Advice on chainsaw mill for a gift

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WhiteMike

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My father in law was a long time logger until a widow maker split his back open and nearly killed him. Now he’s a very talented carpenter. He helped me build an 8 cord woodshed over the weekend and I want to get him something to show my appreciation. He has some property that he wants to build a house on and brought up how he wants to mill his own lumber using a chainsaw, said he saw a mill for around 40 bucks on Amazon. So I’m thinking I’d like to get him a proper one if I can get one for a couple hundred bucks or so
 
First the “Listed Size” of a CSM is the length of the mill’s frame rails, NOT the size of the log that it can mill. The bar clamps will typically reduce the available milling width by about 2.5-3”. Typically a 36” mill, will measure about 33.5” between the bar clamp faces. You will typically want a couple extra inches more than the largest diameter log you expect to mill, many find it more comfortable to mill, with one end, usually the bar end, leading, that angle will burn up some mill length, and any bumps, knots or irregular shapes can cause a point of the log to be a bit wider, the mill still needs to be able to clear any remaining

Second, you will need a bar and chain (B&C) 4-6” longer than your mill to get the maximum milling width from your mill, taking off the felling dawgs can gain you a little, but you will also lose a few inches at the sprocket end, you need to inset the nose end clamp enough to not crush the bar nose sprocket ⚙️

As far as the powerhead goes Bigger is usually Better, 90-100cc and larger is usually preferred, unless you are milling some pretty small logs, but it sounds like he is likely to have, and/or at least understand larger saws

I have heard mixed reviews on the cheap Chinese knock off mills. I have Granberg mills, and I have been very Happy with the Quality of their mills, and their customer service is Excellent, and parts are readily available. If you buy say a 36” Granberg, and need to step up to a larger size, you can order longer rails, and reuse the rest of the components. If using longer rails, you may want to also order an extra cross member or two, depending on how much longer you are going, it will help stiffen the mill, and they are readily available, and reasonably inexpensive. A good guide, would be to look at Granberg’s website, and see if the size mill you’re upgrading to comes with any extra cross members

I have been Happy with Granberg’s Quality and Service, and have felt that they were worth the little extra expense compared to the knock offs, but that decision is yours

CSM isn’t designed for production milling, it is slow, for large volumes of lumber, portable bandsaw mills are better suited, but MUCH more expensive

CSM really shines for low volume, niche production, such as milling large logs, especially for dining table size projects, band mills in the size class to mill double live edge slabs 36” and greater in width are ridiculously expensive, especially for low volume work

Be Warned CSM’ing can be addictive, and it can be very enjoyable and rewarding.

This site has a lot information available, and many members who are Happy to share their experience and knowledge

Good Luck, and stay SAFE


Doug 😎
 
Oh, another thought, seeing that he is wanting to do lumber, the Granberg G555 edging mill, formerly known as the “Mini Mill” would be an excellent and useful companion tool to use with a Granberg mill

Also, the older G776 mills with the Cast brackets are good, and some New Old Stock(NOS) is still out there, the newer G778 mills with the CNC brackets are much preferable, so watch for that, when comparing mills/prices


Doug 😎
 
Thanks for your info Doug. I’ve had my eye on the granberg Alaskan mill and watching videos for it, unless I’m missing something, is that mainly just used to mill larger slabs like you mentioned, and not dimensional lumber? Are you suggesting the Alaskan mill for slabs and then the G555 to mill the slabs into dimensional lumber?
 
Thanks for your info Doug. I’ve had my eye on the granberg Alaskan mill and watching videos for it, unless I’m missing something, is that mainly just used to mill larger slabs like you mentioned, and not dimensional lumber? Are you suggesting the Alaskan mill for slabs and then the G555 to mill the slabs into dimensional lumber?

