Real newbie question about chainsaw milling - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-24-2011, 01:36 AM Thread Starter
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Real newbie question about chainsaw milling

I'm not thinking of doing it, I don't have anything to mill, but was thinking about it from all the questions that come up.

Chainsaw chains are about 1/4, 3/8" wide minimum, so if you're all milling wood with a chainsaw - what's the minimum thickness you'd go? The reason I'm wondering is, if you cut 4/4 or 5/4 planks with a mill, like 30% of the tree would be sawdust when it was all done.

I figure you'd have to cut 12/4 before it became even close to efficient use of the tree.

Does that wastage figure into it, or is the chainsaw what you use because that's all you have and there's nothing for it, or are there even more important concerns like drying that make it too difficult to cut thicker planks?
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-24-2011, 10:11 AM
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I look at it a little different. If that log wasn't sawed at all how much waste is there? My Grandfather used this and similar sawmills for most of his 80+ years that he lived.

It cut a kerf that was as wide as any chainsaw I own. That was the standard until just a few years ago when the small (portable) bandsaw mills began to make their appearance. The first one I ever saw was In the late 70's. That is why all of the board feet calculators show less bf than most bandsaw operators get out of the logs. I recently purchased a Stihl MS660 with a 28 inch bar for some logging of trees in thickets where it isn't feasable to have a logging company go get them. Thinking that I may do some CSM'ing in the future but not sure. Still I would rather see somebody do that as burn in a brush pile those trees as I see done all the time around where I live. All a matter of perspective.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-24-2011, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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I can see why the saw would have such a wide kerf, with that much power tearing through heavy timber I'd want some meat on that blade to avoid breakage. Honestly that sawmill setup looks pretty darn useful.

But I guess you have a point in that the chainsaw mills work where you just couldn't lug a bandsaw mill or get the logging trucks to without widespread damage to the surrounding terrain. No reason to tear up the forest to grab one tree.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-24-2011, 10:18 PM
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It's not the kerf thickness that makes a CSM inefficient for milling thinner lumber compared to say a band mill, it's the time, the wear and tear on the small gas engine, and now the fuel cost. Even the big circle mill which has 30%+ kerf loss is much more efficient because it's 100 times faster.

I don't use a CSM but I do rip thick flitches (aka slabs) with a chainsaw freehand, but I would never try to make 4/4 or even 5/4 lumber that way. Having said all that, many a cabins and even homes have been built using a SCM. That's how the Alaskan got its name. It went where now circle or band saw had gone before.

When nothing else is available (for whatever reason be it locale or even finances) then sometimes a CSM is the best or only option.
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-24-2011, 10:28 PM
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When I was a Pup, my Dad and Uncles used a buzz saw cutting logs all winter. Think it was a 5' dia. blade, powered by flat belts and a tractor. We got to pick up and stack the ends. Good times.

Harrison, at your service!
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-24-2011, 11:22 PM
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I was just addressing the waste because it seemed that he was really hung up on that factor. The main reason I am thinking about using CSM is that I have alot of cutoffs that are 3-5 ft long and nobody around here wants to cut anything less than 6 ft and most won't cut less than 8ft. I can't afford to purchase a band mill at this time. Only got the 660 because I was needing a saw with a longer bar and once I got to the length I needed it wasn't that much more for the bigger saw. And Yeah that circle mill was fast. about the only job I ever got to do on it was off bearing and that wasn't much fun. Though He really had it set up nice. It was on a bluff with the sawdust drag going straight off the side. You threw the slabs over the edge and backed a trailer or wagon up to the table and loaded the boards direct to the trailer as they came off the mill. We would then go down to the slab pile and cut them up and sell for firewood.
These pictures and the others in my album were taken by me after my grand father had died and the family was needing them to show to prospective buyers. Thats my dad at the carriage lever. He died about 12 years ago. Wish I knew then what I do now and there would be pictures of grandfather running the mill and it might be sitting on the other side of they farm but I would still like a bandsaw mill and may eventually get to where I can get one.
Know exactly what you mean Harrison. Good times.

Funniest part is what klr650 said about a meaty blade to prevent breakage. I don't have any pictures but the blade that is on the saw was cracked. And Borrowed. He had three good blades in the shack but this blade was 6 inches wider than his largest and he had been cutting some bigger logs that his blades wouldn't clear. He had borrowed this one and the owner didn't really want it back.
And Yes I have seen what one of these blades will do if it lets go. About 2 miles from his place there is a piece of a blade that is buried in a tree that exploded when it hit the end of a frozen log. It was a smaller portable circle mill that my grandfather and uncle were using. That is the scary part.
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