We don't have one, but when I was a kid (this was probably 20 years ago) we had some ground cleared and my dad brought in a guy with one of those portable mills and we had tons of lumber milled. This one was on its own trailer and it was really slick. I was really impressed with the whole process.
I have personally had a half dozen home owner type mills over the last 40 years. The Peterson is all right if you are young and in good shape. I prefer the Mobile Dimension for lumber quality and production. Lower production with the band and Peterson is the norm. If you have an edger, the band saws can have production increased. A planer can be added to surface lumber. Anyone that runs a band saw mill will tell you about the smaller kerf and how much lumber that makes up for in a year. Just ask them to cut 5000 feet of 12' 2 x 6 in an 8 hour day. Saw kerf is just sales gimmick. Production and living to tell about it are what counts.
i will likley build a swing saw mill this summer, the bandsawmill is quick and easy , im going to cut 8 inch x8 inch timbers for my first buildings, not selling lumber to others, looking at log moulders as well, if i have time i may build my own moulding head, never seem to get a day off.
I have a bandmill, custom build using a lot of Linn Lumber Mill parts.
For my personal use, so I don't worry about production aspects.
It has cut lumber,posts,beams,table and clock slabs,shingles,siding,and I'm still coming up with ideas. Does a great resaw.
I hope you like yours as well as I like mine.
If anyone has questions, I'll be happy to answer.
The mill cuts up to 20 inches wide,19 feet,8 inches long.
Power is a Honda 18 HP v-twin.
Notice in the pic of the rails that 1 cross member is movable.
The square pockets hold stakes of various configurations.
I have a travel winder and levelers in fab now and will add pics when installed.
I have a Timberking B1600 fully hydraulic portable mill.
It's super fun to run, accurate, takes a beating and keeps on forging ahead.
I've done "professional" milling, IE cutting for others for profit, and it's how I paid for it a couple times over.
It does merit mention that there's tremendous capabilities difference between a swing mill and a band mill.
Swings are limited on width and depth of cut, depending on the unit.
I can slice a 28x28x16' beam on mine, assuming the log will yield it.
I can gang cut 2x6/8/10/12 all day long, and typically my production levels are significantly higher than a swing mill.
If you're considering a mill, whether it be building one or buying one, there's a couple factors I strongly suggest you consider before taking the jump.
1) What's the intent of the mill?
2) What are your physical capabilities? (green lumber is stupid heavy)
3) What's the budget available?
4) Where will you be cutting? (certain species of trees' sawdust sours the ground, and you'll not be able to plant/grow anything there for 50 years)
5) How much will you be cutting? What species?
6) How will you dry the stuff you cut? Drying lumber takes quite a bit of room, even when stacked very high, and it requires a lot of airflow to ensure it doesn't mold/fungus/split/crack/warp/turn into expensive bacon-looking boards.
7) Where will the logs come from? If you have a woodlot, that's great! If not, where will you get logs? Trucking them is a trick in itself for most people. Buying them gets very expensive very quick. Urban logs often have junk in them, like nails, ceramic insulators, fence wire, bricks, etc. that destroy blades. It's a horrid sound when it happens, and a royal pain to get teh damaged/destroyed blade out.
8) What's your intended use for the lumber? Most, if not all, areas have building codes that require certain grades of lumber to be used for occupied structures. Some areas haven't yet caught up with the technology, in that lumber from a portable mill is often of a better grade than what's found in the box stores, but it's not graded per se. You can hire a grader, or you can "certify" that the lumber you made from your mill used in your structure is equal or better than the building standard. Talk with a code officer in your area to get the full scoop.
9) Availability of spare parts - My mill uses mostly off the shelf parts I can get at my local Autozone or the like. The things that are "proprietary" get replaced with off the shelf or homemade as they break/wear out/get improved. I cut a lot of acidic woods, like oak, which burn up roller bearings fast. As an example, I can cut about 1500' of oak, or 4000-5000' of maple on one set of bearings.
I keep a bunch on hand since they go without much warning.
10) Safety. How much experience do you have working with heavy machinery? Those blades don't care whether they cut wood or your body. Roller bearings like to fly sometimes. Bark bits come off the backside of mine like bullets from a gun. I've broken a couple windows on my truck because I wasn't being careful or setting up my site appropriately, from flying tree bits.
11) Blades - new ones run $25-400 each depending on length, width, tooth count and set, and type of metal they're made from.
In most cases, the less pricey carbon steel blades get it done well. I like the Timberwolf blades from SUffolk Machine in Patchogue, NY. Good blade life, excellent resharpenable life (5-6 sharpenings vs 3-4 from others I have tried), and often a resharpened blade cuts even better than a new one.
How will you sharpen your blades? A hand file doesn't cut it. I tried. Too many aspects to keep straight, and if you don't grind the gullet (the rounded spot between teeth), they develop micro-cracks, and break at the most inopportune times.
A decent sharpener and setter combo costs about $3k. tough to justify unless you're pumping some serious volume of lumber or have money to spare.
12) With all I have said here so far, it does merit to say that there's one aspect that a sawyer has that few others can - I made it with my own two hands - that REALLY carries the true meaning of all the way.
Sawing is fun! It's rewarding! It's almost magical when I see the finished products made with my lumber. It blows people's minds when they watch a log become lumber before their eyes.
So many think that lumber comes from a store. How it got there is magic.
The sawhead lifts off. I just use a front loader. The bed is 20'. When I moved here I hauled it on a 20' flat trailer I have.
The hardest part of moving it that way is getting it leveled.
shadowrider thats a spiffy looking rig, thanks for posting pics, my mill is set up now but there is 2 feet of snow at the old homestead, so now i need a tractor with a loader, building 12 extra feet of track so i can cut 24 foot timbers for floor joists and roof supports.