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Milling hardwood

One of the most frequent questions we receive is "can your mills handle Australian hardwoods?". Yes they can!

But here is some important information to consider for milling both softwood and especially hardwoods.

 

Species, density and moisture content

Different hardwood species will mill at different rates and level of difficulty. Some species will be as easy as softwoods, some species will require much more effort and horsepower.

Freshly felled green timber with a high moisture content is much easier to mill than older dryer timber. This is really important to recognise.

Research the density of the timber species you will be milling, whether it is green or dry; and make sure you have ample chainsaw power to meet your needs.

Considering the information and advice on this page you should be able to successfully chainsaw mill the following hardwoods:

  • Messmate, Ironbark, Redgum, Blue Gum, Teak, Jarrah, amd more.

 

      
Resawing Jarrah sleepers on a Logosol M8 using a Stihl MS661 and 50cm chain/bar.           Resawing Messmate into 50cm wide slabs on a Logosol M8 using a Stihl MS661 and 63cm chain/bar.

Equipment

Our chainsaw mills can certainly mill hardwoods, but the mill is only one component required for successful hardwood milling.

  • Chainsaw - Make sure you have sufficient chainsaw power. Review our guide for selecting the right chainsaw for milling.
  • Chains and bars - Make sure you have a proper ripping chain and bar combo. Review our chain, bar, sprocket guide.
  • Log handling equipment - Being so much heavier than softwood, all but the smaller hardwood logs will require careful consideration of how you will lift and shift them around for milling. Anything over two meters or 300mm diameter (or both) will require care and consideration, so think of getting a Peavy to rotate logs, a Timberwinch to assist lifting, or build a log loading ramp. For more information on these tools and log handling techniques, visit this page. Coming soon!

 Hardwood Milling
Milling green Shining Gum on a Logosol M8 using a Stihl MS661 and 63cm chain/bar.

 

Size matters

It's easy to get excited about milling really long logs and fantastic wide slabs, but as you increase either of these dimensions milling can become more difficult, especially log handling. So although you will be able to mill long and wide, consider most milling people do is for less ambitious size boards and posts. Embracing smaller dimension timber milling is very fruitful, maybe more easily supported by timber you have access to, and quite a lot of fun.

 

Keep chains sharp - have spares

It is important to have a sharp chain, and realise when it requires sharpening. Always have your sharpening tools handy, but a more efficient approach is to have multiple chains and swap them over as soon as your current chain is beginning to dull. Take a break part way through the day and resharpen all your chains. Then get back to milling.

 

Be realistic

Milling timber can be hard work regardless of the type of equipment being used. For chainsaw milling it might be more difficult if you don't get the right equipment and keep it in tune. But if you remember the following you should have no troubles and enjoy the process:

  • Take your time assembling your chainsaw mill.
  • Get to know your equipment and its capabilities. Take the time to do this.
  • Different timbers (species, density, moisture content) mill at different rates.
  • Be safe, don't put yourself under pressure milling or handling timber.

Hardwood Milling Hardwood Milling
Milling old dry Messmate on a Logosol Farmers M8 using a Stihl MS661 and 50cm chain/bar. 

 

Experiment with water cooling

Even though the chainsaw oil lubrication works as it is supposed to, and the feeding pressure is not too high, the guide bar can be overheated when you are sawing dry or hard wood.

If the temperature of the chain and bar seems too high, the properties of the oil will impair and the chain will become dull quicker.

Try hooking up a small bottle of water to the chainsaw carriage and a thin hose to drain onto the bar/chain. This will dramatically reduce bar/chain heat, reduce wear and increase cutting efficiency. 

 

 
Water cooling bar/chain on a Stihl MS661 and M8.