The purchase of a chainsaw for milling is not made lightly…. Relatively expensive, it is a highly technical and powerful tool… But it can quickly prove ineffective and dangerous when the model used is not or is poorly adapted to its user and the type of wood to be milled.
Before investing in a chainsaw for milling, it is important to know and evaluate your needs. If you have to mill wood once a year, or on the contrary, if you fell trees all day long, you know that the type and model of chainsaw you need is different.
To properly define your needs and choose accordingly, here are some keys to guide you in your choice!
Note: The chainsaw for milling is a dangerous tool, very noisy and requires regular maintenance. If you only need to cut firewood from time to time and clean your garden once or twice a year, a good quality hand saw will do. Hand tools can be very effective.
What is the purpose of the chainsaw?
The chainsaw is also known as a power saw. In other words, it is a saw equipped with a motor, whether electric or thermal. It is used in particular in the cutting of firewood if you don't want to search for firewood for sale, the felling of trees, the maintenance of green spaces…
The chainsaw for milling operates on electrical or thermal energy, but the electric chainsaw is the most maneuverable while the thermal chainsaw is more powerful.
How does chainsaw work?
Regardless of the chainsaw, the operating principle is the same. An electric or thermal motor drives a chain equipped with teeth around support called a guide or chain guide. The longer the fence, the more powerful the chainsaw is. The more biting the teeth, the more it cuts but the greater the risks (blade return, chainsaw jumps…).
Recent chainsaws are generally equipped with different safety devices (obligation to hold the tool with both hands, chain brake, anti-bounce, etc.) but the use of a chainsaw for milling still requires great vigilance and adequate equipment.
Electrical or thermal chainsaw for milling?
Electric chainsaws start smoothly, are easier to maintain, make less noise and do not emit harmful exhaust fumes. In short, it is the right tool to cut logs in front of your garage. The power supply wire is their main handicap. It gets caught in the branches when you prune and limits your field of action. It is difficult to pull an extension cord beyond 100 m.
In addition, electrics are less powerful than thermals. The latter are extremely noisy, sometimes becoming capricious when starting as they age and require conventional maintenance of internal combustion engines: full of oil, petrol, filter and spark plugs to change, etc.
Power and capacity
It depends on the type of the diameter, nature, and density of the wood.
For electric chainsaws, only the power, expressed in Watt (W or kW), will be taken into account. For thermals, it will also be necessary to check the engine capacity (cm3 or cc): the larger it is, the more it reduces the ability of the wood to brake the chain.
Thus, if you have to cut a medium-density hardwood log, you must first of all pay attention to the power (W) of the engine, while if you need to cut a small very resinous or very hard tree, you must also ensure that the cylindric capacity (cc or cm3); is relatively high (see nature of the wood). Small chainsaws are generally between 30 cm3 and 35 cm3.
The most powerful models of chainsaw for milling are between 35 and 50 cm3. And the professional machines reach 125 cm3. Note however that the higher the cylinder capacity, the heavier the machine is…
For thermal chainsaws, you will have the choice between 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines, each with its advantages and disadvantages. The 2-stroke engines, the most widespread, have a reduced weight and space requirement, are easy to start and offer very good efficiency.
On the other hand, they are very noisy. They use a mixture of oil and fuel. 4-stroke engines are heavier but less polluting and less noisy. They do not require a mixture of oil and fuel and run on super unleaded.
Note: To meet the new standards, manufacturers have developed new, more environmentally friendly internal combustion engines that significantly reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
How to choose a chainsaw according to its use?
To mill a few times a year, you don't need to buy a super powerful chainsaw. An electric chainsaw is a perfect solution. Choose a versatile guide (between 35 and 45 cm maximum) and a power of at least 2000 W.
For a few rare milling operations on trunks of small sections, such a chainsaw does the job. Be careful not to assume its power and your skills when attacking large trees. Maintenance is limited to tensioning and lubricating the chain.
For regular use, electric models quickly reach their limits, choose a thermal chainsaw for milling. Prefer a relatively powerful motor (> 35 cm3) and a versatile guide (45 cm maximum). Such a chainsaw still requires a certain amount of experience, both for its use and for its maintenance (levels, spark plugs, chain, filters…)
For intensive milling, you need heavy! Of course, no electric model will be suitable. You must choose a thermal chainsaw.
Depending on the type of felling you have to do, choose a suitable guide: from 45 to 55 cm for trees of small and medium sections, and more than 55 cm for large trunks. Same for the motorization, you will need power, 40 cm3 is a minimum.
