Chainsaw Milling Gabon Ebony STIHL MS 660 or MS 880?

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by WengeMan posted 04-29-2009 03:31 AM 14578 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Chainsaw Milling Gabon Ebony STIHL MS 660 or MS 880?

I have just recently purchased a 36” Alaskan Log Mill, 9’ EZ Rail guides, and Log Wizard Debarker/Planer for the purpose of chainsaw milling 29” diameter logs of Gabon Ebony. I will be spending a week in the rainforest cutting the logs into slabs and log half’s to make the wood portable and carry them out of the forest with brute strength and man power.

I have narrowed my search for chainsaws down to two choices:

1.) STIHL MS 660 (91.6 cc)

2.) STIHL MS 880 (121.6 cc)

Being that Gabon Ebony is about 3 times as hard as red oak and 40% harder than Mesquite or Persimmons(Texas Ebony) wood, I am trying to decide if 91cc chainsaw will do the job well or if I NEED to go with the monster saw to make the work easier.

Any advice? Any experience cutting ebony logs or lumber with chainsaw?

Thanks for all the welcome messages to LJ, I have read a few posts over the past few days and got some good info so far. I am already glad I joined.

8 comments so far

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1283 posts in 3700 days

#1 posted 04-29-2009 03:50 AM

I would use the biggest motored saw available. Ebony is hard and make sure you have plenty of spare chain and sharpening tools. You will most likely need them. Are you going to be bringing some of the ebony back to the USA? I would be interested in some rough logs or lumber.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4364 days

#2 posted 04-29-2009 03:54 AM

Good luck on your wood find.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View saw4fun's profile


176 posts in 3303 days

#3 posted 04-29-2009 04:58 AM

The 880 doesn’t cut much faster but does have more low-end torque than 660. I haven’t actually tried them yet(will be soon) , has some carbide chains that might be worth your time looking into. good luck and have fun!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4063 days

#4 posted 04-29-2009 05:22 AM

Oh good, you made it over to the blog!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View PG_Zac's profile


368 posts in 3352 days

#5 posted 04-29-2009 12:56 PM

Having done a fair amount of milling green wood myself with the MS 460, I would say get the bigger machine. Depending on the wood being cut, the wet chips generally tend to bind to the parent wood, and need a bit of oomf to clear them out.

For my milling I use a 75 cm bar standard kerf ripping chain. I investigated the narrow kerf chain, but decided against it mainly because it is weaker, and I expect it will break under the heavy load of milling wide slabs.

I suggest you take at least two pre-sharpened ripping chains with you, and just swap out when the first is blunt. Until you get familiar with the behaviour of your set-up, check your chain tension after at least every second slab cut, as the long bar chains are very sensitive to expansion due to heat build-up, and can get very loose.

For more info, check out the ”Operation Recommendations” section of my forum post **

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 3746 days

#6 posted 04-29-2009 02:24 PM

View WengeMan's profile


4 posts in 3279 days

#7 posted 04-30-2009 04:49 PM

Thanks for the advice guys, I am going with “the beast” Stihl 880, 2 extra guide bars and 7 chains. I can’t wait to read the reactions from my fellow lumber-jocks when I am able to start posting photos of my progress. I have found a lot of good advice here (that i am now using) and hope to have a lot of good constructive criticism and opinions on my fledging woodworking ventures.

I am also helping a friend with the import of Wenge and Afrormosia logs to help kick start his lumber sales/remodel contracting business.

—-Wenge Man- Novice with high hopes and a fierce work ethic.—-

  • Mr. John Ormsby- Yes I do plan to bring some of the ebony back to the USA. I plan to bring 10+ cubic meters(4000+ Board Feet approx). I have an agreement to sell at least 2 cubic meters to one buyer, I will keep 2 cu.m. for my own projects and the remaining 6 cu.m. will be available for sale. As my overhead will be monumentally lower than large timber co, I plan to sell at a price significantly lower than the average market price. If things go well, I plan to ship by the container load, LCL/FCL. **
View WengeMan's profile


4 posts in 3279 days

#8 posted 10-12-2009 03:46 AM

Hello ALL!! Out of the jungle and into the woods! Thanks for the tips, with the learning curve I am facing they helped me make good choices for equipment.

Posted some pics in my LJ workshop of the progress. More to come. Slow and inconsistent connection is frustrating me but Ill be back to post over the next 3-4 days. Passd my bedtime. More soon.

Mr. John Ormsby,

I have uploaded some pics to my Lumber Jocks workshop, we are still working but I am sending some wood to my cousin in USA via Libreville. He should have it next week at the latest. I would be most happy to sell you rough lumber or logs. Is there a size in particular that you would like?

I will be in the suburbs for 3 days or so checking my email, making phone calls, and resting (no pizza here….).

Wenge Man

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics