Harbor Freight Tools Band Mill!! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 568 Old 01-15-2009, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Harbor Freight Tools Band Mill!!

Recently received a flyer from Harbor Freight, which is a regular thing for me. I didn't see at first but yesterday I just happened to notice a small picture with a caption: [Our lowest price ever on this 7HP GAS MILL.] I had no idea nor did I think I'd see the day! Were any of you all aware of this and does anyone have any experience and/or info on it's operation?? I'de curious to hear how long it lasted. My experience with the few "Power tools? things" I've purchased there is mixed. Overall I feel I've got my monies worth but I'd be more than a little concerned at dropping $1699.00, which is really cheap for any mill.
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post #2 of 568 Old 01-15-2009, 05:03 PM
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7HP (as you already know having a mill) is not going to take you screaming through a hardwood log...but it will cut, sure 'nuff. A bandblade cuts a heck of alot easier that a chainsaw bar and 7HP is about the tops for the powerheads I see used on those.

If a guy had access to smaller softwood, or I guess hardwood, yep $1700 is cheap. It doesn't say what kind of 7Hp motor, that worries me a little. Will it run 2 years then have to be replaced. 22" max log diameter, again if a guy lived where there where no big ones or never planned on milling anything but little ones I guess that is not a deal breaker. I think those "ripsaw" mills that have been discussed here before are that much money and you have to supply the chainsaw powerhead yourself, so compared to them it looks like a bargain. It runs a 144" x 1 1/4" band, same as my mill.

Overall I imagine a guy would have to do some reinforcing here or there, and some tweaking to suit him...but for the guys running chainsaw mills, lets be honest they have about that kinda money in their setup (if they are able to really mill, not just make a bunch of noise and work their butts off doing it)

If I saw one in person I would look at a few things. The way the head is suspended/raises lowers to see if that looks well designed. The way the blade is tensioned, that is important. What kind of motor is it and is it warrantied. How flimsy is the deck (I'm sure it is, but just how bad) setting on a concrete slab would make it better, but I bet any place else it will be a problem. How does the carriage roll down the track, good solid steel wheels ? And lastly off the top of my head just the gauge of steel used on the sawhead.

(Maybe we can talk someone here into buying one...then we will know for sure )
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post #3 of 568 Old 01-15-2009, 09:30 PM
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I think I would feel more comfortable paying $3700. for a woodmizer mill. Looks like it is better built then the harbor freight one. just m opinion

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post #4 of 568 Old 01-15-2009, 10:44 PM
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I think I would take a chance on one of Hudson's ebay auctions for an Oscar 18 and cap it at that price, first. At least I would know where it came from and what powered it. Or just pay the money for a woodmizer LT10. They are on sale for $3700, the 10HP engine option is discounted to $299, and it stores in a garage. Hmm, do I see a new purchase in my future?

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post #5 of 568 Old 01-16-2009, 12:04 AM
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Here is a link to the product manual for the saw:
http://www.harborfreight.com/manuals...9999/99990.pdf
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post #6 of 568 Old 01-16-2009, 11:44 AM
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I would, pardon, I did, buy a used woodmizer.

I quit buying new trucks in lieu of 2 to 3 year old ones for the same reason. Some things I will not buy used, and although there is never any crystal ball, trucks and sawmills are two things you can buy and not get burned if you do your due diligence.

Wives too, really. In fact, sometimes the used ones are the best. They were not treated properly or else they would not have been available. Or else they did not treat their ex properly and got dumped. So like used wives, you have to do your due diligence and find out why the guy is unloading the sawmill.

Many times the reason is that the mill owner is stepping up in size/HP (very common because they discover size does matter), or they have had a decline in health (quite common among mill owners it seems) or else they need money badly (also quite common especially if they took out a loan to get it).

