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Author Topic: Alaskan Sawmill ?  (Read 986 times)

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Offline yetti462

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Alaskan Sawmill ?
« on: December 06, 2018, 08:11:36 AM »
I have an Alaskan mill I've yet to use, but getting ready to.  As soon as time allows I'm going to get a ripping chain and start.  My question is how to get the first cut?  I've seen the rails you screw on or the ladder idea.  Is there another way?  Whatever one uses there will be the taper of the log that is sawn, do you level the rail system?  I've having a hard time visualizing the process.  Looking for pointers. 

Offline offrink

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2018, 09:24:25 AM »
I had a custom rail made for slabbing big (36"+) logs. It is precision milled 1"x4" aluminum with holes drilled in the "rungs". We would then measure from the center to the top of the rail on the thicker end and then raise the smaller end up with bolts through the holes and jam nutting the bolt so it wouldn't go down. This will give you a good level first cut. After this cut was made the bolts would be taken out and rest right on the log after that. The first cut is the most important cut because any wiggle will be amplified after that if not taken care of. We use a stihl MS 880 with a 59" or 72" bar so it has to be solid and no wiggle with all of that weight. 

Offline charles mann

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2018, 10:10:06 AM »
I had a custom rail made for slabbing big (36"+) logs. It is precision milled 1"x4" aluminum with holes drilled in the "rungs". We would then measure from the center to the top of the rail on the thicker end and then raise the smaller end up with bolts through the holes and jam nutting the bolt so it wouldn't go down. This will give you a good level first cut. After this cut was made the bolts would be taken out and rest right on the log after that. The first cut is the most important cut because any wiggle will be amplified after that if not taken care of. We use a stihl MS 880 with a 59" or 72" bar so it has to be solid and no wiggle with all of that weight.
Where by chance did you get a 59 bar?

Now for the OP
I would level the log best i could, considering what i would be wourking with, then i would level the rails as stated above, with jack bolts (all thread of varrying lengths,  with a slot cut on 1 end for using the scrench) and make my first cut. Make sure to leave enough overhang on front and back of rails to accommodate the entire saw guide. I made my first rails to short and my entry and exit point paid the price. It is difficult to get back to a flat cutting surface once the entry cut is made at an angle. 
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Offline offrink

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2018, 10:38:53 AM »
I had a custom rail made for slabbing big (36"+) logs. It is precision milled 1"x4" aluminum with holes drilled in the "rungs". We would then measure from the center to the top of the rail on the thicker end and then raise the smaller end up with bolts through the holes and jam nutting the bolt so it wouldn't go down. This will give you a good level first cut. After this cut was made the bolts would be taken out and rest right on the log after that. The first cut is the most important cut because any wiggle will be amplified after that if not taken care of. We use a stihl MS 880 with a 59" or 72" bar so it has to be solid and no wiggle with all of that weight.
Where by chance did you get a 59 bar?

Now for the OP
I would level the log best i could, considering what i would be wourking with, then i would level the rails as stated above, with jack bolts (all thread of varrying lengths,  with a slot cut on 1 end for using the scrench) and make my first cut. Make sure to leave enough overhang on front and back of rails to accommodate the entire saw guide. I made my first rails to short and my entry and exit point paid the price. It is difficult to get back to a flat cutting surface once the entry cut is made at an angle.
Stihl makes a 59" bar. Just have to order it. Anything bigger is a custom order. 
A guide (rail) for most functions should be between 12-14' long. On a nice flat log you can slide the rail back and forth some, but it is much more difficult on a a first cut. After you get you get in the 16' range you might as well make it into two 8' cuts, or even a 8' and 6'. 8' for tables, 6' for desks. Slab thickness is important too. To thin and it cracks and flexes. To thick and it is immovably massive and heavy for many new construction floors. 

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2018, 10:53:40 AM »
The fastest portable way is roll the best face of the log up, and screw a 2x3 scrap to the butt end, being sure its level.  I start with a screw in the center then get it adjusted and shoot two more.  

Then put the ladder ontop, shimming it as needed off the log to cut the taper out or keep it in, depending on your goals.  Finally screw the other 2x3 in under the ladder at the other end, making absolutely sure the ladder is supported on all 4 points. Teetering is a major issue. Make your first cut being sure not to catch your 2x3s. Then toss the ladder and braces and first slab.  Now set your mill for thickness you want and ride on the flat youve created.  Its very important to get a good first cut. Dont worry too much about a ripping chain.  A regular will work fine to start. You can just file it into a ripping chain as you go along.  

An alaskan is good for going to a huge log and making a bunch of slabs.  It is terrible at taking small logs and making lumber, very time consuming for poor outcome. You have to perform 2 ladder cuts 90* from each other and several depth adjusts so this is only worthwhile in big logs where you slice off many jacket boards.

