View Full Version : Log home building & portable saw mills

11-18-2006, 06:11 PM
Gearing up to take the class! :D

One thing that I have been discussing with my wife is the prospects of buying a used portable saw mill that a family member has for sale. We're fortunate to be in an area where there is a lot of timber (mostly yellow poplar) and there are a lot of loggers, etc...

I don't necessarily have the desire to get into the transport business, but it's my understanding that a lot of farmers and land owners in the area are keen to hire a portable sawyer to come and mill a timber stand for a 50/50 split of the wood.

That sounds like a very do-able proposition, but was wondering if any other LHBA members have gone a similar route buying or building a mill?

What's the time vs. cost saving trade-off?

BTW... the mill we're thinking about buying is a woodmizer with a bandsaw and he only wants $2K for it. I don't presently have a model #.

11-18-2006, 06:42 PM

Welcome! If you will go to search and type in woodmizer you should pull up some past threads on this topic to help you. When you take the class then you can get into the members section and find WAY more information on every topic imagineable. Hurry and take the class, and take your spouse if you can swing it. Don't forget to taste the secret cookies!!!!!


11-18-2006, 07:51 PM
Everything you wanted to know about portable saw mills and more. 8)

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php?PHPSESSID=d5c9780a8183e7de5786bd978b8c7f b6&board=7.0

11-19-2006, 10:58 AM
$2,000 for a Woodmizer? Unless it is totally wasted
you may want to jump on that. I was kicking myself
for missing one at about $4,500.


11-19-2006, 11:01 AM
Should have mentioned my good news.
Went and looked at a sawmill last week.
Yesterday I told the owner I would take
it. Pretty excited. Of course I no longer
need my Procut plans....


11-20-2006, 07:06 AM
Congrats on your find Rick!

Yea, $2000 sounds pretty hard to pass up mhiles, though, what size is it? I think their smallest one sells for $4000, right? If it's the next size up, then by all means grab it and run! Even if you got to put in another $500 in replacement parts, you remain well ahead of the game.

I've always been a bit partial to Hud-Son bandmills for affordability, and inexpensive add-on extensions, though, they may not be as good as a Woodmizer. In any case, I'll be building my own from the Procut plans, unless I run into a deal myself.

11-20-2006, 08:49 AM

I'm with you on the Hud-Son. If I decide to go the portable mill route it will probably be a Hud-Son. i've looked at several in operation and hud-son definitely is at the top of my list.

11-24-2006, 03:58 AM
I just ordered a Norwood Lumberlite. It is pretty much a homowners model with a 6.5 hp engine. I ordered it through Northern Tool and actually saved a couple of hundred over ordering it direct from Norwood. Go figure? Anyway, Norwood has a forum and you can get lots of good answers from people who own their mills. My bare bones mill will run about $3300 delivered to my door and will be spanking new so I will be starting out without adopting anyone elses problems.
Here is the link to the Norwood forum. You can click around from there to view their products.

11-24-2006, 06:40 AM
That's a good deal. It actually beats Hud-son, dollars to capacity. Looks like extending the track would be easy too. I didn't even know Northern Tool carried those. Nice find.

11-24-2006, 06:58 AM
There is a reason Norwood (and most other companies) charge more than their distributors. A distributor is not going to try and sell a product that its manufacturer will sell cheaper. The distributor would go out of business. Manufacturers sell more product when they can have multiple distributors, hence, if they sell at all to the public, they keep their price higher to encourage buyers to shop with their distributors.


11-26-2006, 07:00 PM
Good point WalkingHorseLady. I have been scratching my head about that. Now for the accessories like track extensions, extra blades, the sharpening tool and tooth set I will go directly to Norwood.

03-07-2007, 06:57 PM

Have you had a chance to use your Norwood lumberlite and if so how does it perform.

Is there anything you are not happy with?

If you did it over would you get a bigger engine or move up to the next model?

What about the "wavy" issue that we hear so much about?

I have been looking into getting a bandsaw and have settled on either a Woodmizer or Norwood as they are the only ones available in Canada that I have read good reviews on. I was thinking of getting the WM LT15 or the Norwood Lumbermate with a 15 hp Kohler but if the smaller hp models work well I will certainly look at getting one of those and use the money I save to get add on sections so that I can cut the longer timbers for the log house.

03-08-2007, 03:16 AM
What about the "wavy" issue that we hear so much about?

