Picture of Chainsaw Mill
Many times a project calls for materials of specific dimensions and quality that can't be obtained, financially or logistically. A chainsaw mill is a tool that can be utilized to produce beams for timber framing or to cut slabs for wood working. Being mobile, it can be on site or right where the tree falls. This instructable shows how to construct a 20 in bar , variable height chainsaw mill.

There is an update  in the mill post section.  The post clamps now have bolt pins to secure the mill to the bar.

There are details in the pictures so mouse over the yellow image notes to get a clearer explanation.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Measure & Cut

Picture of Measure & Cut
(This is for a 20 in bar) Accounting for the width of the square stock, the diameter of the largest tree that is able to be milled is 14.5 in.


(4) 8 in square stock
(2) 12 in pipe
(1) 3 in wide by 8 in long sheet steel
(4) 2 by .75 by .25 in bar stock
(4) 4 in bolt, (4) nuts, (8) washers , (4) lock washers

Guide bed:
(2) 9 in square stock
(2) 14.5 in square stock
(1) 6.6 in square stock
(1) 5 in pipe
(1) 1.25 in square stock
(1) 2.5 in square stock
(2) .5 in nut and bolt

Square stock is (1.25 by 1.25 in) 
Pipe is (1 in) outer diameter

MIG welder
Vice grips
Chop saw
Drill press and drill bits
Ruler and wax pencil

Ear plugs
Clothing to cover entire body (closed toe shoes)
Welding jacket
Welding mask

1-40 of 70Next »
Absolutely Awesome !!!! Can't wait to get this project started.
Papaling4 years ago
The part I don't get is how is the chain bar is kept from contacting the frame. All I can make out is the tongue and base fit in a slot. Did you bolt it secure some how? The more I look at the pictures the less it makes sense. The slider with the use of the 2X4 is a great idea.
the chain of the chainsaw runs in a "groove" on the flat blat blade that sticks out.
This blade doesn't move, so the device is clamped onto the blade,but with spacers,to allow movement of the chain between them.
HoldOnTight4 years ago
Awesome 'ible!! I would like to see this in action. I can't wait for the video!!!

If you have a 20" bar in this trusty mill, and you need to cut only the outer sides to make a square beam, how large would the beam be, and how large can the tree diameter be at the large end?

Adding a wedge seems like a good idea to me. That Stihl will last if you don't abuse it. A wedge and manual chain oiling should do the trick. Oil will help cool the chain. The devil will be in the details, but with some practice, I'm sure you'll have lots of tips for our hands-on, knowledge-thirsty souls..
Oh, and buying a warranty for that beautiful saw might not be a bad idea too, just in case!!! ;o))
KentaNolin (author)  HoldOnTight4 years ago
Going back into the forest this weekend, video to ensue.
KentaNolin (author)  HoldOnTight4 years ago
Ill make measurements on the exact diameter before milling and the final timber. but I would estimate that it would take 3-5in off the diameter depending on the tree (which would be the slab wood) so if I milled a 14.5in timber it might turn up to be around 10in square. Milling to a specific dimension is easy as you just mark your distances from the tree center growth ring on both ends. Then set your guide rail to be plumb (raising the rail on the side of the taper) and adjust the depth of the cut to meet at your scribed lines.
HubertF4 years ago
I really like the design. Thank you for solving my problem of milling the two 34"wide dead walnut trees i have to down .although there is a lumber-mill up the road,they services are not cheep.
ProfMuggs4 years ago
Have you tried quarter sawing lumber with your mill? I have read that it makes the wood more stable and less prone to warping.
rustytoy4 years ago
I have done this myself and it was a lot of fun. Took down a redwood tree in my front yard and milled it into fence boards and picknick table and such. It was a lot of work but I will be moving onto drift wood next, from the river.
kleinjahr4 years ago
Nice, saved that.
Here's a site for a bigger version
It is a commercial site, but they have some good info. Note, especially on sharpening your chain for rip cuts.
I was going to suggest renaming this "How to make dull chainsaw chains," but I didn't realize they made milling chains. That's a nifty idea. I'll have to try it sometime.
bjooske4 years ago
Don't you need a rail or some guidance to cut the first slab if the tree is bulky or torn?
KentaNolin (author)  bjooske4 years ago
On the ground is the slabbing rail we use, it was 2 by 4s screwed together with some smaller pieces. I have seen larger trees using a ladder as the rail.
pinksloth4 years ago
Great post. Just got a new welder and now I have a new project.
KentaNolin (author)  pinksloth4 years ago
What model of welder is it? Send me some pictures of the mill!
Coolerman4 years ago
Great!! But what I would like to see is a chainsaw winch(not the expensive Lewis winch) but a home built?? Any ideas or links???
kgresham4 years ago
Very nice, and a much cheaper alternative to commercial chainsaw mills such as the Logosol.
Though, there are cheap mills out there like the Granberg Mini-Mill, which allegedly works pretty well, though I haven't tried it myself.
The mini-mill cuts perpendicular to the rails and clamps to the motor end of the bar.
This is an "Alaskan" type mill because it cuts parallel to the rails and attaches to the bar at both ends.
Granberg also sells a "small log mill" which is like the Alaskan, but only attaches to the motor end of the bar.
lmac12104 years ago
I am with a few of the others and would love to see a video. :)
Mailman144 years ago
Thankyou for posting this! I've been wondering about the shape / size of steel tube / box sections for a couple of years, and can't afford a "bought" one. Perhaps I can get a welder at work to knock this up!
If I could "Like" this comment I would!
hohum4 years ago
how is the depth of cut controled?? sure makes a clean cut-great idea
Mailman14 hohum4 years ago
The top "sled" positioned on the round tubes is released and moved away from the clamping fixture - I believe. If you want a small cut (i.e. skimming pre-cut timber) you have the top sled closer to the blade. If you want to remove the excess off a trunk, you move it further up the round bar section, and bolt tight.
Hope this helps.
Bummer! No pic in action? It's like going to a Steven Segal movie and doesn't suck.
Let Down ;(
Hitlist4 years ago
Video would be an excellent t help for us newbies...

