Milling Boards from Logs

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Forum topic by tool248 posted 05-06-2014 04:30 AM 1280 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1838 days

05-06-2014 04:30 AM

I have a Birch log that is about 5’ in length and 9” in diameter and want to mill it into boards. I am at a loss for a way how I should go about completing this task because I only have a band saw that can make 6” deep cuts. I am thinking that this one log wouldn’t be worth it to take it to a saw mill to have it cut up since that would probably cost more than the boards are actually worth. I also contemplated purchasing a chainsaw mill, but figured that the kerf on the chainsaw would eat up about half the log.

I am curious if anybody knows any other way that I can go about completing this task.


11 replies so far

View jdh122's profile


1012 posts in 2817 days

#1 posted 05-06-2014 10:15 AM

You could split it. The process would be to split it into quarters. Joint each quarter on two sides and then saw on your bandsaw. The boards will be narrower but that’s the only way I can think of doing it with your bandsaw.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3125 days

#2 posted 05-06-2014 01:01 PM

IF you have a table saw… score lengthwise each side (I know.. saw blades only raise like 3.5 inches..) you’ll have to saw the rest by hand… I’ve done it…exhausting… use shims to pry it apart as you cut.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Lumberpunk's profile


334 posts in 2336 days

#3 posted 05-06-2014 02:04 PM

Alaska Mill… see if anyone you know has one, get one from lee valley or diy one:

The nice thing if you buy/make one you get to keep it!

Also look around your area for someone with a portable bandsaw mill… they are usually a lot cheaper, where I live there are many and I can get milling done for $40/hr which make almost any log worth cutting up.

-- If someone tells you you have enough tools and don't need any more, stop talking to them, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

View tool248's profile


11 posts in 1838 days

#4 posted 05-06-2014 05:00 PM

I guess I should have said that I do have a 10” table saw, although it is a portable one that bogs down easily when any hardwood boards goes through it. I also have a 10” RAS that I can use to rip boards as well. I would be hesitant about using it for that purpose, but I suppose I could make a jig to hold the log in place while I slowly rip it into boards.

Would that be any safer than running it through the table saw? I have read about high chances of kick back on table saws when cutting logs.

Lsmart: do you have an Alaska Mill? If so, what is your opinion on it?

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1274 posts in 1633 days

#5 posted 05-06-2014 05:05 PM

9” in diameter is very small, a mill would not touch it.
You have a 9” log, you have 6” of cut on your bs. But you only need to fit a small portion in, to create a flat.
Create a flat on one side, then do the opposite side.

This may get you under the 6”
Now cut in half, then take the halves, and quarter.

-- Jeff NJ

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1664 days

#6 posted 05-06-2014 05:46 PM

To get logs trimmed down so I can lift them up to the band saw and slice-em up, I have used a handsaw and a two man saw (with me at one end and a daughter at the other end. Apparently, the daughter solution only works once per daughter and I used up my 3, alas).

It seems like it takes forever to hand-saw through a log lengthwise, but when you are done, you have massively strong arms that hang like dead lumps off your shoulders.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2487 days

#7 posted 05-06-2014 06:11 PM

I would use a chainsaw to at least start to make it flat on one side. You don’t need a big saw for that, even a cheap electric will do.

If you have a decent circular saw you could make your kerf cuts more easily than on a table saw or an RAS.
Cut shallow and do it multiple times going deeper each time.
(My circular saw is nearly 40 years old and still works just fine for that when I needed it to).

I have long since gotten a chainsaw mill and use it when I’m able.
I much prefer that method.

If you gave more information about where you are located or put it in your profile you might find a few LJ’s that have a chainsaw mill in your area.

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

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3125 days

#8 posted 05-06-2014 06:15 PM

i need a chainsaw

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2108 days

#9 posted 05-06-2014 06:35 PM

Can you use a table saw sled to slice a flat edge at 6”, flipping the log over to take cuts from both sides (for maximum depth)? I’m envisioning some sort of sled where you’d screw into the log at a fixed point to prevent it from rocking, and then when you flip it upside screw it again so that the kerfs line up. I’d make sure to have a solid riving knife in place.

Otherwise I think everyone else has covered the options, and a chainsaw or circular saw seems like a reasonable option.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2835 days

#10 posted 05-06-2014 07:51 PM

There are 2 mills semi local to me who will do a log that size. I dropped 5 apple wood logs about that size off and a few days later picked up the boards, cost 40.00 for the 5 of them. Call and see what they say.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1948 days

#11 posted 05-06-2014 07:56 PM

I’m curious to know on a 9” log how much of that would be sapwood, and would the yield be worth the time invested?

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