Chainsaw Milling instead of Firewooding big rounds

hseII

Participating member
Location
United States
Good Afternoon Group,

We’ve been taking on bigger trees lately & I’m toying with the idea of turning these Rounds into table tops rather than firewood.
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I need advice.
Obviously CSM is time consuming.

What would be a good width?

What is the best way to advertise?

Would we be better served busting them into firewood?


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Jonny

Been here a while
Location
Buffalo
Time on the job is obviously gonna be longer milling them.
You’re gonna be exposing a saw to what is literally the hardest duty you can ask of it. You can probably expect less hours from a bigger saw, probably 80cc minimum, you’d probably be happier with 90+.

Might be really rewarding though. Maybe profitable.

Live edge boards seem to really be catching on a lot in builds and remodels. Fashionable.

Make me a sink!
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hseII

Participating member
Location
United States
Time on the job is obviously gonna be longer milling them.
You’re gonna be exposing a saw to what is literally the hardest duty you can ask of it. You can probably expect less hours from a bigger saw, probably 80cc minimum, you’d probably be happier with 90+.

Might be really rewarding though. Maybe profitable.

Live edge boards seem to really be catching on a lot in builds and remodels. Fashionable.

Make me a sink!
View attachment 78358

Maybe this old 1111 will do it: I mean it cut it.

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Jonny

Been here a while
Location
Buffalo
On a chainsaw mill is the single place I’d ever be comfortable using a big old saw that pre-dates the chain brake.

Idk why I haven’t bought a chainsaw mill yet. They’re not expensive and I could find a home for the product.
 

hseII

Participating member
Location
United States
On a chainsaw mill is the single place I’d ever be comfortable using a big old saw that pre-dates the chain brake.

Idk why I haven’t bought a chainsaw mill yet. They’re not expensive and I could find a home for the product.

With that much bar the Brake isn’t such a big deal.

I took the brake off that saw to fit the wrap handle anyway: I am the only one to run it & swapping hands/sides in the cut sure is nice due to how much it vibrates.


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Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
You need to have a good understanding of how wood reacts when it dries. You're guaranteed to have cracks forming in many slabs. You'll get lucky too.

I was talking to my buddy Brian a couple weeks ago. He told me that cutting slabs on the diagonal reduces cracking.


Before getting too involved trying to dry slabs to a LOT of reading about how others have done it.

Cracking happens because there is more wood by volume out on the bark edge. Remember pi? All of the wood shrinks at the same rate though. That leads to edge cracks telegraphing to the center.

Years ago I read about a process to deal with cracking. I haven't done it but I have seen a couple pictures of slabs that were patched and it works.

I'll share the steps in short terms. You need to be setup to go from start to finish in one process. Stopping part way will likely lead to failure.

Start with a big enough saw and bar to make one slabbing cut, top to bottom. Have the log up off the ground.

Mark the cut line
Cut three or more slabs.
Dowse them with water and wrap them in a tarp out of the sun temporarily
Look at the slabs and see if there is a crack starting of maybe by intuition you can see where a crack may form
Make a radial cut from the bark to the pith. You're creating the stress reliever 'crack' ahead of time. I'd use a cutting guide and circular saw cutting from both sides to leave a smooth cut surface on the 'crack'
In each slab do the same but make the cut about 120* apart so they don't line up if you were to restack.

Do what ever you are going to do with paint or end sealing. Wrap the slabs and stash them away to slowly dry

When the slabs are dry its time to have some fun. You will have learned how to accurately measure wood moisture content too. No guessing. A scale and some math will be involved.

Now you're going to cut pie slices to infill the 'crack' you cut. Use the slab you want to use and stack one of the other slabs under it. Line both up. Trace out the pie piece and cut it out. Make the pie piece a little larger so you can fit it tight.

As you fit the pie piece into the crack you'll see how the growth increments line up.

When I saw pics of this process the guy was a pro woodworker with a large [20 or 24"], old bandsaw. He could make nice crack and pie cuts with pretty smooth edges. In the end the cut edges weren't easy to see.

Good luck!
 

colb

Been here a while
Location
Florida
Try to get a large amount of indoor, climate controlled storage before jumping in, or at least have a legit plan for that within a year of slabbing.

What's your kiln drying plan?
 

oceans

Been here a while
Location
RI
The idea of slabbing was very attractive to me in the beginning. Carry a saw out to the log, mill out some slabs, carry them out instead of firewood chunks. I sell a few here and there, or infrequently do some custom cutting for some folks.

In all honesty, based on my personal experience, a chainsaw mill is only good for infrequent or temporary use. I would far rather have a band mill. The act of CSM is murder on the powerhead, murder on your wrists, murder on maintenance, and murder on your time.

