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Author Topic: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.  (Read 1092 times)

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Offline AppalachianN00b

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Hi all, new to the forum. I've watched basically everything I can on youtube and browsed so many threads over the last couple months. I've been a very casual woodworker for about a decade but interested in picking that up. I recently found that I have very solid access to a lot of decent if small timber--walnut, locust, oak, maple chiefly, much in the sub-24" range. I don't have storage (or commitment, yet) for a bandsaw mill so clearly alaskan is the way to go, especially because much of it is on a hillside and not particularly accessible.

I picked up an echo CS590, and I'm confident this is plenty of saw for what I'm looking at and how often I'm wanting to do it. Right now what I keep waffling on is whether it's worthwhile to spend on the Granberg or if any of the *much cheaper* clones are decent. I have a winch I can add, people seem to think it's ideal. Same for ripping chain, Oregon/Stihl/Granberg/chinese?

Right now I've got a ~30' long black locust waiting for me, still very green, 26" at its widest which I think is probably too much for this saw, although really 6 or 8' planks are fine for my needs. Several smaller walnuts sub 18" and random other bits. We had two microbursts and a tornado here this summer, lots and LOTS of quality trees on the ground still.

Auxillary oiler? Normal bar or more 10w? Go ahead and muffler mod or not so much? Stop overthinking and just get to it? Say screw it and pick up a MS660 chinese clone?

Any thoughts are welcome. Wood will be dried in an unused, not-climate-controlled barn. Truck can tote 7 tons so I'm not worried about moving it once it's milled...

Thanks in advance for tolerating my noobness.

Offline taylorsmissbeehaven

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2019, 12:01:29 PM »
Welcome to the forum. I have very little experience with the chainsaw mill. So I am not the one to shed light on Granberg vs. others. My advice would be to jump in with what you have and let the experience tell you what you need next. Its a great adventure, dive in and enjoy!! Brian
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Offline ManjiSann

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2019, 02:32:42 PM »
I started the same journey of sorts a few months ago, you can find a bunch of my posts but I'll try and condense a bit of it here.

You want the biggest displacement saw you can afford. Milling really is hard on a saw and you want as much torque as you can get. I believe the general thought is 70cc's or bigger is the minimum you want in a milling saw. I used a little 50cc poulan to free hand mill some 24" dia maple logs, I did it but it took a while to do and I had to be careful not to dog the saw. I was blessed to be able to purchase a used Husky 390xp (88cc) and the difference is just amazing to me.  I'm not saying your Echo won't do the job, I have no experience with Echo saws so can't comment. If it's what you have then run it and do everything you can with it but keep in mind it's limitations.  I'm not saying that to discourage you, just sharing my thoughts and limited experience. 

Whichever mill attachment you use you will lose 4-6" of bar length, so your 20" bar will at best cut 16", likely closer to 14". 

I haven't yet added an auxiliary oiler, my saw is spec'd to run up to 36" bar so I just leave the oil setting a bit high and so far that's worked for my uses. However I have plans to get a 36" bar and will build an aux oiler for it when I do. 

I've only used Oregon chains and have been happy with them. I buy cross cut chains and will start to sharpen them to ripping angles as they dull. I can't really comment on the cut difference between the two, sorry. 

I tend to overthink the life out of things and as a good forum member and I hope friend once said to me "sometimes you just need to wake up and see what the new town offers."

If you can afford it I'd go for the Grandberg mill, I built my own based on their design (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery :D )

Before you mod your saw, run it as is for a while and see how you like it. Then if you do make changes at least you know if it's an improvement or not. 

I don't use a winch and am not sure if I'll add one but I keep seeing them praised highly so I'll probably try it at some point.

Hope some of my ramblings help, don't get discouraged by anything I've said and enjoy the ride!

Also, welcome to the forum, it's a great bunch of people and fill your profile out a bit more so we can help more.

Brandon 
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Offline mredden

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2019, 03:18:00 PM »
The milling is gonna' be tougher on the 590 (and you) than you expect. But, it should handle your list of wood. There are some Granberg knockoffs that are decent enough to get you through the first year while you decide whether the hard work is really worth it. I think the Chinese knockoff metals are inferior to Granbergs but they aren't awful.

I believe the 590 should handle a 28" bar/chain, but you will want to run an auxilliary oiler on that sized bar with only 60ccs of power. The rule of thumb with Granberg style mills is that you will lose 6 inches of bar to clamping and powerhead. That means you can put a 28' bar in a 24" Granberg-style and mill logs that max out around 22 inches. (bark removal is always advisable but difficult on green logs.)

I recommend that you also get a Haddon-style vertical chainsaw mill (There are also Chinese knockoffs). You can use it to shave off one or two sides of logs larger than 22"." You will also find it useful for ripping larger boards into smaller ones and edging thicker hardwood stock that your circular or table saw won't handle.
.

As to chains, learn to sharpen like a pro whatever brand. With hardwoods, you will be be doing at least touchup sharpening after each ten ft cut. Get a Granberg bar mount sharpener. You can start with a standard crosscut 30/35 degree chain and lower the angle a few degrees at each sharpening til you find the angle that's best for you. Sharpening is the whole key to chainsaw milling. Seriously.

Don't buy a Chinese saw unless you are able to do your own work on them. Most Stihl and Husqvarna dealers won't work on them. If you are good with small engine repairs, go for it. The G660 is a well built engine. The "small stuff" like fuel lines, carbs, etc are where people run into problems.

Read the Drying forum frequently.

Have fun. It's HARD but rewarding work. I have just finished my first year of cs milling and still love it.

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2019, 04:36:46 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  I started chainsaw milling with a Granberg mill and Husqvarna 372xp.  Once I got hooked I realized I'd never get what I wanted CSMing, this sawmilling addiction is a slippery slope :)  I agree with the posts above.  It is hard work but fun and rewarding.  CSMing is the gateway drug to bandsaw mills, kilns, planers, a bigger truck, cant hooks, a bigger tractor/loader, log arches, trailers and winches. :D On the other hand you meet and get to know many great people.

A chainsaw mill is not best suited for making 4/4 and 5/4 boards but I did it as do others.  It takes patience, time and a strong back.  Don't hesitate to sharpen your chains.  I found it easier to have two or three chains in rotation.  I would field sharpen while sawing then bench sharpen before the next session.  I recommend an oiler if you are going to saw hardwoods.

If you have a pretty strong bandsaw in your shop, resawing is not a bad way to go from chainsaw milled blanks to lumber for woodworking.  An alternative might be to break your logs down to sizes you can manage then take them to a bandsaw mill.  

Enjoy and stay safe!
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Offline Oddman

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2019, 08:32:41 PM »
Stay away from chinese chains, may not seem like much going into a good chain but there really is. Clean you air filter OFTEN. Use high quality synthetic mix oil, I like Motul 800, personally. Consider running 10 tanks or so worth of fuel through that new saw before subjecting it to a milling job, break it in easy - milling is tough on saws, and that Echo really isn't ideal. Hopefully you can get into a larger saw soon and the echo can take on a support role.

Offline AppalachianN00b

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2019, 11:20:20 AM »
Thanks all for the messages, I got buried in holiday chores and failed to come back. I'll certainly heed your advice.

I finally got a chance yesterday to do something with this saw other than  just cut firewood, took down a ~30" diameter diseased Maple in a friend's yard. By far the biggest thing I've ever taken down by myself. It was cold, wood was wet and sick---I couldn't even get my maul to bite the rounds and I split wood all the time. The saw honestly did better than I would have expected, but an extra 4" of bar would have made it a million times easier.

I'm not sure I didn't bite off more than I can chew here---maybe a little backstory.

I grew up poor in Appalachia. In the 80's through about '92 my family grossed less than $12,000 a year. We had a woodburner as do most folks in that situation. Starting when I was about 9 or so, when I got in trouble my punishment was "split wood." Never like "for an hour", more "until this pile is split and stacked". I got in trouble a lot and honestly it was way, way preferable to a belt---plus we didn't have video games or neighbors or whatever, so I honestly didn't mind it. I learned to sort of zen out through the process, plus it helped me be a stronger, more limber wrestler. I grew up some, became an eagle scout, did all the scout related lumber and timber stuff but never took the time to consider it as a profession. Went to college, elected to work in physically demanding, low pay no-profit jobs for a long time. Then I had my son, got chubby, and went white collar. Destroyed my back one day picking up my boy, and it's legitimately taken 4 years of work to get genuinely functional again because I absolutely won't consider spinal surgery because of what I've witnessed during previous employment. How is it that I spent years carrying refrigerators and trusses and never hurt myself, but I pick up a 30lb toddler and my back just surrenders indefinitely?

