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Thread: Alaska chainsaw mill

  1. #1
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    Default Alaska chainsaw mill

    I am interested in making my own lumber, beams etc... I haven't used the Alaska chainsaw mill or any other and I'm looking for advice, commentary, testimonials, trials and tribulations, oh shytz, etc... My cabin site has the usual abundance of spruce and birch trees and I'm hoping to turn some of them into usuable materials. I do know it's in my best interest to have a large saw to do the work. I know the Alaska mills come in a couple sizes. I know there are chains specifically for ripping. That's pretty much all I know. If you have photos of your work and/or comments to share I would appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Kroto, the chainsaw mills work pretty darn well if you have the patience and inclination to set up your initial cuts, use sharp chains, and maintain your saw. It is a very slow process, produces an enormous amount of sawdust, but is also kind of fun. I would recommend milling the largest logs you can find because you will reap greater yield and efficiency from your labor. Also, I think you will find that it is best to primarily mill larger dimension lumber and beams...ie. it is not cost effective to cut 2x4 framing lumber in most instances. When I had more disposable time on my hands (before kids) I developed my own jig to cut beveled siding from large cants that I milled. I don't have pictures on this computer that I'm using otherwise I'd post some. As you mentioned, large displacement powerheads, clean air filters, and sharp ripping chains are a must for "production". If you are interested, I can recommend some specific items that will help improve efficiency.

  3. #3

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    I use both a Alaska mill and a vertical mill. I use the vertical mill to make my first three cuts then use my Alaska mill to cut the slabs. I also grind my own rip chains the style I like are the ones with two cutter tops ground back so you have two full cutters then two without tops. This style is faster and also makes a nice board surface. Baileys online carries them along with a lot of other milling accessory's.

    Milling with a chain saw is slow but has a few advantages. They are relatively cheap to get started with and for the average person it is easier to haul lumber out of the woods in the summer than it is to yard logs out.
    Chuck

  4. #4
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    Thanks to both of you Austin and hiline. I would be happy to see any pictures you have. I have looked at the Bailey's web site and ordered their catalog and should receive it anytime. I agree that I would be better of making beams and larger dimension pieces. I'm curious as to the quality of lumber I can expect from birch trees. Any comments? Thanks again.

  5. #5

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    Birch is hard to dry and shrinks a lot. It does make nice cabinets when it's can dried and sanded. I getting ready to go do some bear hunts until mid Oct if this thread is still going I'll try to get some pictures photoshopped when i get back.
    Chuck

  6. #6
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    I'll try to post a few pictures when I can locate them. I haven't milled any hardwoods like birch before but I don't see why it wouldn't work out. If your birch is relatively free of large nots the lumber should stay straight after drying. I do know that large knots in alder make a lot of wobbles in the dried boards. Also, the denser the wood the slower the milling usually goes. There is a good book that was written on this subject a number of years ago called "Chainsaw Lumbermaking" by Will Malloff. Often you can locate it in your public library rather than purchasing it. I gleaned several good tips from it but have also done some things differently. His tips on moving large logs and cants are particularly useful. Here's an Amazon link.

    http://www.amazon.com/Chainsaw-Lumbe.../dp/0918804124

  7. #7

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    I'm no expert by any means. I've milled spruce, cottonwood, and birch. The birch, I milled into 1" slabs to use for building racks/shelves at our cabin. I dried it bound with a ratchet strap under a loose fitting tarp and stickered. I didn't care for as I should have and ended up with several split pieces, but they were wide to begin with and I planned on ripping them narrower anyway so I was able to work around it. I can say that the lumber I milled was straighter than some rough sawn I purchased to complete my projects. I use and Alaskan mill to remove the top cant, then use an edger mill to mill the width dimension, and return to the Alaskan to start slabbing it out.

    As said earlier...sharp chain and let the saw do the work, don't rush it and it should stay nice and flat for you. Ditto on the Chainsaw Lumbermaking book too.

    It's lots of fun and tons of work, and when you take the top cant off, it's awfully pretty when you see the first grain.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the replys. I would still like to see someones pics if possible. I have put Will Malloff's book on hold at my local library. Thanks for the info.

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