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A somewhat frustrating day of milling

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by DiscoInferno, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    Sunday I finally lined up some downed trees to mill, normally around here everything gets bucked to length before I get to it. In this case it was a 22" diameter yellow (tulip) poplar that I wanted to turn into siding for the fort I'm building the kids. Tree was at this cool house in the woods just outside the beltway, I've been there before for firewood. Initial plan was to use the small log mill with my "new" used Makita with the stock 64cc top end, a new 24" bar, and my one and only 24" loop of Woodland Pro ripping chain. I've used and filed this chain many times without any problems, but this time it just won't cut. So I sharpen it, it seems better for about half a board, and again it won't cut. I sharpen again, same thing. I'm sharpening with the Pferd unit that also takes down the rakers. At this point I wonder if the problem is somehow the cheapo bar on the Makita, so I switch to the 455 which has a better quality bar and which I've used to mill before. Nothing. So finally I give up and switch to the new 30" bar and chain I got for the makita to use when my new Panthermill (double-clamp Alaskan style mill) arrives. After that, the makita cut through that poplar like butter. I can't wait to see how it goes after I upgrade to 84cc. I would have thought 30" was way to much for the small log mill to handle without a ton of droop, but it really wasn't any worse than the 24". Good to know.

    I think the moral of the story is that I apparently still can't hand file worth a damn, although I've been hand-filing this chain up to now without issue. I don't know if the problem is uneven left-right filing, or maybe the Pferd unit isn't getting the rakers down enough. I'm going to check the rakers and put it on the grinder before I head back next weekend.

    I'm afraid I didn't think to bring my own camera, these two small photos were snapped by the homeowner. I don't actually mill bent over like that, it was right at the end of the cut and I was pulling the saw out. (I had been kneeling, which doesn't bother me.) The other pic he wanted me to pose with my "trophy". I got 14 slabs around 66" x 18-22" x 3/4", some ring shake but nothing I can't cut around.

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  2. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Dang pretty boards.

    I guess milling is the next progression of this obsession with wood? Or maybe it's what guys do when they get 3 + years ahead on wood? I just need to know so I can start preparing ! That being said, Tulip is not prized firewood - so why not mill it. It's pretty wood.
  3. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    You are sure you weren't sawing through something that was dulling your chain?
  4. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    The wood was clean, and to my eye and my finger the chain is/was razor sharp. I gave each tooth a total of 20 file strokes on site before giving up and swapping. Rakers are set a little lower than the "factory" setting. That's the puzzle. My only guess is that it's become sufficiently uneven that it wants to cut sideways, although it did not seem to be binding like I would expect in that case. We'll see how it works on the same tree next weekend after I take the grinder and digital calipers to it.
  5. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I went back for round two today after sharpening the chain on the grinder. Cut like new, didn't need to resharpen at all. Clearly my filing technique needs some work.
  6. Gasifier

    Gasifier Minister of Fire

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    Nice job on the boards DISCO. Good work. Looks like you will have some good looking siding there. Kids should be very happy.

    I use to file my chains, but I could never get them as sharp as the guys at the shop. And for $5 for any length chain it just was not worth the time. Although I still need to practice that and learn to do it better myself. ;-) I drop them off one day and pick them up the next. A good price for a sharp chain.
  7. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Those are some beautiful Poplar planks, Disco. Your kids are very lucky. They are going to have one classy fort.

    A friend of mine built a horse barn out of Poplar. It weathers down to a nice gray with low visual impact, and
    really blends in well. It's also zero maintenance, and it lasts a long time, I hear.
  8. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Nothing easier than tulip......I would check that mill to see if its binding or hitting something. Oh and by the way the boards dont show a novice on the file. They look pretty darn good from here.
  9. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    See my update above, it was the chain. Most of the boards in the picture were cut after I switched to a brand new chain, so I can't take any credit for that. But this weekend's boards look just as good now that I've touched up the original chain on the grinder. I had hand-sharpened that chain probably 15+ times before, so I'm not hopeless. But I do seem to slowly diverge from uniform over time.
  10. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Sweet...They do look good. Grinder is the only way to go on a milling chain. Got to love milling tulip to nothing like those chips flying!
  11. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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    DiscoInferno, when I'm milling white pine or hemlock it seems seven boards is the number before the chain really gets dull. Because the milling is hard on a saw that is my max that I do for boards in a day, I do take two extra sharp milling chains with me if I need to change.


    zap
  12. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I found about the same in hemlock this summer. With this tulip polar I was able to do entire logs (12-14 boards at 7') without any real slowdown. Soft wood and nice clean bark go a long way I guess. Really seems like an ideal wood for milling.

    I really should pick up a second ripping chain for my two different milling bars (24" and 30"). Just cheap I guess. As it is I have way more wood milled then I have any idea what to do with. And now my father-in-law has bought a new Woodmizer bandsaw mill and he's "threatening" to bring it up to the MI property and do all my milling for me. Must be time to build a second shed...

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