After going the the Pennsylvania Farm Show this past January, and seeing the whole line of Woodmizer bandmills in operation, cutting up big red oak logs, I can tell you the "wavy" thing is a load of hoo-ha, probably perpetrated by conventional log mill manufactures to lessen the blow bandmills would have on the market. Cuts were incredibly nice.

The only fault I saw was on their smallest model. It had a steel cable system (where some "springyness" could occur) to raise and lower the blade height, that, combined with what might have been an underpowered machine, caused the unit to "hop" while it was making it's cut, though, the cuts still came out pretty nice. Ball screws for elevation, would have been a much wiser (thought costlier) choice. I also think, that the problem might have been that the track wasn't properly supported, which could have contributed to this hop. I noticed that it was free floating in the middle.

Mark OBrien
03-08-2007, 07:26 PM
My neighbor up the road has a woodmizer and uses it daily to cut oak logs into dimension lumber and he claims that with regular maintenance he has had no trouble with it at all. He cuts a LOT :shock: of wood with it.

03-11-2007, 07:40 AM
All-I have a question: lets say we're constructing a 40x40 box....with a 2nd floor loft 1/2 size of main floor, using 4"x10" rafters for roof, main floor and loft area. Does $4000 plus for a portable sawmill justify the cost of just purchasing the rafters themselves? Additionally, since i've never seen a portable sawmill in operation, are you all using sawmills primarily to cut rafter boards or are you cutting floorboards on these things (as opposed to purchasing tongue and groove cardecking for floors / roofs)? It would seem that if you use the sawmill for more than rafters it would make sense, otherwise too pricey??

Class Mar '07

03-11-2007, 10:42 AM
Rafters alone? Probably not, unless you needed some length not normally covered. Even then, you could probably get them cut by someone. But if you were going to cut your own rafters, joists, flooring, door and window frames, furniture, roof boards, etc., then it may be worth your while. Certainly nothing stopping you from cutting more than rafters.

04-05-2007, 07:21 AM
:?: So I haven't seen anyone talk about Alaska Mills on this thread yet. They seem a lot less expensive (even with the cost of a new chain saw). Wouldn't that get you by for building a house?

04-05-2007, 07:57 AM
I'm hoping it will!!!! I am also looking at GB mills (like the alaskan, but it bolts to the powerhead and not the bar near the powerhead).

That and a larger chainsaw (maybe a Husky 385 or good second hand 394) than I would use for normal firewood type cutting.


04-05-2007, 08:24 AM
Hi Rod,

I just looked at the link of your loghome model...very cool indeed. Can I ask how you made it...software generated etc ?


04-05-2007, 09:17 AM
Hi Rod,

I just looked at the link of your loghome model...very cool indeed. Can I ask how you made it...software generated etc ?


Heck no! No CGI or airbrushing there. That's 100% real materials and carefully placed camera angles which were all shot outdoors for realistic backgrounds and lighting. The only "trick" I had to do was place a piece of cardboard over the roof sometimes, because the sunlight would pass through my simulated tongue and groove! The simulated joists, girders, T&G, sleepers, and window/door frames were all cut on a table saw. (with like 60 ~70% waste due to blade width) The simulated studs were purchased at a hobby store. (1/16"x1/8" spruce strips) The log stringers for the stairs were cut in a miter box. The "logs" are held together with 1" brads from a pneumatic brad gun, while the "dimensional lumber" is glued with a quality cyanoacrylate glue from a hobby store.

04-05-2007, 09:47 AM
wow! I am impressed!

I love your choice of full logs for the floorjoists..overall, it has a great feel. When do you plan to build the real mccoy?


04-05-2007, 04:04 PM
Soon. I got most my gear and finances together, currently debt free, just looking for that perfect piece of land. I so hope to find it this spring/summer. I don't want to go through another year at my current job.

04-05-2007, 06:12 PM
Rod :?: if you were going to buy a mill for under 5000 which one would you buy and why(say this month)

04-06-2007, 03:15 AM
Rod :?: if you were going to buy a mill for under 5000 which one would you buy and why(say this month)

First, I'd like to say that it's unlikely that I would be buying one, but, if I were, it would probably be either the Hud-son Oscar 30 or the Norwood LumberMate 2000, simply because they are the most saw (capacity) for the money. Each has their own pluses. Norwood has a much beefier track, and Hud-son has a much more solid carriage and better blade guides. It would be a close call.

