Author Topic: Any experience with chain saw mills?  (Read 1919 times)

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Offline ryanjg117

  • Posts: 77
Any experience with chain saw mills?
« on: September 27, 2017, 03:08 PM »
I'm having a professional tree climber / feller take down a few alders on my property in a couple days. I was originally considering cutting them into firewood length and splitting them, but I see quite a few chain saw mills out there - something like this - though I know I could probably make my own Alaskan mill pretty easily. I've got a Stihl 290 right now with 20" bar. Any experience with these kits?

I'm used to buying all my woodworking wood from the hardwood store, and it's all kiln dried. I won't be able to kiln dry these, but I could stack them in the garage for a season or two. How long until I could actually work with them?

Worth it?
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Offline jpmeunier

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2017, 03:33 PM »
I have a Granberg 778 running with a Stihl ms461 (25" bar 24"mill). Honestly its pretty fantastic. I have the 9ft rails to go with it. I cut some cherry 8/4 and air dried it down to 9% In about 5 months. It doesn't cut nearly as fast as a bandsaw. But it isn't $6K either. I started with my MS271 and a 20" bar, and it didn't work as well, little short on power, even shorter on bar length.

Offline rvieceli

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2017, 04:07 PM »
@ryanjg117 you might want to check on a local sawyer and see what they might charge you to bring their mill out and take care of it.

Here is a link to Woodmizer's site to find someone local.

Sometimes if you have logs that are nice you can trade for part of the milling fees.

https://woodmizer.com/us/Services/Find-a-Local-Sawyer

Offline ryanjg117

  • Posts: 77
Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 04:20 PM »
I have a Granberg 778 running with a Stihl ms461 (25" bar 24"mill). Honestly its pretty fantastic. I have the 9ft rails to go with it. I cut some cherry 8/4 and air dried it down to 9% In about 5 months. It doesn't cut nearly as fast as a bandsaw. But it isn't $6K either. I started with my MS271 and a 20" bar, and it didn't work as well, little short on power, even shorter on bar length.

How do you ensure flatness on the first cut?
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Offline jpmeunier

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2017, 04:26 PM »
How do you ensure flatness on the first cut?

With the EZ rails and a level, its pretty simple actually.

Offline aloysius

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2017, 05:47 PM »
A ladder, a plank or any other type of straight, planar edge clamped, screwed or nailed to the trees' bole & packed up one end to allow for the natural taper enables your first straight reference cut to be made.  All subsequent cuts use the previous cut as a register.
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Offline lwoirhaye

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2017, 08:16 PM »
You might check out the forestry forums. 

You may find it pretty costly to have somebody mill the wood for you.  You can do it yourself.  It's hard work and the wood may not dry out as flat as you were hoping it would.  Alder is a pretty stable wood though, also on the cheaper side as hardwoods go.

I ran across this video recently, a different approach from the Alaskan Mills to milling with a chain saw. 

Offline Untidy Shop

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2017, 09:28 PM »
Depending on the timber species and your climate conditions, air drying timber in a shed can take from around two to ten plus years. I had a similar decision to make recently  with some tall sugar gum trees. They are now stacked firewood.

In ten years time I could not guarantee I would be still healthy and active and meantime that timber would be interfering with the climatic and storage/tidy conditions of the Untidy Shop. And I have saved around A$140 per cubic metre in firewood.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 12:39 AM by Untidy Shop »
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Offline WastedP

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2017, 11:55 PM »
Worth it?

In my opinion, not for alder.  That wood's for the smoker.

But I have used an Alaskan mill to slab a doug fir log that had dried for several seasons.  I love using a chainsaw, but I didn't have a rip chain for my saw.  The entire process didn't feel safe.  I now know someone with a mill.  As long as I bring the logs to him, he can cut and kiln them.  I prefer that arrangement to the chainsaw mill.