They do not usually sell a mill because it is a lemon, they get it fixed. But you still need to do plenty of digging on the mill before you buy it. Call the manufacturer with the serial number and find out all you can about it. Pull the dipstick and look and smell the oil. Ask to see his maintenance log. Don't ask if he has one just assume. Pop the radiator cap and look at the coolant. Ask him what the mix is. Hopefully he will say 50/50 or whatever your climate calls for. Feel and sniff to see if he warmed it up before you arrived. In fact, ask him when can you come to see it when it has not been run since the prior day.

See how well/hard it starts. Look at the hydraulic fluid (if you get one with them) and see if it has any milk. Mill an entire log with it before you buy it. See how accurate it cuts. How it sounds when it runs. Ask him what the quirks are. ALL used mills have some.

Talk to the owner in person if you can. I could not because I bought my used woodmizer from a guy in Michigan, but I spoke with 3 or 4 other sawyers who knew him personally not just on the forum where i found the mill. They all vouched with a great deal of confidence that his integrity was unimpeachable. Turns out they were right. I got a great deal. He even threw in several hundred blades. Several hundred literally. That was *after* we made the deal.

Best to buy from an individual and avoid the sawmill brokers IMHO. If you look to the used market, you can get a whole lot more for the same coin. JFYI good luck.

Last edited by TexasTimbers; 01-16-2009 at 11:57 AM. Reason: Another thought was added.
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post #7 of 568 Old 01-16-2009, 02:13 PM
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It is hard to find the smaller mills used. Either most of them never get upgraded since they are hobby mills, or hobby buyers don't know where to sell them except locally. I was drooling over a Lucas 618 on the sawmillexchange with 2 track extensions, dedicated slabber, less than 10 hours, for $8900. TT, you did say you could use a slabber sometimes didn't you? To bad it is about double my price range. Oh well, the longer I can wait the bigger my mill fund gets. At least I have cut enough wood(barely) to justify the Ripsaw, but the company owner died and I don't think they are in business because the Ripsaw homepage does not work anymore.

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post #8 of 568 Old 01-16-2009, 02:25 PM
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Jeff,

Small mills come on the market all the time. You just have to dig. Check CL daily. They don't last long unless they are over-priced.

Go to your county shopper website and put in a want ad. Check with manufacturers. Many of them have their own forums on their website and allow you to talk to the owners. Norwood has a fairly active members forum. Many manufacturers also keep a list of their customers who call them wanting to sell their mill. Some manufacturers stay in the middle to make a buck but not all of them do.

On the swinger, I prefer Peterson over Lucas. I did quite a bit of research and almost pulled the trigger on a Peterson but I decided to wait. I am going to look for a used 10" when I give myself the go-ahead. If I cannot find one with the engine I want I will buy a new one. I have plenty of trees on the stump way too big for the woodmizer and I believe a man could stay busy selling large book-matched Pecan natural edge tables. If not, I'll have fun cutting and making them.







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post #9 of 568 Old 01-16-2009, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Mills,Auto's & Women

Amazing how guys think! We are rather rational/logical oh' and linear. Afterall they say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line don't they? Too bad I had to go through my "ex" to get my "Present." Life is better than I deserve!

I am also looking at buying a slabber, we have way too many nice stumps that are monstrosities and are slowly turning into compost and it breaks my heart to see it. But want's are long and cash is short, so it'll have to be an incredible deal to get me to jump! It seems this could be the best time to justify a circular mill. I remeber as a kid watching my Grand-dad and father spinning that 60" blade and just smokin through Oak, Hickory etc... . I'd have too take out a full mortgage on our farmstead to finance a Big-Dog like that!
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post #10 of 568 Old 01-22-2009, 11:22 PM
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I wonder if they'd take the 20% coupon on that?
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post #11 of 568 Old 03-24-2010, 07:13 AM
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Harbour Freight lumber mill

