Need some input "chaisaw milling fantasy or reality?"

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Blog entry by DocSavage45 posted 11-17-2013 04:23 PM 2157 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve had a vision of my self milling the free logs that are constantly being dumped at our compost site in our town. I have read about it, thought about it, and investigated the Husqvarna and Sthil saws at my local Farm & Fleet for maneuverability. But that is the chain saw only. I’ve been reading blogs here, and checking out You Tube.

Here are some facts to consider: In my younger days I could carry a 4×8 panel of sheet rock by lifting it. 30 years later I am using a panel carrier, moving slower on 3/4 sheets of plywood or less. I have no one to ask for assistance as my friend is older than me ( he has too much to maintain himself) and my brother lives 3.5 hrs. away. My brother is not mechanically inclined. But he will repeat tasks as directed. I am about 5’8” and shrinking. LOL! I also figure ten years tops for my remaining woodworking days. ( looking at family history life spans)

Oh yeah I was rehired at a Mental Health center, and I now have one day a week available as it is full time, and I am now trying to learn new technology like their computer system programs. There is a 6 month trial period. I might not make the expectations, but I am doing what I can. Have cash and buying tools in case it does not turn out?

I am thinking it’s a fantasy as my brother ( an EMT) just took a guy to mayo who had a severed artery in his leg while out cutting wood with his chain saw.

Finished lumber is costly and I like air dried as a material that has more potential?

So fellow LJ’s help Ol” Doc Savage out by giving me some of that experienced Knowledge and opinions.


Thomas Tieffenbacher/aka Doc Savage 45

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

22 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4590 days

#1 posted 11-17-2013 05:21 PM

well doc, as much as our brains and will power tell us to go ahead and do something like what your talking about, the reality is , its really hard work, cutting wood up with a chainsaw is lots of work, and a lot of time spent sharpening chains and maintaining your saw, i have the feeling that the fun of it will wear off pretty fast…and you will then feel depressed as your sitting there looking at the expensive saw and mill and protective gear you bought, and not to mention your aching muscles…, as much as our inner selves say hey i can do this, this will be fun…it wont be…lol…but if you decide to go for it, i will root you on….and i will even send you a tube of ben gay. :)

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3773 days

#2 posted 11-17-2013 05:47 PM

Doc, I’m not sure how old you are, but I am 58 going on 59. I have had a shattered pelvis and I don’t get around too well anymore. Often I have to use a cane.
I also use to smoke like a steel mill chimney although I quit that 3 months ago. I still can’t breathe well and just walking our property gives me pause for a lot of rest stops.

However, having said all that, I built a chainsaw mill about 2 years ago. My saw is a Poulan 50cc, not huge but it does handle the 28” bar I bought for it.
I cut up about 6000 board feet of oak, pecan, elm, Osage Orange and cedar since I built this contraption.
I don’t work fast, some days I don’t work at all. I just take it as I can.

I would advise you to buy a mill and saw and try it. A Huskvarna 455 Rancher is the identical saw to my Poulan, but costs $200 more, (It’s all in the advertising and packaging). Both come with a 20” bar but I advise getting rid of the factory bar and pick up a decent Oregon bar.

Good luck, At our age we can keep doing what we want, just not as quickly as we use to.

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

View DocSavage45's profile


9070 posts in 4129 days

#3 posted 11-17-2013 06:07 PM

Grizz & Dallas.

Don’t like the smell of Ben GAY but Thanks for your wisdom.

Dallas, I’m 68 and fairly healthy, just woosie. LOL But as you said I’m near the end and not the beginning. LOL! I can get a Husqvarna, new for decent price. The but is Takes time(which is precious) and maybe I should make pieces, vs. Slabs?

Thanks for your input guys, gotta go and do paperwork/computer work at the office for a few hours to keep up with younger folks.

Will be back in around 5 hrs.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 3953 days

#4 posted 11-17-2013 06:26 PM

If you ask me I would hire the sawing out and build stuff from the wood that way you get to enjoy the lumber you have salvaged but get around the hard work and expense of all the equipment required .
I have made friends with a sawmill fellow and enjoy going out their and picking up wood ready for use and he and his wife enjoy the little presents I make for them .
Enjoy your time in the shop and don’t go busting up your body ,it’s not worth it as much fun as you think it is .

-- Kiefer

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4620 days

#5 posted 11-17-2013 06:35 PM

By the time we realize what we should do we are too old to do it! If you have to do logging just cut up small ones on your bandsaw.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4595 days

#6 posted 11-17-2013 07:34 PM

Doc…If I were you I would let someone mill the lumber and spend your time working on projects and woodworking skills/ techniques. A lot more fun than the labor intensive work of milling lumber.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3773 days

#7 posted 11-17-2013 08:01 PM

You could always buy the equipment and hire a nephew or niece or neighbor kid to do the fetch and tote.
Let them do the work and sell them the equipment in exchange for lumber or lumber and what they can sell.