*anyway*

Relationship ended, new one started. She's the only female I've ever met who loves the woods as much as I do, loves fishing and kayaking and thought that it was really cool that I'd build some of the furniture in my house. No joke, we took our kids camping early on and I built her a one-match fire and she basically swooned. Fast forward a few years to this year and she makes it clear that she wants more fires in the yard. That's great, but I don't have a wood supply, so I hop on craigslist looking for free wood and find a guy with a bigish red maple he's taken down and bucked, and we go look at it. Maybe 60% dry, 20-26" rounds. We load them up and bring them home and I go grab a new maul and decide to see if I can uncrust all that muscle memory from so long ago.

And I did...and the next thing I knew it had been four hours and there was quite a pile of wood. I thought I had probably ruined my back for the week from the workout...but I woke up the next day feeling like a million bucks. I split it all in like...three days. Took down a walnut with a buddy...same thing. I enjoy the challenge of the perfect aim, the perfect power, the crack of the split, and my back LOVES it. Seeing all his walnut that needs to come down, plus some locust and maple---I thought maybe I should learn to mill. That's where this all started. I picked the 590 because I didn't have experience with bigger displacement saws and because I read in a dozen places it would be fine for sub-24" stuff. It surprised the heck out of me the first few times using it.

Now I got the girl a much fancier, much nicer outdoor stove for christmas (Solostove Bonfire, fwiw) and she is ALL about that life. Put a woodburner in my garage too, because why not, just a wee small thing that doesn't want longer than 12" logs. Bought the kiddos a kindling cracker and now everyone's got a part in it.

I know it's all very silly and it's a much different life than when you *need* it, but I don't get to do really physical work any more and I just love kicking my own ass at least a few times a week. I guess that's why some men go to the gym, I don't know.

Anyway, I don't know why I shared all that or that anyone will ever read it, but that's why I'm here. I've got a nearly unlimited supply of trees available to me, some millable some burnable...her grandpa has a beautiful big wood shop and I've got unlimited access, so it makes sense to make a go of it. Realistically I can buy solid slabs for no money here, there's no reason for me to really spend the money on milling a few boards a year, idk yet if I really want that life--again I do have a friend with a portable bandsaw mill I just like the concept of the alaskan mill being able to operate...wherever.

Now I've fallen down the rabbit hole of tuning and modding. I can do small engine work no problem but I've never done *mods* before, I've done carb work since my 84' KZ 440LTD. I was all excited to buy the Pferd sharpener but now I see that the stock chain isn't compatible, so now do I just replace the chain? And if I do, it's 3/8" .50 70 tooth...do I just upgrade the bar and go more standard 72? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Offline taylorsmissbeehaven

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2019, 12:27:22 PM »
HAHAHA! Slippery slope indeed! Sounds like you got it bad. And the wife is behind you. I look forward to following your sawdust slide! Welcome to the forum, Brian
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Offline Oddman

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2019, 04:23:42 PM »
Never messed with the Pferd, can't say what style chain you need to be compatible with that. My short chainsaw-milling stint was with Stihl full comp, full chisel, 3/8 chain that I hand sharpened to a 10 degree-ish tooth angle. Worked well I thought.

 Echo bars generally are an odd tooth count but there's no reason the saw shops can't roll custom sized loops, the Stihl shops here do it for me no prob. If you do want to upgrade the bar I would suggest looking into a bar adapter to get you hooked up to a Stihl bar. I've used one on my cs-680 and my uncle has on his cs-600p. Not certain but the 590 *should* be the same bar mount as the 600.

If your thinking of milling a few logs a year (emphasis on a few), I'd say your 590 will be up to it as long as you are. Mill logs as green as you can, mill downhill when possible, and elevate the log if you can. A dust mask and ability to hand sharpen or at least be able to sharpen at the milling site also comes to mind. Also look into how to air-dry wood, don't let your boards go to waste by improper storage.

