Best Chain saw lumber mill?
I like the idea of using a chain saw mill to make big lumber from logs. Does anyone have a recommendation for the hardware?0
While there are designs that use chainsaws the cuts are rather rough. There are some nicer DIY bandsaw type designs, lots of youtube videos about those.
Also check out http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Sawmill
The best answer is a book; Chainsaw Lumbermaking by Will Maloof and Beth Erikson. It is out of print but is available from Amazon or try your library. The book is well written and very comprehensive, with lots of pictures. It was published in 1982 but the information is still valid. It covers homemade and store bought mill attachments and the chainsaw and chain required. I have milled oak and ash trees and built cabinets with the wood, but it is hard work; dusty , noisy, smelly work. You need a big chainsaw, over 80cc, which will set you back over $1,000 new. A Granberg mill attachment will cost about $200, saw chains another $100. You have to cut a fair amount of lumber to make it worth while. A usable small bandsaw mill can be had for as low as $5,000. They are more efficient but more of an investment. Either of these systems can give you lumber that can be used for framing. you would need a planer for dressed lumber
Done a bit of milling with an "Alaska mill" on an old 090 Stihl. It is hard work and dusty and noisy but stihl good fun and you get a board or two. The chain eats about 3/8" of the wood so you have a mound of sawdust to deal with as well. Make sure your chain is a ripping chain and keep it sharp and clean. The 090 is the smallest power head I would use. Now I want the Peterson Mill but just noticed I'm gettin' a bit old for this.
Thanks, Brian and Ycd. Good info.
The comment about chainsaw millwork being "rough" sounds crazy. I quartered a 24' long 3' diameter black walnut log with a Stihl chainsaw and a Granberg rip chain, using a steel bracket and a nailed-on 2x6 guide rail, so my buddy and I could drag the quarters out to where a giant diesel bandsaw could work them. The rip chain cuts were like glass compared to the ribbed bandsaw cuts - you don't even need to plane the boards if the chainsaw is rigidly controlled, just touch 'em up with a fine sander. I'm sorry to say I don't remember the make of bandsaw; it was on a trailer more than 20' long, though, and looked around six feet from hub to hub.
As long as you use a sharp rip chain, the only problem with the chainsaw mill is the huge kerf. Bandsaws give you more boards and less sawdust, even counting in the extra planing.
Chainsaw lumber making is way too brutal and wasteful (too much sawdust made by the wide cutter) for the 21st century. Do yourself a favor and find the nearest owner of a Wood-mizer band-saw mill, and have him drive his rig to your logs. At my last place in Connecticut back woods there were 3 nearby. In Portland Or, there's a bunch as well. They're everywhere.Wood-mizer's web site will, I believe, help you locate an owner.
Also note: if you want to make relatively small boards (from branches up to 6" or 8" in diameter, you can use a half-h.p. or larger bandsaw equipped properly (3/4" 3 or 4 t.p.i. blade and a "riser-block" if necessary.) But there's some technique to this, so learn before you cut.
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