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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone here mill their own lumber either with a bandsaw or chainsaw mill? I have a few acres and we want to eventually clear out the pine trees and selectively remove a couple oaks and hickorys. I want to make a chainsaw mill to harvest what I can. I'd like to get some input from others who has experience.

I want to clear the trees as I mill them but I need to remove about 6+ trees soon and I'm not set up to mill just yet. Would I have any problems I'd I fell the tree, cut to length, paint the ends and lay them on some timbers to keep them off the ground to mill at a later date?

If you do have a mill, I would love to see your setup and equipment.

Thanks

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You might start by having the trees felled and milled by someone in the business in your area. You get to watch how they do it. Some will do it for a share of the wood. Jumping in head first into something like this is a big leap. If you have sufficient hardwoods, you could probably earn back the cost of a proper mill fairly fast from sales of stock.

What are your plans for your good hardwood trees? Are you going to harvest large trees and leave smaller ones to replace them? Are their permits required to fell trees in your area? I have no idea.

I do think you could just fell a tree, cut it into workable lengths, then paint the ends and prop it up until you got your mill complete.
 

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I worked about half my working life in the forest industry mostly as a tree faller, buckerman, and skidder operator but I spent some time on sawmills too. You can make crude lumber with a chainsaw as simply as nailing a 2 x 4 on each side of a log and laying the saw bar on it and away you go. You'll also need a fair size planer to be able to use the lumber, something like the 2 hp, 16" King I have. It will take a 1/8" bite per pass. You can also get fancy with something like a Logosol chainsaw mill for a few thousand. Farmer's Sawmill | Sawmills | LOGOSOL
There are several issues with using a chainsaw. One is that you need a large saw or you will likely burn it up. Something like one of my 066 Stihl chainsaws at 98cc and about 14 hp is around what you need and that would set you back around $1500 C. They are also relatively slow and take a 3/8" kerf out of your log which is a fair amount of waste.

Band mills are faster, less strenuous to use, and have a kerf of about 3/16". The lumber is also more accurate which means you can cut closer to your target size and wind up with fewer planer chips and probably an extra board or two. But the price is higher with basic models starting at about $6000 here in Canada. You have to decide whether you have enough timber to make the larger investment practical. It is also possible to hire these mills out since either one is portable. Some of the band mills are made with trailer axles attached for portability. As usual there is no simple answer. You need to do some research and the math involved to figure out where you fit in.

As regards falling the trees, you may want to pay attention to what Tom said about hiring it out. When I started logging it was all still manual labor, I.e. No feller bunchers. 50 to 55 professional fallers were killed at work every year back then, just in British Columbia. Falling trees was statistically more dangerous than bomb disposal. I used to tell guys wanting to learn the trade that the most important thing they would ever learn about falling was when it was time to drop everything and run like hell. Herb Stoops can probably tell you similar stories since he was also a professional logger down in Washington state.
 

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I have cut a lot of firewood with a chain saw. I pick out a few choice pieces and cut them on the bandsaw after drying. The bigger around they get the shorter they need to be. You can only handle so much. I have a draw knife to cut the bark off so you can cut a larger log on the bandsaw. This is real basic stuff. The tricky part is drying the wood. How long before you cut it. I am still learning. But it can be this simple if you don't have more sophisticated tools. Any way this is what I do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have about 200 mature pines (18"-36"+), and not nearly as many hardwoods. I won't be harvesting many hardwoods, only a selective few. I do have a source for hardwoods if my needs go beyond what I have but I doubt it.

I'm no pro like you Chuck but I'm quite comfortable falling and bucking a tree. I have a medium sized saw, Husqvarna 455 with 20" bar and will use it to set up my mill and get comfortable with the process on smaller pines before I step up to a heavier more powerful saw. I plan on picking up a Husqvarna 395xp if I feel like milling is worth my time.

I plan on using the pine lumber for non ground contact building around the property, cladding for a goat barn, chicken coop, and whatever else we'll need. So rough cut pine will due just fine. I would like to use the hardwoods and any any heart pine if there is any for woodworking projects but like you've stated planing would be an issue but not impossible. Money saved on the goat barn and the like is money spent on new tools .

