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How to Mill Wood With a Chainsaw: Detailed Explanation

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Written By John Gibbs




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Every gardener who is just beginning to use a chainsaw should become familiar with the basic rules of felling and sawing trees. This knowledge will not only keep the beginner safe and increase the speed of the tool. They will help to get better quality materials from wood, which later can be used for construction or household needs.

Chainsaw milling lumber is a method of sawing logs into lumber with a chainsaw. It’s a fast and efficient way to mill your own lumber, and it’s also a great way to save money if you’re planning on building something out of wood.

The chainsaw is designed for a variety of woodworking tasks. In order to use a chainsaw correctly, it is necessary to become familiar with the technology of various works and safety rules, the neglect of which leads to very dire consequences. This article will help you learn how to cut your own lumber with a chainsaw.

How to Mill Wood With a Chainsaw?

Chainsaw wood mills are an important part of the logging process, and there are a few different ways to go about milling wood with a chainsaw. The most common method is to use a chainsaw mill, which is a specially designed attachment that can be fitted to most chainsaws.

Chainsaw mills work by cutting a thin slice of wood off the log and can be used to create boards of any thickness. They are easy to operate and can be a great way to produce your own lumber if you have access to a lot of logs.

Wood milling machine in the background of the forest

Safety Precautions When Working With a Chainsaw

Tree milling wood with chainsaws is quite a traumatic process because you are working with a cut tree trunk, which has a huge mass, and with the wrong move, this mass can collapse on the person working with a chainsaw.

Therefore, it is not enough to simply have this machine and the desire to mill wood. Before you start working with a chainsaw, you should know the basic rules of working with this tool. So, safety engineering contains the following points, which should not be ignored.

  1. The chainsaw operator must be in a sober state, that is, not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  2. Before starting work, it is necessary to check the technical condition of the chainsaw: sharpening and tensioning of the chain; serviceability of the bar (no deformation); serviceability of the chain lubrication system; serviceability of the saw chain brake; correct adjustment of the carburetor.
  3. When the engine is running, do not touch the cutting part of the chainsaw (guide bar and saw chain) with your hands. Turn off the engine first if you need to do anything with the headset.
  4. Eye protection must be worn: safety glasses or a face shield.
  5. Since the chainsaw is a very noisy tool, it is recommended that you wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
  6. It is necessary to wear a helmet on the head, as there is a great risk of getting chips.
  7. Footwear must be chosen according to the following principle: it must be made of durable material (rough leather); the soles must have deep treads that effectively prevent slipping; the toe part of the shoes must be protected by a metal plate that will protect against injury in case the chain breaks and gets caught in the foot.
  8. The clothing material should be high-strength, tight, and well-fitting to the body. This greatly reduces the risk of the clothing catching the saw and wrapping it around the tool.
  9. Always hold the chainsaw with both hands when operating it.
  10. Never fill the machine with fuel mixture while you are indoors. Never do so with the engine running. Always tighten the fuel tank cap securely.
  11. Transport the chainsaw in its working (assembled) condition only with the cover over the cutting part of the machine.

How to Mill Lumber With a Chainsaw Step-By-Step Guide

There are two basic types of milling chainsaw longitudinal and crosscut.

Longitudinal sawing into boards

As you can easily guess, boards are obtained by sawing a log lengthwise. Since longitudinal sawing will be required, the saw chain must be of the appropriate type. To dissolve the trunk into boards was accurate, using a special device for sawing logs is a special attachment to the chainsaw.

With its help, it is possible to cut logs with a diameter of up to 500 mm. The thickness of the resulting board is set by a special ruler, printed on the stands of the device. It can be purchased in a ready-made form, or you can make your own hands.

To dissolve the log into boards of equal thickness, do the following.

  1. Take 2 flat boards and connect them at a 90-degree angle to make a T-shaped structure. This will serve as a ruler and allow the chainsaw to move evenly. The boards are twisted to accommodate the size of the slitting attachment so that the saw does not touch the ruler and runs 10 mm above it.
  2. Make two L-shaped pieces that will serve as stops to prevent the log from rotating. The boards can be connected with metal corners.
  3. Roll the log onto the previously prepared supports (small diameter logs can be used). Of course, if the diameter of the log is large, it will not be possible to do this alone.Wooden bar close-up
  4. Screw the L-shaped stops to both ends of the log with long self-tapping screws. It is not recommended to use nails, since you will have to readjust the entire structure after the first longitudinal cut.
  5. Secure the T-beam to the stops with screw clamps.
  6. Place the chainsaw on the ruler with the fixture previously attached to it.
  7. On the fixture set the thickness of the board, you want to get at the output. In this case, it is necessary to take into account the thickness of the saw and the gap of 10 mm between the blade and the ruler.
  8. Turn the log 30° away from you. The sawing process will be more convenient under an inclination.
  9. The next step is to saw the log lengthwise.Orange chainsaw milling wooden bar
  10. Detach the ruler by unscrewing the clamps and unscrewing the stops from the ends of the log.
  11. Place the T-rail on the resulting plane after sawing. Secure the guide with self-tapping screws.
  12. After securing the log to prevent it from rolling, make a second longitudinal cut. It will be perpendicular to the first plane. If so do the third and fourth cut, each time turning the log and setting the ruler, you can evenly cut a log (beam) with a square section.
  13. If it is necessary to cut the log into planks, then after the second longitudinal cut the ruler is removed and only the chain saw mill guide. In this case, one of the planes will serve as a guide, and at the output, you get a half-timbered board.

