My BIY Band Sawmill & Railbed




Introduction: My BIY Band Sawmill & Railbed

My BIY Band Sawmill & Railbed

Authored By Jeff Nading 8-9-16

Engineered By Jeff Nading

Manufactured & Fabricated By Jeff Nading and Assistant John Wilson


An introduction into my approach to building this sawmill.

NOTICE:Any and all procedures in building this sawmill, you do at your own risk. I take no responsibility for your negligence. You are expected to use sound judgement and common since when building and operating this sawmill, with front and sheetmetal safety covers on at all times.

First thoughts were to realize the size of the logs to be had or cut that would be readily available in our area – length, diameter and weight. With these averages in mind, I began to visualize what size the sawmill and railbed would need to be. I suggest you read this complete instructional before starting to build this sawmill.

Second, is that I do not give detailed drawings or some of the measurements of this build, as the overall concept to building the sawmill is here and I did not have or use detailed drawings when I built this sawmill myself, nor have I ever built a sawmill before. I used my skills and ingenuity. I did do my research as you should and have well in mind each step to build on. I have given the needed detailed knowledge to build this entire sawmill, pulley and sprocket sizes, leadscrew size, how to modify a winch, wheel and tire sizes. Much from scrap you could have laying around. Many photos have been taken to help in explaining how to build this sawmill as well. This sawmill works very well, I am very pleased with the results I am getting from every cut. So the proof is in its operation.

Third, I began to see what sheet plate, sheet metal, bar, square tubing, angle iron, I beam and pipe steel I had in stock. Along with that, 1” diameter cold rolled shafting for axles, trailer wheels and tires, one 1” wheel bearing hub, one 1” bore pillow block and two 1” bore, flange type self-centering bearings, three pulleys, two belts, four #40 sprockets, 10' # 40 chain, four # 40 chain links, two 6' 3/4” diameter Acme thread leadscrews, eleven leadscrew nuts, ten leadscrew races, five leadscrew thrust bearings and scrap aluminum to cast with.

Much of the steel for the sawmill and railbed was sandblasted, so we had to build a temporary sandblasting booth and acquire some sandblasting equipment, a hopper, gun and compressor. Also built an air drying system out of 4” square tubing and pipe so as not to clog up the gun with wet sand. Cheap 80 LB bags of sand from Home Depot, we then sifted with window screen.

I bought some of the above parts, others I traded for. Purchased a new Duramax 18 HP electric start engine. It came with an ignition switch. Traded for four 12' long storage shelf's, like you would find in a Home Depot store, as you would walk down the isles to see items for purchase stacked very high.

Went to a junkyard and purchased an alternator. Purchased a riding lawnmower battery and battery box from Walmart.

Next step : How I Built the Sawmill

Step 1: Casting Four Wheels & One Axle Wheel Hub

I decided to cast four aluminum wheels for the saw to roll on and one driven axle wheel hub. I made patterns out of wood the shape and diameters I wanted, embedded them in molding sand, removed the patterns from the molds to leave a perfect impression of the pattern, melted aluminum scrap metal, poured the molds, let them cool for a bit, broke the molds open to remove the parts I had just cast. Cut the sprues off, machined them all on a lathe to the diameters needed, bored holes to press fit bronze bushings in the four wheels along with greaseable axle bolts. The driven wheel hub I bored a 1” hole through to fit onto the driven axle for the bandsaw blade and fitted it to one of the wheel tire assemblies with lug bolts and nuts.You don't Have to cast these parts, they can be purchased and there are different roller wheel designs out there, can be seen on You Tube.

Step 2: Mounting Aluminum Roller Wheels in Support Channels

Next was the task of making use of the horizontal shelving support that I acquired along with the four 12' vertical shelving rails I planned on using for the railbed to roll the saw back and forth on. I cut off the hook ends of one horizontal shelving support, cut the support in half to have two exactly the same length. Cut opening’s in each end of both pieces, which created a place to mount all four rollers in, two rollers in each, along with flanges I bent flat, then drilled holes into the flanges for greaseable axle bolts, making sure there was enough room for the rollers to turn freely. Mounted the rollers in the channels, they work very well. There are other methods of making roller wheel channel assemblies. Some use V groove rollers and angle iron on the railbed to roll the saw on. So even though I made all the parts and saved money, it took time to cast the rollers and machine them to my needs. In the photo on the right above, you can see one section of the railbed and an incomplete frame welded to the roller channels. At this point I should have realized the roller channels were a little lite as to the gauge of sheetmetal they were manufactured with. They did flex as more weight was being added. Later down the road I ended up cutting the frame off the roller channels, adding a length of 4” x 4” x ¼" thick angle iron to the roller channels then welding the frame back on top the angle iron. As you will see in additional photos. I explain this now so you won't have the same problem and have to remedy it later on in the build and one of two backwards steps I had to perform in the build.