CSMing definitely has its place, but I would certainly explore your outlets for whatever value-added product you produce. If the demand is high enough, it may be worth all the hardship.
 

colb

Been here a while
Location
Florida
The idea of slabbing was very attractive to me in the beginning. Carry a saw out to the log, mill out some slabs, carry them out instead of firewood chunks. I sell a few here and there, or infrequently do some custom cutting for some folks.

In all honesty, based on my personal experience, a chainsaw mill is only good for infrequent or temporary use. I would far rather have a band mill. The act of CSM is murder on the powerhead, murder on your wrists, murder on maintenance, and murder on your time.

CSMing definitely has its place, but I would certainly explore your outlets for whatever value-added product you produce. If the demand is high enough, it may be worth all the hardship.
@oceans is spot on, but it's fun to do it at some point/s in your career. Just be real about whether it's for profit or fulfillment and act accordingly.
 

27RMT0N

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
WA
Having wood available to you is the easiest part of the equation, maybe the only easy part honestly.

It's like having a pile of ore you dug out of the ground. Sure it may have some valuable minerals in it, but now you need to haul it around, process it , store it and find a market for it. It's a ton of work to get it from step one to a sellable product, and it's a whole new business essentially.
 

Stumpsprouts

Branched out member
Location
Asheville
I’ve done chainsaw milling a bit, I have one, haven’t used it in a year in a half. It’s one of the more miserable things I’ve done, but I did some fun projects with it.

If I were in your shoes, I would do whatever I could to get the logs to a saw mill that could also kiln dry the lumber. You won’t have much profit on the product if you choose to sell it, but you’ll save a lot of time and headaches and purchasing of equipment. If you’re really randy on the whole idea, skip the CSM and get you a proper bandsaw mill.

But have a plan for drying and storing. Otherwise it’s like butchering a deer without a chest freezer.
 

Fivepoints

Branched out member
We take stuff and have it cut at one of our local mills. It takes a lot of time and effort doing all the stacking and stickering every time we get a load. It always ends up somewhere in the way. I dont have a warehouse dedicated to this so we put it wherever we can. It ends up in my house garage, my barn, our workshop, etc. Wood buyers are flaky in general from what I've seen.
 

flushcut

Branched out member
Location
Delavan, WI
Those rounds are absolutely going to crack unless soaked as in submerged for probably a month or six, at least, in pentacryl($$) or ethalene glycol($$$$$$) yes antifreeze.
I would suggest dual power heads on a CSM for a log of that size or a Lucas Mill with slabbing attachment.
 

hseII

Participating member
Location
United States
The idea of slabbing was very attractive to me in the beginning. Carry a saw out to the log, mill out some slabs, carry them out instead of firewood chunks. I sell a few here and there, or infrequently do some custom cutting for some folks.

In all honesty, based on my personal experience, a chainsaw mill is only good for infrequent or temporary use. I would far rather have a band mill. The act of CSM is murder on the powerhead, murder on your wrists, murder on maintenance, and murder on your time.

CSMing definitely has its place, but I would certainly explore your outlets for whatever value-added product you produce. If the demand is high enough, it may be worth all the hardship.

We have a Woodmizer LT-40HD but these trees are simply too big for it.

I too have done a small bit of milling but it was just for kicks.

Thank You for sharing your firsthand experience.

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hseII

Participating member
Location
United States
Try to get a large amount of indoor, climate controlled storage before jumping in, or at least have a legit plan for that within a year of slabbing.

What's your kiln drying plan?

A local Miller has a Kiln that is an option.

Dad & I have been planning a solar kiln for some time but I don’t believe this activity is the one for the Solar Kiln.


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OasisTree

Participating member
Location
Central Missouri
We purchased a Mahoe mill just for this purpose. For this large of stuff a bandsaw is not stiff enough unless you spend the money and get one with a 4" wide band. The Mahoe uses an electric 3 phase motor to power a 6' chainsaw bar, with a 60" useable cutting width. Also you have the option to make lumber out of those large logs with 2 circular saw blades set at right angles. I dont feel that it is a production sawmill, but you can mill logs up to 7' in diameter with it quite efficiently.

We did not set up our mill for portable use though.
 

pete3d

New member
Location
Hinchinbrooke
For large thick, and particularly slab “cookie” wooden objects the only reliable way to preserve them I’ve found is to stabilize them with polyethylene glycol-1000 or more recently polyethylene glycol-300 both generally referred to as PEG. Once the wood’s cells become impregnated with PEG the piece no longer affected by inevitable fluctuations in atmospheric humidity and can be relied upon to keep its shape and integrity indefinitely.

For an old but fairly comprehensive overview of PEG its properties and applications this article does the trick:

 

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