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Thread: Advice on sawing

  1. #1

    Advice on sawing

    I’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos and have just bought a Woodland Mills HM122 used (less than 3 hours). The first log I put on the mill will be the first I ever sawed….total newbie.

    I have a BUNCH of 50-75 year old pine trees on a lot that I’m going to saw for siding and trim. It was eithe saw them or pay to put them in the landfill…hated that idea on 2 levels…wasting the trees and paying to do so.

    My question is this. And I am sure it’s a loaded question so I apologize ahead of time. What is the best way to saw them to maximize yield, be as efficient as the small mill can be, and keep warping/twisting/cupping manageable? It seems the main idea is to load the log, get the centers on both ends as level as practical (how critical is dead level?) and make a cut the length of the log. Roll 180 degrees and repeat. Roll 90 degrees and repeat and roll 90 degrees and repeat. Is this the idea? I know that sounds stupid but again, complete newbie here.

    I am a little (a lot) confused about pith. It seems like some sawyers start with it in one direction and some with it in another. What’s ideal? Say you have a near perfect log almost dead level end to end and it has a small split almost dead center. Start with the split as horizontal as possible or as vertical as possible? I’m sure it’s a matter of reading the log so to speak which can only come with experience but in an ideal situation which is correct?

    I read a lot about minimizing tension by positioning correctly? Anyone have any suggestions ( videos, articles) that explain the best way to make initial and follow up cuts?

    I know this is very fundamental but there is a LOT of experience here and knowing enough to know you don’t know enough is, in my experience, a good quality to possess….thanks in advance, any info or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    My experience running the mill is almost exclusively quarter and rift sawing. I will see what's in the woodmizer instructions and post a few fair use images.
    IMG_2035.jpg IMG_2036.jpg IMG_2037 2.jpg IMG_2038.jpg
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 06-12-2024 at 9:58 PM. Reason: more

  3. #3
    This might help you
    typesofcut.jpg
    From the image you can get a good idea of what cut will do what in terms of likely warp.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Weber View Post
    This might help you
    typesofcut.jpg
    From the image you can get a good idea of what cut will do what in terms of likely warp.
    Thats excellent Edward and shows why I go for rifts and quarters. Lately I have taken a 2 inch slab, 1 inch each side of the pith, as the first two cuts, with the hope that a $1500.00 live edge slab will be forthcoming. It is a gamble.

  5. #5
    I would suggest contacting a sawyer near you with a similar bandmill if possible and ask if you can observe or offer to help him for a day, ideally when he is cutting pine logs similar to yours. You will get a basic understanding of procedure, logistics and how much work is involved in converting logs into lumber.

    You will want to minimize rolling the logs, especially without hydraulics. Plan out how you are going to get the logs onto bunks and onto the mill, what you are going to do with the waste and how you are going to dry the lumber. You don't want pine sitting around dead-stacked this time of year so get your drying foundations set up or at least planned prior to sawing and if you are going to use dry stickers get them in order. Blue stain and sticker stain are real possibilities. Seal the log ends as soon after felling as possible.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    9,898
    I have an HM-130, the larger brother of your saw. Nice machines for what they are; I'm sure you will get lots of good lumber and enjoyment out of it. Now to your questions.

    A lot depends upon how large your logs are. Up to 18" or so, manually turning them with a cant hook is pretty easy, above that it gets progressively harder. Since your mill can only go up to 22" you likely will be able to turn most anything you can put on it by hand, unless you have an extension or two on it. If that's the case, you're going to want a means to turn them, or a helper with another cant hook. If you don't yet have a cant hook, get one. The longer the handle the easier it will be to turn the log, but that same long handle becomes unwieldy with smaller logs. Some folks have two.

    Quartersawn wood is the most stable, and also the hardest to cut and with the greatest amount of loss. IMO, it's a waste of time and wood on logs smaller than about 20". And it's nearly impossible to do well with a Woodland Mills mill because of the 7" depth of cut limitation.

    OK, siding and trim. Both of those are fairly narrow, mostly less than about 8" wide. That means warping is less of an issue. So let's say you want to cut a bunch of lumber around 8" wide, and let's say you have a log around 20" in diameter. One way to go about cutting it is to put the best face up, take off a waste cut, and then cut 2 or 3 boards. You can edge them later, and rip them into narrower boards, too, if desired. Roll the log 180 degrees and do the same. You'll now have two flat faces maybe 12" apart. At that point, I roll the log 90 deg and take off 3 or 4 boards, roll it 180 degrees and do the same on the other side, until you have a cant that's 8" thick. This requires you to roll the log several times, but you will end up with an 8 x 12" cant with the center of the log centered in the cant. That minimizes bending of the boards you cut next. Roll the log one more time so the cant is 8" across and then cut boards off until you get to the bottom. You'll get every grain orientation there is, plain sawn on the opening cuts on each face, rift sawn at the top and bottom of the cant, and quarter sawn near the center of the cant. With those quarter sawn boards it's best to cut them in half because they typically split at the center or warp badly if you don't.

    There are lots of variations, some shown above. The 7" depth of cut limitation of our mills limits your options, however. Kevin's advice to go to school with some local sawyer is spot on, but if there is no one available just start cutting some logs. You'll learn a lot in just a few logs. You might want to join the Woodland Mills Talk FB group, too, to see what other WM's owners are doing and for advice.

    Have fun. And be mindful that logs are heavy and can easily maim or kill you.