Step 3: The Sawmill Rolling Frame

Once the diameter of the logs was known, I designed the frame to meet those needs, again there are different ways to design the frame. I found some heavy wall pipe 1 1/4” diameter, cut four 6' pieces. Set the railbed up and leveled it from one end to the other, clamped the roller channels to it, one on each side. From center of the channels, measured 6” each way to have 1' in between each upright pipe. Vertically leveled and welded the four upright pieces to the channels, two on each roller channel. Please do not forget the 4 x 4 angle iron that goes in between the roller channels and the upright pipe, (If you find heavy walled channel that will not flex, you could eliminate the 4 x 4 angle iron). The 4 x 4 angle iron should be 6” longer than the channels, just make sure the added length is on the back side of the channels and not the front, as there will be two diagonal 2” x 2” angle iron welded to the back rear side of the 4” angle iron on up to the rear uprights for added support.

Of course these measurements can vary with the materials you have on hand or can find, and the design you come up with, this is what worked for me with the materials I had.

Now the support for the top of the upright pipes. I had pipe that perfectly fit over and around the 1 1/4” upright pipe, cut four 4” pieces, cut a 4” x 4” piece of square tubing 4' 6” long and two 6” x 12” x 3/8” flat plate steel. Clamped all four 4 “ long pipes to the uprights, flush on top, drilled center all the way through to the other side of each one, about two inches down from the top edge. Bolted them in place with 3/8” bolts and nuts. Welded the flat plates on top of the front 4” long pipes and the 4” square tubing on the back side of the flat plate steel and on top of the rear 4” long pipes, again making sure everything was clamped in place and on level before any welding was done.

The flat plates were drilled, larger than needed, for the leadscrews to side though as seen in the photos. These holes will have to aline with the holes in the movable frame assembly. Then cut two 1 1/4” horizontal pipes, cut curved saddles on each end of both pipes to fit the pipes in between the two rear upright pipes. Welded one on at about 2' below the top of the uprights and the other below that one for added strength and support. Again these measurements can vary with the materials you have on hand or can find, and the design you come up with, this is what worked for me with the materials I had. Now add in the 2” angle iron diagonals on the same two rear uprights down to the 4” angle iron. I also added two angled triangular braces at the bottom back side of the rear uprights. Now the rolling frame is complete.

Step 4: The Wheel Well & Engine Support Frame

The support for the top of the upright pipes was removed. This frame assembly you could say is the heart of the sawmill and shone in the photo upside down, was turned right side up and slid over and onto the 1 1/4” 6' long front two upright pipes. Then the support for the top of the upright pipes was reinstalled. This frame assembly supports the engine, engine tensioning and lever assembly, wheel wells, both wheel axles, wheels and tire assemblies, wheel hubs, all the bearings, pulley's, center bandsaw blade guard, bandsaw blade guide rails and tensioner guide rollers, bandsaw blade tensioner, lower ends of leadscrews and nuts, 12 raise and lowering guides, belts and alternator.

The vertical pipe with the slots cut in them are for the addition of 12 roller guides 6 on each pipe held in place with 1/4” bolts with safety wired heads, so they would not vibrate out and hold the correct amount of tension on the upright 6' pipes they roll on. Welded close to the top of the slotted vertical pipes are triangular braces these are also welded to rectangular flat plates with holes drilled large enough to except the leadscrew nut shoulders and for the leadscrews to be positioned through. The flat plates are welded to the square tubing. Leadscrew nuts are bolted in place underneath these holes, which do not turn, the leadscrews turn in these nuts to raise and lower the saw.

Step 5: Engine

The engine I bought new and is a Duramax 18 HP, electric start, horizontal 1” crankshaft engine. The slots in the I-beam in the photo are for the engine to slide back and forth in. Moving the lever in a downward position applies tension on the drive belt to turn the driven axle wheel tire assembly and the alternator. This action engages or turns the bandsaw blade and the idler wheel tire assembly. Moving the lever in a upwards position loosens the belt and stops everything from turning, also stops the alternator from charging the battery, so there is little need to lift the lever in the up position (disengaging the sawblade) when the saw is in operation . Also chose a lever over an electric clutch because of cost and torque constraints. I have incorporated a throttle lever to control the speed (RPM) of the engine when not cutting a log, moving the saw back for another cut or raising the saw up and down. The engine throttle lever is spring loaded to the engine idle position, when the lever is released, the engine slows to idle which slows the RPM of the sawblade, this is also an engineered safety feature.

You can see in the photo that the engine is bolted to a 3/8” flat plate. The flat plate is greased on the bottom side so as to slide easily back and forth on the I-beam with the lever being raised or lowered. The plate is threaded and four 1/2” althread studs with fiber lock nuts fasten the engine to the plate. The studs are long enough to pass through the I beam slots and with four additional fiber lock nuts and washers, they hold the entire assembly on the bottom side, with just enough torque on the nuts to keep the engine from vibrating and causing unwanted damage.