This is me long term planning. We have some usable pasture but in the future, the pines have to go. So I have time to fell and mill as needed. I have no intentions of milling all 200+ trees but I want to use what I can sense I have it. I've contacted a couple logging companies and they are not interested in buying the trees. They want trees that are slick 16' up and under a certain diameter. One company was interested for pulp wood but they won't give me anything for them. It's too small of a job for them to make money. There is a guy a couple miles up the road with a portable mill but he wants way to much. I might as well go to the lumber yard for material that had already been planed.

My current issue is that I have about a dozen trees I need removed. I've already cleared about 6 others. Some were standing dead and rotten but the others I cut the trunk to the lower branches (about 10' in length) and drug them on top of a couple phone poles to keep them off the ground. The tops and branches have been piled to burn.

I would like to make use of these trees and not burn the lot of them. But will the lumber I harvest from them be full of cracks because they weren't milled soon after being felled? And if so, how bad would it be, just the ends or the full length? The commercial sawmills around here use a sprinkler system to keep the logs wet while in waiting to be milled to prevent this from happening.

I know this forum is woodworking and not forestry services but I figured someone might be able to answer my questions, you guys really know your wood.

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You might look to see if you can find some used equipment for processing the trees and wood. My partner and I in a furniture business had a 30" 8HP gas planner that we got from his uncle because no one would give him any thing for it. You did want to make sure you turned loose of a board when the planer started pulling it in because it feed so fast you didn't want to get pulled in but it did a great job.
 

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Believe it or not, as much as I don't like them, the Harbor Freight mill has gotten some pretty good reviews. Probably the cheapest way to start out new, and set it up to meet your needs. Usually, the used mills available have "been thru the mill" so to speak.
 

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Everything @Cherryville Chuck said is right and [MENTION=77926]DesertRatToms suggestion of farming it out is good too. But since in your area there is no good options in regard to getting an outside outfit to do the sawing, the least expense way would be the chainsaw milling at your convenience. The only thing I have to add to that is you might go to the nearest saw shop and buy or have them sharpen a new chainsaw chain for ripping instead of cross cutting. The rip chain has less teeth to clear the sawdust out and the teeth are filed straight across instead of on an angle. You will be putting less strain on your saw engine and yourself.
Myself, the pine I would cut green then sticker, cover loosely, and air dry. Important to keep out of direct sunlight, inside a shed or barn would be perfect. If shrinkage is not a concern, use it green for around the farm use,fences, sheds,barns etc.

Herb
 

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I have about 200 mature pines (18"-36"+), and not nearly as many hardwoods. I won't be harvesting many hardwoods, only a selective few. I do have a source for hardwoods if my needs go beyond what I have but I doubt it.

I'm no pro like you Chuck but I'm quite comfortable falling and bucking a tree. I have a medium sized saw, Husqvarna 455 with 20" bar and will use it to set up my mill and get comfortable with the process on smaller pines before I step up to a heavier more powerful saw. I plan on picking up a Husqvarna 395xp if I feel like milling is worth my time.

I plan on using the pine lumber for non ground contact building around the property, cladding for a goat barn, chicken coop, and whatever else we'll need. So rough cut pine will due just fine. I would like to use the hardwoods and any any heart pine if there is any for woodworking projects but like you've stated planing would be an issue but not impossible. Money saved on the goat barn and the like is money spent on new tools .

This is me long term planning. We have some usable pasture but in the future, the pines have to go. So I have time to fell and mill as needed. I have no intentions of milling all 200+ trees but I want to use what I can sense I have it. I've contacted a couple logging companies and they are not interested in buying the trees. They want trees that are slick 16' up and under a certain diameter. One company was interested for pulp wood but they won't give me anything for them. It's too small of a job for them to make money. There is a guy a couple miles up the road with a portable mill but he wants way to much. I might as well go to the lumber yard for material that had already been planed.

My current issue is that I have about a dozen trees I need removed. I've already cleared about 6 others. Some were standing dead and rotten but the others I cut the trunk to the lower branches (about 10' in length) and drug them on top of a couple phone poles to keep them off the ground. The tops and branches have been piled to burn.

I would like to make use of these trees and not burn the lot of them. But will the lumber I harvest from them be full of cracks because they weren't milled soon after being felled? And if so, how bad would it be, just the ends or the full length? The commercial sawmills around here use a sprinkler system to keep the logs wet while in waiting to be milled to prevent this from happening.

