Preparation for first milling

HumBurner

HumBurner

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Well, I finally took the plunge. I bought a G555B, followed by a 36" Alaskan MKIV since they recently became available again. I have a small log mill on backorder but am thinking about cancelling it.

I live on a handful of acres out in the hills. I've slowly been chipping away at a fuel reduction and oak meadow rescue project, with one to three more years of initial/priority thinning and removal, with follow-up after that.....unless the roads slip out! There's no shortage of wood, plus I have dozens of properties I can harvest wood from.

At this point, this is ultimately a learning experience. I'm not attached to liking CSM'ing but am very into the idea of it. I love trees, I love saws. Seems natural. Second, I don't anticipate breaking even or ahead on what lumber would cost, even at the inflated rate it has grown. Further, I accept from reading through 28 pages of threads in this subforum, so far, that making much of the dimensional lumber I'm aiming to is less efficient and possibly verging on torturous for some; Im a glutton for punishment.

So, I'll start with gear:

G555B
36" Alaskan MKIV
.063 bars
- chains are still in the works. Torn between springing for ripping or using round semi-chisel. Either way I'll have to buy some loops, possibly a roll if semi
390xp
372xp (unopened; thinking of having it ported and muffler opened)
Peavey
Rock bars
Wedges
All safety gear needed
Working on acquiring clamps, levels, squares, winch setup, and other things

Project ideas for the end product:

Slabs to replace rotting garden bed boards
Fire hose boxes
Compost bins
4-5'x3-4' Tool/garden shed
Small cold frame/hot house
Outdoor work bench

More ideas come.


My biggest log currently to mill was a dead standing Doug fir. No heart rot. Lots of trees are dying in this zone without obvious signs as to why. From a 26" Dia slightly oval, 112" log, thick barked, I'm hoping to get 9.5"x16.5"x8'. This is not accounting for waste from the mill, nor the bottom of the log (it will remain on the ground) while also being generous on the low end of potential board feet.

Most of the other logs are 10-22" at butt cut. Most are on inclines, though gravity favors the top ends of the trees, not the butts, on most of them. Almost entirely Doug fir is being milled at this time.

Another downside is I have lots of trees already processed and waiting, with time as a limiting factor. All trees will be milled as much in place as possible. Logs may or may not have to be bucked into sections depending on their orientation. Multiple logs are spanning shallowish draws (none more than a foot or two deep.)
I'm adept at moving and lifting logs with my body, so I have that advantage.



I'll continue to update this as things progress and thoughts arise. I'll keep chugging through threads as time allows. Possibly I'll get some photos uploaded of the "work area."

Cheers!
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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Yes, stickers are indeed on the list.

I'm not sure howw much will end up sitting around. With everything going on, it's likely I'll mill a day then build the next day. Regardless, I'll be picking up a hundred or three stickers just in case.

Also wanted to include that in safety equipment is a 5 gallon piss pump. As I will be working in meadow\forest with primed fuels all around, it will be there just in case something gets too hot and ignites.


I made the decision to cancel the small log mill. After further reading, it seems redundant with little overall gain compared to the mkIV.

Ordered a 24" bar and 6 loops of ripping chain, as well as 3 loops of 32". Now I have to figure out who I know with working drill press, or I'll have to take some beers to the local saw shop one day and have them drill the tips.


I took some photos, but it will be a few days before I can upload them.

I'm also leaning towards just using the 390xp for now and hoping it has enough life left in it.


I read Malloff's book. While it has lots of good information, I was pretty disappointed. He spends half the book or more treating the reader like they have no knowledge of anything, then gives no information on why one might cut lumber in different ways, structural differences, etc. If one doesn't know how to cut a tree, they should probably learn that before even thinking of making lumber.

Thankfully my builder buddy is going to lend me some books of relevancy.


I think this is all for now. Trying to ready myself for other chores and tasks, widdling away at them before I can start milling.


Cheers!
 
