Sawmill Project Manager Recruited

Here’s a ChipIn for the Sawmill Project.

We have added a third project manager to the OSE team, Robert Todd.

Bob has been with us at Factor e Farm since July, on and off. He decided to stay for the winter, committing more deeply to our project. He will take on the sawmill as lead developer. We will get to building it as soon as the workshop is completed – which we are all working on right now. Thus, we’ll house both CEB and sawmill developments in our new, CEB-walled, living-roofed, off-grid facility with CEB dual-fuel wood/oil masonry stove. Sauna is included.

The sawmill project has a history already. I started with a bandsaw mill, and had an essentially completed prototype, with hydraulic motor and even a log cleaner.

I never ran the thing. Closer understanding of the sawmill – after building it – showed me that getting it working is not a walk in the park. Blade guides and wheel tilt must be adjusted carefully so that the blade stays on the wheel. The most difficult issue on a band saw mill, however, is blade maintenance. One goes through several blades in a day. Blade maintenance requires both sharpening and tooth setting. The additional cost for automatic equipment for these tasks is on the order of a few thousand dollars, and manual sharpening and setting means that you’re spending hours after a hard day of cutting maintaining your blades, if you don’t get them done professionally.

That’s the summary of my learnings, and I decided that this is not such a robust sawmilling solution for the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) – if we are interested in the simplest solutions for quality of life in an advanced civilization. If anyone thinks differently here and would like to take development of this sawmill to completion – we still have the entire sawmill. Come on over and become project manager – we just don’t have enough resources in-house to justify making it a priority.

We moved on to assessing and planning a swingblade sawmill as our next choice. This is essentially a small circular blade which you can rotate by 90 degrees to cut out dimensional lumber from large logs. YouTube videos on this are amazing – a swingblade cutting logs like butter, as it cuts not through a whole log cross section, but only a small section that is turned into a board. Our love affair with the swingblade sawmill ended when a sustainable forestry friend of mine, Ben Hansen, told me that he’s never seen a swingblade perform as advertised. He told me that he’s seen days wasted as logs would shift, and crooked boards were a result. I trust Ben’s ecological and technical judgment. He built digitally-fabricated LPSA trusses from roundwood:

Ben suggested a chainsaw mill, like a Logosol. We are pursuing this option presently. It is absolutely the simplest design. I shied away from it before because of chainsaw costs – the largest chainsaw in the world, a Stihl of Husqvarna 10 hp model, is about $2k. Plus, 10 hp on a rather thick chainsaw blade yields a cutting speed nowhere near that of a swingblade mill.

But, what if we use LifeTrac, with our multipurpose, 25 hp hydraulic motor, to power the chainsaw blade?

This is getting exciting. Cutting speeds, according to Ben, should reach our requirement of 2400 linear feet of dimensional lumber per day. This level of performance is such that it requires 2 days of sawmilling to produce all the roofing and lumber for a structure the size of our present, 1200 square foot CEB addition.

Why is a powerful, affordable sawmill important? The measure of success of the GVCS, in general, is how much market share we are taking away from global supply chains, via return to local production. If people have easy access to a low-cost (<$1k), high production (3000+ linear feet per day) – then I believe that this will have a significant impact on displacing factory forestry and old-growth clearcuts, and promote rainforest preservation. If we have our own resources in our backyard, we don’t need to steal them from neighbors.

We set up a project funding page for the sawmill here. The sawmill prototype and project budget is forthcoming.

People, I think we’re on to something. Are we going to build the world’s largest chainsaw? Open source, of course.


  1. […] go in the November Funding Cycle for construction materials. We also have $1400 left to go for the 25-hp chainsaw sawmill prototype. Chip […]

  2. Harmon Seaver

    I have a Logosol sawmill, and like it a lot. I use a bigger saw, however, than what normally comes with it, the Stihl 066 which is 91.6cc, or the same size Husqvarna. I use a Stihl 084 with is 123cc. The problem, however with more power is shorter chainlife especially with the smaller “low-profile” ripping chains. I can break a low-profile chain on frozen timber pretty easily, especially if it has large knots, like white spruce.
    But the Logosol is great for sawming timbers and your own lumber. I wouldn’t choose it to try to make a living with, however.
    I used to own a much better sawmill, a Mobile Dimension saw. This is truly the finest design there is for small sawmills. It has a circular main blade with two circular edger blades that travel with the main blade. These blades all have insert teeth and are very easy to sharpen with cheap, hand tools. The edger blades are adjustable from 1″- 12″ and because you are cutting a fully edged board with each pass, there is almost no slab waste compared to other sawmills. After a first skimming “slab” cut (taking very little off) your first cut gives you a 1×2 or 1×4. You can also easily saw the biggest logs in the world — check out the website — they were designed for the big redwoods and cedars in British Columbia.
    So — think about this design, it would not be at all hard to build your own version, others have done it.

    Thanks for the informative reply. Can you point us to others who built their own version of the Mobile Dimension saw? – Marcin

  3. […] structure. Just as anything at Factor e Farm – this is only a beginning. When we produce our sawmill, we will reduce the material cost by over $2k – by producing our own lumber for the trusses and […]

  4. […] sawmill project has undergone some changes in design since the last concept. I have taken over development, and based on a comment on the previous concept we decided to pursue […]

  5. […] have already collected $200 in the last ChipIn, but got nowhere near our goal. We’re revisiting this, supported by our further due diligence […]

  6. […] Sawmill Project Manager Recruited | Open Source Ecology […]

  7. Lost Chief

    I have a stihl & a husq rancher chainsaw that im selling. Both are around 40cc. Not sure if you need one but if you need a smaller saw for a great price i have 2. I also have allot of other tools im selling right now like Paslode Nail guns (gas powered) many air powered nail guns and air compressors, Dewalt 14 * 18v tool kits, Sawzalls (corded) Heavy duty drills for drilling concrete, Couple smaller chop saws. Let me know if you need any of this type stuff.

  8. Jeremy

    I busted our air compressor when moving it around a few days ago, but it could be fixed with some brazing. We could use a nail gun, Bob loaned us one for building the trusses which really sped things up with all the gussets and braces.

  9. Lost Chief

    So you need a framing nailer? And a decent air comp? What in general do you use the air comp for because i have a few and need to know around what size your talking. What size tank is on the one you have now?

  10. Jeremy

    It’s about the size of a 5 gallon bucket. We use it for filling tires sometimes, and we used it for the babington burner when we were trying to set it up.

  11. Jeremy

    We were also looking into someday doing some kind of cement/mud sprayer like they use with the cement domes, but I’m not sure what our design would be.

  12. Lost Chief

    Ok i have a compressor thats got an 11 gallon tank (2 5 gallon buckets tall) that i can hook you guys up with. I also have nail gun i will throw in. Im going to talk to a friend who ships wholesale and get a deal worked to ship it. Will probably take me a week to get the deal finished then another few days for it to get there. I will let you know when its on the way.

  13. Lost Chief

    p.s. whats the add of the farm?

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