sawing logs with a chainsaw\alaskian sawmill

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Forum topic by willy3486 posted 08-30-2012 12:00 AM 10483 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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78 posts in 3813 days

08-30-2012 12:00 AM

I have gotten excellent replies on my question of logs and board feet. I had asked about having them sawn om a bandmill. I estimated it out and to get the logs cut I can actually buy it already cut cheaper if I luck out. Anyway I am thinking the few logs I have, 13 so far ranging from 10 to 18 inches in width. So I have been thinking about a chainsaw and attachment. I currently have a poulan 16 inch I have used a chainsaw attachment that rides on a 2×4. I made some lumber but was slow with my saw. I have seen some nice looking ,more powerful 20 inch Husqvarna saws at tractor supply. Its a 3.5 hp 56 cc saw which is more power than my 18 inch 40 cc poulan.

I don’t have one but I have seen a attachment that is called a Alaskian sawmill. IT bolts on to the chansaw and rides on top of the log to cut boards the size you want. I can probably get one of these chainsaw mill setups for less than I have been quoted. I am thinking about this route instead of getting a bandsaw mill to cut a total of 20 logs, many of which are 12 to 16 inches wide. I was wondering does anyone have one or have you used one. If you have how fast can you cut one board out thats roughly 12 inches wide? No more than I have to cut I am thinking it might be a way to go, I would also have a new chainsaw and a mill attachment for future use. Does anyone have any ideas on this setup as far as pro/con?

21 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19242 posts in 2983 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


1816 posts in 2891 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


8296 posts in 3791 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

30371 posts in 2754 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 2604 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 2903 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 2680 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


78 posts in 3813 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 2569 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 2680 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 2684 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


78 posts in 3813 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

30371 posts in 2754 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 2680 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


78 posts in 3813 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.

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