Most Basic Tools Required

  • Chainsaw & backup chainsaw
  • Cant Hook or PV Hook
  • Pick Up Truck
  • Heavy duty bar

Drying and storage facilities are also needed. Postprocessed wood must be dried before use. Lumber is typically air dried in an open or sheltered area. However, some southern portable sawmill owners reported investing in building a kiln, solar or otherwise. When all costs are considered, the cost to operate per board foot ranged from $.01 to more than $.50 and averages around $.15. Around 50 percent of owners process between 1,000 and 20,000 board feet per year, while around 17 percent process more than 100,000 board feet. Research has shown that the optimal scale of production for the average sawmill, where profits are maximized without increasing costs, is around 75,000 board feet.

Portable Sawmilling Tools

Commonly used for a sawmill service

Some additional equipment is needed to support a portable sawmill operation, whether for a hobby or an enterprise. Chainsaws, pickup trucks, and tractors are the machinery most commonly used with a sawmill. ATVs are sometimes used as a smaller, less expensive alternative to a tractor. Some operators may also use mules or horses for transporting logs to a central location, especially on sites where minimal disturbance is a priority. Fetching arches, skidding cones, motorized winches, grapple loaders, and trailers may also be used to maneuver logs. A few portable sawmill operators may even use skidders and excavators with tree cutting attachments. However, these require a much higher capital investment than the other tools require.

Excerpts credited to Alabama A&M & Auburn Universities


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