Chainsaw mill

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Feeling the Heat
Jan 6, 2015
Northern Michigan
My stacks are fairly full and I'd like to take some time this summer to harvest beech before it rots from beech bark disease. My dream is to take some of the bigger straight limb free trees and salvage the lower portion for lumber and use the rest for cordwood.

Any advice or opinions in general on chainsaw mills? I have a few bucks to throw at this, but don't want to go nuts.

The Alaskan mk3 grabbed my attention, but I really don't know enough to make an informed decision.

How is your back and knees? Unless you have a way of elevating said logs - at least one end to get gravity assist. manual mills take a fair amount of omph. even just running around 12" through my band saw requires a fair amount of effort. that said plenty of people use and report favorably on the chainsaw mills for budget job/ for own use such as you are suggesting. check out the milling threads for a lot of on hand info
oops sorry this forum doesn't have that thread-- so just internet search i know of 3 other sights but don't want step on any toes here.
You might also want to consider the power head that will be used. An MS261 is gonna be on the small side for milling.
Think big. 90cc and larger. An 084 isn't out of the ballpark!
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I have never done any significant milling, but i have tried air drying some beech for eventual use as lumber.

One thing i remember having done was spray painting the ends of all my rounds asap after bucking with latex spray paint to seal the ends of all the tubules.

All my pieces warped and split anyway, so they ended up in my wood stove after i trimmed all the paint back off the ends.

It is absolutely gorgeous wood and i wish you the best of luck.
My brother has run a chainsaw mill at his property for about 15 years. He cut the beams for his barn plus built an Adirondack shelter and has cut many slabs. He admits that he is trading off a lot of time, fuel and bar oil to do this.

Some observations by me and grudgingly by him

He started with a small saw but quickly bought a big one (the biggest husky the local dealer had in stock). Its has a warning plate that its not designed for normal sawing and is way to big for normal sawing.

The initial setup on the log takes a lot of time, once you get that first cut done things speed up a bit

The saw kerf is quite wide, cutting one inch boards you are effectively throwing away every fifth board in sawdust. Cutting beams is lot more efficient.

Get your A game in place for saw tuning, continuous sawing can really show up a bad tuning job and may lead to premature saw issues

Your face is right there in near the exhaust, I strongly suggest a dust mask. He doesn't use one and is hacking up sawdust for several hours. I expect sitting there for hours breathing two stroke exhaust is not that healthy.

Learn to sharpen your chains, its a PITA to remove the mill from the saw so keeping a spare around really doesn't speed things up comparing to sharpening the one on the saw.

If you don't have Kevlar chaps, buy some and I would suggest Kevlar gloves as you are quite close to the chain and its easy to slip.

When the chains gets dull you need to sharpen them. Its pretty obvious when its getting dull but if you are in the middle of a cut, the temptation is to keep pushing through. This leads to a lot of work pushing and the potential for cupping the board.

Cutting hardwood takes a lot longer than softwood.

Its a good way to get into cutting but I expect that most folks end up either quitting or buying a bandsaw mill. I am looking at skipping the chainsaw mil and getting a band sawmill.
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I own a mk3 mill and use it from time to time for small projects. It's hard work and time consuming especially setup for the initial cut. They work as designed and the final product is beautiful. I use a 661 to power my mill. I wouldn't advise using anything smaller. The low end torque required to rip a board length log is tremendous even on smaller diameter logs.

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