Crazy Simple Chainsaw Mill : How To Slab Logs

Crazy Simple Chainsaw Mill : How To Slab Logs

okay last week I modified a trailer to
go snatch up some logs and in this video I’m gonna be slab ing them up as milling
is an entire world all of its own I learned quite a bit in this past week
and I’m gonna try to cram as much of that information into this video as
possible so let’s just jump into it there are two main methods for milling
logs a bandsawmill like Matt Carmona’s or a chainsaw mill I’m going with a
chainsaw mill for now I’m actually gonna jump ahead because there are a lot of
components of this and I want to show you the outcome before I get into the
details of each one the components are the chainsaw of course the mill which is
a railing system parallel to the chainsaw bar that guides you for a
straight cut on your very first cut you need a flat reference for the mill to
ride along which is what these rails here are then something I put on mine
but is optional is a winch this is mounted to the mill and then hooks up to
the bar that you see here now that you see what I end up with let me go back to
the beginning of putting everything together tractor supply is now a
supplier of Husqvarna equipment and I’ve partner with them to use the rancher 460
chainsaw with a 24-inch bar on my mill note that the chainsaw you buy has specs
on the longest bar it can support so if you want to cut certain diameter logs be
sure to buy a saw that can support it I started off with the rails that will go
on top of my logs to give my mill a flat reference for the very first cut you
might have seen people use a ladder for this application before but I want with
rails made by the same company who made them know I’ll be using which is a
family-owned and operated company called Granberg they’re called easy rails and
do come in a variety of different links but I went with the 10-foot rails which
come in two 5 foot sections and they can either be used separately or together
next I switched out the stock chain that comes on the chain saw which is a
crosscut chain over to a ripping chain just like any other saw blades the teeth
are specifically designed with a certain task in mind and if you’re gonna be
going from cross-cutting to slobbing you need to invest in a ripping chain if
you’re curious the teeth are filed to a much steeper angle on a ripping chain
because it’s a much more aggressive cut since you’re cutting along so many more
growth rings lengthwise after getting the chain on and tightened
down I moved on to assembling the mill that goes around the chainsaw this is
the railing system that is parallel to the bar and it can be raised or lowered
to determine the thickness of your slab and since I have a 24-inch bar I went
with the 24-inch mill and just a fun fact for you an eel or an Berg who
started the company actually designed the first Alaskan chainsaw mill back in
the 60s so anything milling related this company
has you can see that the chainsaw now fits right into the mill and then
tightens down on to the bar to hold it in place like I mentioned earlier and
out on that I opted in for is a winch on the mill this will drastically reduce
the amount of work I mainly have to do to get the saw through the piece of wood
and I’ll show you how this works in just a few minutes first I wanted to set all
of us equipment aside and quickly build a log stand so that I don’t have to cut
all of these logs on the ground since I’ve never done this before I wasn’t
sure what setup would be best so I went with some two by sixes with a steep
angle cut in at both ends then a hole drilled in the center I flipped them
around to be opposite of one another and then stuck in a bolt with a few washers
and nuts I used two nuts so that I could keep this joint pivoting which will make
the stand foldable after repeating to make three of the same I line them out
use a clamp to hold them in the open position making sure the feet were flat
on the floor and then placed another two by six to tie them all together and to
also create a hard stop for them to open now you can see it can fold up and be
stored or transported but then quickly deployed to be used depending on your
length of logs should determine how many of these X’s you include on your stand
okay and after all that setup I was finally ready to get a log on my stand
in to start milling go to use the tractor to snatch onto a log on the
trailer and set it into position now the log doesn’t have to be perfectly
flat but the next step is easiest if it’s somewhat flat so I first started up
my Husqvarna 460 and took off a high spot I’ve never been able to do a drop start
trust me nuts I’ll just do what works for me though
set it on the ground and use my foot to stabilize it but this being the first cut I started
by placing my easy rails in place again these will be the flat reference for my
mill to get a straight first cut I’ll end up the crossmember so that the
spikes or dogs would all land on the log and then I hammered them in with a
detached I next leveled up the rails and you don’t need to have them leveled
along the length along just across the log I don’t know if you can see but
there are two leveling screws at each of one of these cross members to make this
happen then the last thing was to attach the
winches anchor point if you is this is attached to the end of the log so that
it can peak up in between the two rails and you can see here that once you start
the saw and get the mill on the rails the winch cable on the mill goes from
the reel to the Anchor Point and then reattaches back to the mill this allows
me to keep my left hand on the throttle of the saw and my right hand on the
winch to advance or back off of the cut a few things I want to say about knowing
one beware folks because this is highly
addictive honestly I want to swab up everything now to where if you stand
still long enough in my shop I’ll start attaching rails to you too
this operation can be done alone but it is kind of a lot and it is so much
easier if you have a second hand around you’ll see Brian they’re cutting wedges
for me and then placing the men as I get further into the log this is to keep the
