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Smallest cc saws anyone has used for milling

Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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Hi guys, thought I'd launch a new discussion for the small end of the milling spectrum, which I think may be especially useful for newbies to the milling hobby or those on the fence of trying it out. A big saw is expensive to jump into and may not be needed to try out the hobby for most non-pros. What is the smallest cc saw (Brand and Model or other features) you have ever used for milling? Be sure to list what mill you used with it too.

I'm only on my 3rd year of milling, and I started with a 42 cc Poulan with 18" bar and only vertical milling with a mini-mill. I got it for all of $25 at a garage sale. It did just fine in wood 6" or 8" diameter, and would cut up to 12" diameter but quite slowly. I've found the thinner width chains can make a huge difference in milling ability, even with a small cc saw, due to less torque required in the cut. My 2nd year, I upgraded to a 60 cc Echo cs-590, and it is tremendous for the money. I used this with an Alaskan Mk III with a 28" bar, as well as with a top down mini-mill and freehand without a mill. Milling vertically vs. with an Alaskan also requires a good bit less cc to mill, as the chips can easily get out of the cut and reduce the frictional drag or torque required in the actual cut, which is present with an Alaskan or horizontal mill. I'm thinking milling vertically can require at least 25% less cc of power than horizontal, all else equal, but this is not a scientific study yet. This year just recently got an older 80.7 cc Echo cs-8000 for the bigger work, but haven't used it much yet due to time problem at the moment for me. It is a beast and easily twice as fast in the same job as the 60 cc Echo, but much heavier of course.

Finally, I've now tried milling with the little-est Echo, a cs-310 with 14" bar and a simple muffler mod and BobL's progressive raker angle at about 6 degrees!! It has an even thinner chain width than the Poulan did and a much faster rpm. It can vertically mill at 31 ccs! Now, it likes not more than 6" diameter hardwood, but can do it quite well, I'd say easily 50% as fast as the 60 cc Echo but better than the 42 cc Poulan did! I like it for trimming the edges of what I mill with the bigger saws for cleanup and also prepping a slab before milling by removing any branch stubs, etc. A wonderful saw for the small branch cutting too up to about 6" or so. I could see the 310 being an awesome wood carving saw, but I'm not into that at this time. Have to say I like it just as much as the cs-590 or 8000, but for totally different reasons of course.

So who else has used a lower powered saw for milling use? What did you do? How did it go? Let's say anything less than 70 cc can qualify for this discussion. - Paul
 

BobL

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I have used a 50 cc Homelite with 20" bar and a 50 cc Mac 10-10 with a 16" bar.

The Mac was 25 years old and had been a gutsy little saw up until I thrashed it with a long bout of stump cutting.

After I used it in this mill it only lasted for a couple of cuts before it dropped its top end.
IMG_5655arb.jpg

piston1.jpg
I brought back a Mac 10-10 parts saw from Canada when I was there in 2010 and sometime I still want to restore this puppy.

The all plastic homey was given to me by my brother as he'd couldn't start it. I cut a dozen or so short logs using this rig.
Its still in good working order and I use it occasionally as a pruning saw.
DesertGum.jpg

Then I was given access to much bigger logs and I picked up an 076 with a 30" bar and before I knew it I had a 42 and the a 60" bar.

Although its a touch over 70 cc my fave small saw is my 441. Its milled several dozen logs and I use if for preliminary carving of nature playground stuff I do from time to time.
I also use it on my monorail mill for vertical cuts.
I run a 25" bar with full comp Lopro chain on it - that alone turns it into a bigger saw.
 
hypnolobster

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I've done a fair bit of edging 2-6" thick slabs with a MS261. It handled it fine with granberg ripping chain. It's a small enough cut that it didn't really overwork the saw.
 
Blisters

Blisters

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I've been useing a 42cc homie on 12 to14 inch pine that is 8ft6. That's on a homemade Alaskan. It has a modified muffler is all I have changed. Takes a lil over 4 min. saw still running like a champ. Works a lil hard but the muffler mod removes the heat well.
 

TPA

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I was cutting up a small (about 8-10") southern maple with a Worx electric chainsaw, and decided that I would leave about 3 feet of the lower section. I used the electric saw to freehand mill it into 3 planks about 1-2 inches thick. Saw didn't complain and it still works fine. Boards look good too after planing, the saw made a very rough cut.
chainsaws-subcat-image.1458148644.jpg
 
Cedar Eater

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I used a Stihl MS 250 (45 cc) on around forty 2X12X10' hardwood (oak, soft maple, and poplar) boards. The saw still seems to be running fine. The mill was a crude homemade alaskan style. Before that, I used a Stihl 017 (30 cc) to freehand mill some 8" birch logs into lumber.
 
Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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Great posts and info so far guys! Thanks for your experiences. Keep them coming!! I think we will all learn from each other what people have done! I'm surprised about the electric Worx saw! That is great!

