Introduction: Vintage Saw Mill Scale Rebuild
About two years back a friend of my acquired an old saw mill. The kind that use a 40" blade, that's belt driven off a (in this case) modified truck motor. It's quite the sight. With his mission to rebuild most of the worn out mill, he asked me to take a crack at rebuilding the slightly more tedious scale that allows you to accurately cut the logs to rough dimensions.
Not one to turn my back on a friend or a challenge, I gladly accepted.
I received the scale in the condition as shown in the picture. I wanted to make the scale a bit more durable and something easier to look at. However the old one had a certain appeal to it that we didn't want to change, the fact that the design seemed to match the mill in a somewhat simplistic feel. And well it's lasted this long, why reinvent the wheel, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
So how did I do it, this is that story.
Step 1: Disassembly and Cataloguing
The first thing to do is to carefully disassemble the old scale and catalogue the parts to get a better feel of what we'll be working with. It was important to be careful because we wanted to reuse most of the hardware and rebuild a wooden frame around them.
The two pulleys that guide the length of ball chain were in surprisingly good shape. This was a little more evident after the old paint and saw dust was cleaned off.
Step 2: Building the New Frame
The nice thing about rebuilding something is that you already have a pattern that you can use to take measurements and visual cues from.
I wouldn't say building the new frame was a breeze but it was certainly made easier having the old scale there to double check everything on. There was a slight change in the width of the scale because the original was made from rough cut lumber and whatI had to work with was todays modern sizes that have already been planed, where a 2x6 isn't really 2"x6".
The first thing to do was to dimension the main board. After that was done I could layout some lines for the mortises the pulleys would rest in. After cutting and chiselling out the mortises and recessing the pulleys with a dremmel tool I could turn my attention to the runners. These are made by ripping a 3/4" board at 45 degrees to match the weight indicator that you'll see in a minute. These were secured with wood glue and screws.
In the third picture you can see that painting is complete. Although I don't have any pictures of this step, part of making the scale more durable was to coat all wooden surfaces with a wood preservative (the green stuff), this simply brushes on, super simple. With that done the paint is a very durable outdoor paint, red to match the rest of the mill.
Step 3: Preparing Hardware
As I mentioned before most of the hardware was still in very much usable shape. After cleaning them up you can see that the pulleys, the weight/indicator and the fixing plate are ready for installation with a fresh coat of black paint.
The one piece of hardware that was replaced was the chain that attaches the weight to the carriage of the mill.
Step 4: Done & Ready for Installation
Because of my work I was able to create a much more durable numbered scale that screwed to the wooden body with stainless steel screws.
I prepared an image of the scale in Photoshop, being careful to use accurate measurements taken from the original. The file was then printed on a 1/8" plastic material that has a very thin layer of metal on each side. The special ink is rated for outdoor use in itself however this was coated with a layer of car clear coat. In the case where it gets scratched, the scale can be polished back out to look like new.
Step 5: The Mill at Work
It is my goal to add a video of the mill being operated. I hope to have this done in the near future.
I hope you've enjoyed, and that you take some inspiration from this for one of your own projects. If you have any questions, or maybe there's something you like to hear more about I'll be more than willing answer them all.
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