Chainsaw Milling

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Project by Rich_LI posted 03-11-2016 08:29 PM 2647 views 11 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this Alaskan saw mill out of bed frame with my new Mig Welder. I maximized the width to 16”. The method is to find the center of the Log and make a sharpie mark, measure up enough so you get solid wood and make a sharpie mark with a level, measure up and do the same on the other side of the log. I then screw angle iron to the log on this line (I screw the angle and check with the level again and adjust with the tap of a hammer). Then I screw 2×4;s across the angle iron. Set the saw mill to 5 inches (enough to clear the angle iron) and make first cut, this makes a flat surface. You now set the mill to desired thickness, I used 1”, then start cutting, after a couple of boards I check to see the cut is flat and not twisted. If cut needs correcting, I screw the angle Iron on again to correct the cut. To check for a twist I use the 2×4’s, one on each end at 90 Deg and eye the boards up like winding sticks. I did some research on how to sharpen the blade for ripping; I cut the rakers down to .045” to make a deeper cut and changed the cutting angle of each tooth to 5 Deg. I can cut 16” wide 8’ long in ~8 minutes. I let the saw idle for a minute or so and then let it cool down between cuts As I cut I count how long it takes for the mill to pass over a knot or other defect (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi ….), as the blade dulls the count increases and I know it’s time to re-sharpen. I re-sharpen with a dremel without taking the saw out of the mill. As you can see from the pictures I have lots of wood, I actually have 6 logs total now. I painted the ends with latex paint to limit the splitting and covered to keep the rain off. Since taking the pictures I have added additional support under each stack, so the max span about 24”. I have lots of plans for this wood, I would like to make a bedroom set, similar to the night stands that I have pictured in a previous project. I also made a timber jack or peavy so I can roll the logs (last picture). I made all the logs longer then 8’, I used 9’ 2×4’s, this way when the ends split I can still have 8’ Boards. These trees are from hurricane Sandy, they have been down since 2012, I didn’t cut the tree so I had no splitting, the sap wood was a little soft, but the wood was not rotten.

-- Rich LI, Life is short, buy more tools !

9 comments so far

View maxhall's profile


80 posts in 2468 days

#1 posted 03-11-2016 08:37 PM

Very cool and super handy, I love when people not only make their own rough lumber but build the jig to do so. That’ll be super useful, I hope to add something like that to the arsenal soon, I may copy you a bit… thanks for sharing.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

22051 posts in 3372 days

#2 posted 03-11-2016 11:42 PM

Really neat setup!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2957 days

#3 posted 03-12-2016 01:23 AM

I started out with an Alaskan mill but upgraded to a Woodmizer pretty quickly (Alaskan mills are for the young!). I would offer 2 suggestions: get some AnchorSeal and apply at least 2 thick coats to the ends (much better than latex paint). And I would sticker every 16-18” minimum spacing. Good luck!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View bushmaster's profile


3509 posts in 2549 days

#4 posted 03-12-2016 04:22 AM

Nice work, fun to saw your own lumber. With the price of wood one cannot be very creative and productive. I rarely buy wood, sometimes for accents.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18461 posts in 3943 days

#5 posted 03-12-2016 07:54 AM

Nice work. Looks like it cuts well.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3133 days

#6 posted 03-12-2016 03:01 PM

Owning and using one of those has to be a personally rewarding and satisfying experience.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View kimosawboy's profile


172 posts in 3238 days

#7 posted 03-12-2016 04:41 PM

Your chain sharpening is way off for milling.
Have a peek at #106
. you can probably get you milling time down by half +less abuse on your saw.
If you put on two or three heavy coats of Latex, it will be fine for checking.
Its great to mill your own wood, then use it in a project after its dried.
Keep us posted on the projects from this wood
G Vavra

View Eddie_T's profile


208 posts in 2338 days

#8 posted 03-12-2016 08:22 PM

I have an Alaskan mill but never dedicated a chain. It sounds like i need to incorporate your chain mods.

View Rich_LI's profile


37 posts in 2230 days

#9 posted 03-14-2016 05:10 PM

Thanks for all the comments, In answering kimosawboy about chain sharpening, i saw that article a while back, there is so much info on the web on how to sharpen a chain for ripping, I took the minimalist approach. I started with the original cross cut chain and gradually changed the angle to 5 Deg with each sharpening, the rakers I changed to .040 ( had said ,045, I was wrong). I modified one of the HD raker depth guides for the job. I’m pretty happy with the cut speed. A dedicated rip blade would be great, just didn’t wont to spend the bucks. I have been using exterior Latex Trim paint that I had around, put 3 coats, do have some cracks but not bad.

-- Rich LI, Life is short, buy more tools !

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