Offline sealark37

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2019, 02:30:17 PM »
Elof Granberg designed the CSM, and developed the hardware and methods over the years. No matter what equipment you start with, CSM operation is a slow, labor-intensive activity that produces useable lumber and slabs.  The advantage of milling on-site is over-shadowed by the fact that the mill, accessories, and lumber produced must be carried to and from the milling site.  I have used the CSM in my younger days for the same reasons you mention, but I found it much more effective to load the logs and take them to a Sawyer.  You are much better off to work a way to load your truck or trailer with logs than to assemble the "stuff" needed to CSM.  It all comes down to time and money spent to get custom-sawed wood.  Except in very specialized situations, the CSM loses every time.  One thing that is required for CSM ops is a strong back, and lots of energy.  Don't give up, work smart.       Regards, Clark

Offline AppalachianN00b

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2019, 04:00:17 PM »
Thanks all, sealark37 I got spooked for a second that you somehow figured out my name, but then I realized you signed it with YOUR name...which means we have the same (rare) name. Pleased to make your acquaintence. :)

Offline richhiway

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2019, 08:20:36 PM »
If you check my posts I have a lot of CSM info. I found the granberg ripping chain to be the best. If you want lumber not wide slabs you can cut a cant and your cuts are not so wide. on my Logosol I used a 20 inch bar 90% of the time.  You need at least a 70cc saw to cut wide cuts with any speed. Buy a Haddon lumber maker, A very small investment and you can try it out. I cut a lot of lumber with one. 
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Offline Nebraska

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2019, 12:27:49 AM »
That Haddon lumber maker is the first step down a slippery slope. It's sitting on the shelf in my mill shed. It will work fine with your 590 saw. Worked with an 029 stihl years ago. Although it worked better with a 7900 Dolmar.  Sounds like you have a supportive fun spouse, that's a big help. Wife is on board with my adventure too. I've been through the back issues too be careful with it you only have one. Keep it loose, stretched and moving.   Welcome  have fun making sawdust. (Man Glitter) @ManjiSann 

Offline markdvsmo

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2019, 05:01:36 AM »
One thing you might consider for hobby woodworking milling is buy or mod a shop bandsaw capable of resawing, then rough out mini-cants with the chainsaw mill and haul 'em to the bandsaw for final sizing and milling.  My 14" Delta outfitted with a riser block and a 3/4" resaw band has served me happily in that capacity for a number of years; you could even build a carriage of sorts to run short logs through the bandsaw if you were so inclined.

I'm (slowly) working on a real mill now. Just too much fine hardwood in Missouri to keep dinkin' around with the bandsaw.  I wanna cut some wood;D

Offline ManjiSann

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2019, 08:51:28 AM »
That Haddon lumber maker is the first step down a slippery slope. It's sitting on the shelf in my mill shed. It will work fine with your 590 saw. Worked with an 029 stihl years ago. Although it worked better with a 7900 Dolmar.  Sounds like you have a supportive fun spouse, that's a big help. Wife is on board with my adventure too. I've been through the back issues too be careful with it you only have one. Keep it loose, stretched and moving.   Welcome  have fun making sawdust. (Man Glitter) @ManjiSann
Hehe sawdust IS Man Glitter.
Appalachian, I read your back story, thanks for taking the time to give some details :) it helps us know where you've been and an idea of where you want to go. 
I doubt you've bitten off more than you can chew. There's a lot to milling and it can be pretty overwhelming at first but like anything you keep chipping away at it and before you know it you're able to answer posts helpfully (I hope I'm helpful  ;D ;D)
The other posts are correct, CSM is hard on the body and the back. If you can safely get the log raised off the ground while you mill it that can help with the back part of it. Take it easy, stretch a lot and pay attention to what your body is telling you. There's nothing manly about pointless injuries... I need to tell myself that frequently. 
All that being said, I'll concede that bandsaw mills are superior in many aspects to CSM but that doesn't mean much to me. I'm not making wood to sell to anyone, I'm not trying to build a house. I just enjoy running the chainsaw and watching the man glitter pile up, smelling of two stroke exhaust after is just a bonus  :D  I also don't have a lot of room or the money to drop into a bandsaw mill right now though I'll admit I could end up with one in the future. For me CSM is about taking a log that otherwise would have went to the landfill or the fireplace and turning it into useable lumber, it's about learning new things and developing new skills, it's about helping my neighbors. It can be as expensive or thrifty as you choose to make it.
Keep your chain sharp, you can have the best saw in the world but a dull chain and it's useless or worse than useless. I just bought the Grandberg chain sharpening jig and I'll say it was well worth the $40 I spent on it! I plan to have a few chains sharpened when I'm milling so I can swap them out as I go and sharpen them in the evening or on down times. 
I'll end my ramblings here but will say that you're starting down a fun road, don't overthink it too much but be safe and have fun!
Brandon 
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Offline dougtrr2