BobL: I inherited my dad's old ProMac 555, which is almost the same as the 10-10 but a cc or two higher. Both were out at the same time in the late 70's. I think the PM555 must have cost a premium as the 10-10s were much more popular. I was cutting wood with him back in the 70's and 80's using a mini-Mac when I was 10 years old while he used the 555. At the time, we burned ONLY wood for heat for several years as my dad had lost his job. In Indiana, it gets cold in the winter, below 0 Farenheit each season. So I love those old Macs! I just recently got a nice Pro Mac 10-10 also, mainly for a parts saw for the 555, which I could never part with. The two share most parts, like 90%. I have about 6 of those Mini-Macs that are in various project states to fix up too! One of the greatest small saws ever made! But the opposite of the modern cs-310 Echo! That is high speed, lower torque, whereas the mini-Macs were high torque, low speed. Fun to use both! The mini-Macs make great little limbing saws, even today, but are a bit heavy. I also like that the Macs share the same bars/chains as the Echos do, so my transition to modern Echo is logical from my many Macs... - Paul
 
abbott295

abbott295

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Sounds like just about everyone has me beat for small saw milling. My son and I started with a reconditioned Poulan Pro 4620(with a few letters after the numbers, maybe AVW) from Northern Tool for about $130. Used it with a Granberg small log mill, the one that only clamps to the inboard end of the bar. We started milling on three red maples that we had planted at the house about 25 years before, maybe even before he was born.

My son did most of that work while I was at work so it doesn't really count as my experience, but he had a couple of cuts where the tip of the bar was buried in the log, by an inch or two. So they were close to 20 inches wide at that point. Also had a time or two that the far end wandered up or down; I don't know if the bar clamp came loose or if chain was dull on one side or what happened.

Along in there, he found this site. One of the best in the world. (I do live in a small world though.) We still haven't tackled the ~3 foot x 20 foot red oak log we have down on another property which is the reason we got interested in milling in the first place. We have bigger saws for it, but moving pieces from it will also be challenging and getting us together with time to do it have not happened yet. It may be firewood.

And two of our saws got damaged a year and a half ago when they were in the back of the minivan when it rolled. He says he saw the saws in mid-air in the rear view mirror. Broken handles, fuel tanks sort of stuff. A Stihl 066 Magnum and a Husqvarna 281xp. He wasn't hurt. Minivan was totaled.
 
Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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Just got a heap of 1/4 chain. If one wanted low profile milling that would be very thin and I expect it should work in small ish logs with a <45cc saw when green

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Hi Jimbo, this is another topic I'm real interested in. I'd like to explore how to use a 1/4" chain on my Echo cs-590 saw with 20" or 28" bars. Nothing is available to buy as premade narrow width chains for this bigger size saw. I need help on how to do it. Would it need a different sprocket? Different bar or could use same bars? I'm learning now how to break and make new chain links with a Granberg vice-grip chain breaker/setter. Who has done something like this? How to go about it? The little chain width on the cs-310 has really convinced me of the merits of thin width chains for milling. I could not believe how well that can mill. I'm not even using a ripping/milling chain on it yet! Just a regular chain but narrow! - Paul
 
Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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Given that even 3/8 Lopro shouldn't really be used on anything more that 28" of bar I wonder how the 1/4" would survive at that length. The problems with small long chains is they stretch too far and will jump the sprocket.
Ok, well what are the practical limits? What could be used with what max bar length safely? And then how to go about doing it? thx- Paul
 
Blisters

Blisters

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I have had good luck with just standard chain and BobL's lowered rakers. If I get em just right the saw really does feed it self. Very minimal effort pushing. Useing that method I'm not so worried about burning up a smaller saw. I can just let it do what I will do and not force it through the cut. That way I'm not worried about burning up my lil homie.
 

BobL

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Ok, well what are the practical limits? What could be used with what max bar length safely? And then how to go about doing it? thx- Paul
The amount of stretch also depends on the power of the saw and the hardness of the wood.

I can really only speak about my experience with 3/8 (0.063) regular and 3/8 (0.050) Lopro in hardwoods.
3/8 Lopro generates about a 20% smaller kerf than regular 3/8 but the limit is around 25-28" on a 70cc saw. AS member Mtngun used Lopro on a 36" bar with a 660 in softwood.

Another problem with the 1/4" chain on a long bar will be sawdust clearance. Those little teeth simply cannot pull out much sawdust.

To try it out, unless you can find a hardnose bar, you will need to find a 28" bar with 1/4" pitch sprocket and the right gauge. You will also need to find a 1/4" drive sprocket.
 
Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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The amount of stretch also depends on the power of the saw and the hardness of the wood.

I can really only speak about my experience with 3/8 (0.063) regular and 3/8 (0.050) Lopro in hardwoods.
3/8 Lopro generates about a 20% smaller kerf than regular 3/8 but the limit is around 25-28" on a 70cc saw. AS member Mtngun used Lopro on a 36" bar with a 660 in softwood.

