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How to mill an oversize log on your small bandsaw log mill.

I have a 20 year old Husquvarna horizont bandsaw mill, which is about as basic as it gets. It has been modified in many ways due to the fact that Husquvarna spare parts are too expensive and take forever to get to me here in Wilderness on the East coast of South Africa. I usually end up making the spare parts myself.

Sometimes I get logs which are too big for my log saw, recently I got a couple of Eucalyptus Grandis stumps, which where bigger than the saw could handle, 'according to the book'.


Quite obviously the blokes that wrote the book had no idea what they where talking about. If I took the operators manual to be gospel, I would give up now, but I'm not like that...

My log was 900mm high and 750mm wide, 4 meters long, and weighs an estimated 1.5 tons. There is no way that I could pass up this fun opportunity to cut this great piece of wood into beautiful planks, even though it is supposedly too big for my saw.

A ridiculously oversized log on a tiny logsaw
The first step with an operation like this is to enlist the help of a friend who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. When 1.5 tons of timber decides to roll, it roll's, and when it stops, it stops. Sometimes a bit of gentle persuasion is required.
Luckily I have such a friend.

making a clearance cut
Clearly the blade guides need some clearance.
To achieve this we need to mark out and cut a groove.
This does not waste any usable timber due to the fact that we are cutting away part of the 'splayed butt'.

The blade guides are set at their maximum width, which is about 500mm.
Here you can see the end result.

the logsaw on maximum height
At this stage I do not have a blade in the saw, we just do a trial to make sure it will clear all the way down.
The saw is set to it's maximum height.
Here it becomes obvious that this saw probably could not handle a log much bigger than this.

taking the first cut
We then cut a large cant (or slab) off the top.
The cut is 500mm wide, the kerf (thickness of cut) is only 2mm, but it is enough to stop a 7.5kw 3 phase motor if you get too enthusiastic with your feedrate, so easy does it, theres no rush.

taking the first cut
In the cut.
A bit closer, all you need is for the blade guides to clear the side of the log by 1mm.
You may notice that the blade guides have tubes leading to them, this is for high pressure water injection (6 bar mains pressure) top and bottom (my own modification). This cleans and cools the blade, and prevents it from touching the blade guides, causing it to aquaplane with no friction, just like the bald tires on your car on a wet road.

the top cant removed
The first cant has now been removed.
You can see how close the blade guides are to the sides of the log.
For a flimsy little saw it can cut quite a decent wide flat surface with a pretty good finish.
I always love to see that beautiful freshly cut timber when you take off the first cant, you never know what you will find inside.
Occasionally you find nails, the other day I cut a log, finding 12 nails, the heads where at least 100mm inside the timber, some little bugger left me a present about 20 years ago.
Of course when you hit a nail, that blade is instantly consigned to the sharpening pile.

cutting clearance for the 2nd cant
The log is now flipped over.
Now the clearance cutting exercise has to be repeated, although this time there is much less to be trimmed away.
The small electric chainsaw is the perfect for this type of work.
Of course any sensible person would have the full range of safety gear on.

the second cant has been sawn off
Now we are getting somewhere.
The log has been sawn to 500mm thick, from here on it is quick and easy.

sawn to 500 X 500
We then flip the log onto it's side, (it will now fit between the blade guides) and cut the top and bottom off, leaving us with a large 'plank' that is 500mm X 500mm X 4meters long
At this stage is is starting to get a bit lighter and easier to handle and only weighs about 1 ton.
Bear in mind that I do not have a crane and have to move it around by hand, doing this saves a fortune in gym fees.

Ok, it's just over 500mm
Take note of the good finish given by the bandsaw.

cutting 170mm thick slabs
We now cut it into slabs 170mm thick.

cants and slabs
We end up with some cants and slabs of 170mm X 500mm.
The cants will also be sawn up into usable sizes, nothing gets wasted, the small amount of scrap, (or scales as some people call them) will heat my house this winter, the sawdust will mulch my garden plants.

taking the final cuts
Stand the slab up and cut it into 30mm thick planks.

a satisfying stack of planks
The planks get sticker stacked for seasoning.
Stickers are 25mm X 25mm 'sticks' which are placed between the layers of planks to keep them straight and allow a free flow of air  between them to allow them to dry or 'season' until they achieve moisture equilibrium with the atmosphere.
The stickers are placed about every 500mm and are cut from the same species timber so that they do not stain or leave so called 'sticker shadow' on the planks.
Strap some corrugated iron sheet onto the top for sun and rain protection.
I allow a minimum of 6 months for this thickness to season.
The dog is optional, but makes good company.

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