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What to do if you get your hands on a nice big log


The most economical way to move timber around is with a crane truck. The truck has a grab loader, pick up your logs and deliver them to wherever you want them, put them down - easy, cheap, just takes a phone call.


Just one issue - Most of the grab loaders can pick up about 1.5 tons, this log is about 1.2m diameter  X 4m long and weighs an estimated 4 tons.

Occasionally one comes across a log which is just too big to move without hiring a mobile crane and a truck.
Hiring a crane to load just one log is an expensive operation and takes the 'cheap' and 'easy' out of the equation, of course the crane will have to follow you to unload it as well.

Then, of course you need a saw that is big enough to handle a sizeable piece of timber, flimsy little bandsaw mills such as mine just don't cut it (pun intended).

Thankfully all of this can be avoided. (you just have to be smarter than the log), by using one of these cool Lucas mill's.

Instead of moving the log, it is easier to move the saw mill.

Lucas mill 1st cut

These mill's are super portable and can be erected wherever the log is lying, provided that you have a reasonably level piece of ground.

The saw is just a frame with rails that the saw carriage runs up and down on.

Here we cut slabs 150mm X 160mm X 4meters long, this is the absolute maximum depth of cut and length that this particular model of saw can handle. I like doing things to the max.

This is called a swing blade saw, you cut forwards with the blade in the horizontal position, swing it 90 degrees to the vertical position and cut back with it, meaning that for every forward / backward pass you cut one plank.

Cool, now we are getting somewhere, the saw is quick, 2 hours later we have 20 slabs, each weighing about 150kg. At this stage you can cancel your gym contract, carrying these around is best done with a bit of forethought.

I then cart them home and sling them onto my flimsy bandsaw to break them down into 28mm  planks.

Another 2 hours work.

This is the most economical way, you get the best recovery. I recovered 100 planks from the original log.

The reason: The Lucasmill cuts a kerf of about 8mm, so each cut converts 8mm of timber into sawdust, which is a waste of good timber.

The bandsaw kerf is only 2mm. I recover 5 planks from each slab.

If I cut  the slabs with the 2mm bandsaw, then I waste 200mm of timber into sawdust.

If I cut the slabs with the 8mm lucas mill, I waste 800mm of timber, which equates to 28 wasted planks.

They say that the Lucas mill produces sawdust as a product and the planks are a by-product - ha ha - funny guy - I like it.

Saying that, I am not running the Lucas mill down at all, I could not do this without it, but by being 'smarter than the log' you can get the best of both.

If you don't have your own mill like this, find someone that does, you can save yourself a fortune when compared to the cost of purchasing planks from a merchant.


Planks like this would sell for about (at current 2013 prices) R200 each, therefore 100 planks would cost R20 000. - not bad for a day's work.

Cost to me - I paid the guys R1200 to saw with lucasmill, diesel for my bakkie (pickup truck) probably about R100 to carry slabs home, maybe R5 electricity on bandsaw. You work it out.

At this rate it would not take long to pay off a saw like this.

Added Bonus:

I got a mountain of firewood from the offcut branches from the tree which will heat my house for free this winter and a nice 4meter long leftover slab.

Guess I will have to make another cheap coffee table.

The slab weighs an estimated 800kg, is about 20cm thick X 1.3m wide on the fat end (one end is 'splayed').

Want to know how I picked it up without a crane? The easiest way by far is to get your 14 year old son to do it on his way home from school.

Look for the article on 'how to easily move heavy stuff' with minimal equipment.

 I love a challenge.

South African Log Home

Builders Association

Teaching people to build their own quality mortgage free homes