Chainsaw Mill Build
Once you have a chainsaw that you are satisfied with, you must get a good milling tool (or even create one yourself). They have different names, but the principle is the same: it is a measuring accessory that helps guide your saw to make the cuts you prefer. A few other tools to help make basic measurements can also be used, but are not necessary.
Type of chains
A chainsaw is also defined by the size of its chain guide and its rotational speed.
Chain guide length
The size of the chain guide varies between 11 cm and 120 cm depending on the models and is proportional to the power of the motor… Ideally, it should be equal to or greater than the diameter of the trunk to be cut. Be careful though…
The longer a guide bar is, the heavier the chainsaw will be to carry because of the weight of its guide bar, its chain and above all, its engine, which will then be more powerful. For non-professional use, a length of between 35 and 50 cm is generally sufficient to carry out most cutting operations (felling, cutting, etc.).
The speed of the chain
The higher the speed of rotation of the chain (up to 22 m/s), the more it guarantees an efficient, fast and precise cutting and therefore reduces the risk of bark tearing.
The different types of chainsaw for milling chains
Because all wood species are different, softwood and hardwood, there are several types of chains.
The square profile is used on 45 cm³ chainsaws, it is designed to cut hardwoods such as oak, acacia etc.
Used for logging work, the square profile is easily blunt. Sharpening it is difficult and requires a certain amount of know-how.
Known as chisel or super chisel at Oregon, it is referenced at Stilh under the name of super.
Ideal for soft woods such as fir, birch, etc., the round profile is easy to sharpen and equips low-power chainsaws. Its soft attack makes the cuts more difficult on harder woods (oak, acacia…), its sharpening is also more regular.
The round profile is referenced shipper at Oregon and standard at Stilh manufacturer.
Half round profile
Profile located the round and square, the half-round profile adapts to all the powers of the chainsaws.
Cutting both hard and soft wood, it is easy to sharpen.
The round profile is referenced as the speed guard profile at Oregon and micro at Stilh.
Best electrical chainsaw for milling
Greenworks Tools is the leader in battery-powered outdoor power tools for DIY-consumers and landscaping professionals. The company distributes Greenworks-branded and private label products, as well as products for an extensive network of Original Equipment Manufacturers.
With a robust line of Greenworks-branded products including 24-volt, 40-volt, 60-volt, 80-volt, and commercial-grade 82-volt battery-powered outdoor power equipment, a full line of corded equipment, and reel mowers, Greenworks offers the right tool for every job.
Utilizing best-in-class technology, Greenworks tools deliver the power and performance of comparable gas-powered tools without the mess, noxious fumes, stamina-reducing vibration and noise associated with gas products.
Best gas chainsaw for milling
The next generation of Husqvarna chainsaws is intended to keep pace with your work rhythm and ambition. Count on the saws in this new lineup to deliver outstanding cutting capacity with plenty of acceleration and torque.
They've focused on comfort, control, and maneuverability, so each saw is a pleasure to use. Your chainsaw should feel like an extension of yourself that perfectly channels your skills and experience, whether you're felling, limbing, pruning or cross cutting.
If speed and ergonomics wasn't enough, these chainsaws are versatile machines made to excel in the toughest environments. Each saw will start easily and keep going until the job is finished.
Husqvarna has poured his passion for technology and innovation into each of these new products while drawing on our 60-year history as a premium chainsaw manufacturer.
Regular and annual maintenance advice
- All chainsaws are affected by the chain tension adjustment; it must be done before each use. The same goes for checking the lubrication oil level of the chain.
- Check the chain tension regularly during extended use (several hours).
- Lubricate the sprocket at the top of the guide and check that it does not have any burrs that could cause the chain to blow.
- Check the chain guide regularly for burrs or snags.
Maintenance of thermal chainsaws
For chainsaws with internal combustion engines, in addition to the basic checks and adjustments, you need to be a little more diligent about engine maintenance. You must monitor the good condition and level of engine oil, spark plug, air and fuel filter.
At the beginning and end of the season and regularly depending on the use of the chainsaw.
At the beginning of the season, change the engine oil. Also, refer to the manufacturer's operating manual of your chainsaw because each model has its own characteristics and therefore particular maintenance.
More than for any power gardening tool, the use of a chainsaw requires the use of adequate protective clothing. Earmuffs, goggles, and mask (mesh visor) will protect you from splashing wood particles, chips, and splinters. To protect yourself from the risk of cuts, choose trousers or leggings and cut-resistant gloves whose crossed fibers block the rotation of the chain in the event of contact.
Also, consider wearing safety shoes with reinforced toes to avoid crushing and sculpted soles to avoid slipping in the mud. Also, consider wearing hearing protection (earmuffs or earplugs).
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Updated on 2020-01-16 - Images from Amazon API. Logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.