a sawmill cutting up a large beam of wood with stacks of wood in the background.


Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 12/16/2020

Historically, sawmills (or “lumber mills”) have played many important roles in society. As facilities that process wood, they have employed workers, provided construction materials, and can even be a source for free firewood. But, technology has dramatically impacted the sawmill industry in recent decades.


Nowadays, the term sawmill (or “portable sawmill”) often refers to consumer-friendly portable wood processing devices, such as Wood-Mizers, which are available in a variety of sizes and prices. However, a sawmill (or “lumber mill”), in a more traditional sense, refers to a facility where raw unprocessed logs are cut into lumber products. Some basic DIY sawmill plans consist of only a chainsaw, a specially fitted jig, and a horizontal surface.

The Portable Sawmill Business

Portable sawmills are not a new invention but with advancements in technology, they have become safer, easier to use, and more affordable. Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking about buying one:

  • Portable sawmills come in a wide range of sizes, with a variety of functions, and designed for everything from personal to professional use. Prices can vary widely so make sure you plan your budget to match your needs.
  • There are several free designs and plans available online to build a portable sawmill. But, be careful! DIY sawmills have the potential to be dangerous if not designed and built properly.