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Author Topic: How to mill a large log in the field?  (Read 1557 times)

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Offline jdrakephd

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How to mill a large log in the field?
« on: September 07, 2021, 08:09:56 PM »
I'm sure this forum has plenty of folks who have solved this problem -- How did you do it?

I have two white oak logs, each between 32" and 36" in diameter and eight feet long. My worksite is walk-in only and I don't have any equipment for moving a log that large, so I will need to mill in place. Also, the logs are on a slope, which makes things a little more complicated.

My goal is to mill into 5/4 boards. Tools I have at the site include a 24" Granberg Mark IV Alaskan mill, Husqvarna 460R (60cc) chainsaw with 24" bar and ripping chains, portable capstan winch (1,550 lbs pulling capacity), and a Lumbersmith bandsaw (max log diameter 24").

I'm not averse to buying more equipment, but the hike to the site is two miles uphill, so there is a practical weight limit of about 60 pounds per piece of equipment.

Idea 1
- use the Alaskan mill to make a flat side
- buy a Granberg edging mill and plunge cut as deep as I can at 90 degrees to the flat side
- roll the log 180 degrees (perhaps with the assistance of the winch)
- repeat the process from the other side trying to align the cuts
- roll and repeat to mill the log to a size I can move, like quarters or cants that are 14"-16" in cross-section, and then move to the band saw

Idea 2
- Alaskan mill + edging mill to plunge cut straight through the middle (getting a few inches past the center)
- drive wedges into the cut and attempt to split
- move quarters to the bandsaw

Idea 3
- freehand plunge cut straight through the middle (getting a few inches past the center)
- drive wedges into the cut and attempt to split
- move quarters to the bandsaw

What are your thoughts? Better ideas?

Offline GullyBog

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2021, 08:37:20 PM »
Do you have a plan to move the quarters?  That sounds like a tough spot.  There's a lot of good wood in tough spots.  Have fun.
There might be a little dust on the butt log, but don't let if fool ya bout what's inside

Offline jdrakephd

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2021, 09:54:48 PM »
Pretty sure I'd be able to move quarters with the capstan winch. But maybe even quarters would need to be cut down smaller...

Offline jdrakephd

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2021, 09:57:37 PM »
Idea 4
- get a longer bar and either Alaskan mill or edge mill straight through the whole thing, going real, real slow to not burn up my 60cc saw

Online Southside

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2021, 10:07:18 PM »
Idea 5: Obtain different logs at a location where you can access them with equipment.  Have you given any thought to just how much time you will have into this and the value of the finished product?  I would say there is a good chance you will blow up your saw before it's all said and done.  
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Offline jdrakephd

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2021, 12:22:09 AM »
@Southside These boards are for a structure to be built on the site. Just as it's not possible to bring equipment on-site, it's also not possible to bring in logs from a different location. I could just let these logs rot in place and instead cut down smaller trees that I can move, but this tree had to go and I hate the idea of letting 500 board feet of lumber go to waste if I don't have to. Just trying to figure out what my options are...

Online Southside

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2021, 12:51:09 AM »
Ok, well that changes the equation. I still think you are risking that saw ending up worse for wear. 

Can you find a 395/3120 or an 880? Something that will cut faster and heavier duty? 
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Offline Wane One

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2021, 12:54:28 AM »
get a swing blade Miller an make wood n swarf.

Best
wane 
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Offline Nebraska

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2021, 07:37:52 AM »
No way to get an atv and a small log arch log and drag them out by quarters to mill them? Granted it's more trips....
The 90 cc saw I smoked  (twice) (long story)... messing with chainsaw milling  cured me of the urge to CSM nuch more.... If you can get a swing blade type portable set up there, it will be way more efficient as suggested previously.

Offline Sixacresand

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2021, 08:54:48 AM »
Looks like the conditions call for a chain saw mill.  I witnessed Customsawyer rip through a 12 foot 50" oak log in less than 20 minutes.  Sounds like an all day job.  And the trip out will be down hill.  
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Offline Jeff

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2021, 03:20:59 PM »
Yea, find a swingmill sawyer to come in. They are made for those situations.
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Offline Tom King

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2021, 04:03:51 PM »
Split, and hew.

Offline JoshNZ

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2021, 05:11:39 PM »
I'd be trying to freehand rip it in half and split. Just because I've never done it.

