How to Saw Lumber with a Bandsaw Mill

Sawing a bulky log to make usable lumber takes plenty of complicated chores, and a bandsaw mill is a right tool for this job. But you must be familiar with sawmill techniques and know how to saw lumber with a bandsaw mill to maximise production without wasting much.

You can saw lumber with a bandsaw mill, following plenty of different methods and sawing patterns based on your needs. Plus, some woodworkers also want to learn how to quarter saw lumber with a bandsaw mill. Along with covering all this information, we have also included a few time-saving safety tips for an operating bandsaw. Let’s begin by learning how to saw lumber with a bandsaw mill.

The Basics of Sawing Lumber with a Bandsaw Mill

Woodworkers and carpenters generally don’t need to operate bandsaws often to saw lumber. But any woodworker can do so, especially after reading this post. As a novice, a woodworker should know some basics about sawing lumber with a bandsaw mill. You must know the lumber size that you will cut using a bandsaw. In general, you can cut a log and lumber that is between 16 to 18 inches in diameter and around 2 feet in length.

How to Cut Lumber with a Bandsaw mill

Before beginning, make sure you have cut lumber into 2-foot lengths with a 16 to 18-inch thickness.

Mark the location of the miter bar

You have to make a sled first, which is a ¾ inch MDF piece 2 feet long and 10 inches wide. Measure the space between the blade and the miter bar and transfer it into MDF. Now place an 18-inch miter bar on the line and indicate the hole spot with it. This bandsaw cutting method is quite effective.

Insert the Miter Bar

Create a countersunk hole in your MDF. Then, join the miter bar to the screws of the flat-headed machine. Be careful as the log can slide on the sled surface. To prevent it, you must operate the bandsaw properly. An adhesive spray and a drawer liner will also help you keep the length in place.

Make the First Cut

While sawing your lumber with a bandsaw mill, log rocking can take place. You will need a wooden shim to prevent it anyway. Before starting sawing, make a primary prediction about what you should cut off to get a flat surface. Pull your lumber gently and cut the last few inches off it. It will help maintain the balance of weight. Considering the wood type, you can also cut it another way.

Make the Second Cut

After the first cut, you will get a flat bottom surface, which will make the second cut quite easy. This time, remove a few pieces of wood to get a smooth surface. But make sure you don’t lose excessive wooden parts from the lumber. If you have a plan for resawing, repeat this step multiple times.

Cut the Boards

The most potential reason for learning how to saw lumber with a bandsaw mill is making a board from it. If you want so, work for it in this step.

Firstly, fix the board’s thickness that you desire, though 1 inch is the most common. Remove the seeds and use the whole fence of the bandsaw. While sawing, change the direction and the lumber face after getting every 1-inch board. This practice will rewards you the most pieces of board from the lumber. The lumber side that faced the earlier cut should face the fence in the next cut.

Dry off the Boards

After sawing boards from the lumber, you should apply a processing phase to make them workable. Drying them off is the first process that will remove extra moisture from the boards.

Simply unstick the boards and allow them to dry naturally in the open air. But don’t place it directly under heat or sunlight as it will crack the board.

Smoothen and surface the Boards

You can surface and smoothen the boards in plenty of ways. Applying a moisture meter will help maintain perfect moisture on the board. Then rip off the board’s outer edge and wipe off the surface using a series of planers and jointers.

We have described 1 of 5 methods for sawing lumber using bandsaw mill. Let’s check the rest of the methods so you can apply the most desired approach.

Lumber Sawing Techniques with a Bandsaw Mill

This technique is also considered line sawing, where you need to see the lumber almost halfway through the opening face. The next task is turning the log in the reverse direction and sawing the rest. Slab sawing is a time-saving and considerably easier method. But the consideration is that this process needs all the edged lumber to be sawn to offer a prominent look.

Lumber Sawing Techniques with a Bandsaw Mill

The lumber remains quite heavy and wide after being sawn by the line sawing process. Despite this, the lumber may be largely warped while drying out. For this error, woodworkers apply this method mainly to low-quality lumber.

Cant Sawing- perfect for Medium Quality Lumber

The first step of this method is sawing at the top end of the lumber and then the opposite side. The next step is sawing the left and right sides. After sawing the lumber following the centerpiece method, it needs to be processed using other machines. Some woodworkers prepare their large and heavy lumber following this cant process to sell them. This technique is also handy for sawing a huge amount of longer lumber. But this cent sawing method is perfect for low and medium-quality lumber. 

Grade Sawing—perfect for high-quality Logs

Following this grade of sawing, you have to turn the lumber five times while sawing. It means you will practice the saw and turn consistently. It’s a great timber processing approach for high and medium-quality lumber. But this graded sawing method won’t let you saw plenty of lumber in a day as you have to frequently turn the single piece.

Plain Sawing—perfect for high-quality logs

The first half of this method is the same as a cant process. Apart from sawing four sides at a single time, this plain sawing allows you to rotate and saw the lumber continuously for a better finish. This way, you can have a smooth finish instead of a rough edge.

