Dealing with sawmill dust
Home-made systems for getting rid of the dust buildup under sawmills. January 4, 2001
How do you remove the chips, bark, and sawdust that has built up under your sawmill? We have a Wood-Mizer with a debarker set up in a sawshed and every week or so we spend an hour or two digging all this stuff out from under it. We take something like an 8' 1x4 and push the junk out and then take a scoop shovel to it. The shed floor is packed sawdust over gravel.
Any clever ideas? Handy tools? Anyone go to the expense of installing a manure drag system? Pit with grain auger?
I saw one guy that put a five gallon bucket hanging from the sawdust chute. He emptied this into a 55 gal burning drum. You could set up a blower and a removable hose and blow the chips into a big pile outside the shed.
I had the same build up with my Baker. This mill has a 24' bed and in a week’s time the build up was to the bottom of the deck in spots. That’s with a gas powered grass blower from a garden tractor blowing the dust outside, so I installed 4x8 sheets of plywood under the bed and angled them to create a square funnel. Then I cut a hole in the wall, and installed an old bale elevator under the square funnel. The elevator has an electric motor, so I mounted a switch on the wall and I just hit the switch about once an hour and the bark and crap is loaded outside in a dump trailer. I also mounted an old hunk of belting on the wall covering the hole just low enough to hit the paddles--it will keep out the birds.
A flat belt conveyor can be placed fairly close to the ground and can be as wide as necessary. You may need some type of panning to get the material to the belt.
A dust drag can be made from old cornpicker chain. The advantage is that it can be placed on a pole and everything taken outside. The disadvantage is that everything must be panned in. I had one made from an old Model T rear.
Either one can be powered by an electric or hydraulic motor. I've used drags on circular mills with good results.
I'm in the process of building a shed over my Baker bandmill and I had planned to use an old 3.5 hp electric dust collector that I used to use in my woodworking shop. Any reason why a dust collector would not work?
I use a pressure washer to blow my saw dust off. I have a few special attachments--one for ripping bark off and on a wide angle for sawdust.
I blow my mill clean with a gas yard blower, and then I use my tractor to drag the sawdust out and away. I do this on a daily basis as I love the smell of sawdust. The local automotive oil-changer shop loves the sawdust, too.
From the original questioner:
We have solved the dust from sawing problem pretty well. We have designed a duct system connected to a blower that is very effective at removing the sawdust for sawing. It also reduces somewhat the amount of dust in the air and that falls under the mill.
The only thing novel about the approach we took was to mount the dust stack tight to the sawhead that lets the flex tube run overhead. You will probably find some way to refine the concept.