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Starting Chainsaw milling

Discussion in 'Milling & Saw Mills' started by goncalo alves, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    I can't believe I joined this forum over 10 years ago. I've been wanting to chainsaw mill for at least that long, just purchased a new 3120xp from another forum member and I'm preparing for my first cuts.

    I was thinking of purchasing this but it seems awfully expensive, is the package price worth it? It looks like this comes with bar/chain and the Alaskan mill:

    https://www.baileysonline.com/granberg-mkiv-complete-alaskan-chainsaw-mill-kit-46787p.html

    Are there other suggestions to help direct me? We have 3 trees dropped on my grandparents land and I want to get to them in the next 2-4 weeks.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Brent Nowell

    Brent Nowell ArboristSite Guru

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    I would highly suggest starting with just the Alaskan mkiv first and go from there.
    One side of a cheap Werner extension ladder, some 5/8” shins for the ladder made of plywood, and finally some 2x3’s to hold the ladder up on the ends. Drill holes in rungs and use washers and screws to secure it to your tree. Use the 2x3’s on the ends of your cuts if the tree has a bow in it to hold it up and shim appropriately to support the mid section of the ladder. You don’t want it to bow.

    Get an Oregon milling chain to start out and sharpen it getting yourself a nice gullet. Turns the oiler to max and give it a shot making sure you calculate the thickness of your ladder and depth of your screws into your cut.

    Practice and practice and you will see and learn what you need to do differently each time. The goal, imo, is to have a slab cut with the least amount of planer work required. Removing even 1/8 of material on a slab is a serious chore for even the best hand planer imo.

    I would start with a 36” bar personally as it is manageable with just yourself. Once you get the hang of it and understand better as to what you are doing you will maybe want to invest more money in things. Such as a longer bar, aux oiler, and hand helper for the end. With 36” even my 395 oils adequately.
    If you find the chain is smoking it’s not a lack of oil, it’s a lack of a sharp chain.
    10 degree angle is the minimum you want for milling, the lower you go the smoother the finish, also the harder the saw has to work and the more sharp it must be. I use 5 degree angle myself.
    Cutter length is important for finish, you want them all the same for milling.

    Your gonna find to do a good job you really need to have a very good understanding of the following things;

    Chainsaw maintenance
    Felling technique
    Chain sharpening

    If you don’t you will learn the hard way that costs money, but sometimes that’s just the way things are and there’s no shame in it :)

    Good luck my friend, check out floweringelbow on YouTube
     
  3. Leeroy

    Leeroy ArboristSite Guru

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    Don't forget to read up on a richer gas mix and tuning it rich as well.
    Just heard yesterday of a friends relative 880 seizing twice. The friend is pretty sure he did not change tune or mix ratio.
     
    goncalo alves and CatMan Fetters like this.
  4. csmillingnoob

    csmillingnoob ArboristSite Member

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    Adding to what Brent said

    semi-sharp wont work
    . Sharpen after every tank of gas especially when milling hardwoods. Touch up rakers after every third tank or have multiple chains and change after every third cut. Skip chain cuts the sharpening time in half. Stump vise? Board and Bench vise? Best: Learn to sharpen while mounted in the mill. Fine tune to perfection at the end of the day or next morning. Metal Detector" Use it between cuts if you have it. Chains ain't cheap. Neither is your grinding/heavy sharpening time. Sometimes, that old nail doesn't show up until your fourth slab.

    Fight the urge. You will be tempted to seesaw. Don't! Seesawing cuts a ragged, uneven surface.

    Easy with the wedges. Use wedges, but don't drive them in hard. Just a tap with your hand. If you wedge to0 hard, the face of the plank splits while you are cutting thereby leaving a fuzzy cut.

    Counterweight?: Not necessary, but a counterweight near the same weight as your powerhead can help keep the end of your bar from rising up. I use an old railroad plate (from an abandoned private line that can't be used). Fight the urge to exert downward pressure on the powerhead. Push it with your hip/knee.

    Gravity is your friend. Elevate one end of the log so you are always cutting downhill. Cheap log lifter if you don't have better is a wide board and a 3 ton floor jack. I jack mine up about 18 inchs to insert a piece of log about 16 inches in diameter under the log. wedge to prevent role. Look for the video by BobL where his saw is self feeding because of his slope. Heck, look for every BobL post.

    Vibration is your enemy. Wear gloves. Buy styrofoam insulation tubes of appropriate interior diameter to install on the round top rail. You will be grabbing/pushing on it. Make sure all mill bolts are tight. They will rattle off if not.