In the photo you see the lever assembly in the down position, the lever hitting a stop, a nut welded to the flat plate and a pin though the clevis and nut, to act as a pivot point. Again in the down position the lever moves the engine and small crankshaft pulley away from the large driven axle pulley, this applies tension on the belt, which turns the complete bandsaw blade assembly as the engine is running.

The max speed of the engine is 3600 RPM and was used in calculating FPM (feet per minute) of the bandsaw blade. Along with the all shaft sizes being 1” in diameter, pulley diameters, wheel and tire diameter to give an accurate FPM bandsaw blade speed.

The bandsaw blade diameter is 14' 2” and max speed is 6000 FPM which is just where it needs to be. The engine has enough power to run everything with very little drag.

Pulley shaft size, sprocket shaft size, keyway sizes and sprocket and pulley outside diameters are:

  1. The small pulley mounted to the engine crankshaft is a 4“diameter and a 1/4” keyway cut in the bore, with a 1” bore.
  2. The large driven pulley is 13” in diameter. Has a tapered 1” bore locking hub, .
  3. The large driven alternator pulley is a 8” diameter, 1” bore.
  4. The small pulley on alternator is a 2 1/2 “diameter, came with the alternator.
  5. The tire size is 4.80-12, about a 20” diameter.

Step 6: Driven & Idler Wheel, Hub, Axle Shaft Assemblies

Driven Wheel & Idler Wheel Hub Axle Shaft Assembly

The aluminum wheel hub has an overall outside diameter of 6”, outside edge thickness is 1”, inner hub thickness of 3 1/2”, 1” bore, with a 1/4” keyway cut in it. The inner wheel hub diameter you will have to measure and cut the hub to size or purchase a hub to fit the wheel. But remember that this hub has to be driven, will not have bearings in the hub as the idler wheel hub will have and the idler wheel hub bearings will have a 1” bore and the hub will have a rear seal that will need an adaption to keep trash from entering into the bearing. I took a 1” bore bronze bushing, machined it to the seal, and then used blue lock tight to seal it to the 1” axle shaft. Also threaded the hub end of each axle shaft to accept a castle nut and drilled a hole to slide a cotter pin through to keep the nut from loosening. Took a large washers and welded them to the axle shafts (back side of the hubs) so as to create a stop to tighten the hubs onto.

The axle shaft sizes were 1” diameter, quantity of 2, I started out with a length on the driven axle of 28” and the idler axle of 16”, this length did change as the build progressed (was cut shorter), length could vary between your design and mine. Cut three 1/4” keyways in the driven axle, each keyway is cut in a length of 2”. One for the large 13” pulley, one for the 8” alternator pulley and one for the aluminum wheel hub I cast.

Step 7: Leadscrew Setup

The acme rod leadscrews, quantity of 2, are 3/4" diameter x 6' long, 6 threads per inch. I machined one end of each rod down to ½” diameter and 4” in length, also cut 1/8” keyways in both the 4” lengths to accommodate the 2 1/2” diameter sprockets. Two sprockets on the driven leadscrew and one on the idler leadscrew. These were all connected with a length of # 40 chain and chain link, with a tensioner added to pull the slack out of the chain, seen in the photos. The smaller sprockets on lead screws, quantity of 3, are 2-1/2“diameter, # 40 chain size, a 1/8” keyway cut in the 1/2” bore.

The outside diameter of the driven sprocket can be changed to acquire the desired up and down speeds to raise and lower the bandsaw blade. The 3/4” diameter end of the leadscrews were installed through the holes in the movable wheel well frame assembly. Some of the leadscrew nuts have shoulders on them to hold center in thrust bearings. Leadscrew locknuts, external lock washers and more locknuts were screwed down over and passed the 1/2” shaft end of the leadscrews. With all the these lower nuts installed, I then took the thrust bearing races , sandwiched the thrust bearings in between and placed them over the leadscrew 1/2” shaft ends on down to the top of the lower nuts I just installed. I then slid the 1/2” leadscrew ends up into the larger holes drilled in the upper flat plate frame assembly.

Took some 3/8” thick plate steel, cut it square 2” x 2”, drilled a 7/8” hole in the center, turned them on the lathe and cut a recess from the hole out about 1/8” deep, just the right diameter to recess the upper leadscrew thrust bearing races. Welded these on top of the upper flat plate frame assembly, making sure these recessed top plates were centered over the existing larger leadscrew holes, so as to keep the leadscrews firmly centered. Another set of thrust bearing races and thrust bearings and nuts were then placed and screwed on above the flat plate assembly and down into the recessed top plate I had welded in place. I screwed the upper nuts down until the 3/4” part of the leadscrew was showing, drilled a hole through them and pressed a 1/4” roll pin in them. I then brought the lower nuts up and tighten them all making sure the leadscrews turned freely with no binding. I then installed leadscrew nuts on the lower 3/4” end of the leadscrews, and screwed them up in place lifting and at the same time leveling the movable wheel well frame assembly, lifting the frame about 1”. Bolted these nuts in place.

