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Thread: Harbor Freight Sawmill- Now we can do it all.

  1. #1

    Harbor Freight Sawmill- Now we can do it all.

    Good morning, I was looking on line at Harbor Freight for a spare tire for my trailer and was a little suprised to see they are featuring a portable sawmill for 1,999.99; a Central Machinery Industrial 67138 Portable Sawmill. I just found it interesting that this aspect of woodworking- the milling process is now widely available to everyman. I am just posting for general interest.

    Initial reviews were good and they are already backordered. I've been generally aware of this level of mill, didn't realize they approached this pricing although it appears to go through blades so ad that expense to the process.


    Specs:
    • Maximum log diameter: 22"
    • Maximum board width: 20"
    • Blade size: 1-1/4" W x 144" L x 0.048" T
    • 1 TPI
    • Maximum output: 7.0/4000 HP/RPM
    • Expected arrival date: 5/9
    • Overweight Item subject to $89.95 additional Freight Charge
    Overall length: 63" @ crank handleBlade wheel dimensions: 18-5/8" diameter x 1" W (qty. 2)Bed length: 12 ft. 9-5/8"Bed inside width: 35-3/4"Shipping Weight: 705.00 lbs.

    Happy woodworking,
    Larry Rasmussenmill.jpg

  2. #2
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    Check out what they have to say about it over on the Forestry Forum.

    Not so good.

    And for very little more you can have a manual WoodMizer and have an actual company to back you up, made in the USA no less.

    Larry

  3. #3
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    Aug 2004
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    The price is now $2499. Very close to what you can get a Woodmizer LT10 for.

  4. #4
    Yes, saw that about a year ago.
    I have no problem buying things from HF but would never take a chance on a $2K item. Unless there were some good reviews from the Creek. Even at that I think I would go the $3K for a low end Woodmizer.
    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

  5. #5
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    That is OK is you are cutting a few small logs a year. It is also OK if you like to fix things that tear up! Logs are very rough objects. They are wet, heavy, dirty, sometimes straight, and are hard on equipment. That mill probably will not hold up to anything but light use.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Here's my take on ~ 98% of what HF sells.

    They target the "wanna be" buyer.

    This mill is a perfect example.
    Say I "wanna be" a woodworker. I do a little reading online and find out wood is expensive. That big old tree in the side yard starts to look like a real good candidate for some new kitchen cabinets....
    I price out what it would cost to buy the wood from the borg and find that it exceeds the cost of the American Woodmark cabinets they sell by quite a bit.
    I stop by the local lumberyard and find out the stuff they sell is all rough looking - not nice and smooth like the twisted pieces on the shelf at the borg...

    What's a "wanna be" to do?

    Simple. I'll mill it myself!
    I start looking at mills and see a Woodmiser mentioned - so - I plug that into Google and Google says, "do you mean Wood-Mizer",,err, yeah I guess I do so I hit yes and it takes me to the website where the first thing I see is priced at a little over $10k.
    Quick as a flash I stab the backspace key & reread the page...
    "Portable Sawmill", that's what they call those things - so that's what I plug into Google.
    err,,wrong direction here...there's pictures of these things w/price tags in the $17 to $20k range...
    So -- I start to thinking about the goofy kid nextdoor that's always working on some beat up piece of junk in the driveway..
    Where is it that he said he buys all his tools for cheap? Hairball, Harcott, Harbinger,,,,it's H something.....

    Back to google I go - and plug in "portable sawmill - and the letter h...hmmm,,,Hudson, Hardwood, Harbor,,,HARBOR! That's it HARBOR FREIGHT!!

    There it is!!! Right there a few links down. Rediculosly low price, 2800CC 7HP gas - YeeeHaw!! Lumberjacks of the world watch out! Here I come!
    I hit the link - see the price and can't buy one quick enough! 1/4 the cost of that Woodmiser thingie...

    I go to the store, find that the thing is too big to fit into my Rav4,,,,so I have to rent a truck and drag it home...three months later I get the thing all put together (w/a little help from the neighbor Ray and a lot of beer) and fire it up. Works like a champ! 'course there's nothing to cut - but Ray and I have alot of fun cutting up air - then later on - the empty beer cans from all the beer we drank cutting up all that air..

    I happily drag out my 12" Remington electric chain saw and prepare to attack the 5 foot around tree with it. Ray mentions something about using a bigger saw. I ignore him - after all - I'm the lumberjack - he's just jacked up on beer.
    Two and a half hours later and with some bark skinnned off the tree - I announce to Ray that were heading to "the Depot" for a bigger gas chain saw.
    Ray and I pile into the Rav4, hit "the Depot", where we run into the goofy kid from next door. I guess he has to do something to pay for all those pieces of juk he drags home...I aks him,"Kid, I want the biggest and baddest chain saw you got. I'm taking down the big tree next to the house. After that, I'm going to be going into business milling lumber, so, I want a good one".
    $1500.00 later, Ray and i are ready to go after the tree again. Chain saw? Check. Ear muffs? Check. Goggles? Check. Bar oil in? Check. I pull the cord & nothing. I pull it for 15 min & nothing. Ray pulls it for 10 min, then throws up. I shut off Ray's beer supply...Ray asks if I have enough gas in the saw....I hand him another beer and tell him to shut up...then when he's busy throwing up again, I sneak some gas into the tank...

