Bandsaw Comparisons

Thoughts on choosing a bandsaw mill, with some asides about related equipment such as debarkers and edgers. October 26, 2011

I'm really interested in buying a new hydraulic mill with a chain turner, and was curious what anybody has to say about these four mills, used or new does not matter. Seems like the B-20 is a great mill and plenty of used ones are available, but the advantage with them seems that some have pony engines to keep the band drive HP separated. I'm really leaning towards a diesel mill because there should be more torque, am I right in thinking so?

Can anybody please tell me the pros and cons about these mills and diesel vs. gas? I would even consider 3 phase because the mill will usually be indoors (not enclosed) but 3 phase is not available on my site and I also want the versatility to sometimes do portable jobs.

If I plan on having any of these mills sit stationary for a while, will its base have to be re-leveled frequently on the factory set ups? I purposely set up my little TK 1220 (fed with a 24' long gravity log deck and 5,000 lb. lift capacity grapple knuckle boom for loading) heavily bolted to 8x8 wood blocks with several additional 1-1/2" threaded rod leveling legs for lots of stability, so mill shake and rattle is a big concern of mine for a new mill.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor K:
Well the TK 2200 and the LT50 are about as close as you can get to compare one to the other. In mills of that size diesel is the only way to go if you want to move around. I have lots of hours on a LT70 and the chain turner is a very nice feature.

However if you are going to be sawing solo most of the time you will never be able to use the capacity of either mill to warrant the extra outlay of cash. While the LT70E does a great job if I am sawing alone I am better off using the LT40HDG25 that I have.

Both companies have good reps, warranty and service so you will not lose there. WM does have an office in PA which is not far from you. You should be able to buy a used machine of either one and that could save you money and get some extras to boot.

As far as the hydraulics you do not use them while you are sawing so you do not pull power away from the blade. Most engines have more than enough power for what most blades can handle any way. A large part of the time you not make the blade cut faster no matter how much power you have and the hydraulics can just do so much anyway. Where production comes is how fast you can load, position and adjust the log and how fast you can get the stuff out of the way once cut. I have seen an LT15 saw as much per hour as my LT70 it is just with a good set up the LT70 can do it all day long without killing you.

From the original questioner:

I can do about 1,000 board feet a day on my modified 1220, but I'm sick of killing myself! For engine horse power it looks like the TK2200's stock 49 hp Kubota diesel engine is a better bang for the buck (I do not understand why they offer a 49 hp JD engine as an upgrade costing $3,500 more) vs. 47 hp LT50 costing $3,000.00 more on the base price, then $2,700.00 for stationary controls which are stock on the TK, plus all four log stops are hydraulic, and the mill cuts 1' longer and 5" wider in the throat. Stationary controls are a must for me, I'm sick of walking with my small mill and I get enough exercise when I'm out logging in the woods dragging choker chains and the cable line on my skidder.

The debarkers are the same price, but if it hits a rock or something on the exit side, wonít it still dull the blade? Has anyone seen anybody rig up another debarker on the exit side? Do any TK2200 owners out there have anything negative at all to say about this mill?

From contributor A:
If the blade hits a rock or mud on the outside of the cut it may dull the blade a tiny bit but not like when it pulls it into the wood so that more teeth get to hit it. The debarkers are worth all the money they cost.

If you do not have an edger then pulling the boards back is not a big advantage. I have edgers behind both of my mills but when sawing solo I prefer to saw with the LT40 so I walk along and move the slabs and boards needing trimmed. It also allows me to look at the grade of the face I just cut to see if I want to turn the log or not. On the LT70 I have to flip the just cut board over to look at the face. When I am mobile I edge on the mill so I just pile the flitches up on the deck or loading arms and then edge back against the cant. I learned not to clamp the flitches to tight against the cant so after I cut I can pull them up and flip them over or put them back on the deck if done. No matter what you saw on you will still have to pick up that lumber and slabs and stack them. If you saw 2,000 bdft a day that is close to ten tons you will have to move.

From the original questioner:
I was considering an edger for a while, but in my situation I'm going to dedicate my TK1220 to edging. My current mill is set up with a 24' long 5 strand timber framed gravity fed log deck which I feed with a very large knuckleboom. If I rearrange the shop properly and weld up a new track to my manual mill to be 35-45' long I will be able to feed the log deck to the new hydraulic mill, then off load the flitches to the manual mill organized by width. Once the manual mill is loaded I can gang rip 3-5 organized piles containing many boards in two cuts, changing the height after completing each stack. The organization there will be key because the board faces will be hidden, but it should work very well.

