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sawing logs with a chainsaw\alaskian sawmill

by willy3486
posted 08-30-2012 12:00 AM

19 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2593 days

#1 posted 08-30-2012 12:14 AM

See if this helps

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2502 days

#2 posted 08-30-2012 02:18 AM

It is a very marginal proposition in my opinion. I do not know anywhere that you can buy good grade oak for $.30 – $.40 per BF. You would spend more on the equipment than it would cost to have the logs sawn, and you cannot imagine how slow cutting board out of a log with a chainsaw is and the amount of back-breaking work that you will get to enjoy. Also, your yield will be way less because chainsaws make a whole lot more sawdust and chips than a 1/8” kerf bandmill will, and if you are not an expert on sharpening a saw chain, you will quickly become frustrated. It could be like grabbing a tiger by the tail before it is all over and done with.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View knotscott's profile


8057 posts in 3401 days

#3 posted 08-30-2012 02:37 AM

I’ve never used one, but have heard from credible sources that it works but its a lot of work.

WDHLT15 raises a good point about waste from a chainsaw vs mill blade.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2364 days

#4 posted 08-30-2012 06:40 AM

It is what I use. I have had good luck with mine, but it is slow. I use a Stilh MS660 with a 36” bar. I can cut up to a 31” slab. I am actually looking for a bandsaw mill because I can’t produce lumber fast enough with it. As far as waste, I lose 3/8” per cut. Bandsaws are generally 1/3 or less of that. Cutting Beetle Pine when there is millions of board feet available is one thing. Cutting Black Walnut when I struggle to every get one is painful. Hope this helps.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2214 days

#5 posted 08-31-2012 12:44 AM

I have used an Alaska mill some. You need a pretty good saw. I don’t think a 20” 56cc or so is big enough. The quality of cut is no where near as good as a good bandsaw mill.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2513 days

#6 posted 08-31-2012 01:00 AM

I just bought a Panther II mill from eBay. My saw is a 20” bar Poulan Pro 5020AV, almost Identical to the Husqvarna 455 Rancher. I’ve been happy with this saw so far and have put nearly 150 hours on it in less than 2 months.
I replaced the cheesy OEM bar with an Oregon PowerMatch and the OEM Vanguard chain with an Oregon 72LPX072G chisel chain that I resharpened to a different profile.

It works great, has no problem with the bar and actually I think I could go up to a 22-24” Powermatch bar.

After the rest of my work is done, I have 4 logs I will be cutting down to 17” profiles so I can cut lumber from them, we’ll see how it goes. 2 logs are Red oak, (Bur Oak), and 2 are white oak, (Quercus Alba).

I’ve done some slabbing before and I agree, it’s slow. Not for the faint of heart or weak of back!

If my saw dies I have about 30 days left of the store return policy and then I’ll upgrade to a Husky big saw and be done with it.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2290 days

#7 posted 08-31-2012 11:13 PM

I have one on my Stihl MS880. Cutting wood is fairly easy with it. Cutting wood fast however, is not.

You don’t need a Husky or Stihl if you already have a saw and are cutting logs that small. I’d say if you were cutting a bunch of logs often… you probably need to upgrade. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

My mill is made by Granberg and was a little pricey, but I figured since they were including a huge bar (66”) and chain that was to be expected.

You should consider something like this:

As for how fast overall, you can bet on a couple of weeks cutting logs of that size if you’re not doing it full-time. Figure at least 45 minutes to 3 hours per log (I don’t know how fast your saw cuts or how well you sharpen chains).

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View willy3486's profile


77 posts in 3423 days

#8 posted 09-01-2012 02:21 AM

My saw has a lot of age on it and I was thinking I might need a new one soon. But I got that rascal out and it ran like a champ today. I was cutting up some of the limbs I had cut off a tree a while back. I cut up about half a wagon load of firewood today. I also ran the bush hog in the field where the mother in laws house will be put. I have got frustrated lately trying to figure out what to do so I took the day off. As far as sharpening chins I think I actually make them duller at times. I have been thinking of getting one of the small motorized chain sharpeners.

I. I would like to have a alaskian sawmlll to do one from time to time but I still would prefer to get a bandsaw over with these logs due to the time factor now. What I probably do is to get all the logs cut and ready to be sawed then take pictures of them. I will post them and let the fellows I have contacted online give me a new estimate. I am hoping to have about 1000 to 1200 board feet of oak and cedar. If I can get that cut for no more than 800 I would be happy. Kiln dried boards one quoted to me today was about 1.25 a board foot now in my area.

