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Selecting the right chainsaw for milling

The right chainsaw to mill timber is all about selecting a chainsaw with sufficient power, and the physical attributes to accommodate fitting the sawmill carriage and ripping chains and bars.

 

Chainsaw type and power

Chainsaw milling is possibly the toughest thing you will ask of your chainsaw, and it's important to ensure you have a quality chainsaw with sufficient power for your milling requirements.

As tempting as it is to buy a cheap but powerful looking chainsaw, nothing beats the reliability and longevity of a quality chainsaw like Stihl and Husqvarna. Once you own one of these chainsaws you never look back. They certainly cost more, but you might have it for decades to come. Additionally, service and support is never far away. Chain and bar compatibility is very rarely a problem. We strongly support the Stihl range of chainsaws with a range of chains, bars and drive sprockets (see below).

To make it simple, we recommend two chainsaws from the Stihl range:

  • Stihl MS391 - A 64cc 3.3kW (4.5hp) chainsaw for light to medium milling of soft and hardwoods.
  • Stihl MS661 (or MS660) - A 91cc 5.7kW (7.6hp) chainsaw for medium to heavy milling, including large diameter logs in softwoods and hardwoods.

Or for a good sized Husqvarna, chat with your local Husqvarna dealer about a suitable chainsaw with 1.3mm drive link compatible bar.

Stihl MS661Stihl MS391
Stihl MS661 and MS391 chainsaws.

Some specifics to look out for:

  • Your chainsaw must have two guide bar bolts fixing the bar to the chainsaw body, this is required to attach our chain saw carriages. 
  • Check the two nuts holding the bar to the chainsaw body are not a 'captive' type. If so, get in contact with us and we may be able to assist dealing with this. The latest Stihl MS661 has these and we have a workaround.

 

Correct ripping chains and bars (and drive sprockets)

Essentially you need to have three components working together.

  • Ripping chain. This is chain with cutting teeth set at the correct angle for ripping - 10 degrees. The teeth should be narrower giving the overall narrower saw kerf, getting the best output from the chainsaw and reduce wasted timber as sawdust. We recommend a 10 degree chain with 3/8th pitch low profile 1.3mm drive links.
  • Ripping bar. A narrow ripping chain will have drive links of 1.3mm. The chainsaw guide bar needs a groove to fit this chain, and the bar nose sprocket needs to also match the drive link type/size.
  • Chainsaw drive sprocket. The chainsaw drive sprocket also needs a groove to fit the ripping chain drive link type/size.

Need to know more? A detailed explanation of chains, bars, and sprockets can be found here.

How do I remember all this when building my mill system? Easy, we have these chains and bars specified on each of our chainsaw mill pages. Well, for Stihl and some Husqvarna chainsaws. If in doubt, get in contact with us to discuss your specific chainsaw and how to match it to the best ripping chains/bars.

 

Keep chains sharp - have spares

To correctly support the 3/8th low profile chain with 1.3mm drive link, you need a matching bar. This bar has a drive link groove 1.3mm wide and nose sprocket matched to 3/8th low profile chain drive links. A solid bar (rather than a three piece laminated bar) is also preferred as it is stronger and stands up to the stresses of chainsaw milling better.

Our Logosol ripping bars and Stihl ripping bars are all solid and match our Stihl ripping chains.