-saving features, though you will still have to load the logs manually.
For those who want to mill logs much more regularly, a fully hydraulic mill is much easier to use and requires less effort from the operator. The main downside is cost -- a new fully hydraulic band mill may cost over $20,000, or even over $30,000. The increased production capacity, as well as the fact that the mill will be less physically demanding on the user, may make the cost worthwhile.
The most expensive option are those band saws geared for high production. These are usually of little use to the hobbyist, as not only are they much expensive, but they may also require more training to use effectively. If you intend to mill commercially, then the increased capacity of high production mill and such features as a hydraulic loader can offset the initial cost.
Most bandsaw mills are priced as a package with the trailer required to haul them to the job site, although a few of the smaller ones may be broken down and transported in the bed of a pick-up. Once you have figured out your production needs, you will know the right type of band saw for you and can begin looking for the model that best fits your schedule, your strength, and, perhaps most importantly, your wallet.
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