Crosscut sawing a log

To cut logs across the grain, a cross-cutting saw chain must be installed on the machine. Cross-cutting is mainly used for sawing firewood. Small cylinders are obtained, which are later split into firewood. To make it convenient to cut firewood, the logs are placed on the sawhorse at a height of 600-800 mm.

This operation can be performed in several ways:

  1. Sawing a square-cut log is done from the core part of the log.
  2. To obtain 2 rectangular logs, a square log is sawn into 2 parts.
  3. Sawing a log crosswise will produce 4 bars.
  4. This type of sawing is called “slashing” and is used on a saw frame. All boards are unedged.
  5. This type of sawing produces a double-edged beam as well as several unedged boards and a couple of slabs.
  6. Radial sawing is complex in its execution. The characteristic feature of boards in such sawing – vertical annual rings.
  7. Double-edged timber is sawn into sawn boards and two sawn boards.
  8. For boards with horizontal annual rings, the front side is the side turned to the center of the log (heartwood), and the back side is the side turned to the sapwood (the periphery of the trunk).
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Choosing a Chainsaw for Milling

Chainsaw at an angle in the wood

After you have figured out how to use a chainsaw mill, you should know how to choose the right one for you. Chainsaws can be used for milling, harvesting, felling, and other purposes. Deciding which model is best for you depends on the work you will be doing. The three main types of milling logs with a chainsaw are standard, electric, and battery-powered.

Standard chainsaws are the most versatile and can be used for a variety of tasks. Electric chainsaws are best suited for light milling work. Battery-powered chainsaws are ideal for heavy-duty milling and can run for a longer period of time without needing to be recharged. So, when choosing a chainsaw milling attachment, it is important to consider the following factors


If you have a question about what size chainsaw for milling, you should decide what you need it for. A smaller chainsaw is easier to maneuver and can be used in tighter spaces. However, a smaller chainsaw may not have the power needed to get the job done. A large chainsaw mill can handle more difficult milling jobs but can be more difficult to control.


The power of the chainsaw mill saw is another important factor to consider. A more powerful chainsaw can handle more difficult milling jobs. However, a more powerful chainsaw can also be more difficult to control.

Type of bar

The type of bar on the chainsaw is also important to consider. A standard bar is best suited for general milling tasks. A sprocket-nose bar is best suited for more difficult milling jobs.


The type of chain on the chainsaw is also important to consider. A standard chain is best suited for general milling tasks. A chipper chain is best suited for more difficult milling jobs.

chainsaw chain on the table

Safety features

It’s also important to consider safety features when freehand chainsaw milling before you buy it. A chainsaw with a kickback brake is less likely to cause injury if it kicks back. A chainsaw with a chain brake is less likely to cause injury if the chain breaks.


The price of the wooden chainsaw mill is also important to consider. A more expensive chainsaw may have more features and be of better quality. However, a less expensive chainsaw may be just as good for your needs.

Chainsaw reviews

Chainsaw reviews can be helpful when choosing a chainsaw for milling. Reviews can help you compare the features and performance of different chainsaws.

Products that might be helpful


What is a chain saw milling?

Chain sawmilling is the process of using a chainsaw to remove lumber from a tree. The process can be used to create boards of any size or shape and is often used to create lumber for construction or other purposes

How does a chainsaw mill work?

A chainsaw mill is a type of sawmill that is used to cut logs into lumber using a chainsaw. Chainsaw mills are portable and can be used in remote areas where there is no access to electricity.

What type of wood is best for milling?

The best type of wood for milling is straight-grained hardwood. Softwoods and woods with knots are more likely to cause the chainsaw to bind, so they should be avoided.

How do I know how deep to cut?

The depth of the cut will depend on the size of the lumber you want to create. For example, if you want to create 2x4s, you will need to make a shallow cut. If you want to create 4x4s, you will need to make a deeper cut.

Lumberjack in protective mask milling a log

How do I make sure the lumber is the right size?

After you have made the initial cut, you can use a saw guide to help ensure the lumber is the right size. A saw guide is a device that attaches to the chainsaw bar and helps guide the blade to make straight, even cuts.

What are the benefits of milling my own lumber?

Milling your own lumber has a number of benefits. First, it’s a great way to save money on lumber. Second, you’ll have more control over the quality of your lumber. Third, you’ll be able to customize the lumber to your own specifications. Lastly, it’s a great way to get some exercise.

What are the dangers of chain saw milling?

Chain sawmilling can be dangerous if the saw is not used properly. Always wear protective gear, including gloves, goggles, and a face mask. Be sure to keep the saw properly lubricated and maintain a firm grip on the saw at all times.

The Bottom Line

I hope my chainsaw milling guide was helpful to you. Using a chainsaw to mill wood is a very effective method. Chainsaw lumber milling is a great way to save money and time when you’re building something out of wood. It’s a fast and efficient way to get the lumber you need, and it’s also a great way to get some exercise.

However, it is important to follow the proper safety precautions and to use the right type of saw for the job. It is also important to have a good understanding of how to use the saw before attempting to mill wood. If you are not comfortable using a chainsaw, it is best to hire a professional to do the job for you. Also, if you have any questions or suggestions, please write in the comments.


About John Gibbs

Hello everyone! My name is John Gibbs. I am 60 years old and have been in the family construction business all my adult life. Construction is not only my profession but also my passion. I know everything about building and repair materials, tools, advanced methods, techniques, and approaches. I will share the same knowledge with you in my articles.

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