Step 8: Winch Modification & Setup

I did not want to clamp the sawmill in place to hold it in a specific location on the rolling frame each time a cut was being performed or unclamp it each time a move was being performed, meaning raising and lowering the saw with a cable system. To me a clamping and cable systems were to sloppy, have excessive play, resulting in an inaccurate cut. So I decided to use leadscrews and modify a 2000 LB. 12 volt electric winch. The first photo shows a modified spool hub with a smaller 2 1/2” x 1 1/4” bore # 40 tooth sprocket mounted to it, you can see the end of the keyway cut in it and the cut flange end. The smaller sprocket was just to slow at moving the bandsaw blade up and down, so I went with a 5” diameter 1 1/4” bore # 40 tooth sprocket, speed increase was well worth the money spent.

Modification of the Winch

I removed the bracket and cable spool assembly off of the winch, removed the cable off the spool, cut the flange off the outboard end of the spool, leaving the center part of the flange end of the spool hub intact, as this is still needed to slide through the bracket bushing to act as an axle for the spool. The spool having one flange will now accept the 5” diameter, # 40 chain size, and 1 1/4” bore sprocket. I cut a 1/4” keyway in the flange end of the 1 1/4” diameter part of the spool hub, a little more than the width of the sprocket so the sprocket would not slip on the spool hub.

Mounted the sprocket on the spool hub using a 1/4” key. Had to make spacers and drill a new hole in the spool mounting bracket to accept the same bushing that acts as the axle for the outboard end of the spool. This hole had to be relocated and spacers added, with longer mounting bolts, so the 5' diameter sprocket would have enough room the turn.

Again the outside diameter can be changed to acquire the desired up and down speeds to raise and lower the bandsaw blade. In the photo you can see the tensioner bolt on the left and the aluminum spacers above it. The next photo you can see the old axle bushing hole in the hub bracket and the chain setup. There are slots cut in the side and top 4” x 4” square tubing the winch is mounted to, so when the 3 mounting bolts are loose the winch can move to apply tension on the chain, then I tightened the 3 mounting bolts. At this point I could to raise and lower the saw to any given point or to cut different thicknesses of wood off a log. The winch worked great, no binding of any kind. I was very pleased. Just one caution, there is no need to tighten the chains really tight, there can be some play in them. Excessive tension will apply unnecessary ware/stress on the leadscrews.

The next photos show the leadscrews chain tensioner, it's made of flat plate steel, bolt on the left to apply tension and an aluminum groove pulley on the right, with a bearing pressed in it to roll on the chain, again cut a slot in the 4” x 4” square tubing on top with 2 bolts going through the flat plat and tighten to the inside of the square tubing. In this photo the winch spool still has the smaller sprocket on it and was changed to a 5” sprocket. I then mounted the winch to some flat plate steel. Mounted the flat plate to the square tubing, you can also see a tab welded to the square tubing with a bolt through it, this is the chain tensioner adjustment.

In the next photo you can see a few of the vertical tension rollers I made, bolted and safety wired the bolts to the vertical pipes. The moveable frame, all brackets to do with the moveable frame, are welded to these two vertical pipes. They are just the right inside diameter to slide up and down over the upright 6' pipes on the rolling frame. Each vertical pipe has 6 slots cut into them, 3 around the top and 3 around the bottom. The vertical tension rollers keep the 6' upright pipes centered in the vertical pipes and do not allow any play in the frames, this insures an accurate cut when slabbing a log and why it was very important to keep everything vertically and horizontally level while welding the frames together. See the alternator mounting as well, lower tab and slotted brace for belt tension adjustment and upper brackets for mounting and pivot for the alternator.

Step 9: Building the Wheel Wells

I had some 1/8” plate steel from a rusty old table top. Laid out the front and back panels for the wheel wells by setting the tire I was going to use to drive and mount the bandsaw blade on. Making sure to measure clearance on the top and side, the side I added a little more for tensioning of the blade.

I plasma cut this one out, made a paper pattern of it, drew out three more on the 1/8" plate steel, plasma cut them and cleaned all the rough edges. I also had some 14 gauge 8” wide diamond plate steel left over from a job. Measured from the top point around the outer edge to the bottom or the curve, this gave me the dimension in length that the diamond plate would need to be to make the sides of the wheel well. Added some to the length and cut what was needed. I measured the diamond plate edge about one third up and in 1/2”, making sure I had a left and a right, bent the 1/2” out on a 90 degree angle so as to form a flange the curvature of the panel (I used a metal brake), cut the remainder of the 1/2" bend or two third’s off of the diamond plate. This flange will be used to bolt the front panel in place and the front panel will be hinged on the top edge. I then began to shape the diamond plate into the shape of the panel, using a large vise and muscle. After shaping, I started at the bottom of the curve and began to weld the diamond plate to the back panel, bending the diamond plate to perfectly conform to the curve and the strait of the back panel as I went. Did the left and repeated these steps with the right.