For a one man operation I think this is the way for me to go. It might be a little more handling on the lumber, but my knuckleboom with grapple makes it simple. The shop will be packed with machinery, but everything will be aligned for easy slab and sawdust outfeed, and a large doorway for my trucks and trailers to back in and accept the lumber.

From the original questioner:
Edging against a cant is a great quick technique which I use on my manual mill every day. My TK1220 log clamps have flat surfaces to contact the wood it's clamping, but I think the sharp edge on the TK2200 would require some grinding to flatten out a bit so it does not stab board surfaces I'm edging, and cant sides that will be board edges. It depends on how powerful the hydraulic system is on the mill, I think if your delicate on the controls and know when it's clamped enough it should be fine. A sharp clamp might come in handy when you have a slightly bowed cant, maybe you can then stab it while pulling down and into the mini cant stops?

On your Wood-Mizerís can you use your log clamp to assist with log or cant turning if needed? I wonder if the log clamp may be a better turner for some certain situations? How do you feel about the claw turners on the Wood-Mizer LT-40's?

From contributor V:
I think the B2000 and the LT50 would be comparable except for price. The B2000 is all hydraulic except for the power guide roller which is electric. It's time for WM to redesign their mills and get away from electric feed, electric up -down , electric over hydraulic and everything else as hydraulics are more trouble free.

As far as power the 34 HP Kohler on the B2000 has plenty of power even in wide hard lumber but will use over 1 gal per hour where a similar diesel might be around 3/4 GPH. I really don't see the sense in buying a TK 2200 over the B2000 with the capacity the B2000 has and the 2200 costs a lot more. If you can find a B20 reasonable they can saw lumber fast but a little over a 30" log is about the limit without trimming, also the 27hp Kohler has nowhere near the power of the 34 ho Kohler. I put a 28hp Isuzu diesel on mine that has about the same power as the 34 hp Kohler. When buying new you can't beat a B2000 for the money.

From the original questioner:
To contributor V: Price wise I'd definitely lean towards the TK2000, not sure if that's what you mean by a B2000? Is that a B-20 cause I do not see a B2000 in a new TK brochure? I figured that for 49hp on a TK2200 the hydraulics and blade would receive enough hp, vs. how the old B-20's sometimes had the hydraulics on an 8hp or so pony gas motor, with 30hp or so directly to the blade. Why are the electric motors on the older mills seen as unreliable? Is it really the motors or the computer setworks or both?

From contributor V:
Oops I'm talking about the 2000 which I've run a little, I own a B20. The B20 has electric up-down and setworks which work great with a good cord reel. The 34 HP Kohler on the 2000 has way more power than the 27HP that my B20 came with. I think the mills with 50 hp diesels have more power than the blade can handle, just a selling point. Over on the other forum they seem to have a lot of trouble with the electric feed and electric over hyd pumps plus you can't use the hyd unless the head is almost all the way back, and theyíre hard on alternators and batteries. With the TK system the only hyd youíre using when cutting is the hyd feed which might take around 1 hp. On mills with electric over hyd they are always trying to recharge the battery from using the hyd.

From contributor A:
Once you have a flat face most of the time you flip the cant with the clamp. It is easy and sometimes when you have odd shaped logs you use both the claw and the clamp to get it to flip. The claw works very well 95% of the time but small and short logs often have to be flipped by hand, the Bibbyman mod helps with small logs.

The electric system on the TK and WM are very different. Now I have over 10,000 hours on a LT40 and have had to make a few repairs but the system has proven to be very good. It is easy to work on and WM is good at having repair parts and tech support. I never was a fan of the pony engine system of the TK for the hydraulics. Itís just another thing to fuel and take care of. But they work very well.

From contributor V:
Having been around both a claw turner and a chain turner I'd take the chain turner any day - it's a lot faster. I have over 8,000 hours with no hydraulic troubles on my B20 with the pony motor that I think is a way better system than an electric over hydraulic system, just open a electrical box on one of them. To each his own but I'll take a nice simple mill any day and I believe the new TK2000 is even better than the B20.