slab from pinching your bar and binding and then three I tried moving the mill
along without the winch just to see the difference and I will say that the winch
makes such a huge difference in how much effort is required and 100% recommended
it he get into this now that the log has a flat reference
along the top I could just set the mill directly on top of that previous cut and
start the process over again the second cut took me just under five minutes to
make the main components or making that happen as much like any other cutting
tool in the shop having the correct amount of power and a sharp edge this
Husqvarna has no issues chopping through this oak mesquite or even pecan which
are all pretty hardwoods this work does use up the bar oil though so make sure
you’re keeping an eye on your tank no I won’t lie I was pretty disappointed at
this oak when I got a look inside the inside was really cracked and honestly
not something I was interested in keeping now I didn’t have any more long
logs but my very awesome woodworking neighbor offered me a short pecan and
mesquite log that he had so I jumped at those to try next you can see that
instead of cutting the tops of my log stand down
I just shirred up the bottom with some scraps this is because I’m not yet sure
what the average diameter of log I’ll be getting is and I didn’t want to cut them
too short but note that this is an alternative to filling up the bottom of
the stand something else I did when the log got smaller was used the lock dogs
and my super jaws these are a set of jaws with blunted teeth specifically
designed for grabbing on the logs oh yeah and a helpful tip I got from
Instagram is instead of placing the log level lengthwise place it downhill
gradually so that gravity can help you whenever you’re mowing through gorgeous
as far as keeping things sharp I sharpen my chain after every third pass which
might be excessive but I’ll learn with time where that sweet spot is on
sharpening in the past I’ve always used a file to sharpen the teeth but Granberg
actually has this really cool 12 volt electric sharpener
that attaches right to the bar it hooks up to a truck or car battery so I just
used the battery from the log Stockton trailer to run it but last thing I had a
slob up was this crotch piece of pecan after making the first cut I stuck it in
my super jaws to make the remaining cut and just look how cool this one came out
I know the saying goes life is like a box of chocolates but I think it should
be changed too milling is like a box of chocolates if you honestly don’t know
what you’re gonna get and it’s so exciting the next step in the milling
process is to set these slabs aside and let them dry and just a general roll is
to let them dry a year for every inch of thickness for example a two inch slab
two years to dry but for videos sake let’s just say it’s been two years these
are now dry and I’m ready to use them to make something to use it I will first
need to flatten it and since it’s wider than a jointer Earth the most popular
method for flattening a slab is called a router sled you can make a homemade jig
but my friends over at woodpeckers tools heard I was slobbing and asked me to try
out their new slab flattener coming out later this year you’re familiar with
woodpeckers and you should already know that they excel at precision which is
exactly what a flattener needs to get the best results everything needs to be
level and stay level to give you a perfect cut across your entire slab so
that you don’t have a lot or any post cleanup work to do this jig has two long
rails that I temporarily attached to my workbench then it also has a sled that
sits on to these rails inside this lead is where a router base is set so that I
can slide up and down the link after taking my time to get everything set up
I position my slab and set the depth of my router bed to start removing material
to flatten the slab with things set up you can see how it
works the router base moves along the sled then the sled moves along the rails
allowing you to gradually move over the sled in order to flatten it I’m using my
Triton two-and-a-quarter since I have my larger
three-and-a-quarter over on my router table then for a bid I’m using a 2 inch
flattening bit and also a bit extender made by infinity tools if you don’t have
this extender and you just have the bit in a router it’s really common for the
bit to run out of throw and not be able to get down far enough to actually hit
your slab and that is a wicked cool tool if you ask me if you have never
flattened a spot before then here are a few things that I learned from my
experience when working with a piece that has a slight twist in it you first
need to shim it up and keep it stable to flatten it next I set the bit depth
according to the highest spot on the slab so that starts off with removing
the high spots this means you aren’t removing material everywhere on the slab
on the first pass and the objective is to keep removing all of the high spots
passed by pass and so you’re finally removing material from the entire slab
that means that it’s all in the same level in this flat I set my bed to take
off about an eighth inch material also remember that with these larger diameter
bits you will want to slow the speed of your router down once I get the slab
down to where I’m removing material from everywhere evenly I changed the bit
depth for a final smoothing pass and this is to just cut down on some of the
marks left behind from the rough cuts but honestly if you keep your bit sharp
you’ll be amazed at how perfect the surface feels at least I was if you were
curious about the milling process before then I hope that you found this video
informative I can’t believe the amount of information I learned in just a week
and of course now I can wait until my own inventory of wood that has filled
up myself if you’re curious about anything that I used in the video there
are links from you down in the description and don’t forget that
tractor spot and now sapphire Husqvarna equipment that’s it for this one my next
video will be turning my guide slabs into furniture
so stay tuned and I will see you then that’s cool