    Brrrrrrrrrrr - YehawWW! Now I'm in business! The big 24 inch saw goes through half the tree like butter...then gets stuck...
    No problem - we wrap a chain around the tree and hook it up to the Rav4. The Rav 4 mightly spins it's 4 wheels & chews the ever living daylights out of the yard...
    Well, pulling it didn't work - I ask Ray for another beer while I mull this over.
    6 beers later and a lot of mulling, it hits me that we should push the tree, not pull it.
    I unhook the chain, slam the Rav4 into gear and slam it into the tree.
    hmmm,,,best guess here is about $2k in damage to the front end.
    Who cares? Ray and I are on a mission from God to knock down the tree.
    I wrap the chain arpund the tree and try one more tug. The tree moves! Enough so that the chais saw falls out. It bends the bar like a pretzel, but, who cares, the tree moved! I tug and tug and tug & finally the tree comes down!!!!!
    God was smiling on Ray and I because the tree missed us and the Rav4.
    Too bad God wasn't as fond of the porch....

    Next day - with a roaring hangover - I decide to list the sawmill on CL.
    I don't want to take a beating on it - so I price it the same as that Woodmiser thingie...

    My wife sells it a day later for $500.00 to the guy that she hired to clear away the debris that used to be the porch...

    My "wanna be" a woodworker days come to an end.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    My wife sells it a day later for $500.00
    When can I pick it up?
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  8. #8
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    I expect that your experience with this thing would be no different than the experience with anything else they sell. That is to say that the 30 minutes that would elapse between when you started using it and when it broke would be very frustrating, inaccurate and unsatisfying - oh, and given what you are doing you can add dangerous to the list in this case.
    Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
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  9. #9
    Gave me a chuckle.

    The funniest part about the HF specs is 7.0HP and 22" max log diameter. I highly doubt the mill itself would handle an average joe slamming a 20"+ diameter log on the bunks but then trying to get through it with 7HP would be less than enjoyable. Like in your parody the scary part is how many people will face near death just getting the log to the mill in the first place forget about sawing it up.

    Thats the HF motto though, a 1/2" chuck corded drill and when you chuck up a 7/16" bit and start into your pilot hole the drill stalls with nary a faint humm while you only have one hand on it.

    Mark

  10. #10
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    I find it funny that most folks complain about HF, they sell tools that are inexpensive for people who need to do things on their own once in a while. For me I buy the things that I have an interest in but not sure I need to spend the big$$$ on a brand name item yet. So I spend a little money on a tool and for me with almost 30 years in commercial/industrial heating and air conditioning install and fabrication of most everything, I know how to use the tools correctly and understand how they work and what I should expect from the tool. So if the HF tool fits into the process I am looking for it to do I will use it until it wears out, so far I have only had one thing wear out and that was after 2 years of heavy use on a portable band saw, since I spent the little bit for the extended protection I got a new one and it is working just fine. I have 3 welders, a couple of grinders, angle drill and other items that are all still working just fine. If you do a little PM on them every day and maintain them even the cheapest tool can give you years of service.

    On the sawmill, Just because it says it can handle a 20" log that does not mean that you should put 10'x20" log on it the first time you start the engine. Like it has already been said it is for the homeowner who has a small woodlot and wants to cut a bit of lumber off of it for personnal use, not to be used for 8 hour days of 18-20" logs, the 7HP engine should be the first thing that tells you that. I have been using a Woodmizer mill for almost 30 yrs so I do have some knowledge on the subject.

    So in my opinion if you are a Sunday Sawyer and want to have it around for occasional lumber sawing, it should do that with ease. But you still need to learn how it works, what it takes to make lumber, how to perform all maintenance and adjustments on it to keep it running well to get the best performance out of it. Like all machines, you just can't start it up and expect to be a master of the machine in the first 5 minutes. Patience, education and a little common sense goes a long way in everything we want to try.

