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Author Topic: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290  (Read 6082 times)

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Offline kgreene

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Hi, I've read this forum in the past but this is my first post...

I had a relatively large douglas fir taken down in my backyard.  It's currently in a 16', a 10' and several 5-6' lengths.  The base is 44x36", though most is slightly smaller (shorter lengths are 30-36 diameter on average). 

I'm interested in potentially milling this into some timbers and some boards (maybe quartersawing for the quality + potentially reducing the size of bar I need?)

I currently have a stihl ms 290 farm boss with a 20" bar.  Now I realize that this is undersized for this size of a job.  I'm wondering if I could get away with putting a larger bar on this because it's a softwood as well as being green (it's only been down 4 days).  Can I just take things slow or will it really just not work with a large bar?  I don't want to destroy it (or create a huge safety hazard).

I looked for some time into various types of chainsaw mills.  The panthermills look tempting for my budget.  It looks like people have done quartersawing with a combination of an alaska mill style combine with a mini mill style to do depth cuts.

I'm wondering if I just decide to do quartersawing, maybe I can get away with a 20" bar and just do all depth cuts halfway through rather than having the alaska mill style with the bar coming out the other end.

Of course it may be I just need to get a larger chainsaw but I'm trying to go within my budget and that would be pushing it (though maybe if that's the only thing that will work I'll just have to go with that solution.)

I'd appreciate any advice anyone can offer!  Please tell me if I'm crazy or point me in the right direction... :)

thanks,

Kevin
p.s. Anyone have any idea what someone would charge to mill this onsite for me?  I'm assuming me buying all the equipment would still be cheaper and of course I'd like to have the equipment for future use, but if that service cost is similar I might consider it for now.




Offline Gasawyer

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2013, 03:12:30 PM »
Welcome to the forum kgreene! I don't have any experience with the mini Alaskan just the regular size. Your 290 is a little small for the job that your trying to do. The main thing with chainsaw milling is keeping the powerhead cool and the chains sharp. I am lucky in that I have large powerheads 120cc+. So may be one of the guys with a smaller saw can chime in on their capabilities. Good luck on your project!
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Offline Nomad

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2013, 05:20:22 PM »
     Welcome to the Forum!  Don't know where you are, or have any idea what a portable miller would cost in your area.  But before I went out and bought a bunch of expensive equipment, I'd make a few phone calls and find out.  After seeing a portable mill slice and dice your logs you might just decided you'd be better served saving up a bit more and getting a manual mill. ;D
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2013, 06:54:10 PM »
kgreene,welcome to the forum. I'm sure no expect on what you want to do. But if it was my saw I would not do it. Running that saw wide open to make lumber would fry it,I think. I even have a Husky 372 and I still would not do it.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2013, 07:08:06 PM »
Hi kgreen, and Welcome to the Forestry Forum. 

Having someone to come and mill your logs might be more reasonable than you realize.  That will also give you the opportunity to observe and decide which type sawmill that you may want in the future.

Adding your location to your profile will help folks wanting to answer questions.   :)
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Offline trhill

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2013, 08:28:26 PM »
I ran an 056 on a panther mill and would never recommend it. Set up time was very long, cutting slow, and results weren't great. I know some with CSMs get good lumber, but I couldn't. I gave the panther mill attachment to a friend did chainsaw art and he though he might weld improvements on it to speed set up time. I started with the CSM because of budget, but went from that to a used lt40. Definitely hire it done or find a used manual mill. Also a factor in the budget is the powerhead needed to mill so wide.  I had over 80 cc and small pine was slow. I wouldn't use a good 290 up just to get some boards.

Offline mikeb1079

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2013, 09:06:51 PM »
yeah this is a tricky one.  i started out milling with a saw very similar to your 290.  i have to say it was frustrating and slow but it got me hooked on milling.  yes you could get a larger bar and try your hand at milling but i just can't see that saw pulling through 36" of any wood even with skip chain.  perhaps i better idea (if you don't want to hire a portable miller) would be to try to quarter some of the smaller pieces by hand and then try to mill them? 
that's why you must play di drum...to blow the big guys mind!
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Offline Brucer

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 01:02:45 AM »
I've used the mini mill and the Alaskan mill, both with a 70 cc powerhead. I was sawing Douglas-Fir and Western White Pine, but mostly Western Red Cedar.

