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Author Topic: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget  (Read 5265 times)

Offline kpantherpro

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affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« on: June 01, 2012, 04:10:19 PM »
hi I get asked the differance between chainsaw mills all the time so I'd thought I'd post this to help out, especailly since it is an affordable way to get into milling and the cut quality can be excellant depending on the mill.Milling on a budget,  chainsaw milling/csm, strengths of different types.
 

   First when we think of milling your own wood we often think how nice it would be to have a big band mill or dimensional/other saw, but in todayís economy as well as other aspects of owning each, this may not be a practical means to mill your lumber with, especially for the hobbyist or if your just interested.  Letís face it for a decent even starter band mill/dimensional/other mill youíre looking at least $5k, (personally if itís any less than that I wouldnít even touch it).  So chainsaw milling is a very affordable and attainable way of milling for all, when to just get started can sometimes be less than a $100 for a basic csm and for a nice csm still less than $1000. Now we can cover the strengths and weaknesses of all mills but for now, letís stick with chainsaw mills, since this is the reason I am writing this, and it is a question I do get asked quite a bit.
So why chainsaw milling, well for one if youíre on a budget it is a great way to get into it as a hobby or even profession to see if this is right for you. now right away Iím going to get a lot of ďyou canít make any money chainsaw millingĒ I have to beg to differ I have log cabin/custom home builders, furniture makers, craft makers,  and resellerís, who tell me they are so busy they donít need any more business, and I do get e-mails of those who used my mills thanking me for making such a wonderful product  they have used it to make extra money to keep the lights on and food on the table they built. And even some  avid band sawyers/other millers have bought slabbers or  my  carriage systems in sizes their band mills canít handle.
Ok chainsaw mills and the different designs, basically there are 2 different types but can be many styles.
The first is a single clamp design, and while this can be accurate it does tend to wander so if youíre looking for cabinet quality lumber, you may want to stay away from that design, although they are very good for quartering(splitting) larger logs or for rustic project where accuracy is not an issue, also the smaller the logs the more accurate you can get especially if you take a little time. But you will be lucky if you do over 200 bf a day. There are a lot of design s out there that feature and are set-up this way, the more expensive ones donít always mean theyíre better, pay attention to where and how their made. Aluminum is nice and lightweight, but it does flex more than steel and is prone to fatigue. Keep in mind these saws can be spinning from 6000-9000 rpm or more. Look for systems that are drilled through the bar with a single clamp design, as this will tend to be more accurate as well as safer   
Pictures of the Panthercub single clamp design
The next design is a slabbing style mill that is a double clamp design, these usually come in a few variations including drilled through and as the name applies double clamp, I donít believe drilling through the bar on these is necessary as it is a double clamp design and very solid, you may forget to tighten the bolts, but I bet youíll only do it once, after you develop a check list itís just a formality.  These type of mills can be extremely accurate, but again that does depend on the design, look for solid construction, some say you want aluminum but Iíve handled aluminum mills that were so flimsy, and hard to transport it was a bother to move them from place to place. And others like my mill that I can carry one handed with the saw in it comfortably and safely in, around, and through brush.   You want a good mill with a lot of handholds as well, so you can keep changing your stance up, it is no fun to be in the same position all day long. Also with a slab design such as the Panthermill 2 you want to be able to raise your logs to a comfortable working height( I will be doing a video shortly showing how I do it.), from waist to middle of chest is ideal; you DO NOT want to be bent over or on the ground. Trust me itís no fun. Some also prefer to have a slight incline to help gravity push through the wood your milling. If youíre able this can be a good idea. Now as far as my mill goes I know this design is not only a pleasure to use, but extremely accurate, and the cut quality will have some band mills envious. And it is not unreasonable to attain between 600-1000 bf in a day. Just work smart.     With minimal pics this is what you can do in less than an hour. In production mode Iíll set up 4-6 logs at a time.
Next is a carriage type mill, this will be some type of mill that will ride on rails or track constantly like a bandmill, and they can get pricey but as I said earlier look at the design. These are usually physically the easiest to use, some still require you to lift the logs into position while others will let you skid or roll them right onto the track, if you can mount this on an incline it is a bonus whether it be a slight slope or a trailer that can be set to a desired height. Again for accuracy the double clamps designs will cut better with less wandering than single clamp designs, and are generally easier to use with less waste. Depending on the mill 1000+ bf a day is feasible.  Although it may be a long day. 
Sorry lost my most recent pics on my other computer, but these are pics of my carriage systems, the first is the hh design(homeowner/hobbyist-2post), and the second is the predecessor to my HD mill 4-post, they are smooth as glass and run well. Additional current pics can be seen at www.pantherpros.com
These mills will typically pay for themselves your first weekend, again depending on manufacturer. These mills will also do just about any kind of lumber you want whether its slabs, boards, beam, dimensional, etc. My best advice is to weigh what you want to do with the mill, your budget, and the maximum log diameter you think you might do, or just to compliment another mill you may already have. And order accordingly these are a great way to get the best bang for your buck, to save, or just harvest lumber from that fallen tree you donít want to see turned to firewood. Also general design of any sawmill may be important, if youíre going after reclaimed lumber /fallen trees in remote areas, you want something relatively portable and easy to set up, itís no fun to spend six hours setting something up for 2 hours worth of milling. And some areas wonít let you trailer anything in or out.
I invite others to respond with pics of projects they did, the mill they did it with and itís strengths and weaknesses. But for now if youíd like to see additional or compare info on  my chainsaw mills please go to: www.pantherpros.com

Offline kpantherpro

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Re: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2012, 04:12:56 PM »
sorry pics didn't post will try later

Offline Stevem

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Re: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2012, 10:38:47 PM »
Thanks for the input on chain saw mills.  It provided a nice balance for out little site

Kirk is working on making picture posting easier.  Meanwhile we have to cope
Stevem
Because you can doesn't mean you should!

Offline kpantherpro

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Re: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2012, 12:21:56 PM »
let's hope i can contribute more in the future, i met quite a few of the guys at the WV sawlex a few years back and wanted to get more involvelved because you guys seemed very knowledgable in all types of milling, and I just like what they stood for, seemed like they knew what honor and integrity was. but i just got so busy with life I wasn't able, so now i'm slowing down a little, and making time for the things I care about, if I can pass a little knowledge on and help you grow a little as well, it's better for us all. honestly some people on these other sites will try and knock you down, and anyone who gets satisfaction out of that isn't milling enough. this is about getting people into some thing that can be very rewarding and enjoyable, and it doesn't take a small fortune to get into. Seriously to anyone interested, there is not too many experiences that can compare to the satisfaction and pride you will feel when you start milling. if you do have questions this is the place to ask, you have many knowledgable people here waiting to help.
as far as the pics I'll post some of this on my site soon so no worries, take care guys and keep up the great work.

Offline Carl Middleton

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Re: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2012, 05:39:48 PM »
What is the longest setup you have made with you mills? I have a timber frame job coming up that I have to make 30ft beams. The 12 ft ext for my woodmizer is like $2500 bucks.I would rather mill these logs on the ground if possible.

Offline kpantherpro

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Re: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2012, 09:21:49 PM »
hey the longest I have done and sent out is 24', usually if anyone needs longer they will just get the carraige and make their own track or get some and make the rest, but if you want check my website and give me a call we can discuss your options, and depending on the width I can probably do the whole thing for less than what your extension will cost.

Offline Carl Middleton

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Re: affordable milling, cs milling on a budget
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2012, 05:29:56 AM »
Checked out your web site. I would like to see some better pics. I will contact you later this week.

Carl