As a serious woodworker, you likely have a wood shop full of numerous woodworking tools. Of course, you have all the basics, from a bandsaw to a lathe. While this equipment may be enough for the most common project you take on, it’s likely that you are ready for some bigger, more advanced woodworking tasks. You may be considering adding a portable sawmill to your collection of tools. This will likely be your largest woodworking purchase, so understanding the different choices and which is best for you is extremely important. You want to be able to get the job done right without breaking the bank.
Buying a portable sawmill is an investment. While it can be hard to justify having one as a hobbyist, it can definitely pay for itself. In fact, many advanced hobbyist are able to build their own homes from wood off their own land with the help of this versatile tool. Buying your model used or refurbished will cut a significant portion off the top of your purchase price, making it one of the best options for people who don’t plan to use it for business purposes. Determine the scope of your project and then make a reasonable budget before beginning to look for a sawmill. Depending on what you select, you may expect to pay as much as $4-5,000. However, if you are using this to build a barn, large outbuilding or home, this can quickly be worked into the budget.
There are several different choices when it comes to buying a portable sawmill. First, you can actually purchase a chainsaw mill. These hook up to a single chainsaw and can usually be operated by one person quite easily. They are also much more affordable than other models. In fact, it’s quite common for hobbyist to build this portable sawmill themselves. You can also find models that work in conjunction with a bandsaw. Of course, completely freestanding models are made by companies such as Cutting Edge, Frick, Lucus and Meadows. These are the most expensive options but often the easiest to use. Most require no electricity, but rather run on a gas powered engine. They can be attached to a trailer and moved between different lumber sources easily.
While you can do most woodworking projects with the basic shop tools, having a portable sawmill can definitely open up more options for you. If you don’t have a large budget, go with a chainsaw mill. For larger projects that require more precise cuts, consider purchasing a freestanding mill. Looking at used models can save you money. Either way, make sure that you understand what you need before making your final choice in order to ensure that you can complete your projects as planned.