    Run the saw a minute or five when you finish your cut. Cool that baby down before you shut it down!

    Have a Moving and drying plan. Okay, you have cut your first usable slab. What'cha gonna do with it? Dump it to the side and keep cutting?
    You gonna stack it there beside the log to air dry or are you gonna haul it elsewhere? If drying in place, build a level, well supported drying frame before you make your first cut. I usually build mine about six feet parallel to the log on the off-cutting side. Green slabs are heavy. Do you have a helper? If not, maybe cut that distance to six feet if wide heavy slabs. You can rotate the slab on the top of the log then push the slab onto the drying platform. If hauling off, slide the slab onto your truck up after each cut. Either way, clear your workspace. Your Drying Plan is as important as your cutting plan. Why cut a bunch of beautiful slabs only to have them bow, split, cup or mold? Get them stickered, weighted, shaded and drying by the end of the cutting day. One day in our South Georgia summer sun can cause a quarter inch cup! A few days does awful things as I learned on my first log. Buy a moisture meter.

    Fine dust: Even with a sharp chain, you will produce some fine dust mixed in with the chunks. Check your filter more frequently than you would when crosscutting. Why not do it every tank? keep a soft brush

    REST: You and your saw. It's hard work. Most mistakes and accidents happen when you are tired. Take rest breaks. Sharpen in the shade. Drink fluids. De-hydration makes you stupid. Don't say "just one more cut" when you are dog tired. Your saw may need the rest too.

    Brent is Right: Don't start with a huge bar. 36 will cut a 30 inch log (barely). That's a pretty big log. Also, your 3120 should oil it adequately without needing to add an auxilliary oiler immediately (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong here). There is a big difference in the "feel" between a 36 and a 42 inch bar. Sure, you want a huge bar so you can cut a 48" log on your mill - but how many logs do you see that are that big?

    Leeroy is right too: Run it rich (for cooling) and tune it to the mixture. It's a big, tough saw but milling is a tough job.

    Have fun: It's hard work. Planning is more fun than cutting. If the fun doesn't outweigh the difficulty, I'm interested in a li;)ghtly used 3120.


     
  5. BobL

    BobL No longer addicted to AS

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    "Tuning to the mixture" and "running rich" are not mutually exclusive.
    The correct way to approach this is to say, " tuning should be on the rich side"
    Ie Whatever mix is used, start out by tuning the saw correctly, and then adjust the H screw on the carry so as to drop the MAX rpm by several hundred. This makes the mix/air ratio on the rich side.
    The problem with the 3120s is they have no H screw on the carry to be able to do this. For milling this is not a problem as these saws have a governor to liming max RPM and come stock with as slightly rich carby setting.
    One issue with these saws is minor muffler mods cannot be accommodated for by any H screw adjustment and may require replacement of the main carby jet.
     
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  6. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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  7. csmillingnoob

    csmillingnoob ArboristSite Member

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    Buy a mill. Learn it. Learn what you like and don't like. Then, build a mill with knowledge.

    The Chin ersatz Granberg mills aren't as expensive ( or as durable). Use it to figure out how to make a nose oiler, if you want rollers, bar clamps or bolts, winch, counterweight, etc etc.
     
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  8. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    If everyone suggests purchasing the Alaskan MKIV to start, along with bar/chains...do we have suggested vendors?
     
  9. BobL

    BobL No longer addicted to AS

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    A lot of folks confuse the gas/oil ratio in the mix with saw tuning, which determines the gas/air ratio in use by the saw.

    A saw is ideally tuned using a tacho by adjusting the H screw on a carby to a manufacturers recommended max RPM. At this H-screw setting the saw has the optimum gas/air ratio under load. If the max RPMs are increased using the H-screw saw will run lean and overheat - a real danger for milling. If the RPMs are reduced the saw will run rich - this is fine for milling.

    Now let's say you change your mix (gas/oil) and instead of 50:1 you mix a 25:1. What this means is the saw now sucks less gas and more oil relative to air. If the same H-screw setting is used for the 25:1 as the 50:1 the saw will now run lean (same air but less gas) and so the saw should be retuned to the new mix. The confusion comes in that some folks thing that making the mix more oil rich makes the gas/air ratio rich whereas it makes the saw run lean.

    This matters very little on a 3120 as the carby has no H-screw and is set permanently sightly rich to start with.
     
  10. Brent Nowell

    Brent Nowell ArboristSite Guru

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    Bob

    Do you mean to set it at max engine speed under load or not under load?

    And you do mean max rpm and not max power rpm?