Potentially would buy a 90cc saw and 24"+ bar before starting though.. haha

Offline sumpnz

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2021, 06:06:01 PM »
If you have a need/desire for a 90+cc chainsaw anyway, get one plus a 42” or longer bar, and a Granberg mill to match.  With the AK mill you lose 4-5” from nominal bar length to your maximum cut width, so that 36” log will require a 40-41” bar, and far as I know 42” is the next size up from 36” in most brands.  You don’t want to have to roll the logs if you can help it, and if you can’t get through the maximum diameter you will have to make a waste cut, roll the log 180, make another waste cut to get the width down to what you can handle, then rotate 90 and start cutting your boards.  The biggest time suck with CSM is setting up for those waste cuts.  Having to do that 3x per log instead of once will slow you down a ton, not to mention the difficulty and danger of rotating the log 3x.

Have a few ripping chains on hand and plan on sharpening/swapping chains every 1-2 passes.  Strip as much bark as you can first to get a bit more life from the chains.  Slab as needed to be able to get them out and edge/resaw/mill to desired dimensions on the Lumbersmith from there.

Problem with splitting after plunging a little over half way through is you can’t guarantee it will split through the same plane as your plunge cut.  Which will probably waste a lot of quarter sawn oak.

Otherwise as mentioned by others see about hiring a swing blade sawyer.

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2021, 09:12:54 PM »
My goal is to mill into 5/4 boards.
Since your cut list is 5/4 boards, I can not imagine any option other than a swing blade sawmill to provide an acceptable yield from your logs.
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Offline Don P

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2021, 09:37:56 PM »
My partner has both a CSM and swingblade. We use the swingblade when we can and the CSM when we have to. The swingblade sounds like the best solution but if you have a CSM it is not impossible.

These were logs we couldn't easily move, our cut list was primarily long 2x12's.

Set up for slabbing cut. Notice there is a string down the center from pith to pith on this side. I used a level and sharpie at each end to set the string. We are setting up parallel to that stringline, critical when you hop the slabbing plank down a long log.




We then set up to slab 12" thick





Turned and chocked the cant upright



 and set up parallel to a snapped pith line and square to the slabbed faces. We stop mark and hop the supports behind us as the csm gets to them, slow!  

 

Once that slabbing cut is done it is a cakewalk. Set the mill to board thickness and watch the chips fly. With no bark and modest dimension the boards rolled off at a rate of 5 or 6 an hour and the chain lasted 4 or 5 cuts

On the swingblade they are coming off at one or two a minute and we would sharpen between logs  ;)
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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2021, 09:52:10 PM »
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Offline jdrakephd

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2021, 12:20:13 PM »
Thanks everyone for the suggestions and @donp for the photos. Much appreciated. Will let you know how it turns out.

Offline burdman_22

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2021, 10:56:29 PM »
I'm not sure if I'm too late or not, but there is a wonderful jig (cant remember the name, but I think it is made by timertuff or something like that and called a lumber cutting guide or something similar, I bought it on amazon for like $26). I used that in combination with my CSM to break down a 36" red oak log into some terrific 6" thick cants.

The guide clamps onto your chainsaw bar and then you screw down a 2x6 for it to slide along, which allows for a straight cut. The guide allows the chainsaw to pivot up and down. I'm sure if you google it you'll understand, I cant find a picture of it right now. I've used it for multiple applications and love it.



 

 

 

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2021, 03:05:16 PM »
Check out this video



It works well for big beams.  I don't know how well the method would work for thinner boards.   I often use this method for logs too big for my mill but I cut from both sides and hope the cuts meet in the center of the log.

It is slow going but it gets the job done.  My saw is only 45 CC but I have no problem cutting up a 36 inch log this way.  If the chain was sharpened with a 10degree angle instead of the 25-ish degree angle I normally use it may be faster.

To do a good job it takes a bit of work with a chalk line and level beforehand to get nice straight cuts that match up.  I would imagine the more meticulous you are the better your results are going to be.  When I do it I usually rush through it because my only goal is to make it small enough to fit on the mill, not to get nice cuts.

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2021, 01:40:08 AM »
If they are anything but top grade logs, I'd abandon them.  Too much work to get to site, and drag the wood down and drag equipment up and down.  I hope you could use a 4 wheeler?

If they are top grade logs, AND you can use a 4 wheeler and a small log arch, then I'd quarter them with a chainsaw(I'd use my STihl 661), and pull the quarters out of the bush.  Then I'd reverse roll quarter saw them on a hydraulic band mill.  Getting the quarters down would still be a lot of work.  Consider how much it would cost to buy equivalent logs delivered to you versus the amount of work this will take.  You'll still have to load the quarters on a trailer and need equipment to do that.
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Re: How to mill a large log in the field?
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2021, 05:13:02 AM »
Changing the degrees to 0 won’t make it cut any faster, only give you a slightly better finished looking cut.  :P
Trying harder everyday.


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