    Good luck to anyone who decides to buy one,

    Jeff
    To turn or not to turn that is the question: ........Of course the answer is...........TURN ,TURN,TURN!!!!
    Anyone "Fool" can know, The important thing is to Understand................Albert Einstein
    To follow blindly, is to never become a leader............................................ .....Unknown

  11. #11
    Jeff,
    I agree with the concept of what your saying however I guess there are just two camps. While I do know of a few people who seem to be willing to accept the trade offs in lieu of the illusion of saving money, the vast majority of individuals I know and nearly every professional I know, has either learned the hard way with regards to HF or are lucky enough to be able to learn by watching others. I have personally never bought anything substantial there though I have picked up some name brand items they had on the shelves (pony clamps, jorgensen, etc.) on the couple occasions I have been in there. I have been around people, tradesmen and otherwise, who have owned, and watched them try to use, many of their tools and I cant say I have been impressed or questioned my opinion of their quality a single time.

    I have a funny HF story, was on a job and needing to open several 1/4" holes up to 3/8" in some 1/4" plate. I was taking the parts back to the shop to drill on our press but the customer said "hey just go ahead and use my drill press". I normally dont use customers tools period, but in this instance I said what the heck. Walked in to the HF drill press and sitting beside it is an HF drill index 64ths up to 1/2" all shinny and new. I grab the 3/8", chuck it up set the speed, lower the quill, and the instant the bit hit the steel the cutting edge of the bit stopped dead and with utter shock I watched the drill press "unwind" the bit. It literally "untwisted" a twist drill. The bit was softer than mild steel. Never snapped, never cut the first chip. For the heck of it I tried the 13/32", same result. I showed them to the customer, asked him if I could keep them, he said yes, and have them to this day. I can only assume, as many likely do, my customer just tossed them rather than getting a replacement or money back, and likely buys from them to this day.

    Having worked in, on, and around, peoples homes as a contractor for the majority of my adult life I equate most HF stuff with that of cheap exercise equipment you see on TV infomercials. The stuff sells like gangbusters, but you walk into most homes and somewhere in the basement, garage, attic, there it all is piled up in the corner because when you put it to use it was rickety rackety, fell apart, broke, didnt perform as advertised, or just aggravation. I go to a lot of local auctions and there are always piles of this equipment, and usually a pile of harbor freight tools.

    After that there is the deeper issues of where those tools come from and whats left in its wake, but lets not go there.

    I guess for me, with tools being such a big part of my work I feel I have somewhat shaken the monkey on my back that is getting off on "buying tools". That said, I have spent nearly my entire life acquiring, using, and appreciating, decent as well as really nice quality tools not to mention profiting from them. That alone, for me, means I just cant support a company that would "do" tools like they do. I dont pray to any tool god, and its not to say everyone should buy Festool (I dont own any). And by no means should anyone feel they should only by the highest of quality. Its rarely about the extremes. Its great you are satisfied and thats all that matters.

    We too have a band mill as part of our operation and knowing the little I know about felling trees, sawing and drying lumber, I could never, ever, think that that mill would be a viable investment for even the occasional tree. Sawing is a tremendous amount of work even when it goes smoothly with good equipment and to have to coddle a piece of equipment through the process only to wind up with a sub-standard end product just doesnt make any sense to me but I am sure they will sell a bunch.

    Mark

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
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    I agree wholeheartedly with Jeff. Having owned and used HF tools for more than 40 years, I feel I can attest to the durability of many of their products. They have a very generous return policy , probably better than any tool seller out there, as well as good parts support, if needed. HF does have a generous supply of junk for those wannabee big time bargain shoppers, who expect great stuff for 99 cents, however, a person having reasonable knowledge of the salient aspects of of a particular tool, can save considerable money, and not spend several times the price, just to have the color coordinated version, instantly approved by all one's "peers."

    These childish bashing threads get extremely tiring, because if one is not smart enough to know what to buy and what not to buy, and are too proud to admit the their error and return it, they deserve the misery.
    Mike Harrison

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    The Woodmizer LT10 also comes with a 7HP motor, and can handle up to a 24" log. I don't have one, but they have a good reputation among sawyers. I'd be unlikely to buy one of these from Harbor Freight, but I have had some tools from there that did just fine. Others . . . not so much.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    The HF mill has been listed as low as $1700 and there's a discount code that would take the price even lower. It was back-ordered all winter and spring also, so I suspect that's why they went up on the price...they can't keep it in stock.

    It's strictly a hobbiest mill. That 7 hp Subaru engine isn't gonna take it screaming through a 20" log but then, not many hobbiests will be sawing 20" logs unless they have a tractor with forks to handle them.

    The good news about that mill, or any manual mill, is that they are relatively simple machines. With the exception of the engine, there isn't much that can go wrong that can't be fixed fairly easily. I've actually read some good reviews on that mill from hobbiest sawyers. Many of them say that the bed is much heavier gauge than it appears in the photo. For $1700, it's probably a good buy but not so much at $2400.

    Right now, the Woodmizer LT-10 is $2995 and there is also a 10 hp engine upgrade available. If I was wanting an entry-level mill, I would spend the extra $500 for it and get the CS that comes with it.
    Cody


    He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.

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