    John

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Mcmurry View Post
    Thats excellent Edward and shows why I go for rifts and quarters. Lately I have taken a 2 inch slab, 1 inch each side of the pith, as the first two cuts, with the hope that a $1500.00 live edge slab will be forthcoming. It is a gamble.
    Here's a video that covers quarter sawing
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Kt3IrTBlA

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post

    You will want to minimize rolling the logs, especially without hydraulics.
    Now you tell me
    IMG_1217 (600 x 400).jpg
    The larger ones are 24" diameter

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    I would suggest contacting a sawyer near you with a similar bandmill if possible and ask if you can observe or offer to help him for a day, ideally when he is cutting pine logs similar to yours. You will get a basic understanding of procedure, logistics and how much work is involved in converting logs into lumber.
    Working with someone is an excellent idea. There’s a guy about a mile from me with a bandsaw mill…I’m going to introduce myself! Never thought about that…the trees are stored where they’ve been for 50+ years and barring a tornado or something they can continue being just pine trees for another 4 months or so… shoot they may even grow a little! Thanks!

  10. #10
    Our woodmizer has manual log handling, all done with a hand crank wench, pulleys, and snatch blocks. It all works surprisingly well, even for big logs. It is terribly slow. A tractor with a loader and a grapple is almost a necessity. Have fun with your rig. Running a band saw mill is satisfying, It takes me a few days to re-remember the pitfalls, like forgetting to tension the blade before the first cut of the day and keeping the dogs out of the way of the blade. Woodmizer sells and sharpens blades for many brands of mills. Plan ahead with your blade supply, my last batch was slow to arrive.
    -Maurice

  11. #11
    I've had enough experience around small bandmills to know there's a lot of gruntwork involved even with a powerfeed on the saw carriage and hydraulics for loading, levelling and rolling the logs. Just tailing for an efficient sawyer can give you a workout. A day or two may confirm your decision to saw up your logs yourself or convince you to hire it out. Be safe and have fun.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Near Kansas City
    Posts
    112
    First off, forget about quarter sawing the pine. On a manual mill quarter sawing is a chore. You will do it someday but it's not what you want to start out with. If you level the Pith and make a cut or two, then rotate the log and re level the pith, then rotate again and make sure you are back down on the bunks for the next two turns. That will get you to a square cant and you can decide how you want to cut from there. Remember that the center section of the log where the pith is is your only quarter sawn boards but you need to cut the pith out of the center of those boards for the entire length of the boards .
    It's a lot of fun and a lot of work as well. A manual mill will make you sleep good at the end of the day. Mine will cut 33". Rotating those logs is certainly a challenge especially since All I cut is hardwoods.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    9,352
    Google "reverse roll quarter sawing youtube" and watch some videos, if you intend to do any quarter sawing.

  14. #14
    Recent newbie here, I'll chime in. I say forget about quarter sawing right out of the gate, you can worry about that much later, especially since you've mentioned pine for siding and trim. I wouldn't worry about maximizing yield at this stage either. I got my hands on a mill a few years ago with zero experience and have yet to feel the need to quarter saw anything, but I definitely will one day in the future.

    For your first few logs I recommend 2 things: cutting a square cant (any of the mentioned roll patterns is fine) and making 1" boards, and secondly to cut a butt load of stickers, at least one entire logs worth, minimum 1" but probably 1-1/4" would be better. This will do 2 things, let you see a nearly finished product, which is the fun part, and prepare you for the much more challenging world of drying the lumber. Pine is supposed to be "easy" to dry, but I would spend more time planning when, where, and how to dry than I would spend on saw patterns and yield. Some of the off-cuts can be made into stickers and the rest make good kindling. The biggest challenge you will face on the mill with pine is the sap, so pay attention to the lube. Also I would start out with smaller logs because they are easier to load, easier to unload, and have less sap issues (in my experience with SYP). My objectives nowadays are to be sure that I can make a straight cut with out burning up a blade or having to scrape off sap, and that I have a place to stack and sticker to dry as soon as its cut. I tend to learn things by making every rookie mistake in the book, but at least that way you get to see everything that can go wrong first hand. I say drying is the hard part because this is where you can mitigate some of the warping, cupping, etc. (which is why quarter sawing was brought up, it prevents some of that stuff). As far as drying goes start on a good flat surface with good airflow out of direct sun and rain, and add plenty of weight on top.

    I also don't worry too much about the pith, but I'm not cutting any high quality lumber or doing any fine woodworking. I think the pine won't give you much trouble, you can spend a little time centering the pith in the cant, and then that board will either be fine or you may have to rip the pith out on a table saw for large logs, worst case with small logs you get a really pretty piece of firewood. For other species some people plan to cut around it as waste, but I tend to leave it alone and it only becomes waste if it makes the wood completely unusable, but again I'm fairly new and don't work with anything fancy or highly valuable. For example, if I have a giant pith crack running through a 14" oak slab I'll just turn it into 2x6s. I have cut a few black walnuts that I left it completely alone, but the people around here seem to only want walnut for epoxy tables, and the pith isn't a problem for something like that.

    I can't help you with tension, I'm a few years in and I can only see what it looks like post cut, when the ends of the board are a good half inch or so above the log beneath it, or the same gap but in the middle. All I can say is try to avoid curved logs and don't bother with branches. I would think with pine being notoriously long and straight tension shouldn't be a big issue for you, but enough nails will hold any siding flat.

  15. #15
    I have always approached a log with a specific project in mind rather than just trying to make lumber. Therefore my interest in quarters and rifts. True Beveled clapboard siding is Vertical Grain AKA quarter sawn. I have always found plain sawn siding to be problematic. it is OK for board and batten. Even for board and batten you will get a few slabby boards that cup right out from under the battens.

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