Norwood HD36 Bandsaw Test Review
- April 26, 2023
- 3 comment
We’ve mostly focused on testing products related to forestry, such as chainsaws and clearing saws. However, we recently decided to expand our testing and venture into the world of portable sawmills. It was a whole new experience for our team, and we were excited to dive in and see what we could discover.
Keep in mind that this is a beginner’s perspective on testing, and the testers have no prior experience with portable sawmills. Therefore, all their reflections and learnings should be considered helpful tips for other beginners who are considering purchasing a portable sawmill and starting their own lumber-making venture.
Is a portable sawmill a good investment?
The answer is pretty straightforward: if you have the time, interest, need for lumber, or customers looking for it, then absolutely yes! Especially in a year like this when the prices for lumber are sky-high and the forest is being damaged by bark-beetle.
Even though our testing team had zero experience with operating a sawmill before, they managed to figure it out quickly with some extra thinking and planning with the saw set. This allowed them to easily produce construction wood for their building projects.
In addition, if the quality of the lumber doesn’t have to be too high, the process becomes even simpler. During our testing, we encountered some logs that had lost their bark and had some blue staining. However, there was no visible difference compared to fresh logs. This means that you can turn the wood from your forest, which would normally be useless, into valuable lumber. Instead of selling it for fuel chips or firewood, you can refine it and use it for other purposes.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you’re new to sawmilling (like we were), the amount of lumber you get from a log may not be as much as you expect. You might also make mistakes when trying to achieve the exact dimensions you want. But don’t worry, this is normal and all part of the learning process. With practice, you’ll get better at it.
Cut slabs to break things up
When it comes to sawing logs, it’s important to get the saw set right, and it requires some thought. Every log is unique, so it’s like starting a new adventure every time you load a new log onto the saw bed. Seeing the pile of lumber grows can be really motivating, but sometimes you may lose focus and feel like calling it quits for the day. However, we found that you can keep going by cutting some slabs or unedged lumber.
If you own a portable sawmill, you might want to consider gathering various logs of hardwood such as oak, aspen, elm, rowan, etc. Slicing them into 2-inch unedged boards or any dimension of your choice can be an interesting and enjoyable experience. It allows you to get unique raw materials that you can either sell or use for your own projects. The beauty of sawing hardwood this way is that it often yields exciting results and provides an opportunity for creativity.
The municipality had cleared several areas for future industrial estates and had gathered heaps of material to be chipped. We politely asked if we could take some logs from the piles – logs that had been rejected by sawmills, but could be valuable to the owner of a portable bandsaw. The authorities agreed, so we went to the piles and selected some logs that seemed promising to us.
Norwood LumberPro HD36 – IKEA style
We were supplied the test rig by Skogma, the Swedish representative of Norwood. We decided to choose Norwood because we have a great relationship with Skogma, but we also found it interesting that Norwood follows the “IKEA model” where you get to assemble your sawmill yourself.
To keep the cost down, Norwood has adopted the “IKEA model” where you assemble the sawmill yourself. This also allows you to learn more about the mill, as we discovered during our assembly. However, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and be prepared for a longer assembly time than expected.
The Norwood LumberPro HD36 is the largest bandsaw in their range and can handle logs up to 92 cm (36″) in diameter. This might not sound that big on paper, but when you’re actually working with logs of this size on a portable sawmill, you’ll realize it’s quite heavy-duty.
The sawing process uses a bandsaw blade that’s mounted between two cast band wheels, powered by a 23 hp Vanguard petrol engine. There’s a centrifugal clutch between the engine and wheels, which stops the saw band when the engine is idling. The bandsaw blade is almost 4 meters (13 ft.) long and has close to 200 teeth.
The saw we tested came with a trailer package, which makes it easy to move the mill from one place to another using a car. However, it’s important to note that you should drive at low speeds, not exceeding 30 km/h (19 mi/h). Setting up the mill to process logs requires that it be perfectly level, which means that you’ll need to allocate an extra 30 minutes each time you move it to get it set up correctly. While this might not be a big issue, it’s something to keep in mind as there is a cost associated with mobility.
Operating a sawmill on the plain and solid ground has many benefits that cannot be denied. However, if the ground where you operate is soft, you must be prepared to adjust the setup frequently, maybe even multiple times a day.
Can hydraulic systems be considered valuable?
The sawmill took us around 20 hours to assemble, but it may take less time for those who follow instructions more closely. It’s recommended to have someone help you since there are many bolts to tighten. As the product is American, all the bolts and nuts are in inches, so having a set of inch socket wrenches is best, though millimeter sockets may work. We used a 14-mm and a 19-mm socket, but using the appropriate tools is always best.
Effortless cuts, but be cautious.
Our experience with the Norwood bandsaw was positive overall, although we did encounter some issues when we didn’t follow the instructions properly. The ceramic supports play a crucial role in ensuring the blade cuts straight and smoothly, so it’s essential to adjust them correctly. We also learned that attaching the log properly, maintaining a sharp blade, and moving the saw unit slowly back to the start position are important for optimal performance.
When tying down a log onto the saw bed, it’s important to find the right balance. If it’s too loose, the log could shift during sawing and mess up the results. On the other hand, if it’s tied down too tightly, there’s a risk of tension in the log affecting the outcome. As with most tasks, it’s crucial to stay calm, trust your instincts, and keep an eye on what’s happening during the sawing process.
Since this was our first time testing a mobile sawmill, we can’t compare it to other brands in the market. The sawmill is priced lower than most of its competitors because it requires self-assembly. However, we didn’t find any issues with the quality during our test. We’ve processed around 100 logs and achieved great results. As for the engines from Vanguard and Honda, they’ve performed as expected without any problems.
The testing crew had a great experience with the sawmill, as they were able to explore the full range of what they can do for the first time. This allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of forestry, whether they were working with construction lumber or more unique types of hardwood. They also discovered that there is a lot that can be done with logs and pieces that professional sawmills might not consider worth processing.
I'd like to know the cost of your sawmill. What's the difference in price between you putting it together and me putting it togeth
StanfordMay 8, 2023 4:11 pm
I am currently considering replacing our circular saw mill. Thanks for this share.
Keith ClarkeApril 29, 2023 7:37 pm
I am currently considering a purchase to replace our old circular saw mill and this information has been useful. Thanks for the share.
Keith ClarkeApril 29, 2023 7:36 pm
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