Wooden Chainsaw Mill

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Introduction: Wooden Chainsaw Mill

About: I'm a marine scientist that also loves woodworking and DIY

At the end of the summer, a hurricane plowed through my area and knocked down a ton of trees.

I hated to see all of that wood go to waste and wanted a way to harvest some of it for future use.

Using only materials I had on hand, I assembled a chainsaw mill inspired by Izzy Swan's videos.

You can follow this exactly or make modifications.

SAFETY:

Chainsaws are built to remove a lot of material quickly. Always keep safety in mind and keep body parts away from sharp moving parts. Eye protection, hearing protection, and lung protection are all recommended.

Materials:
3/4" plywood (2'x6')

1"x12" (two 6' lengths)

2"x4" (~18' total)

screws

Tools:

Chainsaw

Screwdriver or Drill/Driver

Saw (a hand saw is sufficient but a miter saw and/or circular saw will make the cuts much easier)

Step 1: Rails and Support

First step is to build the rails that our chainsaw sled will slide along and the support for the log.

Cuts

1) Cut the 1x12 to equal lengths. You want a length that will is about 12 inches longer than your longest so that your chainsaw blade has clearance on both ends of the log. [I cut mine to 72"]

2) Cut four (4) pieces of 2x4 at 11.5 inches long. These will support the width of the 1x12 and help to mount the rails to the end braces.

3) Cut two (2) pieces of 2x4 at 3 inches shorter than your 1x12. These will support the length of the 1x12. [I cut mine to 69"]

Assemble

1) Screw the 2x4 to the bottom of the 1x12 by screwing through the top of the 1x12 and into the 2x4

Step 2: Sled and Chainsaw Attachment

Next step is to construct the sled that will hold the chainsaw and run along the 1x12 rail.

The exact design will need to be customized to your chainsaw, but I will outline the basic principles.

Regardless of the chainsaw shape, you need to have a sled that will slide along the rail.

  1. Cut a piece of plywood to 14.5" x 8"
  2. Cut two lengths of 2x4 to 8"
  3. Using screws, attach the 2x4s to the bottom of the plywood, at opposite ends. The 1x12 should fit snuggly between the 2x4s

Now, it's time to to get creative. The goal is to attach the chainsaw to the plywood so that the chainsaw bar will run perpendicular to the 1x12 rail. We want the plane of the bar to be perfectly parallel to the plane of the 1x12. We want the chainsaw to remain attached to the sled and not rotate forward/backward or tip up/down. I did this by attaching 2x4 blocks to hold the handle in place and adding a 2x4 support that sits underneath the bar and holds the blade in place with a screw. Once attached, my chainsaw will only move with the sled. Keep in mind, you want to be able to safely hold the trigger and engage the safety button.

Step 3: Final Assembly

Cut two pieces of plywood to 24"x30".

Attach the rails to the plywood end supports using screws. The rail and the log support should be parallel and level. However, you can adjust the heights to specify the thickness of the cut.

Step 4: Attach Anchors and Prepare the Log

To prevent the log from rolling while using the chainsaw mill, I added 2x4 supports to the log support and screwed the log to those 2x4s. This holds the log in place, adding an element of safety and reducing cutting errors and waste.

Step 5: Running the Chainsaw Mill

Ensure you have enough clearance on the front and end of the log for the chainsaw and the sled. Also ensure that the chainsaw is long enough to cut the entire width of the log.

Have some shims handy to prop up the log as you progress through the cut. This prevents the log from binding on the chainsaw and reduces the risk of kickback.

Make sure everything is clear, from the path of the chainsaw and begin your cut. Proceed slowly, oil the saw as needed, and let the saw do the work.

Stack the boards and let them dry to get ready for your next project!

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    15 Comments

    0
    firebirdman1
    firebirdman1

    Question 7 months ago on Step 4

    i see you did away with the adjustable beveled board for height adjustment and changed the base that the log was sitting on from your video. was there a lot of rocking/uneven cuts?

    1
    dwieland
    dwieland

    2 years ago

    I'm impressed that you were able to cut that many boards with an electric chainsaw -- and while kneeling. You must have been pretty sore a day or two afterward. I've used a simpler guide that clamps to the saw's bar and slides along a 2x6 (screwed to the log). I ripped longer planks (7-8 feet) from a dead ash and a big maple log and found the task slow and wearying (although successful). The jig allowed me to pivot the saw, and I discovered that slowly pivoting it back and forth sped up the cut somewhat. When the saw was perpendicular to the log, it would tend to bog down if I pushed it when a number of teeth were in contact with the log at the same time. And that's using a Poulan saw with a 51cc engine and 20" bar.

    Recently I discovered this freehand method that I plan to try with the next logs I cut:

    0
    farna6548
    farna6548

    Reply 2 years ago

    An electric saw is actually perfect. Electric motors produce 100% torque at start-up, whereas a gas engine has to build up rpm first. Much lighter and less noise also. The only drawbacks to an electric saw are dragging around a cord and you're limited to 1750 watts (2.4 hp). That's why you won't find anything more than an 18" bar electric saw, and most are 16". A 50cc two stroke chainsaw engine is ~3 hp. Only specs I could find were for a Husqvarna 450 with a 50.2cc engine, 3.2 hp, 20" bar.

    0
    dwieland
    dwieland

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm not sure that being lightweight has any advantage in this application, but the power limitation is significant. My cordless saws are great for limbing but nearly useless for ripping.

    0
    MattL152
    MattL152

    Reply 2 years ago

    If I were to cut many more, I'd want to mount the mill onto some sawhorses. The wood I cut (loblolly pine, white cedar, sycamore) was quite a bit softer than the wood you were cutting. I used a fresh chain and mostly let the saw do the work, it never really felt like I pushed too hard on saw.

    This video you sent is interesting. I might try it out when I have some more logs.

    0
    blkhawk
    blkhawk

    2 years ago on Step 5

    Simple and useful! Great work!

    0
    meddler
    meddler

    2 years ago

    I was going to comment, but "crank2" said pretty much what I was going to say, so, ditto what he said.

    2
    crank2
    crank2

    2 years ago

    This is just what I am looking for. I have considered variations of the Alaska type mill but have no need to cut a 20 ft log, also with the Alaska type you loose 3 or 4 inches of cutting width. Are you using a regular crosscut chain or one adapted to cut planks? Thanks for the inspiration.

    0
    MattL152
    MattL152

    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm just using a regular crosscut chain (Oregon S50 AdvanceCut). The kerf is less than 1/2".

    0
    perec3
    perec3

    2 years ago

    Izzy, I've been following your incredible Youtube channel, and you never cease to amaze me with your creativity and productivity. Thanks again!

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 2 years ago

    The author of this project is not Izzy Swan. The project was inspired by one of Izzy's videos ; )

    0
    perec3
    perec3

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for pointing it out! As you've probably guessed, I only watched the video at the top and assumed it was his article. My apologies to the author ;)

    2
    guerroloco
    guerroloco

    Tip 2 years ago on Step 5

    Paint the ends of your planks with paraffin or latex so they won't split while drying.

    0
    allan.sheldon8
    allan.sheldon8

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for the good tip, Guerroloco.

    0
    allan.sheldon8
    allan.sheldon8

    2 years ago

    Excellent! I’ve been wondering about doing something like this and you’ve given me motivation to actually have a go. Thanks.