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Author Topic: Help me build my first alaskan mill  (Read 380 times)

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Offline aaronmitchell61

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Help me build my first alaskan mill
« on: February 18, 2019, 10:51:36 PM »
Hey guys,

I am totally new to alaskan milling. Ive had some experience with chainsaws and a little practice with a bandsaw mill but beyond that Ill need some help. Ive got quite a few large hardwood logs that i want to turn into slabs and i need some advice on building a mill that will handle what ive got planned. The log sizes and species are as follows:

2) 36-40" Maple logs 6' long
1) 20" Maple log 8' long
1) 30" Cherry log 9' long
4) 22" Red Oak Logs 9' long

I am definitely going to start with a 48" mill frame and probable a 48" bar as well. I know that ill loose a few inches on the bar but thats alright for now. If possible I want to keep my total cost for the rig under 6-700. From what research ive done everyone says go overpowered so im thinking ill buy two used powerheads with 50-60cc of displacement with a ripping chain and an auxilary oiling kit. I would love any recommendations for what stihl models you reccomend and how yall have set up your single or doublehead mills for hardwood. Also what extra steps need to be taken to run the double head mill with the least amount of effort?


Offline mredden

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Re: Help me build my first alaskan mill
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 08:05:51 AM »
Your budget is extremely small. Let's look at your BASIC needs:
1. Chainsaw
2. Mill
3. Bar
4. Chain (ripping)
5. Sharpener
6. Homemade auxilliary oiler
Let's start with the mill. You want a 48". Okay. Cutting dollars, Holzfforma costs $119.
A bar of any size is gonna be $80.00 - 90.00
One ripping chain is gonna be about $30.00
A homemade nose oiler is gonna cost about $30.00
So, you have about $430.00 left. You are gonna have to spend $20.00 on sharpening supplies.

You have $400.00 for a powerhead.

You need to look at used H-372xp or S-441. They can be found at that price if you are patient - and capable of some repairs. That puts you in the 70cc class . As long as you are using an auxilliary oiler, and cutting relatively green wood, you can run a 32" bar. Maximum cut for that is @ 28." You can cut your 4 red oaks and small maple. Although I think it would be pushing it, you could try a 36." It would cut the 30" cherry. Have you seen the Granberg chart on power needs? Here's the link. Some people say Granberg's estimates are overly optimistic.

So, why do I not recommend starting with two 50 cc saws for you? (1) Price. A Granberg 44" double ended bar is $356.00 and that's not enough to cut all your cherry. A 50" is $399. You can eat up half your budget on a bar. (2) Labor Costs. it takes two people to run unless you are going to set up a remote throttle system which adds cost (3) I'm not absolutely convinced on two saws doubling your cutting ability. There is debate among people more knowledgeable than me (BTW, you don't need an auxilliary oiler with dual powerheads which oil both ends of the bar.

Forget the 48" bar and cutting the bigger 36-40 maple for now. You simply can't afford to cut them into live edge slabs on your present budget. (You could cut them into boards with a combination of your CSM AND a verticle mill like Haddon Lumbermill).

It is tough to generate any profit until you can build up an inventory of DRIED slabs. Few people want green wood. The only positive cashflow I have is fees for trimming large logs down below 28" to fit on a guy's bandsaw mill. Building the slab inventory though.

If, and only if, you are mechanically skilled you might look at a Holzfforma G660. It's 90ccs would allow you to run a 42" bar (36" cutting width). But, I do not recommend this unless you have definite 2 stroke mechanical ability. They can be decent saws, but you need the ability to de-bug them.

Good luck, It's back-breaking fun.

Offline mredden

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Re: Help me build my first alaskan mill
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2019, 09:26:04 AM »
I said above that the maximum cut for a 32" bar is 28". Bad math. It's really less than that. As a general rule, Subtract 6" from the bar length.

Generally, this allows you to clamp below the rivets for your bar nose sprocket. (You can stretch more if you run a hardnose, but your saw would be straining more with a hardnose.) Of course, you will have removed your felling dogs. I like to leave room to operate my chainbrake, though you can cheat a bit there - at the price of safety. I have done it, but don't like it

And as to my comments on cash flow, green cedar can help you make some quicker returns from deck and fence builders - if you can get your hands on some. A friend built a live edge deck that turned out really nice - and I was able to buy more sizes of bars and chains. I like to use the smallest bar that will mill the log. I only use my 42" when I absolutely MUST. I run 88ccs.

Get the most powerful powerhead you can afford. Stihl, Husqy or whatever that's dependable - or you can keep running. That's your lifeblood. Consider just buying a really good saw and cutting those oaks up for firewood and selling the wood to raise cash for the mill, big bars, etc.

Offline slice107

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Re: Help me build my first alaskan mill
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2019, 12:12:25 PM »
I use a Husqvarna 288 88cc and I wish I had more power.. I run 32" bar. I tried milling with a Stihl ms 250 and I blew the saw up... If your using dual power heads your going to need someone to help you with that. Unless you got really long arms. ;)
Stihl 028, Husqvarna 288,285, Kawasaki Bayou 220 ATV, Fordson Dexta, Ford 8n.

Huztle/Farmertech 36" CS mill

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Help me build my first alaskan mill
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2019, 01:29:13 PM »
I would probably build an 18hp lawnmower engine driven alaskan mill if i were to do it again and needed to cut big stuff.  For a dual drive i would just jig up and buttweld two big bars together with the tig. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline aaronmitchell61

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Re: Help me build my first alaskan mill
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2019, 11:50:15 PM »
Mredden, I really appreciate all the info and scenarios. With all the research ive been doing it looks like you're correct in saying that it would be better to start with a single head mill. Just out of curiosity why are the double ended bars so expensive? I know my budget is small and it is a little flexible but unfortunately im shoe-stringing it for now. I am currently watching a Stihl ms461 (76.5cc) and a stihl 066 (91.5cc) on ebay. Both are around the $400 range. I think you are right about the larger maple piece, it will likely just have to wait for a while. If I am able to grab either of those saws i will take it straight to a 2 stroke mechanic and have an oversized gas line and other performance parts fitted. Ive had really good experiences with a local guy working on my regular yard saw and it really has more kick after a good tune up. Thanks again for the advice, Ill check back in soon, hopefully with a good power head on its way to my house!

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