The edging mill has many uses, by using the edging mill before the CSM, you can square up one or both sides of your logs, that will give the G776/778 a smooth surface to guide on, and reduce the width of your cut, which is easier on the power head, is faster to mill a narrower “Cant”, less cutting width keeps your chain sharp longer

By making several parallel vertical cuts not quite through the log, you can create multiple dimensional pieces of lumber with each pass of the CSM

CSM’s aren’t really designed for producing dimensional lumber, but as I mentioned, there are ways to do it

If you have a table or band saw available, use the edging mill, to get a straight side on your log, then slab it with the CSM, again that gives the CSM a smooth guide surface, and a straight edge to cut dimensional lumber against the fence on the Table or band saw, that would be much faster, efficient, and less loss in the kerf of your dimensional cuts. If you have access to a table or bandsaw, use each of the tools to best of their advantages


Doug 😎
 
Mike, yes, the CSM’s strength is in reducing large logs into more manageable sizes, but with the edging mill as a companion, creating dimensional lumber is doable.

The name “Alaskan Mill “ is in reference to the original use intended for the CSM’s , producing lumber in the back country, where lumber was needed, but a proper mill wasn’t available

Dimensional Lumber CAN be made with a CSM, but it is a slow process, any additional tools will make the process Faster, more Efficient, and more Enjoyable 😉

As I mentioned CSMing is Enjoyable and can be addictive, but using tools best suited for a project, just increases all those factors


Doug 😎
 
Mike, just curious what part of the panhandle are you in?

We have close Family Friends in the Post Fall, CDA, Athol area. I have been a truck driver for over 35 years, and spent a LOT of it in the Spokane/CDA area, down to Lewiston and up to Sand Point and Bonners Ferry.

Beautiful Country out there



Doug 😎
 
Thanks for your info Doug. I’ve had my eye on the granberg Alaskan mill and watching videos for it, unless I’m missing something, is that mainly just used to mill larger slabs like you mentioned, and not dimensional lumber? Are you suggesting the Alaskan mill for slabs and then the G555 to mill the slabs into dimensional lumber?

It is a multi step process, use the CSM to create a flat surface for the edging mill, then you can square up one side with the edging mill, then make parallel vertical cuts deep into, but not clear through the log with the edging mill, then when you make your next passes with the CSM, instead of getting wide, solid slabs, you get your dimensional lumber

When you rough cut your lumber, remember to leave some extra “meat” on your boards, if you are going to plane and/or sand your boards, unless you are going to use them in the rough cut form, then cut to size


Doug 😎
 
Thanks again for the info Doug. I’m in Athol. Wife’s family is from the St Joe river area. Her dad is from Avery, that’s where he logged prior to the accident. All over the river from up past Avery and down to St Marie’s where most of the saw logs get taken to the potlatch mill. He Has property in priest river where he plans on using a mill to start slowly building a cabin. As you probably know, Douglas fir and larch is the most desireable timber around here where the butts on the mature trees can be up to 30” but there is also a lot of lodge pole and ponderosa on his property . It sounded like he was planning on milling the smaller timber starting out, so assuming I can get him a 30” mill that will handle the bigger timber eventually but will still be manageable for the smaller stuff ?
 
Thanks again for the info Doug. I’m in Athol. Wife’s family is from the St Joe river area. Her dad is from Avery, that’s where he logged prior to the accident. All over the river from up past Avery and down to St Marie’s where most of the saw logs get taken to the potlatch mill. He Has property in priest river where he plans on using a mill to start slowly building a cabin. As you probably know, Douglas fir and larch is the most desireable timber around here where the butts on the mature trees can be up to 30” but there is also a lot of lodge pole and ponderosa on his property . It sounded like he was planning on milling the smaller timber starting out, so assuming I can get him a 30” mill that will handle the bigger timber eventually but will still be manageable for the smaller stuff ?

Mike, if he is going to be milling any 30” logs, definitely get the 36” Granberg. The price difference between the two is negligible, and I doubt that he would notice the difference handling the 36”, over the 30”.