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

View BobAnderton's profile


314 posts in 4077 days

#8 posted 11-17-2013 08:54 PM

I would say for sure do it. I’ve got one of those Granberg Alaskan Mark III mills and a Husqvarna 460 saw and I’ve milled about 30 different trees, or parts thereof, in the past couple years. Mostly just curbside finds or Craigslist offers. I would say 1/2 the fun of woodworking for me is the milling and drying of my own wood. Figuring out how to stack and air dry properly is 1/2 the battle as there are a lot of ways to mess up. Cracks, bowed boards, insect infestation, mildew and sticker stain, it’s all out there waiting for you. Dry it too fast and you’ve got one set of problems, dry it too slow you’ve got another. Paint anchorseal on the ends of logs before milling and on knots and crotch/flame figure after milling. It’s a blast. As long as the wood’s free and would have gone to waste anyway you’re getting an education as you go. You can mill the log where it lays so you don’t have to be able to load them up and transport them. It’s MUCH nicer to get the logs up on some sturdy sawhorses or purpose built stands if you can manage it. Then you’re cadillac’in. I use a 24” bar and a 28” bar. I also have the edger that holds the saw vertical so I can take the edges off first if I come up on a really big log. Figure on being able to mill something about 6” narrower than the bar length, so with a 28” bar I can get a 22” wide board milled. The 24” Granberg mill will handle a 28” bar perfect. I make a air drying stack in the back yard for the first 6-12 months and then move it to my attic once it’s down below 20% moisture or so.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4372 days

#9 posted 11-17-2013 09:05 PM

You have not said whether or not you have ever operated a chainsaw. I you have not, then rent or borrow
one first, read all the instructions and try it out. That will give you the start of an answer. I have owned &
operated a few chainsaws, still have a Husky 455 Rancher in the shed that I got free & overhauled. I try to
get to the gym at least 3 times a week to stay healthy and capable of playing in the shop easily. This is one
of those hard to answer questions. You can make your own mill from an aluminum ladder and 2xs the big
expense it the ladder & chainsaw. Then if it works for you, you can get fancier. Whatever you decide , have
fun and be careful.

-- As ever, Gus-the 82 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Don W's profile

Don W

20245 posts in 3854 days

#10 posted 11-17-2013 09:36 PM

Im 56 and cut with a chainsaw mill for a while. A few years ago I went to a band saw mill. I had a pile of logs bigger than I thought this body could handle. Keep in mind, I’ve been using a chainsaw since I was probably about 14.

At 68, I’d find another way.

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

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 3183 days

#11 posted 11-17-2013 10:06 PM

The chainsaw milling sounded like a great idea to me many years ago too. Now the time when I had the strength to do it are gone but I found an even better solution for obtaining locally harvested, air dried cherry, maple, oak, etc. I found a guy on craigslist in my area that was offering lumber at $1.50 a bd ft. I was a little skeptical but his farm was within a reasonable distance so I set up an appointment and made a run. It’s a bonanza, I’m buying beautiful rough sawn, air dried lumber at a fraction of the retail cost. Best of all I’m spared the back breaking work involved in sawing it myself. I have almost 1400 bd ft of maple, cherry, oak and walnut stockpiled. It will take a while to use it all and I’m loving it. Remember the old commercial about easy traveling that said “Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us” that applies to more than travel. The wood I got was from farmland that had been cleared years ago and the color is striking. The deals are there if you are patient it will be rewarded.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3773 days

#12 posted 11-17-2013 10:29 PM

“Hard Work?”, “Back breaking work?”

The difficult part with chainsaw milling is the first cut. I use a little 14” arbor saw to to make a flat spot to put my ladder that is my straight edge.
Once you get the first cut from the straight edge, you are golden.
From then on you just keep pushing the saw through by hand. No, it’s not fast but it can be pretty accurate. I like doing 2 1/2” and 4” slabs. Drying inside the shop takes less than a year from green to less than 8% mc.

4” slabs can be cut into 4- 4/4 slabs, finished out to 3/4” white oak.

Most of my slabs are 48” to 60” long. Those equal about as much as I can lift anymore, but they sure ship nicely and have paid for my shop upgrades.

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

View DocSavage45's profile


9070 posts in 4129 days

#13 posted 11-18-2013 01:05 AM

Kiefer, Stefang, Greg, Bob, Gus, Don, Mantwi, and Dallas(again :) )

Guys thanks for your advice and wisdom. Some good suggestions.


Just got back from Computer program hell, but like learning a new tool, I’m sticking with it for me.

Tom aka DocSavage 45

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4590 days

#14 posted 11-18-2013 01:14 AM

you know doc, in my fantasy world, i would love to see you out there with logs galore, you cutting away and storing all the beautiful wood you have cut up, but…yea there is always the but…it is some heavy duty work and its possible for you to do it, but…if you could find someone who has a set up like your thinking about, you could try there’s out and see how it all feels…then make a choice…i sure would love to see you get at it….but…..:)

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22830 posts in 4962 days

#15 posted 11-18-2013 01:55 AM

I have an old 041 Super Sthil with a 24” bar and a 32” with skip tooth if I need it. I have tried “milling” a little bit with it. Smaller saws don’t seem to have the HP to cut lengthwise. It is a lot of work! Be prepared to be in good shape when you get done ;-)

It has been a couple of years since I did any. I found the easiest way is to set them on end and rip away. I make a straight line of both sides of the log to follow. Keep checking and you’ll be able to follow it pretty good with a little practice.

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

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