I know this forum is woodworking and not forestry services but I figured someone might be able to answer my questions, you guys really know your wood.

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They will crack if left to dry before milling. The outer layers shrink farther ( each successive growth ring is greater in length than the previous one) so something has to give. This is not a catastrophe unless the trees have spiral grain. If the crack is straight you can make one cut straight down the crack so losses from that are minor. However, a spiral crack often means that possibly one whole side of the log is lost. But then lumber from spiral grain logs usually twists when it dries and makes poor lumber anyway. The butt section is the best lumber, the middle either lumber or timbers depending on knot sizes and proximity to each other, the tops are better as firewood. I don't know where you live but there are markets for firewood in many areas, either for a fireplace or for campers.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the info Chuck that's what I was looking for.

I've been doing some research on ripping chains. There's lots of different configurations from top plate angle, skip tooth, with or without scoring cutters, and so on. Still a lot of research to do on chains.

I think most of the trees I need to clear out now will be firewood for the outdoor pit. I'll keep a couple to mill in the future so I can see how it cuts, and splits compared to freshly felled.

I'm not apposed to hiring out a portable mill. I've done some asking around, just haven't found one at a reasonable price.

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A little more about lumber and grading. Lumber grades are based on either strength or appearance for the most part. In construction grades you want small knots that are spaced at least 1' apart, are no more that about 25 % of the width of the board, and run directly through the board from face to face. That description is probably at best a #2. Knots that run from edge to edge make very weak boards as knots are prone to separate from straight grain. If you see a dark ring around a knot those are particularly weak as they are usually either bark encased or pitch encased knots and those are also the ones that tend to fall out of boards. There is virtually no attachment to the rest of the tree.

Multiple knots in proximity are also weak. There is virtually no long grain in those sections. Some of the grain is going crossways in between knots so that is also a weak point. Knots grow to the heart of the tree. In large and usually old trees the knots that grew when the tree was young will die off from lack of sunlight and the tree keeps growing over them and you can get some clears off the outer 1/3 to 2/3. They of course sell for a premium. Generally where there are knots you want to saw across them rather than in line with them. By the time you get up to the top the knots are too large and too close together to produce any grades other than utility or economy. You are probably better off to make firewood by that time.

Hope that helped a bit.
 
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Good Morning,

I chainsaw mill, it awesome and very rewarding to open up a log that you saved from the firewood pile to reveal the amazing wood grain! To be honest is very time consuming and rough on your body and the saw. I only mill Walnut or hardwood that is worth it (time, effort and saw usage). Be very careful as it is said to be addicting. (lol) 395XP is a great saw to mill with!

I would not recommend CSM lumber to use as shed building material, You will have a lot of waste milling up the 5/8th slabs and the pine sap will gum up the chain and be a hassle.

Arborsite.com is a site dedicated to chainsaws and related (milling lumber). They have a tab for milling.


I searched Clist for "chainsaw" and found a larger CC saw. Search "Turning a tree into Lumber" on Youtube for the simple design I based my design off of.

You should post a wanted ad on Clist for people who have a portable saw mill. You might get lucky and get all the milling done on a long weekend.

Sorry, I would include links but I haven't hit my 10 posts yet so bear with me.
 

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Good Morning,

I Chainsaw mill, Very slow! I am very selective with what I mill bc of time invested with milling and letting it air dry for a year or so. I use the lumber for Woodworking so being apart of the tree to usable lumber process is pretty cool and a selling feature (I believe) and cost savings.

Here's a picture of my budget CSM, got me into the game cheap and when I can, Ill upgrade to a larger / newer saw.

Good Luck!
 

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As an ex faller/bucker my saw of choice at the time I decided I was too old for that line of work was the 066 Stihl at 98cc. I've used them to split the odd log to a state where I could joint and plane it and even with that much horsepower it's still slow and hard although a ripping chain might have made it a little faster and easier.
 

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Herb Stoops mentioned going to a saw shop about chains. While there, I would ask if they know of anyone who mills lumber. The shop just may know of someone who does small jobs.
Ah, yes, networking. Had forgotten about that. This is something that people often ignore, but it can work extremely well at times. Ask everyone you see, store clerks, waitresses, at the gas station, hardware store, at church, anywhere and anyone, sometimes it is really surprising who has the information you are after.
 
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