At this point you should know what diameter logs you will be cutting and allow this distance between the wheel wells and the bandsaw blade guides. I clamped the wheel wells to the moveable frame assembly, flush with the top of the frame. Drilled and threaded holes through the wheel wells and into the frame, used 1/4” x 20 thread bolts to mount them.

Made a diamond plate guard to cover the center section between the wheel wells. I measured length and width stretch out and fabricated one, to slide underneath and bolt to both wheel wells with a front and back flange of 2”. Bolted it in place with the same size of bolts.

Step 10: Bandsaw Blade Tensioner Box & Mounting of the Right Axle Assembly

Looking at the front cutting side of the sawmill, the left side is the driven axle and right is the idler axle. The left wheel hub is keyed to the axle, the axle shaft driven pulley turns, so the left wheel hub and the axle shaft are locked together and turn as one unit. The right wheel hub has bearings and turns freely, the right axle shaft does not turn. The rear of this shaft has four bolt adjustments, for up/down, left and right toe in and out. Which are incorporated into the bandsaw blade tensioner box assembly, along with one flange bearing seen in the photos.

IMPORTANT: The right wheel hub axle assembly and tensioner box should be installed first. It's much easier to make axle and wheel level adjustments to the left axle assembly flange bearing before drilling holes, bolting in place and mounting. Because of the tensioner box and the right flange bearing having a specific location, the right wheel axle assembly cannot easily be adjusted for leveling to the left axle.

Measuring tire to wheel well clearance, I located where the right idler axle assembly needed to go through the right wheel well back panel and cut a 2” high center slot left to right about 8” long, as the idler axle and the flange bearing will not be mounted to the wheel well back panel. They will be mounted to the bandsaw blade tensioner box. The axle will move within this slot to apply tension on the bandsaw blade.

The bandsaw blade tensioner box I made out of 3/8” thick flat plate steel. In the photos you can see the tensioner box with the acme rod setup (same setup and size acme rod as the leadscrews, one thrust bearing and two races, three nuts and same thread as the leadscrews) to move the complete assembly “tensioner box” (flange bearing, right axle, axle hub, wheel and tire) left or right, release tension to change a bandsaw blade or to apply tension to the bandsaw blade, with the use of the crank handle.

Note: The bandsaw blade guide flanges should have a gap between the back of the bandsaw blade when the blade is not cutting and is turning/running of about 1/16” to 1/8”, no more than that.

The box has an enclosed top, left side and bottom, 3' in depth and 8” long, 6” wide. The top and bottom have the length of the box 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8” angle iron welded to their outside edges, pleases see the photos. The 2” x 2” square tubing movable frame at the bottom of and under the box has a 1' x 1 3/4” wide 1/4” thick flat plate welded to it, with a slightly lose 1/8” gap between the wheel well back panel and the 1' x 1 3/4” flat plate. The bottom of the box and other side of the welded 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8” angle will be located in this gap and will serve as a guide for the box to slide back and forth. The top of the box has the same function with the welded 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8”angle iron. Took another piece of 1' x 1 3/4” wide 1/4”thick flat plate and a 1' x 3/4” wide 1/8” thick flat steel, welded it to the flat plate so as to create a 1/8” gap that I could drill and bolt it to the wheel well back panel above the box to cover the other side of the welded 1/2” x 1/2” 1/8” angle. Now the box will slide back and forth, not vibrate and hold the axle assembly tightly.

From the back side of the box the left side close to the top has a hole for the acme nut shoulder on the inside of the box and is bolted from the outside, this nut does not turn, and the acme rod turns in it. As you can see in the photos the acme rod has nuts to brackets, has a thrust bearing and races and is keyed for the crank handle. The acme nuts are tight enough to where there is no play and will hold tension on the blade very well.

Where the 2" square tubing is welded on to the box there is a 2” hole, the flange bearing is bolted inside the box over this hole and must be located so as to hold the axle at the center of the wheel well slot that was cut earlier. The right side of the box was left open to lock the bearing onto the axle shaft and to be able to grease the bearing.

As I mentioned earlier, the right axle shaft does not turn and the rear of the tensioner box has a 2” x 2” square tube welded to it and has four adjustment bolts, for up/down, left and right toe in and out. Both axles have this feature, to adjust bandsaw blade width “level” and tracking of the blade, the blade should track on both tires in the same location and again not be riding the guide flanges. The axle shaft was cut off just inside the rear of the square tubing about 1/16”.

This is not exactly what I have on the tensioner in the photo, as there are not that many thrust bearings and races installed but this gives you a good idea of what I did. Notice the shouldered leadscrew nuts. The shoulders center in the bearing races and why the races are recessed in the plate.

Step 11: Mounting of the Left Axle Assembly

IMPORTANT: Make sure the left driven axle is level with the right idler axle, if they are within an 1/8” of being level or less, the out of level tolerance can be taken up with the bandsaw blade guide adjustments, be no more than 1/8” out though.