Mad Professor

Mad Professor

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Learning how to open up a log and process the slabs/flitches is a learning curve. If there are portable mills nearby you might ask to watch them or volunteer to stack for a day to see someone with experience make some lumber.

I learned the hard way, worked about a year at a big circle mill when I ran out of money for college. I started out as a grunt/stacker and by the time I left I was the "edger" who processed all the stuff as it came off the big saw.
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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Considering how many times I’ve seen you say something similar in other threads in 44pages so far, I’ll take it to heart.

I do have a connection but it’s a drive, and there’s a chance he’ll be going out on fires here soon. But at some point I will make contact with him and see how he does things.

Some photos of the site:

2F73C7C7-2D55-4A9B-B89C-DAAF71B5B69D.jpegADA34150-9084-445B-901D-7AB52A5D79A9.jpegE61F08DE-C27E-4777-91DE-242F22E8C100.jpeg1A8C1750-5DCA-4683-9A6B-D30ECEE7EE95.jpegEBCEB20C-6065-4FE2-AFAA-9005F46DDD1E.jpegCFCCF7F1-69BC-4DC6-B48B-0A52E27E2BE8.jpegF2FD8BB3-AE50-48FC-938D-D89C965DA887.jpeg1AB1C197-23E0-4D42-9446-FFBEEA9FB5B4.jpeg4FE75348-2300-46E4-922E-2500015474AB.jpeg

the last two are of the dead-standing fir. Not expecting the highest quality of lumber, so most of that will probably be for the raised bed replacement.

I’ve had a lot of ideas over the last few days and have tons more reading and planning ahead. And we got rain, thankfully, so there will be even more weed whacking to do first!

Cheers!
 

J D

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Use the slope to your advantage & mill down hill so you have gravity assist.
De-bark before milling if you can but not too many weeks in advance.
I mill with a 390XP up to 36" & it does alright. Run extra oil & tune a bit rich & the saw will appreciate it. The 390 will handle full comp on a 36" bar but I find it cuts & finishes better with a Granberg style chain (I made my own with a grinder in a drill press jig). Proper sharpening really makes all the difference!
 
Mad Professor

Mad Professor

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One other thing you'll need once you start making some good lumber is end sealer/anchorseal. Depending on species end checks will happen.

Seal your logs up as soon as you buck them. If you trim boards or cants seal them too.
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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Well, it's finally about to happen.

I've spent the last day getting the MKIV and the edging mill assembled and in order,as well as skinning some logs and dropping another dead fir with some sound, usable wood in the trunk in the milling zone, on top of some of the other logs. Bonus for the height.

The 390 is in order, sans richening the carb. Thinking I'll break the 372 in doing some shorter edging cuts and bucking rounds of unusable trunk sections.

Gonna do some measurements in the morning and start milling before it warms up.

We had close to 2" of rain, most of which dried up quick, but still enough to penetrate bark. It's looking like Ill be taking off work to make a push at making lumber and beams before our next chance of rain in a week or so.

A plus, my landlord moved a bunch of his crap out of the dilapidated shop on the property. I now have a place to stack and store a small amount of lumber, short or long term.

I'll be taking some photos along the way and will get them posted up on my next trip into civilized territory.


A big thank you to all who have contributed their time and knowledge to help those of us without quality backgrounds in wood and metal working.


Cheers!
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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WTF is are ''rock bars'' ???????????????????????????????????????
A rock bar is in the family of digging/tamping bars. 6'+ long metal bars of various thicknesses/shapes. Tamping bars are often rounded with a flat piece at one end (for tamping) and a digging end.

Rock bars are more commonly hexagonal shaped and often come with the standard chipping end as well as a pointed end. Some of them have curved ends for prying better. The tapered-point end allows the user to break up rocks by slamming into the rock with it.

They're also good, especially thinner gauge ones, for pushing on trees with, as well as lifting a tree (gently and cautiously by the backcut kerf. Super easy once you see it in action.


There's probably other names for them.
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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Alright, some success! Already lots of ideas!

