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Thread: Chainsaw Milling

  1. #1
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    Default Chainsaw Milling

    There's been a number of threads on cutting your own lumber. I thought I'd share my latest experience with it. Last fall in the area around our cabin we had a big wind storm which blew down quite a few large spruce. Seemed a shame to cut it all into firewood so I figured I'd use my Alaska Chainsaw Mill to make timbers for a future (larger) cabin. The intent was to do this last year but record snowfall had me dividing my time between shoveling snow and playing in it. This past summer came and went, so here I am finally getting around to it. Fortunately the trees are still in good shape, some alive with green needles even though they've been knocked over.

    Anyway, here's a series of pictures of the project:

    This is the first tree, a big one, limbed and bucked into the lengths I wanted.




    Next, I attached a set of slabbing rails that I made to the top of the log. These guide the first horizontal cut on the log.




    Here's the chainsaw "mill" about halfway through the first cut on the log.


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    After the first cut, I snapped chalklines for the two vertical cuts.




    Next I attached the guide rails for the mini mill.




    Here's the saw part way through a cut with the mini mill.




    The last cut on each log is using the first mill again with the mill riding on the flat top of the logs. You can see where I stuck wedges as I was cutting to keep the saw from getting pinched. Also, I stuck the smaller log on the big one to have more room for cutting.


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    After all the timbers were cut from this tree, the next task was moving them to where I planned to stack them for drying.

    I modified a plastic sled to keep the front end of the timber from catching on roots and stuff and pulled it with my ATV (since there is hardly any snow).




    A shot of how I rigged it.



    The end product.






    If it looks like a lot of work, it was. If you think it took a lot of time, it did. I happen to like it and for me it is fun and enjoyable. However, if you think it's a good way to save money on materials for a cabin, well maybe not so much.

    Three down, 18 to go...

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    Thanks for posting; I enjoyed the photos. I have one of those mills that I got free in a trade for a canoe that I also got free. I tried using it summer before last, but I wasn't terribly impressed. I made a bench with it, but that's about all. I've since loaned to a friend, who hasn't used it either. I often wish I still had the canoe lol.

    My girlfriend's dad thinks I should use it to build the log cabin we're planning, but I have my doubts. Seems to me it takes one hell of a chainsaw to do that type of cutting, errr ripping I should say. Are you using the standard cutting chain or one of those special purpose ripping chains? How long did it take you, including setting up the rails and inserting your wedges to slab each side, and how long were your timbers?

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    I'm cutting timbers for a post and beam type construction. Most of the lumber for the cabin will be bought here in town and hauled out there. It's just simply a lot faster. It took 2 days to cut those 3 but some of that time was spent figuring stuff out and setting things up that I won't have to do next time. I think I can cut the time down quite a bit once I get better organized and get a better work flow.

    Two of those are 10"x10", one is 22' and the other 12'. The third is 8"x8" and 16'. The saw is a Stihl MS361 and is on the low end of the power scale for chainsaw milling. I've been using one of those ripping chains which is nearly identical to a standard chain except the cutters are filed at 10 degrees instead of 30 or so. I tried some standard chain and it actually cuts a little faster but leaves a rougher surface.

  6. #6

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    NRick, If you are looking for more beam's there are some on C/L they are 6x7 x13' been cut for several years he is asking $40.00 ea Darin at 230-4302 he states that he has more .Good Luck

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    Hey Rick,
    I thought I heard a saw running all day long up north! I've been using a similar but smaller log mill this fall at my place, also dealing with leftover blow down. Your work looks good! I've been cutting 2" slabs about 6 feet long for reworking a boardwalk across a little wet ground by our place. I've found it to be a bit of a backbreaker, working down on the ground. Burning gas & oil is always fun, but I know I'd save time and probably money just hauling treated 2x6s from Moore's. I'm also running a too-small saw for doing a lot of it -- it's a Stihl 16", so I'm limited to about a 12" long cut, shorter than the butt ends of some of the downed spruce. Good luck with your project!

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    Big Bend, thanks for the tip but I want larger timbers and also it's mostly about utilizing my windfall.

    Toofew, I had the saw running most of Sunday and Monday. I should have taken a break and come down for a visit. That muddy excuse for a trail between our cabin and yours is rock hard right now. ATV travel is as easy as it gets out there.

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    NRick,

    I recently purchased one of those mini-mills at a garage sale for $0.50 and was wanting to give it a try. Have you ever milled a log with only the mini mill or is the Alaskan required for the first cut?
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

  10. #10
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    AKBoater, I've used the mini mill alone and the trick is to get the guide rail (usually on a 2x6 or so) fixed square and solid on the top of the log. Took some shims and screws and such, but it's doable. After the first cut, it's easy because you have a good flat surface after taking off the cant. Roll the log so your second cut has the benefit of the guide rail sitting on the first flat cut. I was only cutting 2x stuff for a boardwalk, so a little wobble didn't make as much difference as a beam that was going to hold up a building.

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