Could a portable sawmill be a wise investment for your rural land? L. Woodrow Ross interviews a band sawmill owner in rural South Carolina to get the scoop on the potential benefits of owning and operating your own sawmill.
Rural property owners who have need for rough lumber for barns, utility sheds or similar structures have a wide range of choices in portable band sawmills.
Even the budding entrepreneur who may desire to fashion table tops, benches and similar rustic woodwork, or hire out his or her bandsaw, can tap into the wide range of possibilities with a band sawmill.
Benefits of Band Sawmills
There are numerous benefits of using and owning a band sawmill.
- They are portable, and usually trailer-mounted options are available.
- Parts are readily available and maintenance is fairly straightforward.
- Ease of use. The user must be physically capable of heavy lifting and manual labor.
- A reasonable return on investment. Although the expense is not negligible, it is reasonable for the potential return on investment (ROI). Saw assemblies start at under $3000 and may exceed $100,000 for more sophisticated rigs.
If you plan on felling a large number of trees, a band sawmill could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Requirements for Use
There are additional requirements for material handling.
Logs can be extremely heavy and may require auxiliary equipment such as tractors or front-end loaders to place logs on the steel track.
The use of a peavy or similar large steel prybar might be required to position the log. The benefit of the peavy is it has a “gripping” function that provides a better purchase on the logs.
A ramp to facilitate the loading of logs may also be required.
Set-up of the sawmill would be best in a level location and would need to be sufficient to provide a steady surface for ease of use.
Availability of Logs for Milling
Rural residents having small to large woodlots would have an excellent source of readily available material. Also, maintaining contact with local homeowners who have trees removed can supply material.
Contacting and forming relationships with tree services, line maintenance crews and similar contacts is a source of free or minimally priced material.
Profile of a New Band Saw Owner
Gene Cunningham, a longtime friend of ours mentioned his neighbor had recently purchased a band sawmill. He gave me a call to advise that the neighbor was doing some sawing and perhaps it would provide an interesting topic.
I drove over to meet his neighbor, Dan Melogy, who was sawing some large logs into boards.
He had an assortment of hickory that he had previously processed but was currently working on some oak. He uses his tractor to pre-position the logs near the sawmill and then uses a ramp that he had constructed of heavy lumber to roll the logs onto the steel track.
Dan is an interesting person with more than 20 years as a helicopter pilot for the National Guard. He lives on the outskirts of Travelers Rest, a small town in upstate South Carolina. He is near town but outside city limits and lives more of a rural lifestyle. He even has honeybees, and the wooded homesite offers insulation from the township.
Dan has been interested in acquiring a band sawmill for some time and finally decided on the EZ Boardwalk mill a couple of years ago. It required a deposit of $1000 and a 60-week lead time. The dealer in Missouri recently delivered his mill and gave him the basic instruction for use.
Dan advised that the product is produced by an Amish man and his son in Missouri. They turn out approximately two units per week.
The heavy steel tracks are 14’ long, allowing for a 12’ board to be cut. It will handle logs up to 40” in diameter and will cut a board width of 34” maximum. Dan has the optional axle and wheels, allowing the unit to be portable. Once it is set on a level place, there are leveling pegs that steady the track and blocks can be used for stable footing.
The saw is powered by a 24 HP, Honda engine, and there is an overhead rack to provide storage for the gas tank and blade lubricant. The blade lubricant is actually water, but Dan said that he adds a little Dawn dishwasher detergent to help keep the blade clean.
We discussed briefly the possibilities that such a sawmill can provide.
At some point when he might choose to retire from the National Guard, a portable sawmill could be a good source of revenue.
It could be easily moved to another location to saw material for rural residents wishing to utilize wood from their own woodlot to provide construction material.
With the rapidly escalating cost of wood supplies, that is becoming an attractive option!
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