Kdemon4 years ago
Any plans on putting on a video of the Chainsaw-mill in action? Keep up the good work.
Hay good stuff! Looking forward to the log transporter ible now. I have been dreaming of making a bandsaw mill for quite a long time now. And for as long I have toyed with the idea of settling for a chainsaw mill.... Tricky decisions.

Good luck with your timber framed buildings!
KentaNolin (author) 4 years ago
Although, the scale of these might be overzealous, this is the style of Timber framed home that will be aimed for.
When my great-grandfather immigrated from Germany he had purchased a farm in near Walton, NY and the barn was an overshot type, that is it was built on the side of a hill and hay wagons would be backed in. There was a bridge in the top of the barn and the hay was then tossed over the sides. I was told by my grandfather that the beams were of hemlock and they were about 18" square with mortis and talon joinery and an oak pin it looked like 6" in diameter and driven thru to lock the joint. The farm had been sold off some 40 years ago I only hope that the lumber was reused; if it were not THAT would have been such a terrible waste.
Foxtrot704 years ago
Nothing like starting with a nice straight piece of stock. There are many times I would have liked to have had a tool like this especially when a nice cedar, ash, oak, or pine is available. Excellent instructable I voted for ya, keep up the great work!
KentaNolin (author)  Foxtrot704 years ago
That's right, dreaming about a timber framed wood storage building! Walk in to a nostril full of sappy air. An exciting prospect of chainsaw mills is to be able attend downed trees and mill them where they fall. In Asheville, NC there is a company that specializes in urban tree removal. Many trees today in residential areas have prized grain patterns due to life in a unusual environment, with pruning and other stressors. Check out their slab inventory! Treecyclers
Though it has been about 15 years since I lived in St. Louis I do remember believe it or not "Tree Rustling" in old parts of town or run down areas. Someone would come in while a homeowner was on vacation and cut down a walnut tree that was about 30-40 yrs old and then cut the center trunk out some times 10 to 15 feet in length and leave the rest. Very disturbing for the unfortunate homeowner.
rimar20004 years ago
This is a very useful accessory. I will vote you!
KentaNolin (author)  rimar20004 years ago
Thanks, looks like you weld, what kind of welding do you enjoy the most?

I have the cheapest welder of the market, I do only little works. My weldings are rough, I am still learning. I like to weld.
i have been looking for detailed instructions for this exact style mill for years ,i was only able to find hints and suggestions or completed pics,as a reward you should know i favorited ,voted,and for the first time ever on instructables ,...i subscribed to an individual ,thankyou for this
KentaNolin (author)  bobby sissom4 years ago
Thanks for your enthusiasm, post some pictures of the kind of project you intend to create! What kind of involvement with cob do you have?
aeray4 years ago
Looks good. Are you using a rip chain for this? That might be a good thing to add to you upcoming milling 'able.
KentaNolin (author)  aeray4 years ago
I put on a 10 degree rip chain for milling, usually its the standard 30 degree chain.
Im also considering an auxiliary oiler to keep the chain from getting overheated.
1-40 of 70Next »