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choosing the right sawmill is crucial to your successChoosing the right sawmill is crucial to your success 

How to choose the right portable sawmill


So what is the right sawmill for me?

Choosing the right sawmill can be the most important aspect of owning a sawmill. The wrong choices can cost you more in time and labor, or too big you may not be able to easily move or be flexible. Check out Top 5 reasons of owning a portable sawmill to see more about your use.


  1. Deciding on your use:

Do you need a mill to fit a budget?

The cost of lumber is ever increasing. Do you need to save money? If so you will have to find a mill within your means to get started. This may be a mill with a few less bells and whistles and require a little extra work on your end but budget mills are available.

With the trees on the farm or property all the lumber needs can be supplied at virtually no expense.

Are you building a home, garage, camp, or out building? The freedom to build with your own supplied lumber can be endless. There are many Homestead mills available to fit your different needs.

Do you have higher productions needs for lumber?

Perhaps you are interested in a portable mill that you can saw on site for other people. There are commercial bandmills available that can be set up stationary or on trailer units to fit your needs. Many of these mills have automated features to help move the logs and or the mill itself. Giving you the freedom to cut faster and easier.

Do you have some very large diameter trees?

Imagine that first cut of a large diameter tree, sliding the first wide slab over, and seeing the wood grain. Like a timepiece, each grain a memory of each unique year past. How about that old Sycamore tree your great grandfather planted in the side yard that needs to come down? It would be sad to see that big old history piece disappear for good. With a portable sawmill you can save that history. Turn the tree into something else that can last indefinitely, like a dining room table for all your friends and family to talk about and remember great grandpa for years to come.

Type of use can be broken down to 4 main Categories:


Farm or Personal Use

Higher Production Commercial and Automation

Wide Slab


  1. Log Size

Once you decided what category mill, you will then have to choose the right options for the logs you will be sawing.

All bandmills have a limitation to the diameter logs they can handle. Check you log diameters, keeping in mind you need to be able to move these logs at least to the mill and place them on. Once you have figured out how large of a diameter log, ensure the mill you are looking at can handle that size diameter. Another important mill specification you should pay attention to is the slab width. This specification is different than log diameter. It is the widest board you can cut or the maximum distance between the guides. Ensure the mill you are choosing has enough slab width. Long length is also important, however most bandmills can be extended to desired length. Still keep length in mind as this may affect the cost of your sawmill investment.


  1. Budget

When setting your budget for a sawmill,

you should consider the savings a the mill is going to provide for you or the income the mill can provide. In many situations its likely both. Portable sawmills are very unique in that they can not only save you money they can make you money. Saving money will be in the form of lumber costs saved from sawing your own logs or if you buy your logs the saving of milling yourself. Income from a mill can also come in many forms and not always just commercially sawing for customers. You can sell lumber or sell projects you made using your mill. Furniture, slabs, beams, sheds, art work and more are just some of the ways to add to your income.


  1. Portability

Yes the mills are called portable sawmills

This means they can be picked up and moved from site to site, unlike the older style sawmills that are built from the ground up on site. However some portable mills are more portable than others in the sense of ease of moving. Typically ground set up mills and mills on a trailer are most common. Mills that are predominately set up on a trailer are the fastest and easiest to move from site to site.  Keep in mind when selecting a trailer mounted mill that the log will have be lifted off the ground and also loaded on the trailer. If you do not have a way to lift logs, make sure the trailer unit has a log loader or at least log ramps. Ground unit mills have a track system or sections that will have to be disassembled and picked up whenever transporting the mill. This style mill allows the user to simply roll logs onto the mill using a Peavey or Cant Hook. Ground unit mills are also less expense to purchase than trailer mills. The deciding factor on getting a ground mill or a trailer mill will be the frequency that you will be moving the sawmill. Bringing logs to the mill is usually easier than bringing the mill to the logs. Also check out Skidding Winches and grabs for help moving logs.


  1. Service

Service can be an important factor when choosing a portable sawmill.

Some mills require more service then other mills. The more automated features and log handling options on a mill (which are nice to have) but likely will require more maintenance and service. If you are in a remote location you may want to consider a simple mill with low service needs. Some mills have “dealer only” service requirements while other mills are set up for the average DIY (do-it-yourself) mill owner. Lastly, consider accessories that will help standard maintenance like greasing, blades, belts, and guides. Check the maintenance schedule to make sure you have the correct wear items on hand to keep the mill running properly.  Side note on milling, keeping sharp blades on a bandmill not only gives you faster cuts, better boards but also helps keep the mill from wearing faster. To keep blades sharper longer check out a debarker.

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