Again measuring tire to wheel well clearance, I located where the left driven axle assembly needed to go through the left wheel well back panel and drilled a 2” hole, before drilling four 3/8” holes and mounting the other self-centering flange bearing , I had to locate the bearing placement. This was done by placing the bearing on the outside of the left wheel well back panel over the 2” hole. Installed the driven axle through it, leveled the axle horizontally (length of the axle), then leveled this axle to the right axle. Once the leveling was completed I then marked the bearing holes drilled them and mounted the bearing.

Made a mount for the pillow block bearing by welding a 2” x 2” x 8” square tube on one end at a right angle to a piece of 3/8” thick flat plate steel. Had another piece of square tubing that was the right size to slide over the piece of 2” x 2” square tubing I had just welded to the 3/8” thick flat plate. Drilled two 1/2” holes in the edge of the larger square tubing and welded two 1/2”nuts on it where the holes were drilled. Screwed 1/2” bolts in, to serve as a lock for the smaller square tubing. This made a locking point for the pillow block mount assembly.

Clamped the pillow block bearing on the flat plate and slid it on the rear end of the left axle, with the axle in a level position, I clamped the mount assembly to the rear of the vertical pipe on the moveable frame. This gave me the location to weld and then welded the larger square tube to the vertical pipe. Also welded a triangular plate to the large square tube and onto the vertical pipe for more bracing.

I then could mark where the pillow block bearing needed to be mounted, drilled and slotted holes vertically in the flat plate and mounted the pillow block bearing. This mount now serves to move the axle up and down and left to right, for toe in or toe out and for fine tune leveling, as the axle shaft will pivot in the flange bearing.

Marked the left axle for mounting the drive pulleys for the wheel tire assembly and the alternator. Removed the axle, cut the two remaining 1/4” x 1/4” x 2” long keyway slots. While installing the finished left axle, I also installed the alternator pulley and belt as these items must be installed between the pillow block and the flange bearings.

Step 12: Battery & Box

Built a rectangular frame for the base of the battery box out of angle iron, welded it to the rear left upright pipe, centering the base, just below the upper horizontal pipe. Has enough clearance to remove the battery box lid and make connections. Welded flat 1/8” plate strap to the frame base up to the horizontal pipe. Bought a riding lawn mower battery and box from Walmart.

Step 13: Rolling Frame Push Handle, Throttle, Start Switch Box & Choke

Cut an 8” pipe in half lengthwise, that fit over/around the left upright pipe. Welded a 1/2” flat strap on each edge, clamped the pipe back together, drilled four 1/4” holes in each strap, spaced apart evenly. Cut another length of pipe same size as the upright, cut a saddle in one end to fit the 8” pipe round, welded this to one side of it” center. The other side I drilled two 1/2” holes, welded ½' nuts over the holes and installed 1/2” bolts for tightening the push handle in place where ever needed. Mounted this to the upright pipe. Measured out about 10” and cut front and back 1/8” slots about 4” long, see photo. Made a SS handle lever with a center flat on the inside about 5' long and welded it to the lever. Fitted it to the push handle pipe, then drilled a hole top and bottom of the lever though the pipe. Made a pin out of brazing rod and inserted it into the holes making a pivot for the lever. Found some old control cables from a riding lawn mower and adapted one for the throttle. Pulled the old cable wire out of the housing, installed a coated flexible twisted cable and crimped on each end SS wire terminals knowing the length of the new core needed, the core slid through the housing easily. With the engine installed, I then connected the cable to the throttle, clamped it in place where needed, drilled a hole in the SS lever and connected the other end of the cable there. Had to loosen the nut on the engine throttle and add a spring to pull it back to the idle position. The starter switch box I welded tabs on the push handle and bolted the box to it. The choke I made an aluminum bracket drilled I for mounting, cut a slot in it for the choke lever, mounted the cable assembly to it and mounted it to two bolts on the 8” push handle mount. The other end I connected to the choke lever on the engine.

Step 14: Blade Cooling Tank

Yes it's a bucket, well not just any bucket, it' a Lowes blue bucket. Has a ball valve hose fitting and a blue hose mounted to the bottom end of it. the bucket sits on the wheel well with a flat strap frame around it. The end of the hose is mounted to the adjustable side bandsaw blade guide bracket, over the bandsaw blade. Fill the bucket with water, put the lid on, turn on the valve a bit to keep the blade cool.

Step 15: Front Safety Covers

The front safety covers should be hinged on top. Hinges can be welded to the inside straight of both covers, drilled on the opposite part of the hinge that was welded, place onto the strait of the left and right wheel wells wheel wells and clamped. Then clamp the covers to the curved 1/2” flanges, drill and bolt them in place. After bolting remove the clamps, if need be trim them up with a hand held sander/grinder to make them look nice. I did weld all these nuts to the wheel wells.