I plan on cleaning up some more cedar branches I have cut down in the way tomorrow and I need to do some work on my porch to be ready for it to be painted. I am going to take a few days off but I plan to cut some more next Friday. If I get all the stuff done tomorrow quickly I may cut down a couple or so. But work never seems to go quickly.

View Post_Oakie's profile


84 posts in 2179 days

#9 posted 09-11-2012 08:16 PM

Logosol has some chain saw attachments for smaller saws. Their Timber Jig is about as basic as you can get, and the investment isn’t all that much. There has been a lot posted on Forestry Forum about chain saw mills. Main thing is a sharp chain and lots of patience. I’ve got a double-ended bar and can put a chain saw engine on both ends. It takes two people who know what they’re doing, but it certainly speeds up the process. I use a Husqvarna 2100 (99 c.c.s), and for what I do, it is about right. I’m on my third band saw mill—a Norwood, and so far very pleased with it. Doss, that’s a nice looking pile of wood in your photo. Need some help?

White Oak 02, Milling a 28" dia white oak

-- Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2290 days

#10 posted 09-11-2012 09:22 PM

Post_Oakie, if you feel like coming over and cutting, I’m sure I could part with some of it as payment. LOL

It’s wearin’ me out. All but a handful of them are 40”+ diameter red oak. The sweetgum I have mixed in there is a nightmare to dry but has tons of figure in it (well, some of them do at least). I probably need to start a business selling sawdust too. I make a ton of it.

If worst comes to worst, I might have to look into buying that Oscar 52 and getting it done faster than I’ve been doing it. I’ve got about 20 logs left to process and at this rate I’ll still be doing it in 2013.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2294 days

#11 posted 09-12-2012 02:33 AM

doss go for the hudson I ran one for 10 years awesome machines.That picture with you cutting with the cahinsaw is crazy work by a mill way easier.

View willy3486's profile


77 posts in 3423 days

#12 posted 09-30-2012 04:19 AM

I thought I would update this. My chain saw was shot. It wasn’t worth fixing. So I looked around and bought a 20 inch Sthil. I absolutely love it. I also bought the Granberg mill for 20 inch saws from Baileys as suggested. I did try it out today. I expected it to be slow and it was. I did a smaller log and it took a lot longer than it should. I need to sharpen the chain. I also bought one of the small chain sharpeners to use. I don’t think I got it as sharp as I needed. I plan on sharpening it and have less of a angle on it. I plan on sharpening it more like a ripping chain. I got tired of dealing with the people who had the portable mills. They wouldn’t give me a quote, only say they got so much per hour. They wouldn’t give a estimate of a couple of days to a couple of months. I also wanted to be here when it was done so I could stack it the way I wanted.

I am going to try to do some more next weekend. I also plan to get another chain and some more oil for it. The mill was easy to put together. The only issue was the plexiglass cover did not have all the holes drilled. I measured where the other holes were and drilled it myself. So with this project it is underway,but slow.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2364 days

#13 posted 09-30-2012 11:46 AM

Not only a sharp chain, but the right chain. For ripping you’ll want the teeth at a steeper angle. The sharper you keep it the better your life will be. Also, don’t use cheap oil. Your saw works a lot harder on rip cuts, cheap oil burns off and you’ll spend more on repairs.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2290 days

#14 posted 10-01-2012 03:02 PM

Look at the specs on ripping chain and figure out what your chain specs are. Slowly file your chain back to those specs with each sharpening. Don’t do it all at once or you’re just wasting chain.

Also, use that power sharpener (I’m guessing that’s what you bought) sparingly. It heats the teeth up a lot which makes them softer which ends up dulling the chain faster. I only use my power sharpener if some teeth are in really bad shape (like after hitting a nail or other lodged metal or rocks in the wood).

If the saw is bouncing off the cut a lot or you’re having to muscle it in, the chain is too dull. Check the chain and bar for excess heat. If it’s getting too hot, you need more oil to cool it down.

How much time is it taking for you to travel X amount of feet at Y inches wide [wood]?

For example, it takes me about 30 minutes to make it down 10 feet of 32 inch wide red oak.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View willy3486's profile


77 posts in 3423 days

#15 posted 10-01-2012 05:12 PM

I am guessing that it took about 20-30 minutes to do a cut about 14 inches wide on a 8 foot log. The chain was dull as it had not ever been sharpened. It is a new saw but I have cut a lot with it to clean up leftover wood from the trees. It was my “test run” so to speak. I was able to get the top piece off and then a actual board. After cutting the board I sharpened it and then cut a couple of branches I had to put on the wood pile. It cut good then. I plan on at least getting that log cut and maybe another log cut this weekend. I may try to do this one and a bigger one. I have thought about cutting one board a day when I get home. I hope I can get it down to about 10 to 15 minutes on a board the same size as the one I did.