Offline Peter Kelly

  • Posts: 21
Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 10:47 AM »
I'm having a professional tree climber / feller take down a few alders on my property in a couple days. I was originally considering cutting them into firewood length and splitting them, but I see quite a few chain saw mills out there - something like this - though I know I could probably make my own Alaskan mill pretty easily. I've got a Stihl 290 right now with 20" bar. Any experience with these kits?

I'm used to buying all my woodworking wood from the hardwood store, and it's all kiln dried. I won't be able to kiln dry these, but I could stack them in the garage for a season or two. How long until I could actually work with them?

Worth it?
Unless they're relatively narrow, short pieces of wood, an MS 290 is going to struggle with milling. You'd be better off rigging up a sled for your bandsaw.

Offline Bob D.

  • Posts: 704
Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2017, 01:27 PM »
@ryanjg117 you might want to check on a local sawyer and see what they might charge you to bring their mill out and take care of it.

Here is a link to Woodmizer's site to find someone local.

Sometimes if you have logs that are nice you can trade for part of the milling fees.

https://woodmizer.com/us/Services/Find-a-Local-Sawyer

I was given three large red oak logs about 10 years ago. Each about 36" diameter x ~8 foot long.
I hired a local sawyer who had a Woodmizer LT40 Hydraulic and in half a day he had it all cut up.
Cost me $225 plus two blades at $25 each. SO I had a huge stack of lumber for $275 that I am
still working my way through.

Had I gone the chainsaw mill route it would have taken days and been back breaking work plus
I would have lost a lot of lumber due to the wide kerf of the chainsaw blade. And the mill and
accessories probably would have cost me as much as it did to hire Don to mill it for me.

edit: added photos I recently found of the oak (1st photo) and also a walnut log (2nd photo) I had cut.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 07:32 AM by Bob D. »
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Online Peter Halle

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Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2017, 05:57 PM »
Honestly I doubt that you will be happy by the end of the project if you mill it yourself - unless you put a high value on self-dependence.  Watching the videos for the lower priced mills and also having worked in the tree cutting business for a short period of time, I can not imagine how one would feel at the end of a day.  All the videos seem to show strain when moving the chainsaws painfully slow thru the lumber.  Now perhaps it would have gone quicker with ripping chain saw blades - hard to find - but still.  All the advice here to either hire a bandsaw mill operator or go the firewood route are valid.

Peter
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Offline Woodburner

  • Posts: 7
Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2017, 04:26 PM »
I have some Logosol kit. The M7 bench and the bits that allow you to attach the rail direct to a trunk. It needs special rip chains. It's amazing how much force is being applied. The cutting action will bend the rail.

As said above, hire a man with a saw unless you want to spend a long time to produce your timber, and cover the world with sawdust.

Offline ryanjg117

  • Posts: 77
Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2017, 10:11 PM »
Thanks all. I gave up on the idea and am just turning the alder into firewood. I've got enough incomplete projects as is...

Also, I'm quickly learning that heavy chainsaw use isn't a very healthy hobby. Spilling gas on the shop floor, spewing chain oil all over the place, and having to remove caked-on sawdust mixed with petrochems each evening from the saw innards. Need to start wearing the rubber gloves...
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Offline billberner

  • Posts: 10
Re: Any experience with chain saw mills?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2017, 03:30 PM »
I do not have experience yet with the chain saw mill, but we had to have a large walnut taken down at our house and I made a deal with someone to haul the large logs away, mill them with a woodmiser in exchange for some of the wood.  I had heard it would take ~1 year per inch thickness of the slabs to dry out and that seemed about right.  I painted the ends right away and did not have any issues with air drying here in CA.

I thought at the time the chainsaw mill might have been better as getting a 26" diameter trunk 12 feet long onto the back of of the dump truck was a pain in the , even with a crane (we ended up trimming maybe 4 feet off the trunk, which was a shame. 

But looking at a large stack of 7' long, 2-3" thick slabs of walnut in my garage I'm not sure why any tree remover would not have one of the mills, at least for some hardwood species where the lumber is so costly.