Granberg Alaskan Mill - what to start with?

pete3d

Member
Location
Hinchinbrooke
it may as well be toward a legit bandsaw!

These Chinese made bandsaw mills are currently marketed by many different distributors and are definitely a lot of milk for the money. I’ve a couple of friends who have them and are very satisfied with their purchase:

 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
As for a the saw, there is no substitute for displacement. You need to look at the biggest logs you will want to mill, and availability of help. Then start weighing out a double ended bar with slightly smaller saws vs one monster saw
One important overlooked point is how big of a pain in the ass the older style front chain tensioner is (in general) on a Alaskan setup. Essentially you have to take the mill off to tighten the chain!
Now for the mill itself, unless you are willing to have two mills, a big and a small, get the biggest you can. A few

detail points: yes you can buy longer rails they are expensive
You loose workable length, a few inches on the nose of the bar and at least a inch on the power head side (if you take the dawgs off, if not you loose more).
Bar lengths vary from manufacture
A 20” bar is only capable of 16” boards
A 36” bar is only capable of 32” and so on.
Point is to factor this in before you go shopping.
A big mill can be adjusted to run on smaller bars with rail overhang that can act as helper handles
Add ons like aux oilers and the like arent much to purchase separately as and when needed, but longer rails are about 2/3rd the price of the mill itself
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
Man, all those gypsy moth killed white oaks up there you could be busy for a while.

I used tracks and brackets that were meant for the purpose but found an aluminum ladder and pieces of wood works better.

You need the both ends of the log to be fairly straight and 90 degrees to the log itself.

Take a 2x12 or 2x10 that is long enough for your ladder to sit on- about 30” will do- and screw it to both ends of the log. You want the 2x12 to be high and in as minimal amount of the log as possible while still being secure. Use a level to make both lumber pieces level on the top. This important step is what will give you a fairly even plane on all your cuts.

The ladder sits on top of this wood. I use screws poking out the top of the lumber to keep the ladder from sliding side to side.

Your first cut will have the mill adjusted very high. This allows you to cut a minimal amount while accounting for all the knots and bark and unevenness on the log.

The picture below can help explain (that was back when I was using a 441)... it’s hard to define in words.

Couldn't help myself, also included a picture of a 15’ tuliptree log that was about 44” across that I chainsaw milled. That took a long while!!

Agreed.
And to add having the ladder a couple of feet longer on either side of the log really helps saw entry and exit.

I frequently (when I rarely mill) use a ladder on every pass for this purpose. Just to aid in entry and exit.

It slides easier on the metal of the ladder, and supports the weight of the saw and mill correcting minor misalignments from the front guide and the rear guide. A big saw + big bar + weight of the mill adds up, not to mention the awkward body positioning to lift, hold, and pull the trigger square to the soon to be board for the first 8-10” of every cut.
Unless you feel like trimming a wave out from the front of every board burning 10”...
 

pete3d

Member
Location
Hinchinbrooke
Although I know where it is, I haven’t touched my Ganberg mill for about 25 years! At the time I was messing with it there was a comprehensive book about “Chainsaw Lumber Making” that covered the use of the Ganberg specifically. Perhaps it’s still in print or available used from some old geezer like me.
 

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27RMT0N

Well-Known Member
Location
WA
Can you please share your setup? What model of the mill you have connected to what chainsaw?
The argument to use it only for very big logs makes perfect sense to me.
Let’s say I wait for a new Husqvarna 90cc model this year. What bar length should I get and what model of Granberg mill? (Btw, I live in NC)
Thanks.

I'm no expert with chainsaw milling and clearly from the replies here other members have a lot more experience than I do. The photo I posted is actually the only project I've done using one, however it was quite a few days of work and gave me a decent understanding of the process and pros/cons of the method. The saw was a Husky 288XP with a 36", mill was an older Granberg I was borrowing. For a guide I used a large straight 8x8 beam because it was about long enough (I added some 2x4 extensions visible in the first photo I posted) and I was making up to 18' long pieces and didn't have anything else that long (like a ladder). It worked well and made some big and straight pieces. I think a 90cc Husky you are looking at would be fine with a 36" bar.

P1090911 (Custom).JPG

P1090933 (Custom).JPG
 
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dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
whatever you do, dont use a ms391 on it
reminds me, I need to go put a new piston in my dads later (blew it up while milling)
ooh man, I wonder if it's even worth attempting , with the 562 I am running. (60cc. granberg recommends that is the minimum acceptable size)
did you get any warning or final signal before the saw blew? sounds?
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
(60cc. granberg recommends that is the minimum acceptable size)
For what its worth, the 391 is a similar size. It's 64cc.