Step 16: Assembly

Well by now you should have the movable frame, leadscrews, modified winch, wheel wells, both axle hub wheel tire assemblies, bandsaw blade tensioner assembly, the engine, engine tensioner assembly, pulley's and belt, alternator, the alternator belt and pulley, center bandsaw blade cover, battery, battery box, throttle assembly, starter switch box, choke assembly, the cooling tank, cooling tank frame and front safety covers installed. It is now time to install the blade.

NOTICE: use all safety precautions from the manufacture of the bandsaw blade.

Set the blade around the tires and apply tension to it. Turn the blade with the pulley by hand, behind the saw, for initial adjustment and tracking of the blade, toe in/toe out and up/down level on both axles. Run the saw to fine tune adjust tracking of the blade, toe in/toe out and up/down level on both axles. If you chose to run the sawmill blade without the front covers being installed, which I strongly suggest you do not do and strongly suggest you do have the front covers installed.


NOTICE: Any and all procedures in building this sawmill, you do at your own risk, I take no responsibility for your negligence You are expected to use sound judgement and common since when building and operating this sawmill, with front and sheetmetal safety covers on at all times.

Installing the blade with tension is necessary to accurately install the blade guide assemblies. Make sure the tires are inflated to the same pressure of about 40 PSI. I also had an issue with the tires being out of round a bit, about a 1/4”, wheels and hubs were fine. Some of this can be dealt with by applying more tension to the bandsaw blade, but caution should be taken not to apply to much tension as this could damage the flange bearings or axle shafts.

Next item will be the bandsaw blade guides, guide adjustments, greaseable guide axles and bearing guides. Bandsaw Blade Guides, Guide Adjustments, Greaseable Guide Axles & Bearing Guides. The photos should make clear what needs to be manufactured to hold the bandsaw blade in a precise location to cut straight and accurately.

There are three bolt adjustments for the bandsaw blade to be leveled in width of the blade. One 1/2” bolt, threaded and nuts into angel iron, to act as the pivot and two 3/8” bolts to raise and lower the cutting edge/tooth side of the blade, again these three bolts are threaded and nuts in their mounting to lock these bolts in place after final adjustments are made.

Photos show the two leveling bolts threaded into a flat plate which is welded to 3” angle iron, the angle iron, pivots at its opposing angle mounted onto another flat plate that is welded to the 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” square tubing slider rail. The two adjusting bolts in the photos push against this same flat plate that the angle iron pivots on or mounted to.

Photos also show the slide rail and 2' x 2” square tubing slide rail mount. The slide rail mounts are welded to the bottom of the moveable frame, has two 1/2” holes drilled in it, two 1/2” nuts welded over these holes, with two 1/2” bolts screwed into it to lock the slider rail in place. The slider rail square tubing mounts have a welded seam inside them from being manufactured. The slider rails fit snugly in the square tubing mounts, so they had to be grooved with a grinder the length of each rail. They slide easily with little side play and each slide rail is aligned to each other.

Photos show the greaseable bolt which I drilled and pressed a grease zerks into, it also is drilled side ways to meet the other drilled hole so the grease can make its way to the bearings. This bolt serves also to mount the bandsaw blade bearing guides and the angle iron bolt hole it goes through is slotted vertically and the reason for the vertical 3/8” bolt threaded into the tab welded to the angle iron. This is for accurate down pressure adjustment for the bandsaw blade bearing guides, this applies needed down pressure on the bandsaw blade and to level the blade from left to right of each guide.

When welding the flat plate to the sider rails, I found it necessary to apply some down pressure to the bandsaw blade with the guide assemblies all together, bolted to the flat plate, this was due to the fact that the tires did give/flex a bit. Again make sure the tires are inflated to the same pressure of about 40 PSI. I also had an issue with the tires being out of round a bit, about a 1/4”. Some of this can be dealt with by applying more tension to the bandsaw blade, but caution should be taken not to apply to much tension as this could damage the flange bearings or axle shafts.

Step 17: Building the Rail Bed

This can be done/built in many different ways, depending on what you purchase or have available to you, what length and weight of logs you plan to cut and which direction you chose to go. You can build a fixed railbed on level ground if you never plan on moving the saw location, build it on a ready built trailer, and build your own trailer as I did or have both and one saw.

As I stated earlier I acquired four 12' shelving rails that already had a certain width, this width predetermined the diameter log I could cut on my sawmill. I decided it would be sufficient for my needs, so I had to build the saw with this width in mind. The saws rolling frame had to fit and roll upon it. I began leveling the two rails on a concrete slab, used a laser level. Butted the two rails end to end, welded them together, this gave me 24', lost about 4' do to the rolling frame start point, so I had 20' of cutting length.

Next, I setup the other two rails on top of the bottom rail, welded the top rails together. From rail bottom to rail top I wanted 1'. I calculated what spacing I would need between the bottom of the top rail to the top of the bottom rail to give me 1' total height. Using full scale measurements, with chalk, I drew all of this out on the concrete slab, then measured at 45 degree angles how much round heavy wall 3/4” diameter tubing it would take in 24', with 2” x 4” rectangular tubing every 4'. This gave me the needed amount of round tubing for both sides of the railbed.

