After a lengthy period of consideration I finally went ahead and invested in an Alaskan chainsaw mill to use to add value (or in Permaculture parlance, obtain the maximum yield) to the small amount of timber we’ll be getting when trying to bring our derelict coppice
back to life; bringing in more light and hopefully promoting new growth. As an added benefit we should also be able to use it ad-hoc when building our roundwood house, assuming that the planners give us permission to erect it…
Previously I’d already invested in a second ‘big’ (75cc) saw to help with some of the larger felling and because as a rule it’s a good idea to have second saw when doing forestry related activities (e.g. your saw getting stuck). When I purchased it I had my eye on milling at some point. The recommended size saw for milling is one of the huge 120cc beasts but as I’m not planning to do this professionally and I can’t justify a dedicated milling saw I took the middle ground with this one.
Here it is with a new 28″ bar and a ripping chain. For scale I’ve put against my ‘little’ day-to-day saw with 15″ bar.
This is the mill. I bought a 36″ unit so if I do ever need to mill larger diameters I just need to get a larger bar/chain.
Saw clamped to the mill.
No drilling needed. It just clamps to the bar.
My first subject, a lovely Oak that had the bough split
on it and had to be felled as it was in a dangerous position. It has been raised (with some difficulty!) onto two railway sleepers. The piece is 2.7m long and around 500mm diameter at its widest.
The first cut requires a level surface to lean on. I used these optional rails but a jig made from straight timber or an old ladder would work just as well.
Before the first cut.
During the first cut, note how I’ve used felling wedges to avoid the (heavy) upper piece pinching the bar.
The top piece removed.
Once the top piece is removed the rails can be discarded and the flat top used as the guide for further cuts.
The processed log, held apart with some brash.
Given this is my first attempt I’m amazed that the actual job of ripping the log only took a few hours. The mill is really portable and it lends itself well to being used in-situ. Though getting the planks home again to start their lengthy seasoning process was quite mission as each piece is *really* heavy.
The mill was easy to use and I’m glad I had the extra horsepower, it did struggle a bit at times but it was manageable.
I really look forward to using this timber to make a long table top as a centrepiece for our new home, should we ever get to build it.