What Size Chainsaw is Most Suitable for Milling?

Choosing a chainsaw to buy is one thing but choosing a chainsaw for milling has to be a bit different!

There are so many different types of chainsaws from so many different brands but what’s important to consider is the type of job you need the chainsaw for. For instance, for carrying out tasks just around your home and backyard, a small chainsaw would be perfect. But if you need a chainsaw for cutting large wood logs, you cannot go for a smaller saw. 

Similarly, while looking for a chainsaw for milling, you’d have to look through different chainsaws, keeping in mind different factors such as chainsaw size, cutting speed, etc. 

For the question “what size chainsaw is most suitable for milling?”, we’ll be guiding you in detail further in this article but for an introduction here, chainsaw milling is a power-intensive process requiring a powerful saw with at least 90 CC of displacement. It is possible to cut smaller logs with lower-powered saws, but they require more attention and are more likely to overheat as well.

What Are the Different Chainsaw Bar Sizes for Milling?

The chainsaw bar sizes usually start from 11 inches and go to 60 inches. But the most commonly used specifically for milling are 20 and 24 inches. With mills requiring two people to operate, 36-inch or longer bars are also used.

Is There a Recommended Chainsaw Size for Chainsaw Mill?

Well, yes. It is recommended to choose a chainsaw a bit more powerful than what you actually need. A larger, more powerful chainsaw is said to be able to accommodate larger bars, and if it is frequently used for milling, it will last for a much longer period of time.

If you are milling logs with your chainsaw, the size of the bar you need will be determined by the size of the log and the adjustable range of the chainsaw mill. 

Is There a Recommended Chainsaw Size for Chainsaw Mill

You have more options when using a more powerful saw, especially if you are dealing with a log that is not your typical log. Additionally, a high-powered chainsaw will last longer than a low-powered chainsaw during milling operations. 

It is recommended that you use at least a 60cc or 4HP chainsaw if you will only be milling softwood. For milling logs of large diameter, you would do well to invest in a chainsaw with a larger engine displacement.

If the wood isn’t softwood, the chainsaw should be at least 90cc or 6HP when milling hardwood logs and large-diameter timber. And then depending on the toughness of the wood, the demand keeps increasing.

Milling Chainsaw Choice Based on Wood Type

Here’s how to make a choice for milling chainsaws according to the wood type.

Softwood logs such as cedar, spruce, and pine can easily be cut with a not-so-high-powered chainsaw which means you won’t need a bigger saw for them. You can go with a minimum of 60 CC. 

A more powerful saw will be necessary to handle oak, walnut, and other hardwood logs’ toughness if you’re milling them. For these, you cannot go for a 60 CC saw. You’ll need to look for the one with at least 90 CC displacement and more.

And, if the wood you’re cutting is a blend of both hardwood and softwood, you’ll need an even more powerful chainsaw. That’s because the wood will be very tough in this case.

A Guide Towards Choosing the Right Chainsaw for Milling

Here are some factors we think are extremely important to consider when looking for a milling chainsaw.

A Powerful Engine – The engine power defines the speed, cutting depth, and how efficiently a chainsaw could work with hardwood. These characteristics are better when the power is higher. However, chainsaws with more power are heavier also. So, choose carefully according to your needs and personal preference. 

Suitable Bar Length – The length of the bar basically decides how deep or what size of diameter can a chainsaw cut with ease. A longer bar allows you to cut through thicker logs. But at the same time, long tires, can accelerate engine wear and significantly shorten the lifespan of a milling chainsaw if it has low power.

Suitable Bar Length

So, if you’re choosing a longer bar length, make sure you choose one with a higher power.

Tire Types – Different types of tires are used on saws that are to be used for different purposes. Household models feature narrow flat tires and low-profile chains. With such tires, kickbacks are practically eliminated, and this is why they are considered the safest to work with. However, they cannot be used with larger or tougher wood.

On powerful chainsaws designed to be used daily for many hours, professional tires with replaceable heads are installed.

A High Chain Pitch – The complexity and performance of the device are directly related to chain pitch. For household milling chainsaws, the chain pitch is 0.325 inches while for the professional ones, it is around 0.404 inches. 

A chainsaw with a smaller pitch produces less noise and vibration, but it also has a lower power output which isn’t what you want for milling larger or tougher wood. If you want to see through thick, frozen, or dirty wood, you need a model with a large chain pitch. 

When Using a Chainsaw for Milling, What Things Could be Helpful?

Here are a few things you should have when working with milling chainsaws.

  • Fuel preparation oil for two-stroke gasoline engines.
  • Fuel mixture preparation container and canisters.
  • Chainsaw chain lubricant.
  • Sets and templates for sharpening chains.
  • The filters.
  • Saw tires and sprockets.
  • Goggles and hand gloves for protection.

What Size Chainsaw is Most Suitable for Milling – FAQs

How many cc's do you need for a chainsaw mill?
Generally, a minimum of 60 CC is a must when working on smaller wood logs or softwood. With the increase and toughness of the wood, the power must increase too.
What size chainsaw do you need for an Alaskan sawmill?
Generally, a 20-inch chainsaw would be the smallest one you’d need for an Alaskan mill. You should better choose between 24-, 30-, and 36-inches Alaskan Mark III Sawmills. An engine size of at least 70cc is recommended.
Do you need a ripping chain for milling?
Yes. In order to achieve the best possible end result when chainsaw milling, it is critical that the ripping chain is properly sharpened and maintained. To keep cuts smooth, efficient, and safe, a new replacement chain will be needed as the teeth on the chain become dull.
Is milling hard on a chainsaw?
Yes, it is because it involves cutting wood fiber. When you mill straight, instead of doing the seesaw thing, maximum teeth will be cutting and taking in power at the same time which ultimately makes milling hard on a chainsaw.
What size logs do sawmills want?
We’d say three to six inches are more than enough. Generally, two 8-inch logs will provide more usable wood than one 16-inch log because most logs taper and have a sweep (curve). Shorter logs can definitely be milled, but the shorter they are, the more difficult it becomes.
Is saw milling profitable?
A lot. Sawmills can be very successful businesses, and you can earn significant profits from them consistently if you have the right circumstances. In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that building a business solely for profit isn’t sustainable.


Our Verdict

In a nutshell, a chainsaw with a powerful motor will be needed to effectively mill logs with a larger diameter. Smaller, lower-powered chainsaws could also be used for milling small to medium-sized logs, but larger logs will put a strain on the blade. Hence, choosing a bigger saw with high power would be helpful in all cases.

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