Harbor Freight sawmill.... - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 5 Old 12-30-2016, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Harbor Freight sawmill....

I'd been wanting a sawmill for a long time but never could justify the expense for a "mostly" personal use "toy". I finally pulled the trigger on the HF mill 3 years ago when it went on sale and I could use my 25% off coupon on it. It has given me my share of grief on occasion, but what can I expect for $2k?

This week has been adventurous - I started milling White Ash and snapped one of the cables that raise and lower the carriage. Spent the afternoon fixing that, and the next day milled some more Ash. I started getting "wavy" boards - time to change the blade ( I figured this out with help from you guys on WWT). First question: I seem to only mill about 200 BF before my blade goes dull - Is this due to excessive blade speed, tension, or is it the mill?

So I changed the blade right before I put the nice big Ash log on, and three feet into the fist cut I hit a nail! Changed the batteries in my metal detector and found 3 more, all concentrated in the middle of the log. So now I have 2 shorter logs. Changed the blade again and went to fire it up - the engine was seized! Must have thrown a rod. Am I cranking the RPMs up too high?

So today I installed a brand new 8 HP Predator (HF $239) and went back to milling ( after a two-hour break in). I started on one of the 4' logs that used to be 9' and 12" diameter. Got it squared up and took it slow, but had considerable movement of the cant while milling even though it was securely clamped down. Ash is hard wood! The last board I milled ended up tapered at the end, and my blade dropped a good 3/8" at the end of the cut. I ran it across again and shaved off maybe 1/8" from the end. Has anyone experienced this before? I'm used to having to lift the blade a little to bring the carriage back to start, but 3/8" or more? My guides are set right, roller bearings recently replaced (they freeze up now and then), and a fresh blade! Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated!
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post #2 of 5 Old 12-30-2016, 05:30 PM
where's my table saw?
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You need a complete tune up

You have several issues that need to be addressed... movement of the cant, non-parallel cutting, motors seizing and in my opinion, you now have an underpowered machine. I think it came with a 7 HP engine, but while replacing it I would have gone to the 13 HP motor.
Have blade guides and blade quality changed? Has the frame shifted?
You need better hold down dogs. Check it all over and see if there is something that can be improved. JMO.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-30-2016, 07:38 PM
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With the very low power and the less than ridged frame, My guess is the blade is being pushed out of straight. Blades dull quickly because the bark has a lot of dirt in it.
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-30-2016, 10:10 PM
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Board footages is the most argued /widely stated number when talking blades....ALL saws do different just as each brand blade does also....and one blade runs great on this saw but terrible on another.....SOOOOOOooooooo many factors involved in the equation of a blade and it's performance.

I sold Hud-Son mills for a few years and actually one of the better sawing mills was a low horsepower mill....it just had the right setup period, the Oscar 28.

My first question would be when new did it act this way???? IF not THEN something has changed....IF yes then it needs to tuned up correctly (www.Cookssaw.com has the best online directions for this, I've followed them and my Hud-Son Farmboss 36 cuts so much better) BUT don't expect alot due to it's a cheaply made HF mill. At one time Hud-son had a contract for one of their mills which was the Oscar 28 in HF colors....a great little mill.

Bearings...buy from a known bearing company and the best class they make...it pays off!!!! the blade bearings take a beating due to running the back edge of the blade...more when dull. I changed mine recently to a Cooks design BUT they're not cheap BUT they're good.

Dirt and rock in bark are tough on blades...harder woods like white oak is also. I believe we may have some threads on these discussions here.

I used to be the worse about pushing the blades beyond dull...ruined a lot of flat pieces that ended up tapering or waving. I hate to change a blade so I understand not doing it BUT it helps production/quality so very much.

The wider logs the worse pressure on all parts...BUT that's what I like to saw....just slow!!!
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Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
.......... http://www.tsmfarms.com .......... John 3:16-21 ..........
Reveling God's awesome beauty while creating one of-a-kind flitches and heirlooms.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-02-2017, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Tim!

Lots of useful information there. I think my first post was out of frustration from the many mishaps I had while trying to saw up only 4 logs. I gave it a rest while I went out of town to attend a friend's funeral, then came back tor try again. It seems that on THIS saw I have to run at full speed, and crank the blade tension as tight as I can. I pushed through those ash logs at medium speed and it seemed to do a lot better! Still a little wave in the boards, but they are usable. Once again, what can I expect from a mill that cost me $2k?
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