    This might sound tedious but I have a tach on my saw and I would love to know exactly what you mean
     
  11. BobL

    BobL No longer addicted to AS

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    The only load should be with the B&C on that you are going to use.

    Yes - It's the manufacturers recommended MAX rpm ie wide open throttle.
     
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  12. Brent Nowell

    Brent Nowell ArboristSite Guru

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    Believe it or not but I have been looking for clarification on tuning by rpm for quite some time. Thank you very much!!!
     
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  13. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    Great info, thanks! I'll post some pics as I test/get everything assembled. Expect to slice a few trees up at the end of the month.
     
  14. Lutty440

    Lutty440 ArboristSite Member

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  15. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    Thanks for the vid Lutty, I've seen that vid before but I was impatient and kept skipping sections. It was fun watching him with the set-up, makes sense how he went about it.

    Do we have preferred vendors for bars/chains/Alaskan MKIV purchases?

    I see NorthernTool and ChainsawsDirect when I do a search for the Granberg mill. Anyone had experience with them? Going to try and purchase bar, chain and mill from the same retailer. Need to place the order soon so I receive it at least a week before I drive over to the family farm.
     
  16. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    Alright, I'm changing it up. I'll order the Alaskan MKIV from a separate retailer. Because I'm new to this world, anyone have a link or suggestion for a good 42" or 48" bar and chain? I've seen people suggest rip chain, chisel skip, Stihl 63PMX ripping chain, etc.

    I received the 3120xp with a .404 on it. I'm completely new to this so any help is greatly appreciated
     
  17. buttercup

    buttercup Major General Fool

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    That's a good idea :yes:
    That's about 10* degree cutting surface instead of 30* like a cut/fell chain o_O

    You know an interesting fact is that when cutting Aramid (kevlar fiber) with a scissor if it's sharpened with an angle (like scissors usually are) it wont cut, but if you grind your scissors cutting edge at 0* (plain flat) it cuts like butter...
     
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  18. goncalo alves

    goncalo alves ArboristSite Lurker

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    thanks for that buttercup, so I guess I need kevlar pants ground at 10 degrees, so at least one of the meeting surfaces is at a steep enough angle to prevent an accident :)

    But seriously, we have three logs on the ground, the widest is about 32.5" in diameter. Should I go ahead and make the jump to the 48" Alaskan and get a 42" bar to accommodate? Or should I stick with the 36" Alaskan with 36" bar? It looks incredibly close from the specs that I see on that mill.

    Does this work with my saw? I'm uncomfortably uninformed. so I need some guidance:

    https://www.baileysonline.com/orego...35-drive-links-423rndd009-orf-423rndd009.html

    https://www.baileysonline.com/woodlandpro-63rp-chainsaw-chain-per-drive-link-wp365-63rp.html

    Order 135 drive links for the bar/chain above? What are the critical measurements when buying a separate bar and chain. Again, i've only used hobby saws owned by others.
     
  19. Mad Professor

    Mad Professor Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You might also connsider a water drip system for the bar. Keeping bar and chain cool will make them last longer.
     
  20. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Seems to me that newer guys say go with ripping chain and older guys say stick with standard chain, there is not much difference in cut or speed. I've seen guys post pics they made with ripping chain and my cuts with out of the box Stihl chain are better. A smooth cut has more to do with style and skill, as what chain. I like to be able to walk up to a tree with my 36" bar on the saw, drop it, put the mill on the saw, and start milling, with out changing chains. Just me. I also like to cut firewood with out having to change chains. If I had it to do over I would have gotten my 660 with .404. My 36 and 45" Homelites have .404 and they seem to take more abuse than 3/8's. If I hit a piece of fence wire with the 404 it clips the wire off with one tooth and you can't tell the difference. If I hit the same piece of wire with the 3/8's it seems to wipe out the whole chain. The way I first found that out is I wiped out the 660 chain and didn't want to sharpen it, or have an extra chain. So, I put one of the Homelites on the mill and hit the same piece of fence on the next cut, didn't faze it. Did my standard touch up after 3 slabs, all was good. The 660 also spins up almost twice as fast as the Super 1050, so that might be a factor in wiping out the whole chain versus just a tooth or two.

    If it sounds strange that I didn't want to sharpen the 660 after I hit wire, but did do my regular touch up on the Super 1050 after hitting the same wire, there is a big difference. The 3/8's chain had missing edges and the top plate was rounded and buggered. The .404 chain was basically sharp and only need a couple strokes to return to milling condition. The few teeth that actually hit the wire needed a little more doctoring. Big difference in the damage done to the two chains.
     

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