Portable Sawmill Height Issues

Sawmillers discuss the height of portable rigs as it relates to shelter construction concerns. October 15, 2010

I have been interested in Cooks MP-32 sawmill. This sawmill, along with several others, looks pretty tall when equipped with trailer package. I'm thinking you would need high ceilings in a shed or barn and very tall doors. I don't think it will go under an 8' header. How do you keep these things out of the weather?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor P:
My WMshdd51 fits in my 8' high shed if I am careful. I'm sure Cooks can answer your inquiry.

From contributor A:
That is why we bought sawmills. So we could make all the sheds however we wanted them. My WM makes it through the drive through just fine, and follows me everywhere I go. It also helps me bring logs home when I find them just lying around. (WM does not approve of this.)

From the original questioner:
I think the Wood-Mizer looks better to tow. It doesn't look top heavy. I always wondered about hauling a log on mill.

From contributor J:
To the questioner: Great choice of a mill. I own two of their mills. I have one set up here at the house all the time, and the frame for the portable mill sits on top of the semi all the time. I put the head and box in one of my shops until needed for a job. It takes 15 minutes to load the truck and trailer. Here's a picture again of my loaded truck.

Click here for higher quality full size image

I had a chance to travel 3000 miles across country to visit Stephen and Tim at Cooks’ in November. We spent the whole day talking about many different things and they took me and my girlfriend out to lunch. The food was great but there were three of them and they spent all of the lunch time asking me so many questions about milling logs in the Seattle area that I did not get to eat very much.

I am going to build a saw head that can cut 60” diameter logs for the many companies here that make table tops. Yes, using the slabbing attachment on circular mills is very wasteful of material. It will fit on the standard MP-32 frame with some major changes in head design. This was the main reason for the trip. Cooks people are very knowledgeable about band mills and are not afraid to try new things. It is too bad that there are not more people out there that know as much about mills as Stephen and Tim.

I just went out and measured the mill at the highest point. It is 10'-8" to the ground. My shop ceiling is 14'-5" tall, so I do not have any problems. This is only if you are going to run the mill under cover. One of my sawmill buddies built a small shed at the end of the track to protect the head. When he is done milling he just rolls it down to the end.

From contributor R:
I designed my sawmill shed the way I did because if I ever stop using the shed for the sawmill business, it can be closed in for a hay barn, garage, storage shed, etc. Also, the height will allow clearance for high equipment such as a backhoe or other machinery. We can also saw before daylight, after dark and in wet weather. It may be overkill, but it works for me.

My next mill will be a Cook's and I will have enough room to spot the mill under the shed. The Cook's mill is different than my current mill. I think my mill has about an 8 foot clearance. I will have to try contributor A's deal and take it through a drive through and grab a happy meal or something. It has been to Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Food Lion and a whole bunch of other places.

Click here for higher quality full size image

From contributor T:
A call to Cooks will get you an answer. Probably have the overall height on their website.

My LT40 slides under my 10' high shop doors with room to spare. They are rollups and probably hang down a foot from the top.

One time while a tornado was heading our way, I got in a hurry to get it in the shop and the door was hanging down about 3' and I rammed the exhaust pipe into the door, putting a nice V in it and pulling it out of both tracks. Just then it started hailing to beat Sylvester, so I just sat in my skidsteer with the mill halfway in the shop and the door hanging askew and sort of wrapped around the Kubota. No sooner did the hail quit than winds of probably 50+MPH came a blowing stuff all around, so I just sat there waiting for the twister to finish off the damage I started. I knew it could do a much better job, and I had nowhere to run, so I cinched the belt and harness up nice and tight and made sure the cab was locked down and waited to see if I could get a real thriller of a story to tell.

The twister missed us by a good bit - I never even saw it. The exhaust on the mill is still a might off plumb, but no leaks. The door still has a slight V, but not as much. Took some doing to get it working, and now when you roll it up or down it makes the mightiest screeching noise you ever heard. Makes the neighbor's coon dogs bark every time and he's half a mile from me.

Moral of the story is, build a dedicated shed for the mill. Not that it will make a hill of beans if a twister wants to come vacuum your place for you.

Contributor J, I would like to see your mill when you get it built. I have wanted to build a 74" band slabber for some time and have been told it wasn't practical. But I visited an operation in east Texas about 4 years back where a guy had built a 20' tall vertical band mill with a 2-sided 3" blade. He used those big balloon tires off an irrigator and had been running it for years. The main frame was an 18" steel pipe from which he welded the components. He had a saw shack from which he operated the monstrosity.

I stopped in for a visit to a fellow sawyer in another part of the country one day, and he says jump in the truck, I want to show you a home-built band mill. Didn't warn me or nothing, so I was figuring on seeing a regular vanilla home-built. Could not even believe what I was seeing when we rolled onto his back lot stuck in amongst the big tall pines.

I can't remember his max width of cut, but it was big. It was impressive to be sure, but what was even more impressive was that he was a fireman, and his sons ran his sawmill business when he was on duty. Had taken him 2 years to build the mill and work the bugs out. So yeah, I know a large band mill can be built, though maybe not practical for everyone to do it.

From contributor A:
I measured my LT40 last night and it was 7' 10" to the top of the mast when folded up to ride.

Contributor T, I would like to have a big slabber for a few days.

From contributor N:
I'm fixing to start a shed for my Hud-Son Farmboss. Normal operation I could get by at 8' height clearance. But to cut the 36" logs it'll require 9'. I'll go 10'+ so I don't bump the rafters, and for future growth or use. Did consider the end shed to protect the head only, but I love my saw way too much, and I'm going all the way!