I am using a homemade alaskan converted into a stationary track cutter to make unmarketable tie grade logs into lumber.  Its about 3x faster than a straight alaskan setup in small logs. Just barely worth doing when i have to deck a trailer or set a shed on some dunnage, things like that.

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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018, 10:58:50 AM »
PS- always let the saw idle, never let it run out of gas under any circumstance and plan on manually oiling the sprocket end.  

Your bar kerf (gauge) being maintained is critical to getting a good finish in chainsaw milling.  Dont let it wear out, oil oil oil. 


Revelation 3:20

Online Weekend_Sawyer

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2018, 02:38:20 PM »
I usually cut my logs 9' long.

For my slabbing rails I start with a piece of angle iron at the small end and mound it on the end as high as I can make it and still have it solidly mount and make sure it's level.

Then measure from the center of the log to the bottom of the angle iron.

At the big end of the log I measure up this amount and mount another pice of angle iron and make sure it's level.

Now I put 2 10' long 2x4's on the angle iron's and screw them in place.

About in the middle of the log I add a cross pice of 2x4 between the slabbing rails and screw it to the log and rails, making sure the screw going into the log doesn't go as deep as the cut will be.

You are now ready for your first cut.

 

Notice that in this picture I had to free hand the top off of the log because a couple of knott's were in the way and I had to trim a slot in the upper right side for the rail to fit in.

Jon
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Online Weekend_Sawyer

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2018, 02:49:46 PM »
Good point's Mike.

for my 42" bar I bought 2 regular Oregon chains when they got dull I filed them to about 10 degrees.
for my 50" bar I did buy 2 loops of Granberg's ripping chain. It's pretty nice. It has 2 scoring links followed by 2 cutting links. Works very well.

Definitely let the saw idle for about 30 seconds after the cut.

My auxiliary oiler.

 



 
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Offline offrink

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2018, 03:15:47 PM »
The problem with 2x4's is they aren't square. They bend and twist all over and that can change throughout a season/week. That is why we went with aluminum stock. On an ms 880 we don't use an extra oiler. The first 59" bar, which is still usable, was replaced after 4 years or about 40-45 logs when the smallest ever done was 30" and most logs were near maximum of 56".

Offline Don P

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2018, 08:54:47 PM »
A scaffold plank also makes a good rigid rip guide, upside down the decking is full of holes that metal roofing screws fit through or plumbers strap tape fits thru the rungs. I don't see a pic of the initial setup but this is a scaffold plank setup on the third face of a boxed heart timber.



For the first cut if we are trying to center the pith I'll chock the log then using a level at each end set at the heart I'll draw a horizontal line across the ends to the bark and then drive a nail at each end and stretch a string down the length of the log showing the centerline. We can then set the level on top of the scaffold plank and working from the wide end secure and level the plank to the log parallel to the string. My chalkline above is parallel to heart and where I want this cut to run. We set the plank parallel to the line and square to the face.

Offline Brucer

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2018, 12:20:47 AM »
This is going back a ways -- like 20 years :).

I found myself a nice 10' - 2x12 (Douglas-Fir, small knots) that was dead straight. Set it on leveled concrete blocks and weighted it with more blocks and let is sit for a month in the summer.

Then I screwed  2 - 1/8" x 2" pieces of angle iron on what would be the bottom side of the 2x12. Angles flush with the edges and "pointing" away from the face. Screw holes were counter-sunk. That was my guide.

Next up, I made myself a bunch of support blocks for the ends of the board. These were the same width as the distance between the angle iron (about 1/4" narrower than the 2x12 plank. These blocks were varying lengths from 6" to 14" in 2" increments, two of each size. I drilled several 3/8" holes in the blocks so I could lag screw them to the ends of the log. Each block had a pair of notches, in about 1" from the edges, that I could  set a string line in. I drove in a couple of double-headed nails below the notches.

To set up the log I would wedge it securely, then mark a line across one end about 1/2" above where I wanted my first cut to start. I'd find a support block that was the right height for the log and I'd lag screw it to the end of the log with the bottom of the block right at my cut line. The block would be just long enough that no part of the log would protrude above it.

Next I'd repeat this at the other end of the log, using another block of the same length. I'd sight along the tops of the two blocks to make sure they were absolutely parallel.

Next step was to stretch to string lines down the length of the log, using the notches in the support blocks to position them. The double headed nails were used to tie the ends of the string line to.

