Log and Board Handling Equipment

Sawmillers discuss the equipment they use to move logs and lumber around the mill. July 15, 2012

Does a telescoping sky lift work in a sawmill operation? Does it work well unloading logs off a trailer and moving logs around in the yard and to the mill? How about moving the finished material?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
I find that a forklift works the best for what it sounds like you need. I love mine and use for many more things that just my sawmill business.

From the original questioner:
I currently use a JCB 6,000 lb fork lift. The mast can raise 21 feet and I have almost taken the sawmill shed down a couple of times. Also it is not 4X4 and I can't use it except around the mill. Iím looking to replace with a 4x4 loader, then I ran across the sky lift below that is in great condition. I just don't know a lot about them.

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From contributor X:
In the mid 90's I was a sub on the construction of a Albertson's store and I ran one nearly every day for a couple of months. They're great for building a big store but around a sawmill I think you'd regret it because the turn radius is too wide.

I'm spoiled as I rarely handle huge logs so I use a skid steer around my mill and in the woods. Once you use one you'll never want to use a tractor or fork lift again. Of course if you're handling really large and long logs then you have to have the appropriate equipment as skid steers do have their limits also.

From contributor M:
A telescoping, all terrain forklift is invaluable. You can boom over the mill and handle offcuts, reach over stacks of lumber to load other stacks, and load on trailers easier. Skid steers are good but you have serious load issues and they tear up the ground a lot more than an all-terrain. Get one with switchable steering from crab crawl, to two wheel, to dynamic.

From contributor B:
Weíve had a Terex 5519 with telescopic boom for six years now. It works well at most anything around the sawmill. Itíll get around well on gravel and dirt but is not an all-terrain machine. It will lift 5,500lbs without extending - about 2,200 lbs extending the boom out 9í. It will lift a total of 19'. We liked it so well we bought a second Terex, a 6623. It will lift 6,600 lbs and extend out 12í. Both machines will go under an 8' tall door opening.

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From contributor C:
I have a traditional forklift, skid steers, tractor, etc. that I use around the farm and in barns. For my sawmill and log handling my extended reach forklift is by far the best piece of machinery to move logs. I recently muscled a 54" 10 foot white oak onto my Peterson mill with a little gentle coaxing. Once wood is roughcut the traditional forklift helps with moving stickered stacks in and out of the shed.

From contributor X:
I stand corrected then. It sounds like a forklift may be the best machine for the job. I just don't remember them having a very tight turn radius and thinking they wouldn't be very efficient with a smaller log lot like most of us have. They've probably improved the turn radius in the last 20 years, or else I just don't remember it accurately to begin with. Glad to know I learned something already today and the day is still young.

From contributor C:
The turning radius is an issue when moving finished product but not so much moving logs. Additionally, my extended reach lift is a Bobcat Versahandler with selectable all wheel steer and crab crawl steering in addition to traditional front wheel turn only.

From the original questioner:
Thanks all for your responses. Contributor C - what are the issues with moving lumber? That was the main objective to purchase the equipment. I'm having trouble putting lumber in the building with my current fork lift. The mast is too tall. I'm also looking at a wheel loader.

From contributor C:
I can imagine with your all terrain fork lift the doors could be an issue (these are pretty sweet machined otherwise); my forklift is a small 5000# max lift and is only 6'8" mast when lifting less than five feet or so, with hard rubber tires. It works for me because I have a concrete floor in my barn, and in the shed on the side of the barn I have my mill setup on. If I go off concrete with it Iím dead in the water so to speak.

The only issue I have moving wood into barn is if I cut anything longer than 12 feet it won't go through doors. I plan to fix this by making a couple of pallets soon with wheels so I can set wood on these and then tow it through the door before I put it wherever I want in the barn. For now I do have a few pallet racks outside under the shed the I can put some wood on, but the space is filling fast. Maybe a higher barn door would be the least expensive alternative? Once itís through the door is the height ok? If thatís the only problem then I would hate to not use such a wonderful all-purpose machine as yours.

From contributor Y:
I have a Lull 6000# 37' all terrain and wouldn't trade it for the world. Itís great for handling logs as well as many other uses around the farm. Similar to what was said earlier get the crab and 4 wheel steer, the extendable boom comes in handy for so many things.