Types of Sawmills
Sawmills have been used since ancient times to cut logs into boards. Early sawmills were powered by water. Later, windmills, steam and electricity powered sawmills. Over the past two centuries, engineers developed portable sawmills, which are in widespread use today. Portable sawmills are sometimes called one-man sawmills. They can be transported to wherever the logs are being cut, reducing the transport needs for the lumbering industry.
Portable Bandsaw Mill
A bandsaw mill features a bandsaw attached to a log bunk. The log is placed on the bunk. The bandsaw blade is typically set on rubber wheels and the blade travels down the length of the log. The log bunks and tracks determine the thickness of the completed board.
Portable Chainsaw Mill
A chainsaw mill consists of one or two chainsaws attached to a pair of rails. The rails are able to sit on the log and travel across it while the chainsaw cuts the wood. The distance between the rails and the bar of the chainsaw is what will dictate the thickness of the board.
Portable Swingblade Mill
Swingblade mills use circular blades. They are gas-powered and are usually automated. They are typically used for larger logs and can be adjusted to cut many different sizes of boards.
Water-Powered Stone Sawmill
The stone sawmill, also known as the Hierapolis sawmill, is the earliest recorded example of a sawmill. Powered by water, it dates to the 3rd century A.D. These were used around the world for several centuries.
Windmill sawmills were developed in the late 1500s by a Dutch engineer who put a crankshaft on a windmill to power the sawmill.
Steam-powered sawmills were developed in the United States in the early 19th century. These types of sawmills were built in areas away from water and were far more efficient than older mills.
Today's sawmills are largely computerized and run on electricity. Computerized mills emphasize highly efficient production, along with safety and waste reduction. As they are expensive to build, they typically require a high level of production in order to return profits.
Gasoline-powered sawmills operate on a smaller basis than computerized sawmills. They were common early in the 20th century and exist on a small scale today. They are typically run by private entrepreneurs.
- Woodweb: Swingblade Mills Versus Bandsaw Mills
- "A Relief of a Water-powered Stone Saw Mill on a Sarcophagus at Hierapolis and its Implications", Journal of Roman Archaeology 20: 138--163; Ritti, Tullia, Grewe, Klaus, Kressner, Paul, 2007
As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.
- exterior of mcdonald bros sawmill, sherbrook, nova scotia, canad image by Gina Smith from Fotolia.com
- windmill image by Bruce Allinson from Fotolia.com
- planches image by guy from Fotolia.com