Affordable Sawmill – and Lumber
by Bill Reeks of Cromwell, KY
As we all know nowadays, costs are high on about everything. But ever so often someone finds a way to “get-around” some of these expenses. Such was the case for Bill Reeks when high winds broke, uprooted and damaged many trees on his forty-eight acres.
Bill was a Union carpenter (Local Union 141, Chicago) from 1947 up to 1984 when his arthritis forced him into retirement. Knowing many board feet of nice lumber lay within these logs if only there was an “affordable way” to make these many logs into good, accurate lumber. Since Bill has a woodworking shop complete with good equipment that could turn this lumber into many nice things, he decided to build himself a band sawmill out of the “left-overs” from many years on construction jobs.
After three months of “part-time” (“Ol’ Arthur” requires days off) sketching, taking inventory, measuring, sawing, drilling and welding, Bill had his “mill”. When the first log was sawed he had a feeling like a “kid at Christmas morning!” Yes, a New Toy! It sure did the job well, and has continued to do so for near four years. And NO “problems” yet! A few “conveniences” have been designed and added along the way. Bill spent less than $100 for the necessary parts, such as one 58″x1-1/4″ blade, two V-belts, and a centrifugal clutch to allow blade to stop when engine is idle.
Although an 8 horse power vertical shaft engine with 12 volt electric starter was the original power source (as he had it on a yard/garden tractor), it’s been replaced with a 16 horse power horizontal shaft also 12 volt electric start engine that allows more lumber to be sawed as blade speed is now increased by changing the belt/pulley ratios. The 8 horse power engine was used about two years and good, accurate lumber was made okay, but the extra horse power is better for production.