If you’re a woodworker, you know what it’s like to always be on the lookout for wood for your next (or current) project. It’s a bit disheartening to go to your local home improvement store or specialty wood store and realize the cost of the wood alone is going to be more than you can buy the finished piece for. Speaking from experience, it really makes you think twice about your original design concept and how your can do it cheaper.
Milling Your Own Lumber
I was lucky for a couple of years….. I had a friend who owned a band-saw mill at his cabin and any wood I could find, I took up there and milled myself. The problem was, I was limited by the size of cutoffs I could take up there by what I could lift into my truck, plus the mill was made to cut large trees not the much smaller branches I would bring.
Hiring someone to mill up some lumber is an option but also has it’s own set of problems. You need access to some large trees, be able to transport all that lumber to your shop and of course, the space to store it all somewhere so it can dry….. not to mention the cost of hiring the mill can be steep!
Alaskan Mills are a great and portable alternative but again….. they’re also made for cutting large trees, and unless you can get a company to deliver the logs to your house, you have to get to them and transport the slabs back.
Another method I’ve used to mill wood is on my band-saw. I’m lucky in some respects because I have a rather large 18″, industrial saw and can mill some nice size pieces with it. The issue with it is keeping the wood stable as I’m cutting so it doesn’t roll and end up snapping the blade (yes, that has happened unfortunately) so a jig to hold it secure is needed. Doing it this way typically limits the length of log you can use though, and even worse if you only have a 14″ band-saw with no riser block installed. With that being said, it is a great technique if you need boards for box making but maybe not for furniture making.
A 14″ Bandsaw Can be limiting
An 18″ Bandsaw opens more possibilities.
As a matter of fact, all these options are great in their own right but i find more often than not, I need something in between….
A fellow woodworker by the name of Izzy Swan first made a small home band-saw mill out of metal that used a circular saw and a Prazi Beam Cutter (used for making log houses and post and beams) and used it to mill small logs at home. I thought it was ingenious but not having access to metal working equipment, I never considered making it.
I guess he realized or received enough comments that a lot of us don”t have the means to work with metal that he re-did his design in wood.