Peterson Portable Sawmills

Efficient Sawmilling Tips & Tricks

Millers are always coming up with new ideas, tips & tricks that make a better, more efficient sawmilling experience. Some ideas have been incorporated into the design of the mills, as we are constantly looking for ways to improve our mills. Others are listed below.

If you would like to contribute your own efficient sawmilling tip, send it through to us.

Efficient Sawmilling When Cutting

Leave a small uncut 5mm ledge before making the finished cut, so the ledge supports the weight of the double-width board. This offers an alternative to wedging.

Lining up your double cut for efficient sawmilling with the Peterson SawmillTry cutting the back-cut first. This allows you to visually line up the second cut with your standard cut. You can easily adjust the winch up or down to line up the cuts, without having to walk around to the other side of the mill.

Before sharpening your blade, take the top slab off your log. The first slab dulls the blade the most, due to the large amount of grit and bark. Doing this first, will prolong the duration between sharpenings.

For efficient sawmilling, leave a ledge to allow the board to be resawn on the sawmillResawing
Leave a small ledge on the log, placing the board to be re-sawn next to it. Double-cut the board, so when pulling back on the mill, the blade forces the board against the ledge, and prevents any movement during the cutting process.

It’s a good idea to do the vertical cut first when you’re at the bottom of a slab. If the horizontal cut shifts the slab sideways, the timber is already edged so your boards should still come off fine.

Place a bottle cap over the lead-in adjustment bolt A, this will save you from having to play around with the lead-in adjustment ever time you perform a double cut. When you have finished double cutting simply remove the bottle cap.double cutting adjustment

Log Placement For Efficient Sawmilling

As you start to cut a vertical board, adjust the board remover so it slides next to the board. When you come to the horizontal cut, you will stop any sideways movements of either the mill or the log.

It is better to have the log on the ground during slabbing as this stops any sideways movement. If you are using skids, make sure they are big and have good notches.

If you are able to, angle your log on a downwards slope, so gravity helps to feed the slabber through the log. This helps prevent both operator and engine fatigue.

At the end of the board, leave a bone to prevent sagging.
At the end of the board, leave the ‘bone’, or side cuts, still attached (see right). This will stop the log from sagging and moving.


Sight the blade in both horizontal and vertical positions, to ensure that your log is parallel before you begin milling.

Use three skids for bunk supports to stop the bottom slab from collapsing as it cuts. This will allow you to get maximum yield from any given log. It also stops the bottom slab from sagging or bouncing.

Making a pair of ramps to aid rolling logs over sawmill tracks.
Make a pair of ramps easily, by first cutting an 8×8 beam. Put it back onto the log at an angle, and cut vertically as per normal. These can be used to help roll logs over your tracks easily. The weight of the beam will keep it in place as it is being cut.

A lot of beginner sawyers cut V’s out of their log bunks to hold the log in place, but these often do not work. Instead, cut out actual square notches. Cutting large 8″ x 8″ bunks, rather than small supports, is also more beneficial.

Take wind direction into account when setting up your mill, so as to avoid inhaling excess sawdust and exhaust fumes.

The Mill

Do not over-push your mill – let the blade do the work. If you feel you need to over-push, your mill probably needs an adjustment.

When you are wheeling the carriage into position over the tracks, do not push it forward and attempt to roll it over your skids. Instead, reverse it in, and ease the wheels over the skids while pulling backwards.

When using an ATS model, clip-on, or dedicated slabber, try rolling the black carriage wheels to engage the bar into the log. This makes it easier, not having to push it through.

Turn the water off when doing your sizing, so that you don’t waste water.

Reset the sizing device while you are cutting, to save time at the end of a cut. Provided the board remover is off, you can reset the dial while you are cutting on the ASM also.

Before you do a cut, lock your sizing device in the reset zone, to completely eliminate any centre unit sideways movement.

You can actually steer the timber left or right as it is being removed, using the reset switch, making it easier for the tailer. This also keeps the boards from falling off the side of the log.

When strapping down your mill for transport, an alternative to strapping the bed is to go over the top of the frame. This will prevent chain stretch, which may happen as the bed is pulled down, which can then upset blade adjustments.

When setting/checking your horizontal criss-cross adjustment, you may find it easier to simply measure the front and back edge of your blade up to your bed frame:

  • swing your blade into the horizontal position
  • place a long straight edge/ruler on top of your blade. ( make sure your straight edge is long enough to span the width of your bed frame ( operators side to the front of your frame)
  • measure the operator’s side of the blade up to the bottom of your bed frame. Then walk around to the front of the blade and measure up to the bottom of the front bed frame ( the measurements should be the same)  
  • if the measurements are not the same then you will need to adjust your white pads at the front of your machine
  • once the measurements are even then your horizontal blade adjustment should be pretty close to perfectcriss-cross blade adjustment