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Author Topic: Woodworker asking Milling Advice / MS441C Alaskan Milling vs 394xp  (Read 1190 times)

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Offline Pavilion_Wood

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Hey All,

Longtime lurker first time poster. I am wondering about people's experiences with the Stihl MS441c. I am a woodworker in the Okanagan valley in British Columbia Canada. We have a lot of orchards around here with beautiful hardwood, as well as urban trees like maple and walnut. I am wondering what your guys perspective is on my setup. I would need an alaskan mill with logs around 24" (this range is about as wide as I'd go slabbing per board in a book matched epoxy pour). Most logs I'd be dealing with are 12-20". Other logs 9" or less, I have a shop bandsaw that I've set up with an infeed and outfeed table and a milling jig for taking on. There is the possibility of cutting cookies around 30" diameter or more as well, but slabbing trees this diameter would be too difficult to move without a machine. I had planned on doing a stationary mill in a downtown shop but thieves are too rampant and I'm afraid of losing my stuff-- but not before I bought a 42" Oregon bar for Stihl. I'm looking at a nearly new Stihl 441C w/ 22" bar with heated wrap for $855 . I'm not interested in doing production milling, just if I meet a farmer who has a tree he needs felled, or arborists that saved me a 3' 28" diam burl that I have a saw that can mill it and load it in my truck. I have an old MS170 for limbing as well.

I am curious what potential problems there may be for using a 42" bar for milling on the 441C. The max bite says 32". If I go reaaaaallllyyyy slow with a 42" bar on logs that are around that 32" or so diameter, what problems would that cause? I'm assuming an auxiliary oiler would be required but what other considerations for using a bar longer than the saw head is rated?

Plan B
I currently have a Husq Rancher 460 I bought to use a primary saw (I would sell it if i went with the 441c) and I saw a Husq 394XP saw head for sale for $500. Must be from the 1990's or something. Has anyone rigged up a Stihl bar on a Husq sawhead before? 394xp on 24" logs is way overkill but the silly rancher probably wouldn't handle it.

Appreciate any insight you guys might offer!

Offline DaveinNH

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Re: Woodworker asking Milling Advice / MS441C Alaskan Milling vs 394xp
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2019, 12:15:24 PM »
Just my 2 cents. I did some milling with an Alaska mill years ago. I was using an MS460 with a 36 inch bar and ripping chain. When cutting pine beams and siding it was on the low side of OK. The couple of times I slabbed maple in the maximum width I could cut (around 30 inches) I felt it was really underpowered. Not that it could not be done, but really slow. I would also recommend an auxiliary bar oiler for the size of bar you are running.
Wood-Mizer LT40HD26     Polaris 6x6 Big Boss
Ariens 34 Ton Splitter       Stihl 460, 261, 70

Offline Pavilion_Wood

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Re: Woodworker asking Milling Advice / MS441C Alaskan Milling vs 394xp
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2019, 02:37:32 AM »
For the scale and frequency of milling I intend to do, the 441c will handle it and is probably overkill. 1 guy with a pickup truck is not doing logs bigger than 30" very often. I realized this chatting with my local dealer today that these 90cc big saws are for logging and milling in the bush, pulling 5' bars, doing stuff I'd never do. Would look clownish milling a 20" log with a 394xp and a 42" bar. The versatility of felling and milling with 1 saw is the main advantage, and better fuel economy vs the big saws too.

Sort of weird how a person's mind vacillates in the storm of opinions and then you just look at the numbers and things crystalize.

Offline miro

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Re: Woodworker asking Milling Advice / MS441C Alaskan Milling vs 394xp
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2019, 04:53:38 PM »
I have a parallel experience, except about 40 years removed.
I was introduced to chainsaw milling via Fine Woodworking and took the plunge.
Yes, it is hard work, but I was young and full of p** and vinegar.
I loved the thing as an opportunistic tool to "capture" hardwood exotics ( walnut, oak, hard maple) in my local area.
I found the widths I sawed were always way more than I could otherwise afford. My blade is a 24 inch, running rip chain - field sharpening skill is a MUST.
I usually bucked to shorter lengths ( 6, 7 ft) because I had to carry the wood out by hand. Sawed mostly 2 in thickness. Rarely hit metal and usually when the chain was almost worn out. Air dried exclusively and brought it into the shop 2-3 months before beginning to mill it. When rough milled I would clamp the lumber 6 at a time ( 4 clamps on 6 ft) with spacers to allow air circulation. That helped internal strains to "fight each other and normalize.
I kept the live edge as long as I could before cutting to size.

Never did cookies - never got them to dry slowly enough.

Early on I figured a lighter saw even though less powerful, might be better because everything is carried in and out of the woods - sometimes a couple hundred metres, Slower yes, but it did the job.
My test was - pick up the whole thing with one arm.
Mostly sawed in the middle of wood lots ( so, no metal) 


Offline mredden

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Re: Woodworker asking Milling Advice / MS441C Alaskan Milling vs 394xp
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2019, 12:38:28 PM »
My 88cc saw doesn't like a 42" bar. It will do it, but it doesn't like hardwood.

If you are mechanically inclined, I would recommend the 394. Never worry about "overkill" in milling. Bigger is better - all other things being equal - but you have to keep 'em running.

Just when you get that 441c, you will have an opportunity to mill the most beautiful 27" log you have ever seen. Remember, an Alaskan will (generally) make you cut 6 inches less than your bar length. You'll need a 36" bar for up to a 30" log, and I wouldn't want to put a 70cc saw through that often. They'll run a 32" bar for cross cutting but that size bar will max out milling a 26" log and probably put too much stress when milling. I would probably limit myself to a 28" bar for milling with a 70cc saw and that will only cut about a 22" log. Okay, maybe 23 with chainbrake disabled and no dogs.

The 394 will handle a 42" bar. However, the 394 is an older powerhead that may require more maintenance and a sharper evaluation eye for buying. If you can keep it running, that would be my choice. But only IF you can handle repairs and upkeep.

Good luck and happy cutting. I don't cut anything over 100 yards from my truck so weight is generally not a factor, but I'm . . . uhm . . . well-seasoned..

Offline Altamaha

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Re: Woodworker asking Milling Advice / MS441C Alaskan Milling vs 394xp
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 08:50:01 PM »


You can always mill small logs with a big Alaskan and big saw.

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