Rough sawing logs with a chainsaw?


I've got some trees, pines particularly, that I'd like to slab for an outbuilding. I understand there's a ripping blade for a chainsaw but have heard, also, that it's not necessary.
Certainly Mac's sawmill would work better but I haven't got Mac's money :). Any thoughts, warnings, advice, suggestions? One advantage would be cutting it where it falls instead of having to drag it to the saw.
TomNie
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It's darn slow!!!
Just halving logs for turning (2' diameter, 2' long) wore me out quickly.
Learn how to sharpen your saw, and do it often is my advice.
Get someone to help you move the logs, they are heavy.
Have someplace to use the shreds of wood the saw takes out of the cut. You'll have LOTS.
Other than that, take your time, work safe, and have a bit of fun out of it.
Walt C

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I did this several years ago with some large silver maples the county cut down. The first part of the tree in two large logs at about 36" in diameter and 4' long were rolled behind the garage and sat there for several years until one day I got an idea. I built a jig that attaches to my chain saw and rides along a 2x6 out of some scrap metal and car parts I had around. It looked something like this: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p 126&cat=1,41131,41139 It did take a little while to rip those logs down. I didn't use a ripping chain, but did use a freshly sharpened chain. If you use a jig like the one above, be sure to keep the saw as plumb as possible. Any deviation will result in wedge shaped boards. This wasn't a big deal, I just cut the boards thick to compensate for that. All said and done, after 1/2 a days work I got about 40 bdft. of some very beautiful spalted maple, and a very large pile of saw dust. My little jig was fine for a couple logs, however, if you have many to do, at least consider something like this http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p 127&cat=1,41131,41139 provided you already have a healthy chain saw, it would make the job much easier. Keep us posted! I'm always looking for a better way to make lumber.--dave
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Chainsaw cutting goes slowly enough, but ripping with a crosscut chain can be impossibly slow. The proper chain is worth the few bucks in light of your time and effort. If you're just making a few beams then a simple "mini mill" type of guide will help you get a straight cut without costing too much if you shop around. There are all sorts of variations, but generally they mount to the bar and ride on a 2x4 that you nail to the log.
J.
Tom Nie wrote:

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The normal chain on your saw is for cutting cross grain. It is recommended you get a different chain for cutting along the grain if you are going to cut more than 2 boards in one session. Cutting more than 2 boards may cause your chainsaw (with cross cut chain) to be stressed and burn the motor. With a crosscut chain, you can safely saw an 8' board or two, then allow your saw to cool before proceeding to saw another board or 2. I highly recommend you NOT cut more than two 8' boards in one session.
When working with trees in a "populated" neighborhood, there is a relatively good chance there may be nails, old fenceing or some other metal debris in the wood. Usually this foreign matter is within the lower 5' of trunk. Be aware of this potential for foreign matter. Are there any unusual blemishess, on the lower part of the trees, that would give an indication of some sort of past "distress"? Trees in a forest or more rural locale are less likely to have foreign matter imbedded within it, however, even in rural areas, try to determine if a tree is along an old fence line.
My experience with small portable mills is if you bring the log to them, have one side of the log sawn, turn the log 1/4 turn, then cut with the "through and through" method, you will have 1/3 of your lumber quartersawn. Each board will have only one edge squared. You can sqaure the other edge yourself, later. Through and through cutting is easier for them, squaring one side reduces the time the mill works the log, and both issues cuts your overall mill costs. Not too long ago I had 4 pines and 2 walnuts (1200 bd ft) milled for $100 (I am a long time customer and good friend with the miller, though). Still you should be able to get a decent price by bringing your own log to them, T&T method cut, and one edge squared. The less the mill has to do, the better the savings for you. Many mills, however, charge per bd ft no matter what time-cutting measures you volunteer. Try to find a small mill that will charge an hourly rate.
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Get the rip chain, and the right chainsaw.
This sort of chainsaw milling works OK for getting big square timbers from a log, but it's slow, hard work and also wasteful of timber because of the thick kerf. The finish is poor too, so you spend longer working on the surface to smooth it afterwards. It's a decent way of making beams with little equipment, but it's a lousy way to make boards.
I'd make some effort to find a Wood-mizer bandsaw.
If you want to go the chainsaw route, then see what one of the ladder guide jigs is like. The first cut is made by notching an aluminium ladder onto the top side of the log, then running the guide's roller along that. Further cuts are made by guiding from the sawn edge. You can buy these S/H quite cheaply - lots of people buy them for one job, then pass them on afterwards (or after getting a Wood-mizer). A welder can also make one of these things for you from scratch - you don't even need screwed thickness adjustment - just make up a couple of standard length bars.
You do need the right chainsaw though. Inadequate power is dangerous and a double-engined (double-ended) saw is a right pain to keep working properly.
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I agree. In the aftermath of Fran I slabbed (4") a red oak (that fell on my house) with an Alaskan Mill (attaches to the bar of the saw and basically rides on skids, you have to attach two straight boards to the log to get the first reference cut and then you're off). After half killing myself on the first couple cuts, I took the saw back to where I purchased it and told the old guy the chain must need sharpening because it was really cutting slow. He ask me what I was cutting and when I told him, he gave me one of those "poor grasshopper" looks and fixed me up with a rip chain. I got the mill out of one the WW catalogs (maybe Highland Hardware - I don't remember) for about $200 and still have it. It works great for slabing a large cedar stump for people who like the rustic natural edge round tables. But I haven't tried milling any planks with it since. There's too many people with portable band mills for hire in this area.
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I agree, you need a rip chain and a monster saw. It will still wear you out. A friend of mine was ripping some oak and broke 2 crankshafts in a pretty good size saw. Find a woodmizer!!
Fred
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HIRE THE MILL, $35-50/hr, plus some drivetime if the job is small and he has to drive far. You can easily cut 1500-2000 BF in a day, depending upon the dimensions you need. Wilson

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