A) I would not want to run either mill with less than 70 cc's.
B) You really don't want the nose of the bar to be buried in the wood. It increases slows the work and increases the effort.
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Offline kgreene

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2013, 11:00:37 AM »
Thanks for everyone's comments.  I updated my profile to show my location - I live in the bay area, CA (in the santa cruz mountains). 

I did hear back from one person who advertised "affordable" onsite milling on craigslist.  Their rate: $0.60 per BF, $1200 minimum, $1600 w/tractor.  They also said the 5-6 ft sections would cost more.  Any idea if that sounds "normal" in this area?

They pointed out a 12' 36" log has 1000 BF.  For that price I could get at least a basic setup myself. 

It sounds like most people are saying what I figured...ie I need a bigger powerhead unless I do something crazy (do a couple feet, let it cool down, etc... :) ).

How do people normally quarter saw lumber with a portable mill?  Is there another technique that is used to cut out the quarters besides using a chaisaw that is 1/2 the length of the log diameter?

Any other comments about best price/performance size I should look for?  Is it a good/bad idea to go for a used one?  The main thing to keep in mind is that this MAY be the only large job I'll use this for for a long time.  I don't have a lot of trees this big on my lot (only an acre) but I would have plenty of opportunities to use it if I wanted to in this area.  I would definitely use it for much smaller logs in the future though when I needed to take something small down.

My dad DOES have an antique 6' or 8' two man crosscut saw...  Don't think I'll be using it though... :)

thanks again for all your comments

Kevin

Offline mmartone

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 11:03:13 AM »
I just bought a panther mill after some conversation with the owner, ordered it last night. I bought the 54" mill be cause he told me it could adjust down to 18 or so I think. So any bar size up to a 54" cut.
Remember, I only know what you guys teach me. Lt40 Manual 22hp KAwaSaki, Husky3120 60", 56" Panther CSM, 372xp, 345xp, Stihl 041, 031, blue homelite, poulans, 340

Offline mikeb1079

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2013, 02:48:21 PM »
if you really wanna try your hand i'd go for a used husky 395/stihl 066 and a used alaskan mill or beam machine.  i've seen plenty of those saws in decent used condition for around 500.  add another 1-200 for the alaskan mill or if you wanna save money you could build one yourself.  i've even seen them made out of 2x4's.  you could probably use the saw for awhile and sell it later to get most if not all of your money back.  might be kinda fun to try anyways....
that's why you must play di drum...to blow the big guys mind!
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2013, 03:50:13 PM »
Thanks for everyone's comments.  I updated my profile to show my location - I live in the bay area, CA (in the santa cruz mountains). 

I did hear back from one person who advertised "affordable" onsite milling on craigslist.  Their rate: $0.60 per BF, $1200 minimum, $1600 w/tractor.  They also said the 5-6 ft sections would cost more.  Any idea if that sounds "normal" in this area?

They pointed out a 12' 36" log has 1000 BF.  For that price I could get at least a basic setup myself. 

It sounds like most people are saying what I figured...ie I need a bigger powerhead unless I do something crazy (do a couple feet, let it cool down, etc... :) ).

How do people normally quarter saw lumber with a portable mill?  Is there another technique that is used to cut out the quarters besides using a chaisaw that is 1/2 the length of the log diameter?


A 12' log 36" diameter has 736 bf international scale.  Perhaps a bandsaw mill can get about 800-850 at the most, but not 1000, unless perhaps he's just cutting it into 2" slabs.  But then one can't do that to a 36" log with most bandsaws.   You can use the forestry forum toolbox to get a lumber volume calculator to scale your logs.  Input the diameter under the bark at the narrow end and the length of the log.  Can't comment on his pricing for the area.  60 cents has to be taken into context with his minimum charge and any other charges (mileage, mill setup etc), and above all whether it's a good deal for you or not.

Practically, quartersawing doesn't have to  mean cutting quarters.  it means cutting boards taken at right angles to the growth rings. There are other ways to do it.  Most of us when bandsawing would make two saw cuts to take out the center portion of a log, saw that into boards, and return to the top and bottom pieces to get more boards at right angles to the growth rings.