Purchased the $1699 mill for hobby use, was expecting something that would need beefing up, seems to be more than expected. Assembled unit and cut 3 logs yesterday (16" to 20" X 12' max)...preliminary judgments:
Good things: 1.The $75 buck shipping actually brought a Central freight semi truck to our very rural front door (Bad? you better be home though, truck did not have a lift unloader, had to unload the 668# angle iron encased shipping box with my tractor forks).
2. It came 90% assembled, 1 hr bolting tracks together (surprise, good heavy angle iron, not the light channel pictured) and another 6 mere bolts for installing the upright guides (different from pic too.. they upgraded to 1 round and 1 square uprights pair), the cutting assembly head was totally ready with blade in place and tracking adjusted. 1 hr leveling, lining, and securing, and was testing on logs same day. The mill was very different from the one pictured in the online owners manual. "Addendum" owner assembly sheets showed new angle iron tracks, new heavier roller assembly, water cooler, motor mounting, guides, and bearing pulley's for the horizontal screw type head lift cable system (another improvement from cable twisting type shown in original online pics)...Bad? That pre-assembled unit was heavy (need lift or two friends with weak minds to get it on the tracks). Spent 10 minutes using an angle grinder to touch up close clearances between the improved heavier roller bearing wheels and the track angle iron cross-braces (a more patient assembler without an impact gun might do better lining up those pre-drilled holes).
3. Subaru Robin 7 hp steel jug engine. Not a commercial zipping production unit, but cut steady enough for hobby folks on green hard wood, centrifugal clutch seems strong enough. Bad? cheap plastic kill switch, added a heavier one closer to operator.
4. Cut 3 logs into various thickness (1 soft, 2 hard, debarked with Hudson chainsaw attachment), blade tracked true, roughcut 6'-12' boards uniform. Bad? found a 58 cal roundball in the wood my detector missed, wrecked the cheaper original longtooth blade, installed a better .042, 1.3t, 12 footer, re-adjusted blade tracking, guides for thicker blade (10 min) and was going again..
5. Was expecting much less, but so far no beefing up to lift assembly or tracking looks needed. We'll see how long the smooth starting Subaru lasts...(another nice thing was the flat plate engine mount...plenty of room all sides to add any engine you might want to upgrade to.) Bad? Now the wife wants her new carpet.
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post #12 of 568 Old 03-24-2010, 08:47 AM
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Very cool report, any pics or possible vid?
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post #13 of 568 Old 03-25-2010, 08:55 PM
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pics new hf mill

Ok, trying to add pics, camera setting is 3 meg per pic max, site wouldn't take that...think I have them compressed...remember, you're dealing with grandpa here...need grandyoungin' assistance for pics if this doesn't work...c
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosine68 View Post
Purchased the $1699 mill for hobby use, was expecting something that would need beefing up, seems to be more than expected. Assembled unit and cut 3 logs yesterday (16" to 20" X 12' max)...preliminary judgments:
Good things: 1.The $75 buck shipping actually brought a Central freight semi truck to our very rural front door (Bad? you better be home though, truck did not have a lift unloader, had to unload the 668# angle iron encased shipping box with my tractor forks).
2. It came 90% assembled, 1 hr bolting tracks together (surprise, good heavy angle iron, not the light channel pictured) and another 6 mere bolts for installing the upright guides (different from pic too.. they upgraded to 1 round and 1 square uprights pair), the cutting assembly head was totally ready with blade in place and tracking adjusted. 1 hr leveling, lining, and securing, and was testing on logs same day. The mill was very different from the one pictured in the online owners manual. "Addendum" owner assembly sheets showed new angle iron tracks, new heavier roller assembly, water cooler, motor mounting, guides, and bearing pulley's for the horizontal screw type head lift cable system (another improvement from cable twisting type shown in original online pics)...Bad? That pre-assembled unit was heavy (need lift or two friends with weak minds to get it on the tracks). Spent 10 minutes using an angle grinder to touch up close clearances between the improved heavier roller bearing wheels and the track angle iron cross-braces (a more patient assembler without an impact gun might do better lining up those pre-drilled holes).
3. Subaru Robin 7 hp steel jug engine. Not a commercial zipping production unit, but cut steady enough for hobby folks on green hard wood, centrifugal clutch seems strong enough. Bad? cheap plastic kill switch, added a heavier one closer to operator.
4. Cut 3 logs into various thickness (1 soft, 2 hard, debarked with Hudson chainsaw attachment), blade tracked true, roughcut 6'-12' boards uniform. Bad? found a 58 cal roundball in the wood my detector missed, wrecked the cheaper original longtooth blade, installed a better .042, 1.3t, 12 footer, re-adjusted blade tracking, guides for thicker blade (10 min) and was going again..
5. Was expecting much less, but so far no beefing up to lift assembly or tracking looks needed. We'll see how long the smooth starting Subaru lasts...(another nice thing was the flat plate engine mount...plenty of room all sides to add any engine you might want to upgrade to.) Bad? Now the wife wants her new carpet.
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post #14 of 568 Old 03-25-2010, 10:12 PM
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Additional note HF mill...

