5 Best Portable Sawmill (November 2019) – Buying Guide

Whether you’re a timber owner wanting to saw their own lumber, or a professional sawyer looking for sawmill for commercial use, the importance of choosing the best portable sawmill can’t be denied.

The market of portable sawmills are thriving today all thanks to people wanting to DIY themselves around cutting trees or sawing lumber from salvage trees. 

No matter the reason for your purchase, we’re here to guide you on how you can buy the best one. 

For your convenience, we’ve found out five of the best sawmills according to us and listed them below!

TOP PICK
Why it's our top pick:
  • All-steel bed 
  • Auto-locking sawhead
  • Kohler Command Pro engine
  • Adjustable height of operator station

Norwood LM29

Editors Rating:
TOP PICK
Norwood LM29
Why it's our top pick:
  • All-steel bed 
  • Auto-locking sawhead
  • Kohler Command Pro engine
  • Adjustable height of operator station
TOP PICK
Norwood LM29
Why it's our top pick:
  • All-steel bed 
  • Auto-locking sawhead
  • Kohler Command Pro engine
  • Adjustable height of operator station

Top Portable Sawmill

HP

Size (In)

Engine

Price

Norwood LM29

14.8

192 x 71 x 61

429 CC 

Wood-Mizer LT15

19

144 x 75 x 75

-

Wood-Mizer LT10




Central portable sawmill

7

144 (w) x 0.048 (l)

280CC

Timber Tuff TMW

-

154x 71x 66

306CC 

First Off; What Is A Portable Sawmill? 

What is a portable sawmill

A portable sawmill is a handy version of the conventional sawmill that sawyers can move to their desired location. 

They offer much more benefit than the conventional sawmill because sawyers can move them to trees or to the site where sawing is required.

This is advantageous to the sawyer as not all logs can be carried to the machine for lumber. 

These machines are used for cutting timber with efficiency and speed. However, a sawyer must perform planning and drying before lumber is produced. 

These are more commonly used in producing timber products that are not readily available in lumber yards.

Sawyers can use this machine to generate income, as providing sawing services to customer using this mobile device, cutting up and selling the lumber, or cutting lumber and giving it to vendors that produce an end product through it.

The portable sawmill effectively replaces the conventional drawknife as the former cost more time and effort. The portable versions, however, are much more time-efficient and can be used in log building.

The machines are also used for generating low volumes of hardwoods specifically used in furniture.

Moreover, they are also used to produce timber for post-and-beam framing methods. 

Sawyers use portable mills for their own projects—as a hobby or part-time job—or in more commercial settings too for earning an income. En though some of these mills are quite pricey, the ROI from them justifies the price. 

Some mills come with hydraulic systems for loading logs which is quite advantageous for the sawyer.

However, these are expensive and sawyers on a budget tend to buy the non-hydraulic ones and do manual lifting of logs.

While the non-hydraulic ones have the main bed close to the ground so that the logs can be rolled onto it; however, manual loading is still a problem.

Moreover, if rolling is required while the logs are on the bed, the sawyers can find themselves in a difficult situation.

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How To Select The Best Sawmill According To Your Need ?

How to choose a portable sawmill

If you ever survey the market, you’ll find a plethora of sawmill manufacturers providing the latest of equipment and accessories.

However, the kind of mill you should be purchasing depends on your particular need for the equipment. 

Subsequently, your need influences the accessories, design and price of the mill that you should be buying.

For instance, a mill for daily use will be different than the one which is for part-time work; a mill you would need for commercial purposes needs to be built with more specifications and features than the one you would use for lumbering for your personal use.

At the end of the day, you want to buy a mill that is a perfect fit to the kind of operation you would be performing. This will cause less stress and strain to both you and your mill. 

So how can you determine which mill you’d need? Keep reading to find out.

What Is It That You Want To Cut?

Before you decide on which mill you will be purchasing, determine what products or log size you will be working on. Mismatched log size and mills can cost you money, material and time.  

If you will be handling smaller trees, a large mill might not handle it efficiently and you may lose material. Moreover, the cost of a large mill will be great.

On the other hand, a small mill can easily be damaged by large trees or logs and waste your money and material. Therefore, the diameter and length of logs should be used to determine the mill size. 

Moreover, you should consider kerf value (the amount of sawdust) that is important while sawing valuable wood. Chainsaw mills give kerf of approximately 0.40 inches, circular mills giving a range of 0.2-0.3 inches worth of kerf and band mills giving 0.06 to 0.12 inches.

If you’re sawing valuable wood, go for band mills that give the lowest ratio of wood lost to the sawdust.

Being Mindful Of The Production Capacity Of The Mill

Another factor that you need to consider before buying sawmill is its production capacity. If you saw as a hobby, you may not need sawmill that’s able to produce 30,000 board feet every day.

However, if you’re looking for sawmill for your business, you need to look for both production capacity and durability. You can talk to the manufacturers about the production capacity of their mill and they’ll guide you regarding the matter.

Keep in mind, however, that the more capacity a mill has the higher is its price. 

Moreover, ask the manufacturer about the production efficiency of the mill. As mentioned above, kerf value is a determining factor in choosing a mill.

Band mills that produce low kerf value are slow producers that a sawyer needs to avoid if they seek production from the mill.

Do You Need Hydraulics?

