The portable saw mill site should be well drained and reasonably level with good road access on and off the property.
A minimum work area for the saw mill should include at least a 30’X50’ site – more space will be needed if you need room to maneuver if you are using support equipment (tractor, skid steer, trucks, trailers, etc)
To plan ahead, staging logs and cutting lumber as close to the proposed building site where it will be used will reduce future transport issues, timing, and cost.
If cutting walnut be sure livestock cannot access the sawdust on the pile or the lumber as it is dangerous to them.
Where To Stack Finished Lumber and Slabs
One option is to stack the finished lumber directly on a waiting trailer staged at or near the rear of the sawmill.
Have dunnage ready to stack lumber and slabs on for easy forklift access, if forks will be used.
Log Staging for Wood Mill
Logs should be staged ready to cut level with or slightly uphill of where the mill will be placed
If no heavy equipment is available to load the logs they will be rolled on to the portable sawmill loading arms with a cant hook.
The loading arms of the mill will be on the passenger’s side of the truck when driven/backed into place.
Stacks of logs for sawing should be centered, not lined up along one end, so they can be centered on the loading arms when loaded and be converted into custom cut lumber.
If you need to separate lumber by species, stage the logs by species with longest to shortest by species next to where they will be cut.
Stage the logs such that the longest lumber will be cut first for ease of stacking.
Keep the logs as clean as possible – avoid dragging them through the mud to reduce clean up and milling time. Dirty logs take more time to mill.
Create A Cut List
Identify what specific lumber you will need so we can cut the longest, thickest, most critical lumber from the best logs and use the shorter, smaller and lower graded logs for cutting lumber that will be less critical.
Leave adequate trim on your logs but minimize cutting excess lengths as this reduces the yield from your logs, costs more and increases handling, transport and lumber storage problems.
Generally four to six inches of excess length of trim is left on logs for sawing.
Before cutting identify any special custom lumber cuts needed such as live edge slabs for specialty furniture making, fireplace mantels, etc.
Except in very rare circumstances, cut your logs to at least eight feet long to ensure better clamping and turning on the mill.
Drying Preparation for Custom Cut Lumber
Lumber that will not be used immediately should be stacked with stickers at each end and every 16”-24” between.
Preferably the log stickers will be of the same species as the lumber being stacked to reduce “sticker stain”.
Dried stickers approximately ¾” to 1” thick/square and not over 4’ long work best for most logs sawn to lumber.
Stickers can be cut from your lumber, made from plywood or purchased in advance.
Be Careful — Stickers and stacks of lumber should be no deeper than the forks on your lumber support equipment.
Portable Sawmill Lumber Storage
Lumber should be stacked straight and level off the ground where it is protected from the elements.
Stack your cut wood on cinderblocks, cross ties or pallets if possible.
Keep the storage bases straight and level to prevent long term damage to the lumber.
If you have a hump or dip in your storage base, the logs sawn to lumber will dry with the same dip or hump in each board.
Place heavy weights such as cinderblocks or sandbags on the top of the stack to ensure your lumber dries straight and to prevent cupping/bowing of the lumber.
The top of the lumber stack should be protected from rain or snow with metal roofing/tin or a tarp if not under a roof.
Be sure there is good ventilation for air flow for best air drying to prevent mildew and rot- do not completely block air flow with a tarp or such for best results.
If under a roof with poor ventilation you may want to use a fan for the first week or so to improve air flow – do not over do the fan use or you can create damage by too rapid drying.