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2019, 08:28:56 AM »
Hi all, new to the forum. I don't have storage (or commitment, yet) for a bandsaw mill so clearly alaskan is the way to go, especially because much of it is on a hillside and not particularly accessible.


Any thoughts are welcome. Wood will be dried in an unused, not-climate-controlled barn. Truck can tote 7 tons so I'm not worried about moving it once it's milled...

Thanks in advance for tolerating my noobness.
My small forest is hilly also.  It is a challenge dropping trees and cutting them into firewood on a hill.  Trying to mill lumber on a hill can't be a good plan.  Later on you mention potential back issues.  Working on a hill is not going to help that problem.
I would be looking at ways to get your logs to level ground.  A logging winch would be ideal, but just pulling with a chain might be an option.  Look at the whole process from tree dropping to stickered stacks.  
I had some logs I was considering milling with a chainsaw mill.  Luckily I took the easy way out and had a portable mill come to my place.  After seeing how fast and efficient he was I am glad I didn't try to do it myself.
Good luck,
Doug in SW IA

Offline Magicman

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2019, 08:57:54 AM »
Just remember that skidding logs with a farm tractor is potentially a very dangerous situation.  Back flip has killed many tractor operators.  Having a ROPs is a requirement and wearing your lap seat belt is paramount.  Hanging upside down by your seat belt would be a wild ride but being crushed by the ROPs would be your final ride.  :-X
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Offline mredden

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2019, 09:49:30 AM »
Bending while cs milling should be limited as much as possible. At least for this old man's back.

There is a cheap solution to lifting logs to good cutting height. You may even already have the solution - a floor jack. If you don't already have one, you can pick up a brand new 3 ton jack for under $100. 3 tons is a lotta log.  Also helps with your auto/truck repairs, tire rotation etc. mine is limited to a 19 inch lift but you can build that up from underneath.

I recently dealt with a 14 foot 31" pecan log that I estimate was around 5,000 lbs. It was flat on the ground.  I set the jack under a hump on one side and used it (along with a cant hook) to roll the log onto some 2x4 scraps. Then rolled it from there onto some 4x4 scraps. Then I jacked up one end and rolled a piece of a big limb under that end so I could cut down hill.

When I had milled it to the pith, I flipped the log over and put a thicker piece of limb under that now flat end and the original piece under the low side. Back to good cutting height.

We can't all afford power equipment.




Offline ManjiSann

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2019, 06:25:20 PM »
I think mredden has a good line on it. I haven't tried a jack yet. Someone also suggested car ramps as a means of getting it a bit off the ground.

The biggest thing is stability and safety. You don't want the log shifting while you're cutting, at best you'll damage the chainsaw or mill. But I can't see any reason why the log can't be lifted off the ground so you're not kneeling as you're milling. 

Cutting downhill is also a great energy saver. 

There's no reason you can't do what you're wanting to do, just read a lot, think it through, ask yourself how it can go wrong then resolve those risks and then have a blast!

Brandon 
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Offline mad murdock

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Re: Total noob, interested in starting to mill, interested in your opinions.
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2019, 08:33:22 PM »
Welcome to the FF and the addiction appliachaannoob! I started with a beam machine years ago, and graduated to a granberg Alaskan MK III which I still have and use for the wider stuff.  I think you would be munched pleased with a power upgrade an echo 680 would work well, since you have a 590 already.  If you are looking to increase your csm output, adding the larger saw for the wide cuts and a granberg edger mill for the 590 when needed is an outstanding combo, that really speeds things up. I have most recently graduated to the chainsaw powerhead powered turbosaw Ultralightweight warrior M8 and could not be happier!  Every log is like Christmas morning when you open up that first cut!  Awesome stuff!
Turbosawmill M6 (now M8) Warrior Ultra liteweight, Granberg Alaskan III, lots of saws-gas powered and human powered :D


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