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Top tips and ways to get the most out of chainsaw milling

  • Keep the chain sharp – most people require some form of guide to get the chain perfect – tooth length the same, angle the same, depth gauges consistent. Nearly all issues we come across always come down to the chain – you can get away with all sorts of mistakes when cross cutting timber – not so with milling.
  • Rest the saw down the log – particularly in hot conditions let the saw idle for 30 seconds every 1m you cut – this allows the saw to get rid of some of the heat build up.
  • At the end of the log do not switch saw straight off. Remove from log – gently rev and allow chain to remove any sawdust trapped in the bar. Allow saw to idle 1 minute before you start cutting again or before you turn off.
  • Do not run your saw out of fuel – always make sure there is fuel in the tank – if you keep allowing the saw to run out of fuel completely you will have idling and other issues later in the saw’s life.
  • Do not force the mill to cut – it should cut without undue pressure so if it is not cutting then pull it out the log and assess the reasons.


What size lumber mill attachment do I need?
How big are your trees? How wide of a board do you want to cut? What size chainsaw do you have? These are questions only you can answer. The Alaskan style chainsaw mills will clamp to any bar and you tend to lose 8″ off the cutting width ie. a 48″ bar on a 48″ chainsaw mill will cut to a max of 40″. NB – this does not meant it will cut a 40″ log. Logs are bendy and lumpy so you need at least another 4″ of wriggle room in order to guide your mill around these lumps and bumps.

What kind of chainsaw do I need?
The MS880 is currently the best option for larger logs. It’s torque and power allow you to use up to enormous 84″ bars (longer bars benefit from using the 27RX hyper skip ripping chain). Other 90cc saws such as the MS661 or Husqvarna 395XP are also great for milling logs up to a maximum of 36″.  Smaller saws will work but are less efficient and some of the bars on the smaller saws are too narrow to mount the mills clamping brackets. But with a smaller mill like the Granberg Small Log Mill you can still plank timber up to 16″ or so.

How much power must my chain saw have?
The general rule is, the more power your saw engine has, the faster the cutting speed. Almost any engine that runs will cut, it just depends on how much time you want to spend milling your lumber. Chain sharpness is another huge factor.

How do I make first my first cut?
With the Alaskan Mill Mk IV or Panther Mills you need to have a flat surface for the mill to ride on to get a flat even cut. You can nail a 2×10 to the top of the log or you can buy our Panther First Cut system. Or use a ladder. All have different pros and cons but bear in mind we designed the Panther first cut system using 12 years milling experience.

Can I use my regular chain for ripping?

If you have questions on ripping chain please see our full page here – it will answer any questions you may have.

Your regular stock chain on your saw works fine when it is sharpened correctly and if it is a micro chisel or semi chisel chain. Despite numerous mentions the way you sharpen your chain is EVERYTHING when it comes to milling success. Angles have to be the same, tooth length has to be the same, depth gauges need to be consistent. Buy a bench grinder or a guide like the precision grinder as very very few people can get a chain perfect by eye.

Do I need an Auxiliary Oiler Kit?
Chain saws deliver oil to the drive links via an oil hole in the top of the bar at the power head end of the bar. Oil has to travel around the nose of the bar (where some will be flung off) and onto the cutting side of the bar. For smaller bars and small cuts, this system works fine. For larger bars you can get the auxilary oiler kit. Some do find it detracts from milling and it makes the mill heavier and more cumbersome but it does help reduce friction on the cutting face of the bar.

How thick can chainsaw mills cut?
With all our mills we sell you can cut boards as thin as 1/2″ (1.2cm) and as thick as 13″(33cm). To cut even wider on the Alaskan Mill you can buy the extra long uprights which will allow you to cut to 34″(86cm). Setup and make your first cut, remove this first slab, then use the Mini-Mill to edge the log. This will give you a three sided cant from which dimensional lumber can be cut. Alternatively, the Alaskan Mill can be used for all of the cuts in various ways; Lower the mill and make a second parallel cut, then roll the log 90 degrees and make a third cut, thus giving you a three sided cant. If your mill is not wide enough to make the second cut as described, the log can be progressively rolled and the sides removed to reduce the diameter, so that the mill can fit across the log. However this is a relatively cumbersome and time consuming method of doing things.

How fast can I rip lumber?
This question has no answer! How large is your saw? What timber are you cutting? What condition is your bar in? How well is your chain sharpened?… All these have a bearing on how fast you can cut. Chainsaw milling should feel smooth and progressive – if it does not more than likely poor chain sharpening is to blame.

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