I have use both 36” and 48” Granberg mills, even the 48” isn’t that much more to handle than the 36”

I also have the 24” single end ( power head end) small log mill, but I haven’t used it yet, the 36” and 48” mills have been the best choices, on what I have milled so far. I also have rails and bars for 60” and 72” mills as well, but I haven’t had a need for them yet, but eventually, I want to try building double live edge dining tables, as an income hobby. Unfortunately, right now, I have neither the TIME, nor the work space for that endeavor, but it is something that I look forward to trying

IMG_8989.jpeg
IMG_0159.jpeg
This was a tree a Friend of my Wife, had taken down,
Mary called my Wife and told her that she had a Spruce about 40’ tall taken down, and asked if we wanted it for firewood. We got there, uhm Mary, that tree was closer to 40” in Diameter, than it was to 40’ Tall 🙄 For some reason, this one log just kept whispering to me, “I’m not just Firewood 🪵 “. I hadn’t had the mills out in too long, didn’t have anything specific in mind for it, just milled it for the simple enjoyment of milling it

IMG_0201.jpeg
This was a spur of the moment thing, really too wide to be a bench, and too low to be a table, but it just seemed to fit in this spot in Mary’s yard, and she was really tickled when she saw it

IMG_0561.jpeg
This monster was in the neighbor’s front yard, across the street, and what prompted me to get the longer bars when I did. He ended up getting an offer on the trunk below the crotch, so I didn’t get to give that beast a try, but he gave me pretty much the rest of the tree, and has given us quite a bit of other wood in the past, and is a Great neighbor, so no big deal, not really sure that I was ready for that yet anyway

IMG_0504.jpeg
This ISN’T my work, but a table that we had that inspired my interest in CSM

IMG_3306.jpeg
This is my 3120XP, with my 44” bar mounted, set up in my 48” mill, this kind of shows how you need about 6” more bar, than the listed size of a mill, to maximize the capacity of your mill

IMG_2473.jpeg
This is my 60” bar mounted on my 3120XP.
The 3120 balances really nicely with my 36” bars mounted, the 44” is a bit nose heavy but not bad, still very manageable, I expected the 60” to be very nose heavy, but I was still Surprised at just how nose heavy it is. I haven’t even tried to mount the 72” bar yet, I can only imagine how nose heavy that behemoth will be

I use Granberg’s EZ Rails for the first, and the rest of the cuts, I get better results and it is a lot easier to start the cuts with the rails supporting the mill and saw

The EZ-Rails support the saw and mill, so once the mill and saw are on the rails, you don’t notice the weight of the saw, and the difference in handling the 36” and 48” mills isn’t very noticeable, which is why I would recommend getting the 36” mill instead of the 30”

My thoughts, your Money😉, but you are getting this for a very experienced sawyer, so I can’t imagine that he would have any trouble with the 36” mill, but it would be much more versatile



Doug 😎
 
Dang! Heal quickly. Just bought a new pair of cloggers to replace my stihl chaps. Expensive, but breathable and much easier to move in compared to the chaps.

Mike, if he is going to be milling any 30” logs, definitely get the 36” Granberg. The price difference between the two is negligible, and I doubt that he would notice the difference handling the 36”, over the 30”.

I have use both 36” and 48” Granberg mills, even the 48” isn’t that much more to handle than the 36”

I also have the 24” single end ( power head end) small log mill, but I haven’t used it yet, the 36” and 48” mills have been the best choices, on what I have milled so far. I also have rails and bars for 60” and 72” mills as well, but I haven’t had a need for them yet, but eventually, I want to try building double live edge dining tables, as an income hobby. Unfortunately, right now, I have neither the TIME, nor the work space for that endeavor, but it is something that I look forward to trying