Everything is slow. Slower even than I expected. That is okay. Even better, now it looks like we may not be getting rain this coming week!! Sucks for the land, good for me milling.

I put together the EZ Rails, 15' of them. Had to scramble to find two bolts because they were left out of my package (another thing to deal with later.). EZ to put together, but not as easy to use.

I took down the bumps on the logs as best I could, but the rails do NOT like uneven surfaces. Lots of adjusting the fine tune bolts on the rail for level. Back and forth with the mill, double checking all my marks when the cutters weren't even, etc. One factor that may heavily influence my difficulty was how little integrity the top layer had. I hope more sound logs are easier to place the rails on.

The MKIV seems awkward with a 24" bar, like everything is too close together.

My weight on the mill could be improved, which may make the ride easier. I found myself wanting to grip the brake handle more than the mill when returning to a cut from placing wedges.


Doing my best not to go full on in the cut, but the 372 has a fine line between lower rpms and full. Only had two rough spots in the first cut, near the end, in a knot-heavy zone. It cuts so quickly I am struggling to keep up with wedging.

Two cuts on a 12.5-13' fir log nearly emptied the tank. Lots of idling and warming up. Good first tank for the new saw. Chain wasn't dull, but I could feel it bog a little every time it hit a bigger knot on the second cut. What I found was to make the mill move slower in these spots (resisting against gravity instead of letting it pull the saw) than otherwise.


I really like the edging mill. While the v-rails have some drawbacks, I think in the future I can improve upon them. My former boss had suggested to him 30 years ago to drill a metal plate to the underside of the board for increased rigidity and less warpage.

I could see milling with the edger over the Alaskan in many situations with the right jigs/mods, including a better track that "locks" for more even pressure.


I'm going to finish the first 12' log today. Depending on if I find more termite damage in the good wood, I may have to turn the 8x8 into a 6x6 and take a small board or two. If I have time and strength, I'd love to cut some 2x's today as well.


Hoping this beam will be the ridge for a new garden/tool shed.


Photos to come in the future.
 

J D

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Good work, things will start to "flow" & you'll progress quicker once you've done a bit & ironed out the kinks. It's never something you want to be rushing though.
Milling isn't the best way to break in a saw... I'd be using the 390 until you've got a few tanks through the 372
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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Yesterday felt like it went way better. Still not many cuts made, two of them being short cleanup cuts.

I realized where I made a mistake in my box-heart centering and have, hopefully, corrected that. I also noticed one of the tape measures I used is off by 1/4" or so..go figure!

The 372 is a chance I took. Some folks are cautious on the break in, others said milling is an ideal break in. Usually I'm on the cautious side but felt like experimenting. So far she purrs. Did do a bit of a tank for the warm-up before cutting a slab. Running around a quarter turn out on the H. The idle was set high from the factory, which seemed odd.


Have a line on a stand-up band saw for cheap. Guys gonna give me a quick tutorial on it and let me run a few boards through before purchase.

Trying something different with the rails this morning.


One of the first mods I can see for the edging rail is an additional metal rail running opposite the V-rail that matches the guide (which runs on the board, not the rail) to "lock" it in place and keep it level.

I'm also thinking the wooden board is too variable and a metal piece would be best.

Other ideas to come.


Everything is setup and ready to go. Going to do the bigger end of the log today. Debating on which boards to cut out of it. I've realized the small trees can make 4x4 posts easy,and the few bigger logs I have should be making wider 2x's and beams, not posts.
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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Photos:

first
 

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HumBurner

HumBurner

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Well, I can't believe something so simple has me stumped. I'm having issues sharpening these ripping chains (33RP, Carlton A3) and don't understand why. The box says sharpen at 10* rise, but the chain is semi chisel. When I filed a couple teeth back per spec on the box, the tips blunted and the entry edge of the cutter fell behind the exit edge. Negative slope?