How to Quarter Saw Lumber with a Bandsaw Mill?

You can get accurate quarter-sawn lumber using a band sawmill, but the process also demands dedication and patience.

Prepare the mill by keeping its side supports up. And make sure the log tuner and the log loader are in the down position. Then put the lumber over the log loader and place it accurately as the positioning determines the quality of the cut. Load the lumber for further processing.

To place the log precisely, follow the X-Y plane parral to the mill deck method, where X-Axis refers to the running length of the mill. When the long run across the mill, it refers to the Y-axis, and the vertical is the Z-axis.

Now halve the lumber in the X-Y plane. Remove the log loader’s top half and halve the half part at the bottom. Then remove the log loader’s top quarter and clamp the bottom quarter part. You can saw this bottom quarter for making boards. Slide the clamp and the bottom quarter outboard and place the boards on the drying stack.

Now concentrate on the X-axis and rotate the cant at a 90-degree angle. While going for the secondary use, if you find the cant is quarterly on the log loader, get it back from the place. Retrieve the half-positioned cant, clamp, and halve it. Remove the top quarter and place it in the log loader. Continue the practice until you achieve all the required logs cut right.

A few special types of sawing patterns

Flat Sawn

It’s a most common sawing pattern and gives the timber a cathedral grain pattern. This pattern usually offers wider boards and fewer knots. Flatsawn is a very economical pattern, as it’s a quicker process and wastes the least.

Quarter Sawn

It needs to quarter the log and then break it into lumber. This sawing pattern is popular for producing ray fleck, which is essential for a special style of woodworking. Quartersawn patterns produce narrower boards due to their lumber-breaking process. Maintaining this saw pattern is also time-consuming and can create a large amount of waste.

Rift Sawn

Rift sawn is quite the same as quarter sawed, but it doesn’t need slicing. Sawing lumber following this pattern will give you a long and straight grainline and won’t have ray fleck. Rift sawn also offers narrower boards and it is slightly more inexpensive than quartered but costlier than flat sawn.

Live Sawn

It’s a simple pattern and produces large slabs of live-edge material. The best thing about this live sawn pattern is that the slab it produces has quartered and flat areas. But this pattern doesn’t usually sell commercially.

What to Use

Every sawing pattern offers unique looks and varies in price. But the preference is in the eye of the woodworker. So pick the pattern that fits with the project and the budget.

Time-Saving and safety Tips for operating a Bandsaw mill

You can make operating a band sawmill quite simple and enjoyable by following the right approach. Otherwise, it can be destructive.  Below are key tips to practice to increase the band saw’s measurement and productivity while being safe.

Saw With a Sharp Blade

Leaving the blade too long on the sawmill can cause it to dive and pop off. It also causes the blade trough to become easily stuck in the wood, necessitating the need to either cut off the half-sawn lumber or pull out the blade. But if you change the blade from time to time, you can avoid this annoying situation. A dull blade becomes hot quickly and gets expands, resulting in loosening the tension. Do you need to tighten the blade consistently while sawing? It’s a sure sign of a dull blade.

Avoid Breakdowns

Routine maintenance may take some time, but it won’t cost you all day. If the saw breaks down, repair it, though it takes some time. Despite that, compare how much time is required to grease and replace the bearing. Hopefully, the first task is comfortable for you, as the second one is costly as well.

Prepare the Logs first

Prepare the lumber before putting it on the mill. You should cut the butt log bell close to the diameter of the existing log, so you don’t need to change the mill to compensate. Clean the dirty lumber, as dirt is the worst enemy of a saw blade. Washing the dirty log is well worth the attempt.

Edge While Cutting a Cant

Edging is tiresome especially on the band saw mill. Instead, use the edge while cutting the board to avoid trouble. After squaring the log into a cant, place the un-edged boards on the bandsaw mill. Saw the boards from the cant and flip them over when they reach the edges. Continue this practice until all the boards are edged.

Don’t hurry

It’s the biggest yet most common mistake that many woodworkers make. Pushing the equipment further than it requires can cause disaster. Abuse and misuse of equipment are also major problems in breakdowns.


How to prepare wood for milling?

Cut the logs into the right length, following the lumber requirements. Then remove all the branch butts. Pock is in the right position for lumber milling and logs piling. Clean the gravel, mud, and sand from the logs and paint their ends.

How to have the most lumber from a log?

Following the right sawing technique is key for getting the most lumber out of a log. Also, adjust the log on the deck of the sawmill. Measure and make some marks indicating the log center with a lumber crayon. It will help guide the blade to enter and exit accurately without wasting any time. 

How long should you dry the log before sawing?

If the logs are soaked immediately after being felled, you should saw them in planks. Then air-dry the sawn planks for around 1 year per 1-inch thickness.

Final Words

By now, you know how to saw lumber with a bandsaw mill in plenty of ways. It will give you versatility in lumber sawing tasks without replacing the bandsaw mill.  Now it’s all your duty to make your hands skilled and apply the right technique in the right field to become a qualified woodworker.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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