One think I noticed was on this that the chain would catch and not spin. I would have to wiggle it and it would cut again. I think that may have been from not putting wedges to keep the board up. As far as sharpening I think it was about 30 degrees at first and I sharpened it to about 20 now. I am going down as you suggested. I am not the best at filing so I got the sharpener. I may see if the store has one of the ones you clamp on and then manually file it.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2290 days

#16 posted 10-01-2012 06:57 PM

If you’re getting lock up on your chain, I’d definitely say you need to start putting wedges in. I have a bag of about 50 wooden wedges I use for this purpose. If it keeps doing it, you’re going to burn your saw up.

Yes, using something like the manual Granberg File-N-Joint ( That gives you repeatable results. Set your rakers up right too.

Ripping chains have a scoring tooth. More aggressive chains like full-skips might work too. I usually just experiment depending on the type of wood I’m cutting. Things like pine and firs will cut with just about anything you put to them. Red oak and harder woods will put up a fight if you don’t have your stuff down pat.

If you’re using a power sharpener, just kiss the cutter with them quickly. If the cutter changes color or gets hot, you’ve pretty much destroyed that tooth.

I wouldn’t expect to get it down to 10-15 minutes. It’ll go faster and get easier with a properly sharpened chain, but it’s not going to be a magic solution.

The difference I see in dull vs sharp chain in my cutting is 30-35 minutes sharp versus 35-45 minutes dull. I don’t let the chains get that dull though and what I notice more is the amount of heat my bar and chain are experiencing when dull.

I’d say ripping chain might actually cut slower than my other chains when milling, but the finish they provide is worth the extra 2-5 minutes I’d save with a faster chain because it’d take me 30 minutes to 2 hours to work all that out with my planer and jointer.

Remember to wear a mask (3M 7500-series for me) and eye protection.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View plavioglasnik's profile


2 posts in 1558 days

#17 posted 03-16-2014 08:10 AM

Hi, i made such chainsaw mill but it doesnt work as i expected, seems chain of saw is not suitable. I have 024av stihl , so what do you recommend for it , what customization i need to do, what bar , chain , and spoket to get best results.

Secondly , could you tell me , doest it exist something like band saw but very portable like that alaskan so that we slide it onto log not on an aside guidelines. So, where i don’t need trailer , and that is in price range like a a chainsaw , not a car. :)

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2503 days

#18 posted 03-16-2014 09:48 AM

I have used a chain saw mill it is back breaking labor avoid the huskvarna saw I have that saw its a bitch have to take it to the saw shop almost every year it don’t start after a winter off every dam year the still works liker a champ has a better bar but the mill is still a bitch I recommend you run an ad on Craigs list and find someone with a band saw mill and pay them to slab off the wood you will get a better product.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1777 days

#19 posted 03-16-2014 04:58 PM

I cut lumber with a chain saw mill for many years and many, many hundreds of board feet, mostly elm and oak. My mill used a 70cc McCulloch saw and I ran a 28” bar which was more than enough for the logs I had available. The two things you need to consider when sawing this way is you will never have enough power available in your saw motor, and the internal construction of the motor will determine how long it will last. The inexpensive saws available at the local box store will likely have a sleeve bearing construction on the mains and will die quickly in this type of use. My saw (still running) has needle bearings and for years I ran it at 100:1 on a synthetic oil from Grandberg. It was great stuff as it kept the plug clean and cut smoke to almost nothing. Amsoil seems to be a modern day alternative and is reported to be performing well for the high ratio mixtures today.

As mentioned above, the chain geometry makes a big difference here. I ran a .404 pitch skip tooth chisel chain, sharpened at 90 degrees to the bar, and about 45 degrees to the cut (3/4 of the file circle under the cutting surface of the tooth. You will need to sharpen the chain after every cut, maybe two, so get good at filing fast. My chains used scoring teeth in sets with most of the width of the chisel cut away and that will help score the cut for the clearing teeth .

I did not see it mentioned above, but I ran a ½ gallon oil tank on the frame of the mill to keep the chain oiled, It was very handy as you will go through gallons of chain oil as you make those cuts.

Overall, it was fun to do, but a whole lot of work. These days I just go to the local mill and buy my lumber for about $1.00/ft. Sourcing lumber for my shop is much easier that way.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

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