Build a Chainsaw Mill

Build a chainsaw mill and you may never need to buy lumber again. A chainsaw mill is an accessory that attaches to your chainsaw, allowing it to cut through logs parallel to the long axis of the log. The adjustable height of a chainsaw mill allows you to vary the thickness of the boards cut from the log.

How To Build A Chainsaw Mill At Home

The primary skill required to build a chainsaw mill is that of welding. A safe and secure chainsaw mill needs to be constructed of square steel tubing and the only way to fasten pieces of this material is to weld them together. If you can get past that, the rest of the construction is straightforward. Here's how to get started:

  • Anatomy of a chainsaw mill. The chainsaw mill is made up of three components: a rectangular frame and two adjusting arms. The rectangular frame rides along the surface of the wood to maintain a flat cutting plane. The rectangular frame also has guide tubes at either end to accept the adjusting arms. The adjusting arms bolt to the chainsaw bar and can be raised or lowered through the guide tubes to make thicker or thinner cuts.
  • Create a frame. First, you'll need to create a rectangular frame out of 1-1/2" steel box tubing. The frame should be about 3" shorter than your chainsaw blade and about 12" to 14" high. Consider welding one or more reinforcing bars across the middle of the rectangle. For example, a chainsaw with a 24" blade would require a 21"x14" rectangle with one or more bars connecting the 21" sides. This rectangular frame rides along a flat surface to guide the chain saw blade.
  • Add guide tubes. Weld two 6" sections of 1-1/2" steel box tubing to the rectangular frame to create guides for the adjusting arms. The tubes should be centered on the short sides of the rectangular mill frame, perpendicular to the frame and with about 1" of tubing projecting below the surface of the frame. On one side of each guide tube, above the frame, drill and tap a hole to accept a 3/8" machine bolt.
  • Create adjusting arms. Next, you'll need to make two inverted T-shaped adjusting arms out of 1" steel box tubing. The horizontal part of the "T" should be 4" wider than your chainsaw bar. The vertical leg of the "T" should be 24" long. The upside-down "T" should have a 3/8" reinforcing plate welded to the bottom face of the horizontal arm of the "T". This plate should have two holes drilled and tapped to accept 3/8" bolts. The holes should be centered on the vertical leg of the "T" and close enough together to fit on the chainsaw bar without interfering with the operation of the chain.
  • Modify the chainsaw bar. Remove the chainsaw bar from the chainsaw and lay it down. With the adjusting arms in the guide tubes of the rectangular frame, arrange the adjusting arms so they rest on the chainsaw blade with the holes of the adjusting arms centered on the bar. Mark and drill holes though the chainsaw bar to match the holes on the adjusting arms. Replace the chainsaw bar on the chainsaw.
  • Using the chainsaw mill. To adjust the cutting thickness of the mill, raise or lower the adjusting arms in their guides and tighten them in place with the 3/8" machine bolts. The distance between the bottom of the adjusting arms and the bottom of the frame is equal to the thickness of the cut. Bolt the mill to the chainsaw bar. For the first cut on a log, place a flat guide board on the log. Start the chainsaw and push the mill frame along the surface of the guide board. The chainsaw will cut into the log, creating a flat surface. Remove the guide board for the next cut. The chainsaw mill frame will now ride along the flat surface of the log for the other cuts.
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