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Harbor Freight bandsaw mill

chuckwood

chuckwood

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I just noticed this on their website. 7 hp motor, max cutting width 20". All for the low price of $1900.00.
This one is labeled their house brand, Central Machinery. As always, if you buy one, you'd better have a good shop available to modify and beef up the machine to make it reliable. However, I must admit, I'm a Harbor Freight fan and shopper. I have some of their machines that have worked very well for me.

http://www.harborfreight.com/lawn-garden/power-tools/saw-mill-with-280cc-gas-engine-61712.html
 
hamish

hamish

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There are many people out there that have bought them and there are some good review of them here and on the Forestry Forum, even some of the modifications made to them. Add on a coupon code and I read somebody got one delivered for about $1300!

The biggest complaint I have read is the delay in having the product ship.
 
mesupra

mesupra

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Mine will be in on Tuesday, I expect to make some modifications but when you have a little shop what doesn't get modified, I'm not looking for high productions but rather to make better use of some of the wood I have. We have recently taken down 13 large pines, getting 2-3 ice 8' logs per tree, I figure sawing out those alone will pay for my half of the mill, the coupons work as well, we applied a 25% off New Year's Day and it worked. I'll try to get some pics next week.
 
hamish

hamish

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I look
Mine will be in on Tuesday, I expect to make some modifications but when you have a little shop what doesn't get modified, I'm not looking for high productions but rather to make better use of some of the wood I have. We have recently taken down 13 large pines, getting 2-3 ice 8' logs per tree, I figure sawing out those alone will pay for my half of the mill, the coupons work as well, we applied a 25% off New Year's Day and it worked. I'll try to get some pics next week.
I look forward to seeing some pictures and an unbiased review. From what I have read thus far those that had a problem it was with the up and down mechanism, basically the block that the acme rod travels in.
 
mesupra

mesupra

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I have also read about the brass nut stripping out in the up down mechanism, I also came across another thread saying that the newer models are redesigned, but should still be disassembled and lubed with a good quality grease. I am looking forward to playing around with it, not sure exactly what I want to do for a base yet, any ideas?
 
hamish

hamish

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Get it off the ground, to a height for the logs you may be milling, so that you are not constantly bending over! Mill your own base, then figure out what works for you and your style of milling. You will find a lot of it becomes personal preference. I am 6'1" my uncle/milling buddy is 5'4" what works for me doesn't work for him and vice versa. You will realize that its the non cutting operations that will be the hardest.
 
chuckwood

chuckwood

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Get it off the ground, to a height for the logs you may be milling, so that you are not constantly bending over! Mill your own base, then figure out what works for you and your style of milling. You will find a lot of it becomes personal preference. I am 6'1" my uncle/milling buddy is 5'4" what works for me doesn't work for him and vice versa. You will realize that its the non cutting operations that will be the hardest.

I don't know much about bandsaw mills, but it seems to me that this machine will have to sit on a near perfectly level platform in order to work right. If the frame/tracks are not level all the way around, then the mill can't cut true, am I correct? If I ever get one of these, I'll build a platform using a laser level on a tripod to make sure everything is true. For cutting longer boards, I suppose you can purchase or fabricate as much track as you need?
 
mesupra

mesupra

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You are correct, level is key, keeping it level is another thing from what I have heard from friends who has a mill. I really like the idea of mounting it to a trailer for mobility as I only have one tractor to load and unload loads and think it would be easier to move the mill vs moving the logs. Woodland mills website has a great set of trailer plans, I am pretty sure I can build this thing but not sure if it would be more cost effective to buy a old camper frame and do some modification. I've seen frames for as little as $200 with a decent axel or sometimes two.
 
mesupra

mesupra

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Hunter build,

Anything I should keep in mind as a first time user, esp. Anything in regards to assembly?