100 thoughts on “Crazy Simple Chainsaw Mill : How To Slab Logs

  1. – Get 10% off on any Granberg product by using the coupon code "april" at check out here: The code is only good until November 18th. Even if you don't get into slabbing, if you have a chainsaw I can't recommend the sharpener enough!
    – The Woodpeckers Slab Flattener won't be available for pre order until early November. It currently isn't listed on their website but when it is, I will add a link to the description of the video.

  2. April,  I have really been wanting one of these but cannot decide what size.  After using the 24" for a while now do you wish you would have went with the 30" or even the 36"

  3. I started milling with a used Norwood 2000 bandsaw mill I found used for $2000. I've had it for 3 years, and it paid for itself with very limited 'part time use' in less than 6 months. I'm retired, still working full time, tug boat Captain, 66 years young, and have learned so much from your videos. Keep up the great work. Thanks

  4. While it's true that most jointers and planers simply aren't large enough to handle your slabs …. perhaps you should build yourself a sanding surfacer/planer that can? Use roller drums with sandpaper … perhaps even make multiple drums with different dedicated grits, so you can do rough sanding passes as well as finish sanding passes …

  5. Remarkable video. So helpful to me. I am building my 10K hours and this puts things in perspective. Thank you so much. The products you mention are super useful and I am putting them on a future Christmas list.

  6. So i just happened to run across your channel and watched a few videos,, I am so impressed with the way you deliver the lessons, Clear and very informative. As a 30 year veteran of the construction business I am glad to know there is still a lot more for me to learn. Great Video Great channel you earned my vote !!! Thanks Lee

  7. April, great video! The only issue I see in your setup is a mistake I JUST made. Where the mill is clamped over the bar nose sprocket. Clamping it there will cause excess heat and wear in the sprocket and it will fail much sooner. I know this because I was doing the same thing the other day and I had to replace the nose on my bar after it blew up.

  8. Never really had nothing bad to say about you you are an inspiration but I think drop starting a chainsaw not a good idea hate to see you cut something off you can't sew back on be careful

  9. Great Video April, the woodpecker slab flattener looks great, I've used a DIY plywood version for years. I would add that the board needs to dry before you flatten it. The board moves and twists as it dries. I'm not sure that was pointed out in your video.

  10. Great video,I am in the process of getting milling myself and have bought a couple of routers among thousand's of pounds worth of other tools.i am nearly set up in my workshop and am delighted to see someone already doing it. Keep up the good work 👍🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿.

  11. No way would I ever trust some router bit extender. NOPE……you people do realize just how fast of a revolution these router bits turn at ? Especially the larger sized collets are prone to loosen very quickly. That shit would not fly at any shop I ever worked at in my 40 years of professional woodworking. Becareful and you'll end with decades of experience and still have all of your fingers without incident !

  12. Your excellent work speaks for itself! This world needs more women like you. I don't specifically mean more wood workers, welders, etc. although I believe we do. I mean that strength of spirit to do difficult things with courage and excellence. This is so much more valuable and attractive than the shrinking flowers that wither outside the confines of domestic comfort.

  13. I have the same mill except that I use a Stihl MS362 and the same rail system. You're right, it is a nice setup. I was slabbing an 8' swamp chestnut oak log (20" diameter) and that stuff was HARD and still a little wet. I had to resharpen the chain after two cuts and the last two feet of the second cut took as long as the first six feet.

  14. Get a body shield please. Don't want to see you really hurt. If that chain ripped out and hit you it will gut you. You just have very low waist protection and even that could het through. GET BETTER STUFF. BECAUSE IT ONLY NEEDS TO HIT YOU ONCE. PLEASE!!!!

  15. I've been fighting the milling bug for a while but now I'm BITTEN badly, loved the idea of the woodpecker jig. Thanks for sharing

  16. Very nice video, though, by the time I buy all of that stuff, I could probably get a pretty good portable bandsaw mill. Just sayin' ….. Depends on your needs and pocketbook I guess. Anyway, thanks for showing so many options.

