Mechanized One-Man Sawmill

The title of ‘maker’ is conventionally applied to the young-adult age group. In the case of 84 year-old Ralph Affleck, a lifelong sawmiller, ‘maker’ perhaps undersells the accomplishment of building a fully functioning sawmill that can be operated by a single individual.

Starting in the trade at the age of 16 under his father’s tutelage, fifty years of working in sawmills saw him still loving what he did as retirement loomed. So, with pen, paper, and a simple school ruler he designed the entire shop from scratch. Decades of expertise working with wood allowed him to design the machines to account for warping and abnormalities in the timber resulting in incredibly accurate cuts.

With no other examples to guide his design — aside from perhaps old style steam-powered sawmills, and newer portable ones that he feels are inadequate for the job — much of the shop is built from scratch with scavenged parts. And, that list is impressive: four hydraulic cylinders from a Canberra bomber, levers from an old locomotive, differentials and gearboxes from a MAC and 1912 Republic trucks, a Leyland engine that operated for 13 years without the need for maintenance, and an assortment of old military and air force vehicle parts. This is complimented by his log skidder — also custom — that would look at home in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Built from two tractors, it combines three gearboxes for 12 forward and 8 reverse gears(what!?), and can hit 42mph in reverse!

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Field Expedient Bandsaw Mill Deals with Leftover Logs

When a questionable tree threatened his house, [John Heisz] did the sensible thing and called in a professional to bring it down. But with a flair for homebrew tools, [John] followed up with a seemingly non-sensible act and built a quick and dirty DIY bandsaw mill to turn the resulting pile of maple logs into usable lumber.

A proper bandsaw mill is an expensive tool. Prices start in the mid-four figures for a stripped down version and can easily head into the multiple tens of thousands for the serious mills. [John] makes it clear that his mill is purpose-built to deal with his leftover logs, and so he made no attempt at essentials like a way to index the blade vertically. His intention was to shim the logs up an inch after each cut, or trim the legs to move the blade down. He also acknowledges that the 2-HP electric motor is too anemic for the hard maple logs – you can clearly see the blade bogging down in the video below. But the important point here is that [John] was able to hack a quick tool together to deal with an issue, and in the process he learned a lot about the limitations of his design and his choice of materials. That’s not to say that wood is never the right choice for tooling – get a load of all the shop-built tools and jigs in his build videos. A wooden vise? We’d like to see the build log on that.

We’ve featured a surprising number of wooden bandsaws before, from benchtop to full size. We’re pretty sure this is the first one purpose built to mill logs that we’ve featured, although there is this chainsaw mill that looks pretty handy too.

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Scratch-built bottle cap coffee table pulses to the music


This isn’t a thrift-store coffee table modified as a craft project. [Dandujmich] built it from the ground-up using framing lumber, bottle caps, plastic resin, and some electronics for bling.

The first step was to see if he had enough caps on hand for the project. It’s hard to grasp how many were used just by looking at it, but the gallery description tells us there’s about 1700 which went into the design! From there he grabbed some 2x4s and began construction. The table legs started with two end assemblies built by doweling the legs to the end cross pieces. From there he cut a rabbit on the side rails and screwed them to the leg assemblies from the inside.

The tabletop includes a frame with a recessed area deep enough to keep the caps below the surface. After spending about ten hours super gluing all of the caps in place he mixed and poured two gallons of the resin to arrive at a glass-like finish. The final touch is some custom hardware which pulses two rows of embedded LEDs to music being played in the room. The video after the break isn’t fantastic, but it gives you some idea of how that light rig works.

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PC case using CNC router and home building products

[Reinventing Science] needed a project that he could use to test out his skills on a new CNC routing machine he recently acquire. He settled on building a PC case using easily obtained materials. What he ended up with is the clean-looking case seen above that was machined from materials you can pick up at the home store.

The bulk of the case is made from extruded PVC which is designed to perform like solid wood trim. He picked up one piece of the ‘lumber’ and cut out the front, back, top, bottom, and drive bay bezel. We expected the joints between the horizontal and vertical pieces to either be butt joints, or rabbits. But [Reinventing Science] wanted a cleaner look and managed to mill mortise and tenon joints. These are strong joints that leave a very nice finished look. Since the material is designed as a lumber replacement it shouldn’t be too surprising to see drywall screws used as the fasteners.

In addition to joinery, some other CNC tricks were used. The sides of the case were cut from clear acrylic, with a decorative bead milled in the surface. There’s also fan ports cut in the top and vents on the bottom, as well as some engraving with the name of the project just above the optical drive. The wood-grain embossing makes for an interesting final look; we’d like to see how this takes a few careful coats of paint.

If you’re interested in the CNC hardware used, take a look at the unboxing post that shares a few details.