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Blade Options for a Circle Mill

Considerations on choosing a circular sawmill blade. April 10, 2007

I have a Belsaw mill powered by 226 cubic inch straight 6 continental engine. My current blade is a 5/6 gauge blade (5 on the inside, 6 on the outside), and is slightly dished. I was planning to have it hammered and replace the teeth and shanks, as they are worn. It appears that there aren't many options for a 5/6 blade. It looks like most manufacturers are only producing a full line of bits and shanks for thinner blades. My blade is a right hand, 500 RPM, type B teeth, and has 32 teeth. By the time I have it hammered, and replace the bits and shanks, I'll be putting at least $600 into it.

Given the fact that bits and shanks seem scarce for a blade this thick, I am contemplating just purchasing an entirely new insert tooth blade. Is this a good plan, or should I stick with my thicker blade, despite the larger kerf and the limited selection of teeth?

Also, if I were to buy a new one, what gauge should I go with? 7/8? 8/9? What teeth would folks recommend? B? F? 2-1/2?

I own 124 acres of timber land in the mountains of eastern Washington, with a mix of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, larch, hemlock, and cedar. (My land has several distinct micro-climates, in case you are wondering how I got such a wide mix.) This is what I would be sawing. Most logs are between 10" and 24" in diameter. I do not have a debarker, though I do use a pressure washer before running them through the mill. Any advice?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The "F" or "2-1/2" style tooth is fairly popular. A 7/8 is probably best if you will be hitting knots, etc., but diameter is also a factor. If you use Lundstrum's book on circular sawmills, he has some procedures to estimate the best blade. Let me know if you have problems figuring his procedures.

From contributor J:
You will get a lot of opinions and guidelines, but with the motor you have, you probably want to go with an "F" style. I run 2-1/2 and love it... No problem with hard or soft woods, and the gullets clear fine with heavy feed rates, but it does take the HP to run. I pull a 54 inch blade with 125 HP.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the feedback thus far. I took a look through the book listed above. Based on the materials, I'm leaning toward a 7/8 blade with F style shanks, using 5/16 bits. Does anyone with experience with such a setup care to comment? Also, any thoughts on type of bits? Blue steel? HSS? Carbide? I'm leaning toward carbide, but I'm curious about people's experience.

From contributor J:
I run carbide bits from Arsaw... and I have a grinder to sharpen them on the mill. I also keep a set of steel bits for questionable logs, since I don't like hitting metal with the carbide teeth?It will get expensive.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I like HSS and an F (Standall) style. Unless you have a debarker or other means to thoroughly clean the log of debris, HSS is better than carbide in my opinion.