  17. Thanks for this. A friend of mine is building his own mill just like Matt did. But I'd like to use this method for smaller work.

  18. Just amazing April!! Just getting into wood working and saw your saw mill build recently and can see how addictive this can be! Thanks for this video!

  19. Great job once again, but it is really a lot easier with all the expensive tools from “partnering” with all those manufacturers.

  20. This is a really interesting video. Thank you for posting it.
    When setting up the rails, there are two things that have occured to me that would be helpful.
    Do not trust the joiner in the centre of the rails and check with a straight edge that they are straight.
    Use winding sticks to check that the rails are not in winding because the spirit level alone will probably not be sufficiently accurate.

    That should give a flatter straighter slab though of course it will move some on drying.

  21. @10:30 – Pill the power-cord! Don't push the power-cord! I thought you were going to route over the power cord…

  22. A good tip is full carbide chain. A full carbide cross cut chain will rip far faster than a ripping chain. I dont have a mill. But i have a saw with a carbide chain on a saw i use just for cutting big blocks in half. And beleive me when i say its awsome. Im not shure if they make full carbide ripping chains. But im sure they would be awesome if they do.

  23. I'm so glad I found this video! Instant subscriber. I have been wood working and carpentry for nearly 20 years, but this is a new realm for me…a new leg in my journey. I look forward to learning as much as I can and finding someone like you who teaches and does it well is exactly the kind of inspiration I need! I look forward to watching more of your videos, thank you for sharing!

  24. That Woodpecker sled is expensive! Yet, April, your energy is infectious! Keep enjoying what you do!

  25. Nice work, I use my Alaska chain saw mill with a MS66 Stihl with a 32 inch bar. Thumbs up to you!

  26. There is a third option, not just two. The third is a mill with a circular saw blade. And, yes, there are portable versions.

  27. Great video! Thanks for making it.

    That woodpecker slab flattener looks awes, not $800 awesome though 🙂

  28. when cutting with frame directly on the flat log surface, as you start your cut how hard is it to maintain the frame parallel to the log since only the forward frame member is making contact until entry is made far enough for the following frame to make contact. The reverse is taking place as you exit the slab. How difficult is it to start and finish parallel

  29. April: I am a beginner carpenter in Cutral-Có, (Patagonia Argentina). Thanks to many videos of yours, like this one, I have been able to build my house. In this particular case, I learned an excellent method to flatten with my router the both sides of the two pine boards that I glued to make the main door of my future home, but when the wood was put in the weather it became twisted because some wood comes from Buenos Aires, and here in the steppe the climate is very much drier. This house we are making all of recycled pine wood.
    I do not know how to thank you for so much.

  30. I'm not an expert. But I'm pretty sure you're using your earmuffs wrong. Ears matter. Take care of yourself!

  31. Just so you know, my wife is mad at you for showing me this. LOL. Now, I get to spend more money than she does, which is an accomplishment.

  32. John here you know that you didn.t want because of cracks mite be good for resin mix filling with some colors nice shop too

  33. Absolutely beautiful wood. The slabs after the router…AMAZING. l have just started working with wood. Not evento the milling point yet. But this video has me thinking😊 Just as a note. I do lapidary work, and its the same, you never know what is in the slab of rock until you slice into it. Thanks for the video. You r a fun teacher.

  34. Great video. I've watched quite a few of these types of videos but this one was, by far, the easiest to follow and understand. Great job.

  35. I love your videos. I sometimes can not hit the like button because I listen to you via Blue Tooth head set.

  36. I tried milling after a hurricane blew through the Houston area back in 2008. It was A LOT of work. This system looks so much better.
    Also, I just LOVE mesquite.

  37. You have to wait two years for the wood to dry out? So if you're a new upstart, what are you going to do in the meantime to make money?

  38. My ABW is going to "hate" you. You just made it completely possible for me to start milling. Come to think of it my neighbors might want a word or three as well. I'll need to buy them off with a turned bowl or small table.

  39. Real nice work and informative presentation April! May I suggest a piece of mylar put on the slab after your first pass and every pass thereafter. It will make that metal slide very easy on the ruff cut wood. I use it on my out feed table on table saw for 3 foot to 20 foot materials. No resistance it's like sliding on ice. Just a thought, great video!

  40. April, thanks for the very informative look at chainsaw slabbing. My humble contribution to your process is to suggest you use a pulley where your winch cable/cord changes direction. You will be surprised just how much more efficient a pulley will be. Best regards, Steve.

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