The chain saw mill

As soon as I had the contraption assembled, I was itching to give it a spin – but I had to get hold of some sort of rail. A ladder is way too wide for this small version, and I really did not want to make a wooden thingy for this. I got hold of a piece of cable ladder made from galvanized steel, which fit my setup beautifully! Stiffer than an aluminium ladder, too.

There’s two Youtube channels I will recommend that you check out – they have really good content and the info they provide is really useful. I picked up a lot of tips from them.

Stephen John Saville, aka Bongo – Flowering Elbow and
Backstrom woodwork

I used pieces of holed metal banding to secure the ladder to the log using screws. Worked great, but I need to find a better way to do this.

Ready for the first cut!

I fired up the chain saw, slid the mill onto the ladder, floored the throttle and started cutting. It worked beautifully!

However…

I did have a few issues during the cut, but all of them happened because of the chain. The chain was not very sharp – I got a bit eager and forgot to sharpen it. Evident by the saw dust to the left of the slabs in the next image.. In addition, the chain has never really been used this hard, and it did get a bit hot. Not smoking hot, but enough that it stretched a bit. I had to stop the cut three times to tension the chain as it became really loose on the bar. I suspect this will get better the next time. And I have sharpened the chain properly now…

Success!

Not the best surface finish, but considering the issues it is really not bad. I’ll get a couple of ripping chains, which should make the job easier and the quality much better. Not that I care that much, to be honest. I’m still going to plane the surfaces smooth, and I do have both a power hand plane and my big ML 392 planer / thicknesser to do the donkey part of the work.

I’ve assembled a small case of tools that goes with the mill (lacks a saw chain file, but I’ll include one). I am not planning to do a lot of milling far from the house, but it is a pain in the sitting apparatus having to go to the shop for a screw driver. I need wrenches for adjusting the sawmill and for switching chains in the field. So a saw mill tool box it is. Thanks to Bongo for the idea!

Saw mill tool box contents

  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • 11 and 13 mm combo wrenches
  • Bits for the screws
  • Spare bits (to be added)
  • Chain saw spare parts (spark plug, air filter – to be added)
  • Pliers and wire cutter
  • Chordless drill
  • Screws
  • Holed metal banding
  • Chain saw tool
  • Chain saw file (to be added)

A dedicated tool box like this is always a good idea. If you’ve been around for some time, you will have accumulated an assortment of tools and left handed Allen keys lying around. Make tool boxes like this, for the stuff where it is practical to have the tools at the ready. For example, a combination wrench for the bolts on the band saw fence, as you might need to tweak the setting from time to time. A dedicated wrench for your power router collet (the stamped out ones that comes with the tools are hogwash). Stuff like that.

I have a couple of ideas on how to improve my setup. A holder for the cable ladder that screws into the end of the log in stead of the banding, seems like a good idea – I saw a Youtube video where someone had such a setup. A winch for the mill will most likely be added as well – pushing the saw along is tiresome, and a winch would enable a more even pressure across the mill.

I will probably buy a small chain saw in addition to the 450. A big, heavy saw is not exactly fun to lug around when delimbing felled trees and cutting down small bushes, and it would be handy to have when cutting timber with the mill – I would not need to remove the saw from the bar or even having to remove the mill from the saw all together, if I need to trim off something from a log. However, I do not think I will get a bigger saw. If I get hold of some trunks that are too big, I’ll get them cut at a band saw sawmill. In a pinch, I could cut slabs freehand. I’ve done that before.

My jerry-rigged jig for slab cuttin’

It is also possible to use the mill without the nose of the bar being clamped. It will introduce some variations in the cut, but that is not a problem for slabs that will be processed further anyway.

Almost 20 cm / 8 inches of expansion possible.

The one thing I probably will change, is the bar on my saw. I have a 21” bar, which is the biggest one Husqvarna recommends on that saw. Mounted in the mill, however, things are a bit different. I have slightly less than 14” cutting width, so a 30” bar should give me the full capacity of the saw – in theory. My mill is made for bars up to 24”, so I’ll probably have to settle for a shorter bar than 30”. We’ll see as I get more experience with the mill as it is. The point is not to be able to cut very wide materials. As I mentioned before, I do not need very wide slabs. But a bigger bar would enable me to utilize the full capacity of the mill and I could take on trees that are a bit bigger without having to cut a “box” (a square cut log, ideal for cutting planks).

Since I have some experience with both chan saw sawmill and band saw sawmill – which would I recommend? Let us discuss that on the next page.

2 thoughts on “The chain saw mill

  1. “Thankfully, it is a simple construction and there are pictures. And an exploded drawing.”

    People should really be more careful around dynamite.

    (I’ll see myself out)

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