Swing Mill Modifications for Making Double Cuts

      Swing mill owners discuss ways to modify the equipment for more flexibility of use. August 8, 2008

Has anyone modified a Lucas 825 to do the double cut without spinning the mill and lifting and lowering the rails in the process? I am thinking about cutting off the guards on the left side of the arbor to be able to square the left side of the log and then slide over to the left and square the right side and cut a 17" wide board. I have looked into this quite a bit. I have spoken with Bailey's and they said that they have heard of people doing this, but can't recommend it, as it is modifying the original plan and removing guards.

I have over 700 hours running the mill so I do know a little about it. It also has a "double cut pivot" installed (Lucas's Product) that holds the engine/cutting apparatus to the carriage on the front side. This allows one person to make the first cut, slide the blade out of the cut, lift the carriage, slide it on top of the pre-cut log, set the flat blade on the log, lower the carriage down until the blade is supporting the carriage on the log with the rails lower than the carriage so it will spin, spin the carriage to cut on the other side and repeat the process backwards before cutting the other side to make a board wider than 8.5". This is quite time consuming. As I am usually cutting by myself it limits production quite a bit.

I am also very well aware of the pros and cons of modifying safety items. I am very capable of putting these items back on the machine to original specs once taken off if they don't work.

Has anyone done anything like this to a Lucas? I also have a slabbing attachment, but it is rather slow and still requires edging. I understand that the Petersen mill does something like this, but have not had the opportunity to see this.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
Peterson's web site has a video of doing this kind of cutting. Looks like the big thing is to avoid "climb" cutting where the blade is spinning in the direction of travel. A blade with that kind of power clawing its way forward through a board would be quite a hazard. It's just a matter of paying attention.

From contributor N:
I have heard of folks doing this, but you will find that you will only be able to cut about 2" thick (if I remember correctly) as the engine sits lower in the carriage. If you can imagine what the setup will look like after removing the guard, you will see what I mean. I have the 6" mill and I would only get about a 4/4 board without the guard. I chose to leave it alone.

From contributor S:
For what it's worth, I've done a little double cutting with my Lucas and have considered some of what you're thinking about and rejected the idea as too dangerous. I've experienced climb sawing and don't want to push that any farther. And from a pay standpoint I don't feel that wide 1" boards are worth it.

I have heard of one fellow using a forklift as a lifting point to raise to saw and spin it and liked the idea.

Some time back there was a blurb on a Canadian swing saw dealer's site where they were going to mount a band mill on the saw rails at the same time as the regular saw and use it to cut the wide boards when needed. (Imagine 30" boards on your Lucas... cool). They were using a saw built by Linn Lumber modified in house for their purposes. I don't think they got it to fly but I really liked the idea and might try it myself.

From contributor D:
I have over 4000 hours on my mill. Mostly I run 23 inch blades which allow me to cut 9". I have removed the guard and it allows me to double cut up to a 2 1/2" board without spinning the mill. There is no safety problem as long as you cut against the direction of the blade. The sawdust does sting a bit but a good set of chaps solves that. It sure beats swinging the mill 180. I have the old 8 20 brgs model. Have upgraded to a 23 hp motor.

From the original questioner:
I took the front, rear, and side guards off. If you cut in the opposite direction from the left side of the log there is no climbing. With the 825, a 2" thick board is the maximum I could cut. With some fabrication to the belt tensioner, it might be possible to cut thicker (2 1/4"). I cut some beautiful 17" wide cherry and walnut. I don't recommend this for everyone though. With the guards removed, it keeps you on your toes.

From contributor K:
I have a Lucas 613, and I handle the turnaround this way: I put eyebolts on the 4 corners of the full saw carriage. At one end of the mill house I built, I have a pulley and a come-along. I clip 4 hooks to the 4 eyebolts and move the engine to the center. I have marked the balance point (from trial and error) with a felt pen. I ratchet the whole carriage up 6", spin it 180 and lower it. Takes about 2 minutes and it leaves the side rails and height indicators calibrated. I can cut lots of 1x12 and 2x12 20' for rough roofing and bridge supports this way. It's important to center the engine for balance; it makes it a simple 1 man turnaround job with very little effort.

From contributor D:
Can you post a photo or two? Sounds like you've got a good solution.

From contributor K:
Here is where the eyebolts are attached; easy to do and interferes with nothing.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

The roof pulley is centered for spinning the carriage and dropping back to the rails with no pushing.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

The come-along for lifting is in the foreground. The harness is some plastic covered steel cabling left from a dog run, but rope would work also. S hooks at the cable ends go into the eyebolts. Lift the carriage 6 inches and spin it around. No need to adjust the rails or realign the height gauges.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

Another handy modification is this laser, also seen in the last picture. It points straight down and is very visible even in daylight. It is attached to the saw and where the red dot appears is where the blade will cut. This is great for aligning logs to the mill and also to setting the left-right saw position at each new layer of cuts for best yield.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

I'll leave one last picture for Lucas lovers (but applicable to all millers). This is the cheap winch I use to load the logs. The cable goes down to a ground level pulley to vector the loading force correctly. I pull the cable over the log, back under, and attach it to the next pole of the pole barn. This rolls the log right up onto the cutting supports with no effort on my part. I have rolled 18 foot long 40 inch logs that are crooked, no problem. It's a 12 volt winch, so I hang my portable battery next to it (yellow block, also $45 from HF). I charge the battery every 2 weeks or when it is low, and it also runs the Lucas blade sharpener (and boosts my backhoe on cold days).

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From contributor N:
There is another swinger that will double cut like this, without turning anything. Made by D&L Timber Technologies (mine is being custom built as I write this). They are able to cut on either side of the log with no modifications.

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