Tips on Buying a Portable Sawmill

These tips on buying a portable sawmill will help you select the right mill for your homestead.
By Brook Elliot
December 2002/January 2003
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Tips on buying a portable sawmill for your homestead.

Tips on Buying a Portable Sawmill

Sawmill marketing data and catalogs seem so filled with hyperbole and lack of objective comparisons that it can be difficult to know what to consider when buying a mill. We asked Brian Grodner, co-owner of The Sawmill Exchange, [] the largest broker of used sawmills in the country, for his thoughts. Grodner has no dog in this fight, so his comments are worth listening to. Among the things he says to consider:

Ask the owners! Never buy a portable sawmill without first conferring with sawmill owners. They are your absolute best source for factual, honest information on how you can expect a brand and model to perform.

Income. Will you use the mill full time or part time? Will the milt provide all or part of your income?

Production. What is the minimum amount of daily production you require to meet your income needs? Before deciding on a unit, check with owners of that make and model to make sure you can use it to meet your production goals.

Generally, the less expensive the mill, the lower its production rate. If you are considering commercial sawing, remember that sawmilling is very physically demanding; you'll want to find a mill that suits your work pace.

Other major components. Sawmill system components include edgers, planers, debarkers, bark cleaners and dry kilns. If you're using a circular sawmill and want to produce more than rough-cut lumber, planers are essential. Debarkers and bark cleaners increase the life span of your bands and blades. Kiln-dried lumber sells for a significantly higher price than green lumber. Your choice of major components depends mainly on your production requirements and budget.

Accessories and sharpening equipment. Very rarely will you see a portable sawmill without accessories, which might include the trailer package, extra bands and a sharpening system. These accessories can add as much as $5,000 to the cost of the sawmill.

Read more about selecting a portable sawmill for the homestead: Choosing the Right Portable Sawmill.

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