What are you using for blades?
 
hunterbuild

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Set up is very easy, maybe 1 hr. The blade it comes with is not the best, but good to learn with. I got blades from Cooks. They have a good re-sharp program. Take time and play with the guides, I didn't at first, but they are critical to cutting true. If the height adjustment has any hard to turn spots in it you may have trouble down the road, so address that right away. Getting parts seems to be a problem, so I ordered one each of most of the moving parts. I'm on my second year and several thousand board ft and haven't needed them yet. It's a little under powered so don't push it to hard. I bought a 13hp electric start from HF I my put on when I get it to it's permanent spot. If I was cutting a lot of hard wood I think I would look at different blade angle, although I have cut some hard oak with it. I did luck out on some 20+ ft of 3" angle iron and made 20' track so I can cut just under 18'. Also I'm going to make some more log dogs for it.
 
mesupra

mesupra

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Does it come with 3" angle iron for tracks, I couldn't seem to find any dimensions in reference to the angle iron sizing. I have a 13hp hf engine on my centrifugal splitter, which really only needs about 3hp, a swap might be in order, do you happen to know if the 280cc shaft is 3/4 or 1"? Might need to get another clutch.
 
hunterbuild

hunterbuild

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Does it come with 3" angle iron for tracks, I couldn't seem to find any dimensions in reference to the angle iron sizing. I have a 13hp hf engine on my centrifugal splitter, which really only needs about 3hp, a swap might be in order, do you happen to know if the 280cc shaft is 3/4 or 1"? Might need to get another clutch.
It comes with 3X2 something angle. Not off the rack stuff that I could find, so I went with the 3" I found for sale in the paper. I haven't had time to really check out the swap yet. I would try the motor on it for awhile. I did find the shaft size and bolt lay out on their motor site. As I recall it should have the same shaft size.
 
rwthom279

rwthom279

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The engine is actually in the 9hp range and is near identical to the 9.5hp Kohler with the difference being in the air filter (Kohler engine is now a CHonda). Engine has a 1" shaft. FLUSH THE ENGINE several times before use!! Keep an eye on your air filter as well. As hunterbuild mentioned, lower hook angle is VERY important. It even helps in softwood because of the density changes when encountering knots or adverse grain patterns. To aggressive of a hook angle and/or blade profile puts a lot of load on the blade and the mill both.

A good source for blades is: http://www.kascosharptech.com/sawmill-blades.html No one can beat their prices, and they are darn good blades. Blades SHIPPED to your door are less than blades alone from anywhere else I've found. I personally would recommend their 4 deg. blade in an 0.045 thickness. They don't list it on their website, but call and ask for Derek Davenport and he'll take care of you. A 4 deg. blade will cut pretty much everything you can put on the little mill ( or any lower hp band mill for that matter ) with excellent results and productivity. Since the HF mill doesn't have roller guides, the 0.045" thickness GREATLY improves the cut quality and surface finish of the lumber.

As for re-sharpening, I've got that covered. Several sawyers ship blades here for service and all the ones who have tried the Kasco blades have now converted 100%. Quality is comparable to a WM double hard w/ longer blade life. As one fella said, "For the price, I get my first re-sharpening free including shipping, round trip !!", due to the initial lower cost. Word of caution, just because a place has a sharpener and setter, doesn't mean they KNOW what they're doing Ex: Do they operate a sawmill?? ... I've had to fix/re-condition SO MANY blades that were done elsewhere 'cause they wouldn't cut properly. But to do good blade maintenance, a sharpening service MUST have the proper tooling and experience. I can only imagine their frustration trying to produce good lumber with blades in such poor condition. Its happens more times than we know...even from "factory re-sharp" services.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!!
 
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mesupra

mesupra

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Great information, I figured the shaft size would be 1 inch but I know the 212cc predator is 3/4. I agree with the engine flush, I've had 4 predator greyhound engine and I've flushed each one after about 10-15 run time to find the first oil to have a nice golden hue. Thanks for the blade link And the hook angle recommendation. This site has proved very helpful.
 
Jim Timber

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It comes with 3X2 something angle. Not off the rack stuff that I could find, so I went with the 3" I found for sale in the paper. I haven't had time to really check out the swap yet. I would try the motor on it for awhile. I did find the shaft size and bolt lay out on their motor site. As I recall it should have the same shaft size.

Uneven length leg angle is pretty common, but I could see why some yards wouldn't stock it.

Could you post up how the log is dogged on the bed?
 
hamish

hamish

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It should be in on Tuesday not sure if I will get it together during the week or wait to the weekend.
Something tells me you will have it together Tuesday evening! As mentioned previously, Kasco Woodmaxx bands are an amazing deal, and perform very well also. Delivered I pay less than half the price of any band out there, I pay $15.52 per band delivered, taxes in to my door. The nearest competitor is $26.22 delivered to my door, taxes in. I live in Canada so adjust your pricing accordingly, however the US price and CDN price of the Woodmaxx bands are the same. Usually on a box of 10 bands here in Canada I pay an additional $20-$40 in shipping costs.
 
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