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Do you use a chainsaw mill to harvest lumber?

3030 Views 36 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  DocSavage45
An Inquiring mind wants to know.

I now have two panther pro 24 inch mills and a 50 cc and a 55 cc chainsaw. I was advised to just buy my wood but we have a compost site near that often has decent logs that may go to firewood or just get burnt. I am now actively learning all I can before I slab some logs.

I will be doing a blog on my "Chainsaw Mill Madness!" as I complete my bench for milling small logs and practice before heading off to the compost site when the weather and work allow.

I'm looking for your wisdom and advice to integrate into this "bucket list" project.

LJ's have given me insight and inspiration to go where I've not gone before!

As always your comments, criticisms and humor are welcome

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Ive wanted to invest in a mill myself. Lots of trees gwt cut down around here but usually end up as firewood.

Matt Cremona has some youtube vids about using his chainsaw mill, if you havent already seen them.
I used the chainsaw mill for 2 years. worked fine, but too slow for what I needed. I have a Stihl 660 with 36" bar.
I've been milling with Alaskan mills for many years now. It's true that they are slower but the low cost compared to a band mill and portability more than make up for it. Truth be told Alaskan mills do produce a better, more accurate cut and if you mill urban lumber and chain will hold up far better to hitting metal vs a band mill blade.

I recommend you join the ArboristSite and check out the Milling & Milling Saws section. Lot's of info there:
Another great source for information and support is the Forestry Forum…

I started with a "beam machine" as it's very inexpensive, but requires a lot of attention and steady hands. I have a 54cc and 64cc saw and the smaller of the two only holds 18.6oz of fuel and the last time I turned a 20" x 9' long leaf pine log into a cant it used exactly 1 full tank for just four cuts. The price of entry and the portability are certainly attractive for occasional users or those cutting monster slabs (not so affordable) but the efficiency doesn't yield a good ROI for anyone hoping to do any volume. I have had the opportunity to use a 36" mill with a 120cc saw and cutting smaller stuff it was much faster, but in big stuff was pretty slow, but still possible. Having a sharp chain is of paramount importance if you don't want to cook your bar as you slowly burn your way through the wood.
I recommend you join the ArboristSite and check out the Milling & Milling Saws section. Lot s of info there:

- Timberwerks
Definitely good info. I like to just see what others are doing with their CSM. The one guy in Alaska that mills on the beach….he gets some really nice free lumber. Beautiful view for milling,too.
I will give a warning,though, about arborist site- it can cause BP a d adrenaline to rise and dollars be spent.

Good to read ya branching out! Patience is a good thing with CSMing. Not only for the milling, but for the drying process,too. But the payoff is the reward of building stuff and saying," yup,that started from a log I milled."
You already know it's slow and difficult work so I'll just mention the following:

1) You need a place large enough to stack and sticker your lumber where it's off the ground, has good ventilation, and is somewhat protected from the rain and direct sun. And you need to get it there ASAP after the stuff is cut. Count on your lumber being in that location for at least a year and maybe more.

2) Consider the weight. A freshly cut oak board that's 10 feet long and 8/4 thick weighs about a billion pounds. Be sure you have a few people with strong backs to horse that stuff around.

3) Watch for creatures. Some of the urban trees you'll encounter will have been felled because of disease. If you plan on building your own kiln, the heat should kill everything. Otherwise, be vigilant and don't introduce pests into your woodpile.

Everything so far posted I can agree with! I picked up the small Alaskan mill for my older Jonsred 54cc 18" bar but had problems finding proper chain(rip cut) made up my own which works okay but still very slow cutting. I started out on a Birch tree which in hind site was one of the toughest trees to practice on! Going to harvest a Poplar this fall which should cut a little easier? We have a wood burning fireplace so a least I have some extra good firewood out of the deal.
well i have lots of info to give here, well i really only have a small amount and quick to the point, take your logs to a sawyer, sell the chainsaws and mills, well keep one saw for that needed tree that will come down in the yard, but everything else, save your back…and save your time…use the time to do actual woodwork….the work that it all takes is young mans work…and that is all i have, noy what you wanted to hear…..but its all free, so if its not wanted, then just chuck it in the not wanted file, matt cramona loves to cut his lumber for just the odd and end project, how far away is he from you tom…he can sell you all the wood you need…, its all one price…check him out.
save your back…and save your time…use the time to do actual woodwork….the work that it all takes is young mans work…

- grizzman
What Grizz says!
Would love to see you thoughts, but I fear grizzman is right-save your time for actual woodworking and it's a young man's game. This business of aging is not for the weak or faint of heart.
Justin, Grizz,John, Doug,John,Andre,

Thanks for your very wise advice! I know cutting wood with a chainsaw can be dangerous, so I am starting with small logs. I have the chains, blades, moving tools and protective Kevlar clothing. I have watched the videos and read some books, as I don't have a mentor. I have been thinking about this for as long as I have been on LJ's maybe longer.

I even bought a winch that has been on the shelf in my shop that is going into service in this "bucket list" project.

I'm learning a lot about chainsaws, the weight of the saw and steel mill together, as well as stacking and sticking, checking, etc.

I probably am not up to the task at this point, and I may fail to "get some wood I cut," which is my goal here.

After which I will have some tuned up ready to go chainmill tools for Ebay or Craigs List

Thanks for your advice! "It's my Chainsaw Madness" LOL!

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You may want ti think about a bigger saw if you do much milling, I have a few 80cc saws and wouldn't want to use them for much milling. Most of the guys on AS with chain mills seem to be running in the 100cc + range (660/880 stihl or the 395/3120 husqvarnas)
Tugboater78,HerbC,BigBlockYeti, Tomsteve,Ohiomike,Monte,

Your information is something I will keep in mind. I'm not into volume at this point, and I'm not sure(at all) how far I can go. Getting Old sucks! LOL! I may not even get to do something with what I harvest, if anything, but I'm going to try to "swim up river," as my new mentor Thomas Hucker has advised.

I also have a metal detector to at least prevent metal from dulling the blades, but that also depends on depth of cut.

I want to thank everyone for their input!


If I could handle or afford a bigger saw I'd probably be buying those big slabs. LOL I do understand I have minimum power,and depth in my cut, but I do know my limits.

Thanks for the suggestion.

As the smart folks said "It's a younger mans game!"
HI Tom,

I have never used a chainsaw mill, but I sure like your title: Chain Saw Madness!

It is maddening! I actually started to cut a small walnut log and now I realize my chain is really dull and I don't have another for my short blade. Grrrr!

Thanks for checking it out.

It is maddening! I actually started to cut a small walnut log and now I realize my chain is really dull and I don t have another for my short blade. Grrrr!

Thanks for checking it out.

- DocSavage45
I have a cordless Dremel that I use to to resharpen the chains but seems the chain stays pretty sharp cutting wet wood!

Thanks! The small log is from a branch cut off of one of my walnut trees. I ran a metal checker over it to not have a nail surprise. This is with my smaller saw and 20 inch power match bar. Not sure about tension binding the cut or if the chain does a cross cut. The bar that came with the saw uses a different length chain of which i have two new chisel chains.

I purchased a ripping chain to have a standard of comparison, and I have two sets of file sharpening files and sets I will be trying out this evening when it gets cooler.

Eventually I will blog the misadventure.
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