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Chainsaw mill

 
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Hi All,

We recently moved from the city to a small homestead in nowhereville, KY. I'm considering buying a chainsaw mill. Looking at the Granberg Alaskan. Anybody have experience with one? Also, I'll have to buy a new chainsaw to power it as the only chainsaw I have is a small electric one for trimming branches when we lived in town. Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions as to what to look for in a chainsaw to use with a chainsaw mill?

Thanks for allowing me to learn from your experience!
 
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Hi Tim;  
Welcome to Permies! And Welcome to nowheresville KY.
I've never had a chainsaw for dinner!  What did you season it with ??? :-)  ( Oop's your header was fixed)

I can't give you a mill recommendation as I've not owned one.
But I can give you my recommendation for a chainsaw.  I use Husqvarna XP saws.  These are the pro model line. Made like saws of old with magnesium cases. They cost more but worth the extra $ in my opinion.
The readily & cheaply available box store  model husqvarna has a plastic case. It is intended for casual home owner use.  Not a good choice for a saw mill.

With a saw mill  I suspect you will want a large saw.  Buy your mill (or at least pick one) and then size what saw you need.
You may find that a large one is better on the mill but a smaller xp version might be much handier to fall & buck your trees.

Plenty of other make professional grade saws  out there. I like husky the next responder may like Stihl.
Just do your research and buy a pro grade model for the mill.  If finances are an issue buy a small plastic model to fall with.
Your electric one I would store someplace they can be handy for certain jobs.
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What do you want to accomplish with the mill?
 
Tim Osborn
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John F Dean wrote:What do you want to accomplish with the mill?



Rough cut lumber and beams for buildings.
 
John F Dean
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If you are planning on doing this as a hobby or for the experience, you have a great idea. If you are trying to save money, check out the price from a local mill.
 
John F Dean
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Food for thought .... cutting trees is part of homesteading.    From your question, it appears that you dont have a great deal of chainsaw experience. No doubt, you will gain it. I certainly did.  I also had a good family friend who had a tree "walk" and come down on his neck.  He spend several years in a wheel chair on a breathing machine.  He finally died.  My point is that I treat tree cutting seriously.  I hire out a job that I think is beyond my skills.  
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Tim;  
John brings up a good point.  The cost of finished lumber versus time and materials cutting your own.
I suspect you are wanting to cut the timber in your homestead area and then use it to build your home / barn/ shop.
Nothing wrong with that idea! Lots of folks have done that and then continued to cut lumber for others.
There is the initial cost of chain saws, the mill, then your time and sweat, cutting , stacking, air drying.
There is also waiting to get finished boards before you can build a structure.
All those things are completely possible.

Another possible option you might look into, is selling to a sawmill the logs that are in your way.
Then use the money from that to  buy finished boards to build with.

Good luck with your plans! Keep us posted with photo's as you progress!

 
Tim Osborn
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John F Dean wrote:Food for thought .... cutting trees is part of homesteading.    From your question, it appears that you dont have a great deal of chainsaw experience. No doubt, you will gain it. I certainly did.  I also had a good family friend who had a tree "walk" and come down on his neck.  He spend several years in a wheel chair on a breathing machine.  He finally died.  My point is that I treat tree cutting seriously.  I hire out a job that I think is beyond my skills.  



John,

Thanks for the warning. In my almost 57 years, I've heard enough chainsaw stories to instill a strong sense of respect for them in me. No matter how many Youtube videos I've watched, I'm not going to be felling anything more than a sapling.

With that said I'll expand on my previous answer to your question. I'm looking into chainsaw mills, because the land we bought used to have an amish run sawmill on it. They of course took all their equipment with them, but they left a pile of logs behind that had been deemed unfit for producing lumber that they could resell. They are too big to move without special equipment so I was looking at the possibility of milling them where they are with a chainsaw mill, so they could be moved one board at a time. The lumber produced would be sub-standard, but I figured it could be suitable for animal shelters, garden fences, etc.
 
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You're going to need a quite large chainsaw to run a chainsaw mill.  I have owned and used Stihl chainsaws (and other of their equipment) for many years and would suggest that brand to you without reservation.  A good resource for all things milling is The Forestry Forum.  You don't have to be a member to read.  A suggestion I would make is to look into an entry level bandsaw mill such as a woodmizer LT15.  Much faster, much less back breaking work and less waste.  I have an LT28 with a 20 horse motor and have sawed a lot of lumber on it from trees that otherwise would have wound up as firewood or rotting in the forest.  I only saw for myself and not for hire.  I've got a couple more projects to saw out and then the mill will have paid for itself.  Good luck!
 
John F Dean
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The Husqvarna - Stihl debate has gone on for decades. While the debate regarding which is better rages on, I have never encountered anyone who has claimed either is bad.   The one certainty is to not buy an underpowered saw in an effort to save money.
 
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Husky vs Stihl.... The dealer matters more.  Go with whichever has the better parts and repair department near you.  

And you need a MUCH bigger saw to rip a board than cross cut the same log.

A chainsaw mill makes a lot of sawdust.  It is extremely wasteful if you want to cut 1x or 2x lumber, but a good way to cut beams and posts.  

It is not as cheap as it first appears.  Yes, the attachments can be had as cheap as $30, but you really need a pro level saw and accessories to do it which can add up to the price of a used bandsaw mill if you aren't careful.

I have a friend that uses a chainsaw mill to make beams and then a porta band to resaw down to 1x or 2x with less waste.
 
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I have 24" echo timberwolf with a 150ish dollar alaskan mill on it. I use it a fair amount. I mostly cut wood for small furniture and craft projects. I've done some for around the homestead work but usually I just find other sources for this. A few important things.

1) you have to get a ripping blade
2) get a better chainsaw than you would think necessary, but you don't need a 1000k stihl.
3) Let the saw cool by running a bit with no load
4) cut slower than you think, don't force the saw.... a lot. Mostly what is slowing you down is the ability for the chain to remove the saw dust.
5) take your time to get the first cut nice and flat
6) You WILL hurt your back, it's really tough to be bent over pushing for a long period of time. If you can get the material to a comfortable height it really helps. I never can!
7) Making dimensional lumber is almost never worth it financially, even though it's very emotionally satisfying (gas / bar oil / ripping chain / trip to chiropractor / etc.)
Eventually you will just give up and start looking at small bandsaw mills. Which probably don't make sense either but... if you have the money??
9) Do you have a planer? I end up planning almost all the wood I cut. The chainsaw just doesn't leave a very finished surface. Maybe for garden beds?
10) You are probably going to do it anyways. So have fun and be careful.

Oh.. one more thing. If you are homesteading you need the chainsaw anyways so get a decent one for ripping but also get a smaller 14" inch electric chainsaw for smaller general work. I use my electric ego 90 percent of the time, it's amazing not to have to pull that cord every time you want to start it.
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