The importance of hydraulics can be explained from the fact that they reduce the manual labor employed in the equipment.

They significantly reduce log handling time which can lead to greater production and reduce the stress on the sawyer’s back. 

In short, they can make your sawing work much faster and easier. 

However, hydraulics can add to the costs of the machine.

Therefore, you need to find out if a mill with hydraulic loading arms will serve you best or a front-end loader would be more suitable for you; whether you would want hydraulic turners or cant hooks would be fine for your particular job; whether you need to have hydraulic or motorize feed-works or you would go for pushing saw manually before you invest in a hydraulic equipment.

Accessories

Another very important factor for choosing sawmill most-suitable for you is accessories.

Sawmills can come with various accessories, including a sawyer’s seat, sharpening systems, extra bits and bands, etc.

However, all of these come with extra charges and you need to determine if you really need those accessories or not.

Sometimes, accessories are absolutely necessary and other times you don’t need them at all, it all depends on the nature of your operation.

A sharpener or setter system on your mill can cost you a few thousand dollars. Many sawyers sharpen their blades themselves and some send them off to a sharpening service.

Moreover, many find it cost-effective to dispose of their blades after a few hours of operation. The kind of job you want to perform with sawmill can determine what option would be best for you. 

Our Selection Of The Best Portable Sawmills In The Market Today!

With thousands of sawmills available online, which one do you choose?

We’ve gathered here top five portable sawmill manufacturers who offer equipment at prices suitable to nearly every sawyer, an extensive range of sawmills that a sawyer can avail according to their particular job and accessories that can enhance their mill as their needs. 

Number 1 on our list is: Norwood LumberMate LM29 

Hands down the Norwood Lumbermate has got to be our top pick for the best sawmill!

Designed and built for all kinds of projects and for satisfying all sawmilling needs.

The portable milling operation of this machine is reliable and one that is fit for all sawyers out there. 

  • It has an all-steel bed
  • Auto-locking sawhead
  • Kohler Command Pro engine
  • Can handle logs of 29 inches diameter and 22 inches width
  • Perfect for ground-level milling and mid-sized sawmilling jobs
  • Adjustable height of operator station
  • It requires assembling, so you’ll need to research everything and find out which part goes where. 


The Runners Up Is : Wood-Mizer LT15 

This compact machine is our runners up for the best sawmills category.

The machine is perfect for hobbyists, timber farmers and small businesses with log capacity of 28 inches in diameter and 17 feet 8 inches in length.

You wouldn’t have to lift the logs much to the machine as it is close to the ground. It is easy to operate, produces high quality timber and is versatile in its operations.  

  • Allows for 6’8’’ bed extensions.
  • Blade tension can be adjusted.
  • Maximum log. 
  • Minimum waste.
  • Cuts up to 320 bd ft/hr.
  • Can’t be used for large-scale projects or commercial purposes

On Number 3rd Is A Pricey Contender: Wood-Mizer LT10 

This is a little pricier than the rest; however, it’s more robust, durable and has a good capacity for logs. It has better manufacturing and welding and can be used for bigger projects.  

  • Durability.
  • Bigger log capacity.
  • Capacity 24’’ diameter and 11 feet length.
  • Easy handling.
  • Lubrication system.
  • It requires manual rolling of logs onto the main bed.
  • Unsure measuring system.
  • Difficulty in rolling the logs that are already on the bed
  • No advanced functionalities.

Also competing is : Central portable sawmill (a good choice) 

This is a lightweight and compact sawmill that has a capacity of 22’’ diameter and 20’’ length of logs. It has a gas engine that runs on regular unleaded gasoline.  

  • 20 in cutting capacity.
  • Engine of 7 HP.
  • Blade included.
  • Maximum speed 3279 \RPM.
  • Blade size 1-1/4 in. W x 144 in L x 0.048 in.
  • Not for commercial projects.
  • No advanced functionalities.
  • Not much accessories included.

Our Last One: Timber Tuff TMW-2020SMBS

This is a powerful and reliable option for sawyers who are looking for robust sawmills.

Made with durable steel, the machine can saw logs up to 20’’ in dia and 20’’ width with log length going up to 110’’ long.

Because it’s portable, the equipment allows you to move it wherever you want. The product is long-lasting and comes with a manufacturer’s warranty for parts of 1 year. 

  • 306cc Briggs & Stratton engine.
  • US Lennox blades 144’’ x 1.23’’ x 0.035’’
  • Extremely heavy (be careful!)

Summing It All Up....

There you have it, a list of the best portable sawmills in the market with their advantages, exceptional features and some drawbacks.

For us, the Norwood Lumbermate LM29 is the clear winner among the competing sawmills brands.

The reason for this equipment being the winner is that it is versatile, suitable for all sawyers and for all kinds of lumber projects, which cannot be found in the other ones.

The other sawmills are for a particular feature, such as being only for hobbyists or only for commercial uses.

As mentioned above, a portable sawmill replaced a conventional one for its convenience and efficiency.

The Norwood Lumbermate LM29 provides both as it is adjustable and has a powerful engine for maximum efficiency.

However, we suggest you follow the guidelines given in the text and find the sawmill that best fits your needs. Only when you outline your requirements will you be able to purchase the best sawmill for yourself.

Eye the details carefully and find reviews for the products as much as you can.

Until then, TIMBER!

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