Final step in the setup was to screw a bunch of 3/8" lag screws into the top of the log, right beside the string lines. I set these 4' apart down the log and I would turn them in so the tops were exactly level with my string lines. NOTE: Make darn sure the lag screws are no longer than the height of the support blocks, 'cause you're going to be sawing just below those blocks (and set screws). When all was set up I'd remove the string lines.

Ready to saw! I would set my plank on top of the support block at the starting end, with the face of the angle iron resting on top of 2 pairs of lag screws. The angles would prevent the plank from slipping sideways more than 1/2". Typically the plank would extend a couple of feet beyond the end of the log. I would set my mill on this extended bit, start it, and push it gently into the log to start the cut.

If the log was longer than 8' I would saw far enough to have the saw sitting between the last two pairs of lag screws. Then I'd idle it down and pull the plank ahead to the next pair of lag screws and then I'd carry on cutting.

I always used kerf wedges -- hard maple, about 1/32" thicker than my kerf. Drive/push a wedge into each side of the cut just below a lag screw after the saw had passed the screw. NOTE: It really helped to paint the kerf wedges bright red. Trust me.

Once I had a flat face, I remove everything from the log, roll it 90 degrees, and use a carpenter's square to mark a second set of lines. Then I'd bolt it all up again to get a second face. After that all sawing was done in reference to those two faces. To square a cant I would saw the bottom off the log using my first two faces as a guide.

With this method I could cut an length of log I needed. I did a lot of 16' planks and quite a few 24 footer beams. Just set as many pairs of lag screws as needed at 4' intervals. Saw, slide the plank, saw, slide the plank, etc.

Setup was a bit cumbersome and time consuming but for large logs it was worth it.


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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2018, 10:11:02 AM »
"Worth it" is what it comes down to and that'll differ for everyone.  As the logs get smaller, the worth it factor shrinks back substantially.  The tediousness of setup will offset any perceived savings, except when you first start and are doing it just for fun because youre eager to.  Once the thrill wears off its another chore.  I have a pile of logs out there i just dont feel like fooling with but i do need the wood and do lack the cash to get it otherwise.  
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Offline JohnW

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2018, 12:19:44 PM »
See the book, if this stuff is not clear.  I believe it's Chainsaw Lumbermaking by Will Malloff.  You can probably get it at your library if you can't find a place to read it online.

Offline charles mann

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2018, 04:29:51 PM »
do you just call up stihl usa and ask for a 59 bar? 

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Offline Trapper John

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2018, 04:55:58 PM »
I use Granburg mini mills for making cants, then the Alaska mill for making boards.  Way faster and you are sawing vertically which is much easier, especially out in the woods in snow.  I have four mini mills, three of which I have modified for the width of board I want.  The cross bars on the mini mill are threaded so they easy to widen with 3/8 couplers and some all thread.  I have guide boards that are 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches wide with the v rail on both sides.  Each guide board has its own mini mill which spans the guide board so it is much more stable and any crown in the guide board has no effect.   After leveling the board I simply saw one side and then down the other.  Then flip the log 90 degrees, lightly tack the guide board on a face and make my cant.  I use double headed nails which I make out of 40 and 60 penny nails and hex nuts.  I use a 6" piece of 3" aluminum angle flat wise to protect the guide board when I pull the nails with a crowbar and then flip it with the peak up to complete the withdrawal.  Some of my guide boards are 25', to cut longer beams I simply hinge two together.  I use full chisel, full complement chain which works fine.  The beauty of the mini mill is you are sawing vertically so you can nail the guide board directly to your log with two nails every 5 feet or whatever for leveling and the mini mill passes over the nail heads. 

Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2018, 05:49:45 PM »
do you just call up stihl usa and ask for a 59 bar?  
Need to call a Stihl dealer.  I paid about $360 for mine but that was several years ago.  I think you can look them up online at Stihlusa.com but you can't buy them there. 

Bailey's has them but I wouldn't go there, looks too expensive. Here
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Offline charles mann

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2018, 06:02:46 PM »
do you just call up stihl usa and ask for a 59 bar?  
Need to call a Stihl dealer.  I paid about $360 for mine but that was several years ago.  I think you can look them up online at Stihlusa.com but you can't buy them there.

Bailey's has them but I wouldn't go there, looks too expensive. Here
Bailey's is to expensive. I can get 1 built in portland, or for around $350, using 3/16" steel and heat treated where the chain rides. 
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Offline offrink

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2018, 06:58:45 PM »
I bought one from my stihl dealer for about $250 iirc. Chains run about $120 each for milling chain. 

Offline Brucer

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Re: Alaskan Sawmill ?
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2018, 12:01:53 AM »
I believe it's Chainsaw Lumbermaking by Will Malloff.  

If you can find a copy, you won't have to read my description above ;D.
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