Another problem with the 1/4" chain on a long bar will be sawdust clearance. Those little teeth simply cannot pull out much sawdust.

To try it out, unless you can find a hardnose bar, you will need to find a 28" bar with 1/4" pitch sprocket and the right gauge. You will also need to find a 1/4" drive sprocket.
Hmmm, good info as always Bob. Well, I could try it on the 20" bar since length is of concern. I'd really like the 1/4" chain in a full skip format so chip removal is not an issue at all then. I don't know if any 1/4" drive sprockets are available for the cs-590/600 series from Echo or what would otherwise fit if it is a more generic part. And where to get that chain too. Another option too Bob might be to try this on my 42 cc Poulan with 18" bar if that worked better. - Paul
 
Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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I have had good luck with just standard chain and BobL's lowered rakers. If I get em just right the saw really does feed it self. Very minimal effort pushing. Useing that method I'm not so worried about burning up a smaller saw. I can just let it do what I will do and not force it through the cut. That way I'm not worried about burning up my lil homie.
YES, my first try with the progressive raker angles is the little cs-310. It really helped to make that milling capable, and I was pretty amazed how well it worked once I did that to the rakers. It will bog down in the cut if pushed into it too much (whereas my 60 or 80 cc saws don't really care), but if just left alone to turn fast and gradually move, it will mill just fine and maintain good chain speed. I used it to mill some little pieces of the Black Locust, which is known to be really hard to mill. Sparks often fly milling it! The high speed of the little echo could mill 4-6" dia pieces just fine! And with a normal chain on it, not ripping chain yet till I grind the cutters to be that way! I'm now convinced of the progressive raker approach and will be using that from now on on all my saws as I regrind them with use.

You raise one more good point. I think for the little saws, I give them a break for a couple minutes after each longer cut to keep the temperatures down for them. Overheating them is the concern, where for the large milling saws, they are used to the hard work and power generated so don't notice you happen to be using them to do milling for awhile so much. The little saws are like, "OH, THIS is a bit different than my normal job. OK, let's see how this goes!" I think I would *always* muffler mod a smaller saw for milling use to help get the heat out better. Mine are muffler modded. Made at least a 15-20% difference in function for both the cs-310 echo and the 42 cc Poulan saws once modded and milling with them. - Paul
 
Blisters

Blisters

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YES, my first try with the progressive raker angles is the little cs-310. It really helped to make that milling capable, and I was pretty amazed how well it worked once I did that to the rakers. It will bog down in the cut if pushed into it too much (whereas my 60 or 80 cc saws don't really care), but if just left alone to turn fast and gradually move, it will mill just fine and maintain good chain speed. I used it to mill some little pieces of the Black Locust, which is known to be really hard to mill. Sparks often fly milling it! The high speed of the little echo could mill 4-6" dia pieces just fine! And with a normal chain on it, not ripping chain yet till I grind the cutters to be that way! I'm now convinced of the progressive raker approach and will be using that from now on on all my saws as I regrind them with use.

You raise one more good point. I think for the little saws, I give them a break for a couple minutes after each longer cut to keep the temperatures down for them. Overheating them is the concern, where for the large milling saws, they are used to the hard work and power generated so don't notice you happen to be using them to do milling for awhile so much. The little saws are like, "OH, THIS is a bit different than my normal job. OK, let's see how this goes!" I think I would *always* muffler mod a smaller saw for milling use to help get the heat out better. Mine are muffler modded. Made at least a 15-20% difference in function for both the cs-310 echo and the 42 cc Poulan saws once modded and milling with them. - Paul
One thing about a muffler mod. You need to make very sure that you are still running rich enough on the high side. I richen it till it stutters then back off till I know it's only 4 strokeing. Getting the heat out is good but if your not rich enough you still can burn it up.
 
Pauls_Workshop

Pauls_Workshop

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Hmmm, good info as always Bob. Well, I could try it on the 20" bar since length is of concern. I'd really like the 1/4" chain in a full skip format so chip removal is not an issue at all then. I don't know if any 1/4" drive sprockets are available for the cs-590/600 series from Echo or what would otherwise fit if it is a more generic part. And where to get that chain too. - Paul
One thing about a muffler mod. You need to make very sure that you are still running rich enough on the high side. I richen it till it stutters then back off till I know it's only 4 strokeing. Getting the heat out is good but if your not rich enough you still can burn it up.
Oh yes, any muffler mod needs a retune for sure. Didn't say that but that was implied. Yes, will lean out the saw without a retune richer afterwards. - Paul
 
rarefish383

rarefish383

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I used my Echo 305 with 14" bar to split a Black Locust log in half, to make a bench for our campfire, for the Boy Scouts. I always have a saw on the truck. I had recently found my old Haddon Lumber Maker and tossed it on the back of the truck. Some other patrols were dragging logs up to sit on. I sent a couple of our boys on a mission to find a 2X4. We split the log in half, cut 2 24" lengths to notch, and set the main half log in the notches. We had the coolest bench in camp, Joe.
 
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