Circular sawmill vs. bandsaw mill

Written by chris baylor
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Circular sawmill vs. bandsaw mill
Cutting a log with a circular sawmill (fernsteuerung image by Frank-Peter Funke from Fotolia.com)

Circular sawmills and bandsaw mills are the two prominent types of sawmills used to cut logs into dimensional lumber. The very first sawmills used circular saws with very large blades, beginning in the early 1800s, with bandsaw mills coming much later. Both types are used regularly today as both stationary sawmills and portable sawmills.

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Speed

Circular sawmills are generally regarded as being able to cut much faster than bandsaw mills. The teeth on a circular saw are much more aggressive, with a larger waste capacity in between teeth than is possible on a bandsaw blade.

Waste

Because bandsaw blades are much thinner than circular saw blades, bandsaw mills create far less sawdust than circular sawmills. The wider kerf on a circular sawmill can turn as much as 10 per cent of a log into sawdust.

Portability

Both circular sawmills and bandsaw mills are available in portable models that can be taken to the site of the downed tree. This can be much more efficient than having to load large logs for transport to a stationary sawmill.

Accuracy

Because the blade of a circular saw is thicker, it tends to hold its shape much better than a flexible bandsaw. This can be evident in the freshly-sawn lumber. Bandsaw cut lumber may have deflections that require planing to make a board flat, where wood cut with a circular saw rarely needs planing.

A Third Option

A much less expensive option to bandsaw mills and circular sawmills is a mill using a chainsaw as the cutting tool. These saws aren't as fast as the other two types, but can be as simple as a cutting guide attached to a log to keep the chainsaw cutting on a plane. Chainsaw mills create more sawdust and chips than either of the two mills.

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