I once had a mortgage loan explained to me as, the bank decides how much you can no longer afford and subtracts $1 to determine how much your pre approved for. I find that, that process is true in many instances including "minimal acceptable size"


"50cc will blow up the first time milling, so a 60cc saw is acceptable..." at least that's how I see many of those recommendations.
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
went down on power (Like 40%) let off the throttle to cool down for a minute and it just died as soon as I let off the power (Like when its low on fuel), and wouldnt restart, pulled it appart and the piston looks like someone threw rocks in it at WOT
ahh, total bummer. Thanks for the description. yea I will probably be better off borrowing one if I want to do some milling. Maybe if I was in some pine or softwood but I was looking at maple.. don't have room to lose this saw.
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
For what its worth, the 391 is a similar size. It's 64cc.

"50cc will blow up the first time milling, so a 60cc saw is acceptable..." at least that's how I see many of those recommendations.
I checked again ( https://granberg.com/frequently-asked-questions/ ) and it was 50cc they say is minimum, but as we are hearing from firsthand experience, it destroyed a 64cc !
There are so many conditions involved. If I had another good saw for backup maybe I could chance it. I appreciate running it by the crew over here. Thanks
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
I blew this one on wet poplar, deffinatly not a great idea, we are looking at getting something like 100 acres soon, when we do I will probably save up for a 661 or an 880 for milling
That's great! I also saw there that Granberg lists ripping chains. The teeth are stepped (two heights) so each one is only taking half the cut. pretty fancy...
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
my ripping chain has (iirc) some of the cutter teeth ground off (think semi skip chain) but the side of the tooth is left on (top plate ground off) kinda hard to explain, but it works good

now to see if my cordless milwaukee polesaw will drag a 25 inch bar :D
at least you can't blow up a piston on the cordless!
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
I checked again ( https://granberg.com/frequently-asked-questions/ ) and it was 50cc they say is minimum, but as we are hearing from firsthand experience, it destroyed a 64cc !
There are so many conditions involved. If I had another good saw for backup maybe I could chance it. I appreciate running it by the crew over here. Thanks
There’s a difference between a 391 and a 362. Similar size saws, but the 362 is a professional saw, whereas the 391 is only a large homeowner grade saw - big difference in design/manufacturing for the intended use. If your saw is a professional series saw, it will probably hold up much better than the 391 did, although a larger saw not working as hard will still last longer.
 

Stumpsprouts

Well-Known Member
Location
Asheville
I blew this one on wet poplar, deffinatly not a great idea, we are looking at getting something like 100 acres soon, when we do I will probably save up for a 661 or an 880 for milling
When the time comes for you, I would avoid the 880, based on my experience. I’m not a husky guy but their 3120 (equivalent) is a better saw for milling from what I have seen. Depending on how much you get into, if it’s just here and there, get the 661 since it is also a very practical saw on a work site.
 

RyanCafferky

Well-Known Member
Since getting a Woodmizer bandsaw I have only used my chainsaw mill once to break down large logs. I will do some very creative work with the bandsaw to avoid using the chainsaw mill. So incredibly easy comparatively. Like others have said, if you are going to do chainsaw milling, get a big saw, keep it sharp, and be patient. And whatever you do, don't go watch someone use a bandsaw.
 
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evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
Don’t over look a 395/390 either. Little heavier than a 661 but more saw for a lower price.
For me it was about 300-400 less than a 661. Not as many comfort features as a 661 but it’s not a saw that even gets used weekly for me.
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
Since getting a Woodmizer bandsaw I have only used my chainsaw mill once to break down large logs. I will do some very creative work with the bandsaw to avoid using the chainsaw mill. So incredibly easy comparatively. Like others have said, if you are going to do chainsaw milling, get a big saw, keep it sharp, and be patient. And whatever you do, don't go watch someone use a bandsaw.
yes... I have already helped my friend with his woodmizer a buncha times... what a dream
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
these are a few pictures of my great-grandads sawmills. I heard he built them himself. these were used in his logging operation in northwest Montana.
photos are from the 1930s.
 

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dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
do you think its worth having to drag the tree, or logs all the way to the mill? my family is looking to buy around 100 acres, and mill allot, but, we are trying to decide if its worth the expense of a woodmizer, and the trouble of moving trees, or if the alaskan mill is better

I say get the woodmized, but my dad is on the fence about it
The trailer it rides on isn't massive. If you are mindful about falling in the right directions and such, you could set up stations...
a friend had one of these winches, the thing is a boss. we had a few feet of snow on the ground, we were pulling 34' pine logs, about 36" diameter, right down the hill..
 

dspacio

Active Member
Location
Narragansett Bay
my dad wants to pour a slab and permanently put the mill on it, to keep it level, my dad is talking about a "delta arm" winch setup, i.e 3 winches, cables ran to the tops of the closest trees, and be able to triangulate a pull (Hard to explain, but you could pull from all 3 winches, and make the log go in any direction)
triangulation is powerful. if you are setting up for lots of logging, taking the time for preparing a solid haul out system would pay off, i think
 

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