Don't forget, in comparing costs, that if you buy all the equipment then you still have to do the work.   And while a bar and chain isn't that much, then there's an alaskan mill, guides, more chains, a grinder , and then the larger saw head, then after that you might decide you hate chainsaw milling as I did (or love it, as I didn't), and after that a bandsaw (as I did), but one that will handle a 36" log well now you're into tens of thousands, welcome to FF and good luck with your decision.
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Offline Nomad

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2013, 05:13:40 PM »
     I think TT covered it well.  I don't know sawing rates in your area, but if he told you a number like that for what's in a log that size I'd consider anything else he said to be out of line as well.
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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2013, 11:47:00 PM »
Or looking at it from my perspective ...

A 36" Douglas-Fir 12' long would have a butt diameter of about 38" and a volume of 2.6 m3. On my band mill, if it's a nice straight log with no shake or surface defects I'll recover about 300 BF per m3. That works out to 780 BF for the log.

To get 1000 BF out of that log, you'd need to get about 90% recovery. A chainsaw kerf will eat up more than 10% of your log.

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Offline kgreene

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2014, 02:14:00 PM »
Hi everyone, I just wanted to say thanks for the info people gave me.  I've done quite a bit of research since then and given my budget I've decided to try to pick up an older milling capable saw (~100+ ccs), probably a stihl 075 or similar.  Then I should be able to pick up a used alaska mill or a new panther mill. 

I don't mind putting in the work and the worst case is I can sell everything when I'm done if I don't like it.

Offline mad murdock

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2014, 09:36:51 PM »
If you are either willing to learn and or handy with fixing things, you'd be surprised what you can find for nearly nothing in larger older saws.  I have an 075 and several McCullochs that I have picked up over the last couple years for free. Most saws require a good cleaning and going over, new starter rope, maybe a plug wire, spark plug and chain and sometimes a bar, but very little money compared to new.  If quarter sawing is what you want to do, I would consider an Alaskan MkIII and a mini mill, 2 saws of at least 70cc or greater, some wedges, files and elbow grease and go for it.
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Offline kgreene

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2014, 11:00:32 AM »
Well I haven't yet had the good fortune of finding one for free/cheap. :)  I am in general handy though I don't have any practical experience with small engines (happy to learn though).  Any suggestions where to look?  I've been searching craigslist for some time but maybe this area just doesn't have many like that?

Mad Murdoch I notice you have a Logosol Timberjigg as well as an alaskan mill.  How would you compare those and which situations call for one vs the other? 

Offline shelbycharger400

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2014, 11:27:54 AM »
Do it yourself mill !    I built mine for a few hundred , pic in profile.    I run a 36 in bar and setup can cut 28 in,     so your going to need a 42 or 48 in bar with 36 in logs.   IM running a 17 HP twin Kohler and it seems underpowered  even with a heavy modified 3/8 chain.  Pm me if ya need help.    My photo shows a 12 hp brigs but i blew that up , and was happy I went bigger.

Offline mad murdock

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Re: advice - chainsaw mill for ~36"+ doug fir, currently have stihl ms 290
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2014, 04:31:58 PM »

Mad Murdoch I notice you have a Logosol Timberjigg as well as an alaskan mill.  How would you compare those and which situations call for one vs the other?
On used saws-I have done better by asking around, once the word gets out, you are bund to find a few freebies, also if there is a scrap yard near you, get to know them, and you might turn up a few for scrap price. The Timberjig is great for dimensional lumber milling, and smaller logs 24-28" and less. Setup is faster, and switching from one type of cut to the next is quicker as well. Checkout Logosol videos on baileys site or YouTube and you will see what I mean. Timberjig is pat of the bigmill system that Logosol has. You can just use the Timberjig or you can add accessories to make it a slabber, or whatever you want. It is a bit more precise, as in precision is more easily attained over the Granberg. The Granberg is just as capable of precision, just requires a little more attention to detail during the process. I like them both. I am working on a way to make my own accessories for the Timberjig so I can use it on larger logs. Hope to have something setup for it in the next few months.
Turbosawmill M6 (now M8) Warrior Ultra liteweight, Granberg Alaskan III, lots of saws-gas powered and human powered :D


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