chain sawing logs - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-11-2017, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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chain sawing logs

I have access to a bunch of logs that are 8 - 12 inch diameter and maybe 18 inches long. Unknown species, but the area has pine, ash, maple and oak and I'm dying to cut into a couple and see if there's something that'd do well on the lathe.

The problem is with splitting them. I've seen saw horses that hold a log for trimming to length, but how do you split a log down the middle lengthwise?

Dave in CT, USA
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-11-2017, 08:08 PM
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I rip saw the log piece with my chain saw. Helps to have a sharp chain. with the log laying flat across two smaller logs/sticks. I lay the bar along the length of the log and cut down ward. With a sharp chain, you will get long shavings. I just cut the log in half that way. Keep in mind that most turners do not use the center of the log anyway, trying to avoid the crack prone center near the pith. If a log is large enough, I will cut just to either side of the center of the log, cutting it in three, two "near halves" and a center piece about two inches wide.

I have had good luck turning red maple firewood from here on the farm. it is not nearly so hard as sugar maple.
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-11-2017, 09:47 PM
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It's difficult to rip a log down the middle. It takes a different kind of blade than you use to cross cut with. It might be easier to use a log splitter or maul if all you need to do is bust them in half.

I cut some boards about 4' long freehand with a chainsaw before. I left the tree trunk that long and ripped the wood first down to the ground before cross cutting them.
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-11-2017, 10:27 PM
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Yes there are special rip chains for saws, but if your chain is sharp, you don't need one. I have cut hundreds of pieces of firewood with the grain and never had a ripping chain. But as I said, the chain must be sharp. depending on how familiar you are with chains saws, there are several different chains. There are even different angles to sharpen the teeth for green wood or dry wood. I heated my house with wood for 12 years. That was a great deal of wood which required a good chain saw. There are two basic types of chain for the smaller of the Stihl chain saws. One is the standard chain you get at a hardware store. An anti-kickback chain. it has raised humps on the chain to prevent the chain from digging too deep into the wood and kicking back. This first type is the Harry Homeowner kind of chain. The second type of chain, is generally available only at chain saw dealers and does not have the the same high "anti kickback" features in the chain. Folks claim it cuts more aggressively. That is a kind way of saying it. it cuts like greased lightning when sharp, it can also kick back easier than type one. I have been using the second type chains for 18 years now. and i won't lie, I have had a kick back or two. But I stand to the side of the saw and never ever directly over it. less chance of hitting oneself with the saw in a kick back. I wear protective clothes. (chaps etc) Never even came close. I use a stihl with a 20 inch bar. The aggressive cut chain is great for ripping short sections of logs
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-12-2017, 03:18 AM
where's my table saw?
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ripping vs bucking or crosscutting ....

I also have heated with wood for many years... about 35. Crosscutting to length or bucking is far different than ripping, just like on the table saw, it requires a different blade. The "safety blade" that is factory issue on chain saws these days is not good for ripping. My Stihl dealer will make up blades with the aggressive set for their "professional" tree trimmer customers.

You can use a splitting wedge or maul on lengths of straight grain wood and very easily make your turning rounds. On crotch wood, it will be way more difficult and they may not split evenly or at all. So it depends on the place where the log is taken from the tree as well.
I say, split what you can and saw what you can't split, but use the correct chain.

Starting a rip cut on the top of a log is dangerous and requires you
have the saw bumped up to the outer diameter and running at full speed. The dog teeth will hold the saw in place until you get a kerf started IF you are careful, so do be very careful! This is not an operation for the inexperienced sawyer in my opinion.

If you don't have too many, I would drive a few screws through the log at the base into the support log, keeping them far away from the cutting path. The cutting process will "draw" the subject log into the blade as it cuts, so beware. I always use a support log when splitting because to provides mass and resistence to the dynamics of the splitting force.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-12-2017, 08:46 AM
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My rip cutting was generally done with huge discs cut from logs about 24 to 30 inches in diameter. I don't have a splitter, so I cut a slice off a large log and then rip saw it with the grain into quarters to make manageable size chunks of firewood. If I have a piece of black walnut or other possible turning wood, I do the same but only cut the piece of log in half. My lathe is only a 12 inch, so I can't turn the huge pieces
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-12-2017, 10:40 AM
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I recently got some turning squares out of some walnut and cherry logs. I split the log in half using splitting wedges and a maul. I then quartered it using the same wedges. After that, I finished squaring them up on the bandsaw.
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-12-2017, 11:42 AM
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I cut lengthwise with a standard chain all the time.
To cut down on stringy shavings try to cut at 45* as much as possible. You should try to cut so the blank is balanced as the pith is not always in the center. The pic with the one inch push pin show how I cut that one; yes I could have cut it L to R but the different sides would dry (warp) very different.
I process the logs asap to blank length. Typically I cut the length 4" longer than the diameter to allow for some cracks on the ends. If the wood is free it doesn't matter much. I anchor seal the ends and about one inch of the cut. On 8" I just cut down the center and the width of the blade removes the pith. On larger I may cut 1/2" each side up to 1.5" each side. Most of the larger cuts are to have quartersawn in sycamore, oak, or other woods as much as removing the pith.
I use my workbench to cut the length; note the 2X under the log to insure I do not hit the vice. Lots of folks use a work mate or similar.
When ready to turn I knock off the corners with the chain saw as I can get it round on the lathe much quicker than I can clean my bandsaw.
Lyle Jamieson has several good youtube videos on preparing blanks with a chain saw.
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