Well, looked at my posted pics, the 3 meg original version showed the things you folks were wondering about much better (lift assembly horizontal screw pulley system and thickness of angle iron tracks, roller wheels, etc) much better before I attempted to compress the things for site loading restrictions. Played with it a little more too this evening and have two further notes to add for anyone interested in one of these.
#1. Read the engine owner's manual wrong originally, found that I fibbed about the "steel jug" Subaru engine...the Cylinder itself is aluminum (OH valves), the cylinder inner CASING is listed as steel (piston cylinder casing sleeve...like most nowadays small engines).
2. Took one of the 6 ft rough cut boards (mesquite) and ran it though a Dewalt planer to test the uniformity...two light passes each side removed all saw mark ripples...looks like this thing may work for my planned hobby lumber projects...Next, off to harvest some virgin cedar, may have to slim some of these bigger trunks with my 70's model Alaskan mill to get them to fit into the 22" jaw width mill max...
3 If the Chinese thing self-destructs, I'll give a further post...off to play...c
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Ok, trying to add pics, camera setting is 3 meg per pic max, site wouldn't take that...think I have them compressed...remember, you're dealing with grandpa here...need grandyoungin' assistance for pics if this doesn't work...c
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post #15 of 568 Old 05-05-2011, 03:31 PM
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I know this is a very old post but I am curious how the mill has been holding up over the last year? I am considering getting one for my hobby and was wondering about your 1 year usage review.
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post #16 of 568 Old 05-06-2011, 05:22 PM
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I know this is a very old post but I am curious how the mill has been holding up over the last year? I am considering getting one for my hobby and was wondering about your 1 year usage review.
I've also been looking at the HF mill as I am a hobbiest and would only be sawing for my own use. I'd also like to hear how well it has held up.

The mill has been on backorder for several months and is now listed at $2000 vs the $1700 previously. According to an email from HF customer service, the mill is supposed to become available again this month.

I'm also looking at (and leaning towards) either a WM LT-10 or LT-15, again, strictly for sawing my own lumber. As a turner, I frequently have people offer me logs to be cut up for turning stock. The only problem is that I can only use so much turning stock. It's a shame to let the majority of the log go to waste ergo the interest in sawing them into lumber.
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post #17 of 568 Old 05-06-2011, 11:01 PM
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i want to get one of these. what a coencidence! i was gonna post about this same thing. how well does it work? how well is it built?
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post #18 of 568 Old 05-07-2011, 05:13 PM
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Another mill you might look at http://woodlandmills.ca/ looks REAL close to HF sawmill. 7 hp is real under powered, if you went with HF then bought a larger motor from them you would still be under $2,000 with coupons. Then a larger Clutch, going from 3/4" to 1" shaft.
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post #19 of 568 Old 05-07-2011, 09:47 PM
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Those are very sweet mills...makes me wish I was 20 years younger.

Harrison, at your service!
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post #20 of 568 Old 05-09-2011, 05:03 PM
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Another mill you might look at http://woodlandmills.ca/ looks REAL close to HF sawmill. 7 hp is real under powered, if you went with HF then bought a larger motor from them you would still be under $2,000 with coupons. Then a larger Clutch, going from 3/4" to 1" shaft.
Scrap both of these idea's Woodlandmills can't sell them in the US and Hf just went up on price to $2,500. back to WM lt-10
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