Hud-Son Homesteader Sawmill: Make Lumber The Easy Way

| 2/13/2012 1:26:00 PM

Tags: sawmills, lumber, farms,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.I've had it in my shop for a few months now, and the Hud-Son HFE 21 bandsaw mill is a real performer, but I wanted to report on my initial experiences receiving and setting up the saw. When the tractor-trailer driver called to let me know that my Hud-Son HFE 21 was minutes away, I jumped in my pickup to meet it at our off site storage facility, which comes equipped with a forklift and a certified operator. Within minutes we had the 500 pound pallet transferred to the back of my truck and I was headed south to the farm. Unloading the pallet from my pickup was as easy as attaching forks to our tractor-mounted loader and conveying it to the shop. If you don't have the means to lift a 500 pound pallet, no problem because the individual pieces to the Homesteader saw are not so unwieldy that you and a buddy or two can't get them from the bed of the truck to the ground safely.

Hud-Son HFE21 Bandsaw sawmill in action at Hank Will's farm. 

Once I had the pallet in the shop, I went about putting the Hud-Son HFE 21 saw together. The first step was to grab the manual from its conveniently located storage tube and then I proceeded to identify all the parts and unpack them from the pallet. The next step was to locate a nice level spot in my shop where I could set up the sawmill's track. My Hud-Son came with a bolt together track system -- it took me about an hour to get it all together the right way with the rails parallel, but I am pretty meticulous when it comes to squaring things up or getting them plumb.

Hud-Son HFE 21 bandsaw sawmill as received on its pallet.  

The next step was to mount the saw and carriage to the track. I managed to do this alone, but it would have been a little easier with a partner. When rolling the saw back and forth on the track, I noticed that a couple of joints between rails were a little wider than they should be. So I loosened a few bolts and tapped things closer with a hammer. Getting it all square again was a breeze with the saw already on the track and within no time I was ready to install the blade. After removing a couple of guards and releasing tension from the drive wheel, I was able to slip the blade into place and position the blade guides as outlined in the manual. I torqued the tension nut to the specified amount, reattached the guards and went to work on the engine. My saw is equipped with the 6.5 horsepower gasoline engine. I checked the crankcase oil and to my delight found that it was clean and full. Next I filled the tank with unleaded regular and fired it up. Modern small engines are so easy to start.

Next I added a very dilute soap solution to the blade cooling tank and operated the valve to be sure I understood how it worked. I just happened to have a nice American Black Walnut log in the shop -- it was 20-inches in diameter at its butt end. The HFE 21 is equipped to saw logs up to 21-inches in diameter. I rolled the log onto the track and pinned it in place with the log dogs that were included as part of the kit. I checked and rechecked and then just went for it. I adjusted the depth of my first cut, fired up the engine, turned on the cooling water and adjusted the throttle to full-speed, which engaged the centrifugal clutch. Wow, I was sawing.

3/1/2012 6:02:49 PM

The Kubota came in handy with the log rolling, Dave :-) It also came in handy hauling the log in from the snag out by the pond dam. I managed to chain it to the loader and carry it out of the dirt back to the shop.

2/15/2012 2:19:44 AM

Hank, you get to play with some of the neatest stuff. I wish I lived closer so I could be an assistant in your projects. Well, maybe not. I wouldn't get any of my projects completed. :0) Wait, you're telling me you rolled a 20 inch in diameter log the length I see in the picture on the tracks to be sawed. Whoa, you are a better man than me. It was all I could do to roll a chunk of Mulberry tree about three foot in length with a hollow center. Have a great winter project day.