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.
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.
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:
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
provided you already have a healthy chain saw, it would make the job much
Keep us posted! I'm always looking for a better way to make
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
Tom Nie wrote:
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.
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
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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