Labor Time for Sawing Timbers

      How much time to expect to take for sawing framing timbers on a bandmill. December 6, 2009

I am beginning the sawing of many logs for a 16' X 36' sugar house. The pad is in place and I have a Woodmizer LT-30. If I am efficient so how long should it take to saw 3,500 board feet of timbers for a post and beam frame? Also, why not saw timbers out of the bottom of a tree? I am cutting white and red pine, some red oak and white oak. Thank you much.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor T:
Board feet per day will largely depend on the quality of your logs and the size of the boards you make. Recently I milled 750 bf of 2x4 and 2x6 (10 and 12 feet) boards on an LT40 Manual mill. The logs were not large. I could have done 1,000 BF with larger diameter logs. I had one helper. Sawing logs into beams will up your BF numbers. Sawing 1" boards will take a lot longer to mill the same number of BF per day.

From contributor A:
Solo on my LT40HDG25 I average around 150 to 200 bdft an hour. To saw out 3,500 bdft of timbers you may have to saw out 7,000 bdft total lumber to get the timbers you need. Timbers may be faster to saw but take more time to handle and you may need more help or equipment. I know when I saw like 12x12x16 pine timbers I have to saw one then bring in the next log and lift the timber off the mill. It slows down production somewhat.

I try not to make timbers from the bottom 6 to 8 feet of a tree. Seems to have more stress (even on a very straight tree) and I get more movement. So I have gone to cutting off the bottom 8 feet then cutting my timber logs if at all possible to get the size I need. Very large timbers may have to come from the bottom and are not as prone to move (talking about 10x10 and larger and mostly for posts).

From the original questioner:
I began sawing some very small and crooked pine logs for beams at a small farm nearby and the blade kept jumping off of the pulleys. I think it may have been a combination of a dull blade and the sap from the pine. It was a sunny day, but quite cold. Any ideas? There were also many knots and a lot of bark for the amount of wood it was cutting.

From contributor S:
I've run a bandmill and a band resaw for more than two years and the only time a blade came off (other than breakage) is when I backed the head up and smacked the back of the blade on the log or a board. Check your tracking adjustment and your blade tension. Other than that, I'm stumped.

From contributor U:
On my portable jobs over the years I've averaged 2,363 bdft/day. Beams and dimensional lumber up that number. I end up with a little less than 215 bdft/hr with one off bearer, and saw an average of 165 bdft/hr solo for 4/4 lumber - much more for beams, running Sally, my LT 40HDD42 remote. Assuming you have an off bearer, and a hydraulic LT30, it seems that 180 bdft/hr would be reasonable for beams, leaving you with roughly 20 hours of dust making ahead of you. But, those small and crooked logs are going to cost you on sawing time, and will require you to saw many more logs to get you target number of beams. As far as band blades jumping - I would do an alignment check on your machine -something has to be off with the bands tracking to make it jump, assuming correct band tension.

From contributor R:
In regards to your blade jumping off what are you using for lube and do you have steel or rubber wheel surface? I found that the neoprene was junk with any type of petroleum lube and even get an occasional slip off with regular v-belts and petroleum lube. Regular v-belts and water, soap and pine-sol seem to do the trick for me.

From contributor A:
If the band jumps off when you engage the engine then you are looking at an idle wheel adjustment. When looking at the back side there are four bolts with locking nuts. (I think they are 3/4 wrench size). With two wrenches, hold the bolt and loosen the nut for both sides. Back the right side out about 1/4 turn and then give the left one a 1/4 turn in. Tighten up the lock nuts and give it a try. A shot of pine oil in the water and a squirt of Dawn dishsoap will help with the pitch on the blade.

From contributor E:
I began sawing some very small and crooked pine logs for beams at a small farm nearby and the blade kept jumping off of the pulleys. I think it may have been a combination of a dull blade and the sap from the pine. It was a sunny day, but quite cold. Any ideas? There were also many knots and a lot of bark for the amount of wood it was cutting. Yes, this is exactly what it was. If your blade is dull on a bandsaw, there isn't much to keep it straight. It will tend to rise or dive in the cut, and if it doesn't come back in line soon, it will continue on down or up until it pulls itself off the track.

If you are cutting pine, you need to use a lubricant on the blade, especially the inside of the blade where it meets the bandwheels. Pine sap sticks to the blade and makes it thicker, mostly on the inside. This pushes the front of the blade down and deeper in to the cut, usually resulting in a diving cut. The solution is lubricant, and lots of it. You can add pinesol to the water as many suggest, and this works, but you can also use laundry detergent or anything that will dissolve pine sap. I just use water, and lots of it. I go slow in the cut, and let the machine idle after a cut a little while until I hear the blade clear itself. Just go slow, and you'll do fine. Measure twice, cut once and all that.

From contributor S:
Dish detergent and water are hard on your guide bearings, so give them a good shot of WD/40 or something similar when you take breaks and at the end of the day. I prefer Diesel over detergent or pine sol, but to each his own.

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