View attachment 1118867
View attachment 1118866
This was a tree a Friend of my Wife, had taken down,
Mary called my Wife and told her that she had a Spruce about 40’ tall taken down, and asked if we wanted it for firewood. We got there, uhm Mary, that tree was closer to 40” in Diameter, than it was to 40’ Tall 🙄 For some reason, this one log just kept whispering to me, “I’m not just Firewood 🪵 “. I hadn’t had the mills out in too long, didn’t have anything specific in mind for it, just milled it for the simple enjoyment of milling it

View attachment 1118865
This was a spur of the moment thing, really too wide to be a bench, and too low to be a table, but it just seemed to fit in this spot in Mary’s yard, and she was really tickled when she saw it

View attachment 1118868
This monster was in the neighbor’s front yard, across the street, and what prompted me to get the longer bars when I did. He ended up getting an offer on the trunk below the crotch, so I didn’t get to give that beast a try, but he gave me pretty much the rest of the tree, and has given us quite a bit of other wood in the past, and is a Great neighbor, so no big deal, not really sure that I was ready for that yet anyway

View attachment 1118869
This ISN’T my work, but a table that we had that inspired my interest in CSM

View attachment 1118870
This is my 3120XP, with my 44” bar mounted, set up in my 48” mill, this kind of shows how you need about 6” more bar, than the listed size of a mill, to maximize the capacity of your mill

View attachment 1118871
This is my 60” bar mounted on my 3120XP.
The 3120 balances really nicely with my 36” bars mounted, the 44” is a bit nose heavy but not bad, still very manageable, I expected the 60” to be very nose heavy, but I was still Surprised at just how nose heavy it is. I haven’t even tried to mount the 72” bar yet, I can only imagine how nose heavy that behemoth will be

I use Granberg’s EZ Rails for the first, and the rest of the cuts, I get better results and it is a lot easier to start the cuts with the rails supporting the mill and saw

The EZ-Rails support the saw and mill, so once the mill and saw are on the rails, you don’t notice the weight of the saw, and the difference in handling the 36” and 48” mills isn’t very noticeable, which is why I would recommend getting the 36” mill instead of the 30”

My thoughts, your Money😉, but you are getting this for a very experienced sawyer, so I can’t imagine that he would have any trouble with the 36” mill, but it would be much more versatile



Doug 😎

Wow that’s beautiful. I’ve settled on the 36” mill. Did you order yours straight from granberg or a shop like baileys? Just trying to find the best price. I see it on Amazon for a lot cheaper but it’s probably a Chinese knock off even though the granberg advertising looks legit
 
Wow that’s beautiful. I’ve settled on the 36” mill. Did you order yours straight from granberg or a shop like baileys? Just trying to find the best price. I see it on Amazon for a lot cheaper but it’s probably a Chinese knock off even though the granberg advertising looks legit

IIRC, I ordered most of my milling equipment from Power Equipment Direct, but it has been a few years, they had the best prices that I found at the time

I have ordered add ons, and replacement parts directly from Granberg, and they have always been great to work with, I have even gotten a LIVE Person on the phone to clarify some questions, they knew their product, and what they were talking about, and No Accent, I could actually understand them, they definitely remember Old School Customer Service in my experience

Nope, not on the payroll, I have just had Good experiences with their products and customer service


Doug 😎
 
Will Malloff
Lumber Making
Your already in so get the book for him.

Cheap mills need to be machined and squared up most times. I have two of those. Still haven't used my G555 but will need it soon this fall. I run upto a 60" but most things are done with a 4ft mill frame and 36-42" bars. The big dog has been out this past week eating a bit. Getting back into the local larger logs here again.20231012_181209.jpg20231012_191052.jpg20231012_181220.jpg20231012_181214.jpg20231012_154458.jpg
 
DO NOT give a chainsaw mill as a gift!

Semotony gave me one a few years ago, and I got so hooked I have since spent over $20,000 on a Woodmizer sawmill and related equipment!!! I’m having so much fun with it that my wife is jealous.

Darn you, Tony!!!

😅😅😅😅
 
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