Bandmill enclosures for all-weather milling

Ideas for a structure to house a bandsaw mill, with thoughts on heating and dust collection. February 13, 2001

I want to build a shed for my small bandsawmill operation. The building would have to be enclosed enough to keep out wind. Zone heating would make sawing bearable in the winter. It would need to be insulated enough to keep the condensation level in check. Fans and open doors would be used in the summer.

I'm thinking of a building about 30' x 60' that would enclose the mill (Wood-Mizer LT40HDE25 stationary mill), a two blade edger, a simple cutup station, and enough floor space to stack a couple thousand board feet of lumber before opening the doors to take it out.

I'm thinking of a log live deck outside under an extension. Logs would be kicked from the live deck into a trough and pulled to the mill through a dog door. Once the log has been turned into a cant, the slabs would be stacked back on the trough and sent back outside. There they would be kicked into a rack on the side opposite the live deck. The controls for the live deck and trough would be near the sawyer. Bringing one log in at a time and four slabs back out on the same trough sounds slow, but I think it would be fast enough as you would be sawing while the trough was moving the wood. Edgings would be tossed in a rack inside. But they don't add up as fast as slabs.

I might need a barn cleanout chain to take bark and chips from under the mill and edger.

Any ideas or comments?

Forum Responses
I worked with a contractor to put up a 40' x 64' building a year ago and really love being in out of the weather. One end is partitioned (24' x 40') and heated with a woodstove. This is also where I house a small Ebac HD kiln and blade sharpening gear, and store some dry lumber for sale. But no matter how much space you have, you always want more. My biggest problem now is where to put enough dry lumber, as I cut my own logs for retail sale and need a good inventory. Also, getting rid of slabs and dust is a pain (all hand labour), but working off a nice concrete floor is definitely a plus. Under cover is absolutely the way to go!

I saw this in a video: A shed with a mill inside had a conveyor belt beneath a slat walkway that caught the sawdust as it fell from the shute and carried it out the end of the building, where a piece of equipment could move it. This wasn't an enclosed shed, but it was still a neat idea.

Concrete is a necessity if you are stationary. Build yourself a set of bunks with heavy duty caster wheels on them for staging the slabs, edgings, and lumber (one for each thickness or category that you are likely to be processing at one time). Roll the bunk you're using the most closest to where you are, and place the others appropriately convenient or out of the way. Fill the bunk and roll it to where your fork truck or loader can get to it and fill the next one.

It will rarely be possible for a 30' x 60' building to be large enough to run a production operation efficiently. Think bigger or you will most likely regret not having increased your working room before it costs you more. Especially think of appropriate door access for equipment, maintenance, etc.

Here in Minnesota I saw through the winter in a 30' x 50' wood quonset building with doors on the ends. The mill sits across the middle. On one end there is room for a dozen logs and the other end has room for a couple of two-wheel trailers, also a planer, shaper, jointer, table saw and swing saw with roller table.

I have heat from an outside furnace. 50 degrees inside when it's minus 15 outside makes life easier.

Sawdust shoots straight at a short wall then drops into a u-trough with a small auger in it. I can saw 2 logs before needing to run it. From the u-trough a 4" hose and fan blow the dust out into a wagon. Slabs go to the furnace and sawdust goes to mulch trees. I have done this for five years and it works well.

The best sawmill set-up is one that has sufficient clearance underneath that one can walk, sweep, clean-up, etc. without hitting one's head on the beams, having to bend over too much, etc. Work with your insurance people to find out how to reduce the risk of fire. Anyone that has been in the business for a few years can begin to recall mills that have burned down--it happens all too often.

Remember that wet sawdust can freeze solid, so move it out of the mill quickly. An enclosed building is also a fire hazard as the fine dust is very flammable even at very low temperatures. So, if you want to be safe, always clean the dust off of the structure, taking care to avoid breathing fine dust.

With cold mills, it is also important to eliminate any sources of moisture in the hydraulics and pneumatic lines, or it will freeze and then---problems starting in the morning.

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor