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What's a good c.s.m. for a beginner

Discussion in 'Milling & Saw Mills' started by Yooperforeman, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. Yooperforeman

    Yooperforeman ArboristSite Operative

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    Hi,
    I'm interested in milling my own logs(spruce,balsam) and I'm looking for suggestions on a beginner mill.The logs are no bigger than 24".
     
  2. BobL

    BobL Addicted to ArboristSite

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    To help you out we really need more detail, $$, saw, access details, etc

    When you say no bigger than 24", what is the most common size and how many logs are we talking about?

    If the most common size is around 16 - 18" with an occasional 24" then I'd still go for a mill that fits best suits the smaller size but can just manage the 24", something like a small alaskan or mini-mill would be OK for these.

    If the most common sizes are in the 20-24" range and if money is no object I'd go for a 36" alaskan mill fitted powered by a 660/395 with a 42" bar.
    It sounds like overkill but that setup will give you the fastest milling and the longer bar/mill keeps cooler and comes in handy around awkward spots.

    And you never know when that large log becomes available :eek2:
     
  3. redoakneck

    redoakneck Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Are you going to do any crotch pieces or just make straight boards?? If you are going to do any crotches or burls you will want a bigger mill real quick. If you are only going to do 18" and smaller you are better off storing logs and having a portable bandsaw mill do them IMO. The niche of the chainsaw mill is big wood and big slabs, for standard size lumber a bandsaw mill is better.

    You can do a lot with the 36" alaskan with a 42" bar, but you will want a 100cc or larger saw.
     
  4. Yooperforeman

    Yooperforeman ArboristSite Operative

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    Well,I'm mainly wanting it for cutting beams,6x6 and 8x8.I have a limited budget and the saw will be a Husky 372 with a 24" bar.
    The most common size of logs is 16"-18"s.
     
  5. hamish

    hamish Addicted to ArboristSite

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    As you are mainly cutting beams take a look at the Granberg mini mill (G555). Very cheap to buy and even cheaper to make. Great for making beams.

    Then consider yourself screwed as you will get hooked on milling, then you will need all kinds of different toys!
     
  6. Talltom

    Talltom ArboristSite Operative

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    You will have a lot of wood left after cutting that size beam out of that size log. You can only get one 8x8 out of an 18 inch diameter log, and you're left with lots of usable lumber nearer the outside of the log. If you're ok with a lot of firewood, then a Mini Mill or beam machine & the like will work fine. If you want smaller boards as well, then that might affect your choice. With mills that cut at a right angle to a guide attached to the top of the log, it's difficult to make the first cut near the outside of the log unless you have a very wide guide. You can go back and cut boards from offcut slabs,but its hard to stabilize the piece while providing clearance for the bar. It's much easier to cut boards off the cant than to cut them off a smaller slab. The Logosol Timberjig is more flexible on the first cut, since it can be made with the guide attached to the ends of the logs, so you can cut from the outside in on all 4 sides. The down side is that it costs twice as much as the Mini mill. Another option would be an Alaskan or Panther slabbing mill with a Minimill. It's basically $ for convenience. You may get the bug and upgrade anyway!
     
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  7. hamish

    hamish Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Once again, I shall issue a warning to you...........you will get bitten by the bug.

    What means do you have to move or transport these beams you wish to mill?
    8x8 weights in good.....
    Milling is the easy part, the hardest part is the logistics and explaining to the wife that yes it takes a lil time, it ain't like going to the lumber yard......
     
  8. Yooperforeman

    Yooperforeman ArboristSite Operative

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    I had 8x8" Spruce beams cut on a band saw,they were 14' long and Dad and I just carried them by hand,I didn't think they were that heavy.I'm going to build a wood shed and just thought it would be neat to have all the material made by myself.
    I plan to spend up to $300.Do you need the aluminum rails that Granberg sells for the Alaskan mill?Does the mini-mill adjust
    for width?Say if you're milling 6" beams,do you use a 2x6" for a guide?
    The Granberg website wasn't that helpful.
     
  9. hamish

    hamish Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Filled in the responses above
     
  10. Talltom

    Talltom ArboristSite Operative

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    The Granberg web site has on-line videos that should be helpful. The Mini Mill uses metal track that comes with the mill and is attached to a 2x piece of lumber. The guide must be used and repositioned for each cut; there is no inherent adjustment on the mill for depth of cut (board thickness.) First cut is the hardest. After that, consistent results depends on consistent measurement and placement of the guide.

    8x8 is an awfully big timber for a shed. Would a 4 or 5x8 work? You'll probably want some 2x boards as well. Knowing the sizes you want before you start milling will help ensure success. I'm currently building a 10.5 x 14 ft shed with 5x5 pine posts, 3x8 oak principal rafters and 3x4 oak purlins. The longest span is 8 ft and the timbers are plenty big for this. I cut 20 or so pine and poplar 2x boards as well for infill to attach siding and for framing around doors and windows.
     
  11. Yooperforeman

    Yooperforeman ArboristSite Operative

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    That sounds like a pain having to accurately reposition the guide for every cut.
     
  12. Timberframed

    Timberframed AboristSite Guru

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    Not if you are "slabbing" the cut.
     
  13. Talltom

    Talltom ArboristSite Operative

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    Timberframed: How do you slab cut with a MiniMill?

    Yooperforman: The Minimill was designed primarily as an edger for use with the Alaskan mill. It's best at cutting at a right angle to a flat surface. It is a pain if your making multiple parallel cuts. That's where a slabbing mill like the Alaskan excels. You can cut all faces of a log with either, it's just more difficult. If you're just cutting beams from the center of the log, the MiniMill would be fine. If you want a lot of 2x s as well, a combination of a small Alaskan and a Minimill would be just over $300. The small log mill would also work for the slabber, but probably wouldn't be as accurate since its an open ended design. Also check out Panther Mills. Same function with some differences at cheaper prices. The Logosol Timberjig would also work at $184. It cuts both parallel and at right angles but is an open ended design that takes a little getting used to for consistent results. It's very compact and half the price of a Mini/Alaskan combination.

    I recently went through this decision process with the goal of making slabs from and quartering large logs more easily. Already have a Timberjig for right angle cuts, so ended up ordering a Panther mill for slabbing and cutting the log in half.

    Take another look at the Granberg site. They have slide shows and videos showing their products in use and how to set them up. Third slideshow demos a MiniMill cutting a cant on a log longer then the guide.
     
  14. Timberframed

    Timberframed AboristSite Guru

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    Pardon me. I have what I call a Mini mill but perhaps this doesn't fall under the proper definition and no offense to anyone who might be impartial [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  15. betterbuilt

    betterbuilt Addicted to ArboristSite

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    This is the mini mill they are talking about.

    Really you should have both Mills to make Beams. Personally I would load up the logs and have my buddy with a woodmiser do it in probably a 1/16 of the time it would take me to mill.
     
  16. Talltom

    Talltom ArboristSite Operative

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    I can understand why Timberframed would be thinking more about the coeds helping him with his milling than about MiniMills.

    Yooperforeman: as to Betterbuilt's recommendation, buying tools for a single job isn't usually a good investment, unless you can resell them readily. Probably some people on this site that would take the Husky off your hands, but the mills would be a harder sell. If there's future opportunities for milling, don't skimp on the initial investment. If not, there must be someone in the U P with a bandmill - what else is there to do during the 7 months of winter?
     
  17. Yooperforeman

    Yooperforeman ArboristSite Operative

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    Yep,there's band mills around....There's just a good feeling about doing it myself.
     

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