04-06-2007, 04:26 AM
I was waiting to post till after Rod because of the question being directed to him. I've spent the past 3 years looking at several portable mills in action and talking with owners. Timber King, LumberMate, WoodMizer, HudSon, Turner, and 3 or 4 others. If/when I buy I'm going with a HudSon model. Not sure what size yet but something prolly around the 30" range that Rod mentioned, but part of me wants the 36" model to make large slabs for extended countertops and tables.

Why would I choose a HudSon. As Rod said they are sturdy. I like the idea of the 4 post design. They are mostly made from parts that you can get at your local store so if something does break I can most likely have it repaired quickly and inexpensively. Also I want an extended track to cut up to 24-25ft or more and with their track system it would be easy for me to make additional track very inexpensively. The final selling point is another one Rod stated, most bang for your buck!!! You may find a cheaper model with someone else but I almost assure you it won't be of the same quality and features.

04-06-2007, 07:11 AM
The Procut website has answers to a lot of your questions.
They even have answers to questions you may never ask!

Often it is not cost-effective to cut your own 2x4 stock.
The payoff can come in the larger and longer materials.
of course YMMV.


05-23-2007, 09:03 PM
Just chiming in to say I used a Woodmizer LT40HD two days ago.
Very nice & I like the hydraulics. As nice as the Woodmizer is, I
would have to give the nod of approval to the Procut. Much cheaper
and cuts on the push, & the pull. My slightly used Jonsered mill
was less than 1/10th cost of a used LT40HD.

My guess is that by the end of the day the Procut may have
returned more board fee than the Woodmizer. Of course,
your mileage may vary.


09-27-2007, 12:43 PM
If you aren't felling the trees off of your own land, does it make any sense at all to mill your own lumber? Or would you simply be making more work for yourself without really saving any money? (I'm sure this all depends on the price of your logs and the price of large lumber in your area.)

09-27-2007, 03:10 PM
You pretty much have it. A cost analysis combined with the question of how much you are willing to do or what your time is worth is all you need.

If you have to pay much for your logs/transport, and buy a pricey mill just for one house, you probably wouldn't save much. But you might really just want to do it. But, cheap or free logs and a low cost mill like the procut or a bandmill with high local lumber prices and a good amount of free time, sure you will save some cash.

You can also work out a trade for someone with a mill to cut the lumber for part of the milled wood sometimes.

pinecone pam
09-27-2007, 08:35 PM
What about your 20% overage? It's already onsight. And its less that perfect so what better to do with it? Also, my dining room window is a big one. The cut out logs for this window and a set of french doors with side lights; we framed about half of all interior walls if not more. Nice to have straight, true dimensional lumber! It wasn't a problem finding someone with a portable mill that needed work.

09-27-2007, 09:22 PM
I started 18 months ago by having to get rid of four gigantic trees that were just in my way... We made lumber out of them... Three White Fir and a Doug fir... This gave me lumber for footings and the like... My cement guy said he was very impressed with what I was using for forms... I had a guy come out and mill the lumber for 30 cents a board foot and blades and a set up fee... I still have about 500 b.f. left from this...
After I cleared my home site, I found that I had 26 rather large logs to make into lumber, and several tons of fire wood ... This translated into 4000 b.f. of Doug Fir...
Long story short, I believe that if you have trees, and you need to build, why not make your own lumber... Especially if you have lots of time... If you don't have so much time... that's another story...

09-28-2007, 04:28 PM
hi, i have to say im hooked on this log home concept going to take class in spring if i can when u cut the lumber what do u do to dry it out green lumber can twist and shrink

09-29-2007, 04:57 PM
hi, i have to say im hooked on this log home concept going to take class in spring if i can when u cut the lumber what do u do to dry it out green lumber can twist and shrink
Well, you have a couple options. You could let the logs season as a whole before cutting, though, seasoned logs will put more wear and tear on the saw blades. When cutting green logs, stacking and weighting will be necessary, along with "stickers" to provide airspace between boards to allow air circulation for drying and reduce mold growth between logs.

The USDA puts out a good book called Air Drying of Lumber (FPL-GTR-117) that details every step of the process well.

09-30-2007, 05:21 AM
Has anyone used or have seen in use the " Timberking" Sawmill...
I'm also thinking of getting a sawmill and was just wondering....

09-30-2007, 12:33 PM
Yes I've seen one of the smaller models of Timberking in operation. IMO you get more bang for your buck with Hud-Son.

09-30-2007, 03:59 PM
Has anyone here built a procut yet? I have an 11hp Honda vert. shaft engine I can use instead of a chainsaw(or a husky 268xp which might get me by for a while.) I might be able to get my hands on a mobile home frame to save money on steel.