Obviously this was incorrect. I tried all angles from 0-15* with the 10* rise and nothing changed. This is using a 7/32" file. Went to another tooth and tried it without the 10* rise. Fits nicely at 10*/0*, but no matter where the file is held, it eats into the gullet too low. I can't go higher or else I'll be eating the point and side plate.

I'm going to see how a 13/64ths fits and files, but this is all strange and frustrating.

Same file-n-joint just sharpened a cross cut chain a few days ago. Parts aren't worn. I don't see why I'm having this difficulty with this chain.

Also don't understand why the Bailey's box says to sharpen it at 10* rise.


Any thoughts?
 

J D

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Box might be generic or just wrong... I'd check online or give them a call.
A smaller file helps to get the extra hook you want for milling but this isn't usually necessary for the first few sharpenings of a chain
 
HumBurner

HumBurner

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That's basically all I've come up with.

Despite the gullet being so deep into the link, the chain cut fairly well. I got two slabs cut and still had a little gas left in the tank. Haven't gotten 3 long slabs with a new chain yet. Definitely some inconsistencies to work out on these next few sharpenings, but I'm not as stressed about it as I was.

If I get around to filing today, I'll try the 13/64ths on another chain's first sharpening.

Can't wait to move away from dead-wood to greener wood. Hoping to get more boards/beams cut for the same time and fuel.


For anyone that mills lots of fir (doug fir), is there a depth setting you've found to really shine? I can tell I can take them down further.......but I don't want to go too far and waste time refiling.

No milling today. I've neglected planting the Brassicas for too many days


Cheers!
 

J D

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For anyone that mills lots of fir (doug fir), is there a depth setting you've found to really shine? I can tell I can take them down further.......but I don't want to go too far and waste time refiling.
Depth gauges will be relative to the power the saw has, the wood you're cutting, & how wide the cut is... There's no particular "setting that shines" but generally speaking you want them a little lower than you would for X-cutting.
@BobL has had a few good posts about setting rakers by angle for various situations (bare in mind he runs some pretty gutsy saws), a bit of reading there will get you on the right track.
The simple approach is to take em down a bit at a time until you go past the "sweet spot", then take the tooth down a little. Just remember that what's good for an 18" cut won't be so great for a 30" cut
 

BobL

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JD has pretty much summed up what I would say and The "simple approach" that JD refers to is how my tree faller dad used to do it.

There's no single raker depth setting for any chain because to maintain the same cutter/raker/wood geometry for optimum cutting speeds the raker depth should be proportionately increased as the cutter wears. When chain is new, If THE raker depth is say 0.025", then when the chain is well used and the cutter gullet width has doubled then so should the raker depth ie TO 0.050". This is only a rough guide because even a new chain can be further optimised.

A simple way to think about this is the "gullet width to raker depth ratio".
A new chain with a 0.025" raker depth and a gullet width of 0.25" has a ratio of 10:1 - that's pretty standard for new chain.
For milling (and cross cutting) that is a relative wussy but safer, less wear and tear option.
However if you want to optimise cutting bigger saws with shortish bars in soft wood might use a low as 6:1
On my 441 with 25" bar and Lopro chain in Aussie hardwood I use 7.5:1
On my 880 with the 60" bar and standard 3/8 chain in Aussie hardwood I use 8.5:1
This method will allow the chain to cut like new, almost until you run out of raker.

If prefer to work with angles, as they are easier to measure if you have a Digital angle finder take a look at this.
https://youtu.be/FSr9j2EDoqk

A 10:1 ratio corresponds to a raker tip/cutter tip/wood angle of ~5.7º
Rakerangle.jpg
If you continue to use the same 0.025" raker depth setting all the way through the chains life that angle gets shallower and shallower so it grabs less wood and eventually most folks throw their chains out

The 7:5:1 ratio I use on my 441 describe above works out to an angle of 7.5º
The 8.5:1 ratio I use on the 880 works out to be an angle of 6.5º
There are trade offs
- greater chance of kick back - not a problem on milling saws.
- more vibe
- more B&C wear and tear - good oiling is essential.

Happy cutting.
 
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