Woodworking Tools Cranston RI
North Kingstown, RI
West Kingston, RI
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm
East Greenwich, RI
We all love wood, whether it's a wide clear board or a gnarly slab with wild grain. That's why sawing our own lumber crosses the minds of most woodworkers. It might be inspired by the sight of a big tree blown down by a storm, a custom tabletop made from only one or two slabs of unusual wood or the thought of free wood. Whatever reason, the idea of do-it-yourself lumber making holds a certain amount of intrigue for most of us.
Yielding to my own curiosity about lumber making, I checked out nine sawmills ranging in size from very small to medium. The mills fall into two broad groups: handheld and frame-mounted.
Two Types of Mills
Most handheld mills fit into the trunk of a car and are easy to carry into the forest or to wherever you plan to cut your lumber. They range in weight from 7 to 45 lbs. and in price from $90 to $1,600—excluding a chainsaw, which they all use. I used a Huskavarna 385XP ($800) for power. It's has about 85 cc. You can get by with a smaller chainsaw, but it may test your patience. Handheld mills have the distinct advantage of being lightweight and extremely portable.
Frame-mounted mills stand on the ground. They weigh from 85 to 1,900 lbs. and must be towed or hauled in a trailer or pickup truck. They range in price from $2,000 to $5,700 for an entry-level machine.
Granberg International Mini Mill II
The Mini Mill II attaches directly to the chainsaw bar with two bolts. The mill follows a metal guide strip that you screw onto a 2x6 guide board. The mill comes with six 2-ft. sections of guide strips, but you can purchase more. The guide board mounts to the log with two nails at each end and must be reattached for each cut. The upside to attaching the guide board each time is that each cut will be as straight as the guide board. I found the vertical operating position surprisingly comfortable, because you do almost all the pushing with your arms and legs rather than your back. I raised the log on a pair of supports to keep the tip of the chainsaw bar from hitting the ground. I made this 8-in. x 8-in. x 8-ft. oak beam in about 20 minutes.
Cost: $90, without chainsaw.
Weight: 7 lbs., without chainsaw.
Maximum log diameter: Chainsaw bar length minus 2 to 4 in.
Maximum cutting width: Chainsaw bar length minus 2 to 4 in.
Maximum cutting thickness: Unlimited.
Maximum cutting length: Unlimited.
Recommended chainsaw: 56 cc or larger.
(866) 233-6499, www.granberg.com
The Timberjig attaches to the same two bolts that hold the chain bar to the saw. It uses a guide board only for squaring the log. After that, the jig's guide fence follows the cut surface of the log. The mill's horizontal position allows you to saw a log on the ground without risk of hitting the ground. Or you can raise the log to waist height and saw it without bending over.
Cost: $165, without chainsaw.
Weight: 11 lbs., without chai...