Cut the rectangular tubing to length and the round, both ends on a 45 degree angle. Lifted the top rail bed off the bottom rail, installed/welded all the 2” x 4” rectangular tubing spaced equally, then all the round tubing, making sure everything stayed in level.

Made and welded all the saddles, log stops, log clamps, railbed support legs, tongue and bracing for the tongue, leaf springs, axle, wheels and tires all welded, cleaned, sandblasted, primed and painted.

Step 18: Information, Disassemble, Paint & Reassemble.

Here is a bit of information: formulas, where to buy your saw blades and a few other tid bits. The engine I bought from it will come with instructions of operation and wiring diagram.

The two 1 1/4” roller guides I bought from

Well, now it's time to disassemble the sawmill completely, sandblast the parts as needed, prime and paint everything, including the railbed, reassemble everything. Adjust the sawmill according to the instructions given and start cutting.

Step 19: In Summary

My home built band sawmill is now complete. I now have a video of it running and cutting a log. Hope you enjoy your sawmill build experience as much as I did. Of all the casting of aluminum, lathe work, millwork, cutting, drilling, threading, welding and wiring I did, it was well worth the effort. This build uses almost all the basic and some advanced metal working skills and will no doubt teach you a few more. I now have an accurate log cutting machine that will last many years and the best part of it is, I can repair any part on it. It did not cost me an arm or leg to build.

With all the photos and instructional information here you should have no problem building your own accurate cutting sawmill. As I stated earlier, I did not have a set of drawings to build any part of this sawmill. I used my skills and ingenuity and what materials I had available to me. If I can build a sawmill, others can to. I am a firm believer in whatever you put your mind to do, you can achieve. Last bit of information I would like to pass on and cannot stress enough would be, to have fun with the build, don't get in a hurry and most of all be safe in the construction and operation of this sawmill. Build sheet metal safety guards for all the moving parts. Please, please take heed of and seriously think about all the cautions, warnings, notes and notices I have in bold print.

Thank you: Jeff Nading

Metal Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Metal Contest 2016



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    29 Discussions

    Can't wait to see what you build with your freshly cut wood...

    1 reply

    I'm thinking a patio bar and long countertop out of mesquite wood

    WOW!!!!!! This makes me want to build one. Looks like you took a lot of care in building an amazing mill. We all hope to see some of your future Creations. Lots of steps to Creating such a Machine. You must be very Tired.

    5 replies

    Yes, the wench did not work quite as well as the winch did, and the remote would not work on the wench at all, but does work on the winch quite well. Oh your avatar is sideways my Assistant1111= John.

    Picture of emoji2.jpg

    I guess I should have checked my spelling with spellcheck, oh wait, wench is spelt correctly, but at any rate, what ever I get here I deserve, wench = WINCH. Hope your healing process continues, I've had to duck a rolling pin from time to time. Been married for 39 years now, just had our anniversary, so things are good at the moment.

    Avatar is Not Sideways....I am taking a Nap!!!!!! Again !!!!!!

    Oh ok, napping is a good thing, just not while driving or running the sawmill. He he.

    Thank you 1111, yes it took much time and determination, I think it to be well worth the effort, but now the real work begins, those future creations you mentioned. Fun times ahead.

    Amazing build. I've been looking at these for years and have been thinking of building one but have been intimidated with the shear (pun intended) amount of mechanical design required to create one. I've been using the chain saw method to cut boards from logs for several years now and having a big bandsaw to do this would be so much easier. Thanks for including all the details and safety concerns. v/r, Allen

    3 replies

    Thank you for the kind words Allen. I would love to see someone here build my sawmill. Even make improvements to the design for others to benefit from. I am amazed at the response I'm receiving from having posted my sawmill design here. There is so much interest in every aspect of building and creating here, that I have found a home. Instructables is truely a wonderful site to share knowledge.

    Thank you Allen for your contribution of planing slabs of wood, it will come in handy.

    Beautiful work! A minute and a half to make a cut like that is impressive.

    4 replies

    Thank you Alan, I think I'm going to automate the push/pull on the sawmill with a remote control as well. It will make it that much easier on an old guy like myself.

    A simple gate motor would do the trick for you there considering the work already gone in to it that'll be nothing to do.

    Yea, I have a new spare wench that came with a remote control. It will be a simple matter to set it up with a rheostat and the correct sprockets. That way I can speed the rolling frame up on return for another cut and slow it down for cutting.

    I hope that your Spare Wench with Remote Control will allow you to use the Spare WINCH you have set aside for the project. My Dear Wench will not allow me to have a Spare and when I tried to install the Remote Control it took me a week to walk without a LIMP......

    HOLY WOW!!! that's awesome!!!

    Well planned.

    Well built.

    kudos kind sir!

    1 reply

    WOW! this is amazing! I'd love to get my hands on some milled wood like that!