I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen a chainsaw mill in action, but they are truly an awe-inspiring sight. The sawmill is operated by the power of hydraulic pressure generated with just the pull of a lever.
This allows for easy operation and minimal physical strain, making it perfect for people who want to get into woodcutting as a hobby or profession.
Read on if you’re looking for a portable alternative to these machines! You’ll find my top picks on portable chainsaw mill below, so take your time and see what strikes your fancy.
One thing I love about chainsaw mills is how portable they are – there’s no need to lug around bulky equipment when all you want to do is chop down some trees and turn them into lumber.
This, in turn, means you can take the chainsaw mill with you on camping trips or anywhere else you need to use it!
Not all Chainsaw Sawmills are created equal.
We’ve waded through the thousands of products and finally settled on the suitable portable chainsaw mills the internet offers.
Keep reading for more information.
Top 5 Portable Chainsaw Mills of 2023
We have analyzed the top 5 portable chainsaw mills based on their capability, bar size, weight, and other features like prices, material, and everything.
Let’s dive deep into the chainsaw world.
We are going to walk you through a lineup of top-rated portable chainsaw mills. Here are our three favorite chainsaw mills with expert analysis and our buyer’s guide below.
Logosol Big Mill TimberJig
The Mill At a Glance
The TimberJig comes with screws and angle brackets to set up a wooden guide rail, which is used for the first two cuts of the lumber.
After that, the TimberJig uses a guide fence. This adjustable fence sets the board thickness. For smaller logs, Logosol suggests that you position the timber at waist height for a comfortable working posture.
With the TimberJig, Logosol provides you with a sawmill plan and other tools to build a homemade sawmill.
You will need to build your wooden guide rails as well as the rail supports. All the things you may need to build these components are part of the package.
Word From the Manufacturer
TimberJig is made using steel and aluminum. All the steel components are treated with nitrous oxide and, therefore, are black.
The process also makes the components more durable and resistant to corrosion. This process costs more than mere zinc plating but improves the quality of the mill.
Norwood PortaMill PM14
If you have a chainsaw and a household extension ladder in your garage, you can just throw a Norwood PortaMill PM14 into the mix and have your portable sawmill.
You get to choose the height to set up the log, and once that is done, the log stays stationary while the saw head cuts through it.
The mill can cut logs, both hardwood, and softwood, of up to a 14-inch diameter. Moreover, it uses depth-of-cut scales, which ensure consistency in lumber thickness.
The mill comes with two log rest and log dog assemblies and also has back dogs to clamp beams, can’t, and boards. The PortaMill also boasts of a throttle actuator that is patented.
The actuator fits all chainsaws. The mechanism connects the saw’s throttle to handle-mounted throttle control. This allows easy activation of the saw throttle.
The PM14 mill is compact and will not eat too much into your storage space. It is also easy to carry around, even to the remotest of places.
You can take it with you on a boat, a small car, an airplane, or even in an ATV, depending on where your lumber cutting requirements are.
A Word From the Experts
The Norwood PortaMill is shipped in knock-down form with step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions, photos, and plans. You are not likely to face trouble setting up the sawmill.
The carriage platform of the PM14 can adjust to fit any extension ladder. It features an endstop safety mechanism to avoid the run-off of the chainsaw carriage.
Another thoughtful addition is the track sweeper mechanism. The built-in sweeper clears sawdust from the track for smoother action.
Chainsaw Mill For Hobbyists & Homeowners (Is It Worthy The Money)
Chainsaw Mills, though slower and more physically demanding in comparison to bandsaw mills…
…have a few aces up their sleeves.
Today, I’m going to tell you about them.
First, they are relatively inexpensive. So if you are just a hobbyist or need to cut lumber only for household requirements, you may not want to make the large investment that traditional band-saw mills require.
Portable chainsaw mills from reputed brands can cost between $200 and $300. Some cost even less. Today, even the price of chainsaws is very low. You can get a good-quality chainsaw at a cheap price.
Of course, the actual chainsaw is an additional investment. There are chainsaw mills in the market that cross even the $1500 mark as they come with a track and a frame.
A bandsaw mill, however, can easily set you back by a few thousand dollars on up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Portability is the biggest plus of buying a chainsaw mill. If your lumbering activity is in an area that is difficult to access, then a chainsaw mill is right for you.
In fact, the mills perhaps got their “Alaskan” tag from the fact that they were successfully used to lumber in remote areas in Alaska.
You can produce lumber right where the trees are felled. For instance, if you intend to build a log cabin, you can use your chainsaw mill at the site.
It’s an easy fix when in remote areas where you otherwise wouldn’t get squared lumber. A chainsaw mill can accompany you even on rugged, and/or steep terrain.
Are you cutting large-sized lumber?
You get the freedom to cut large-sized lumber using chainsaw mills. In case you are interested in cutting wide wooden slabs to make giant table-tops, musical instruments or other custom furniture, then you will find a chainsaw mill up to the task.
Alaskan mills also allow for quarter sawing. Chainsaw mills basically let you carve out usable lumber from otherwise wasted wood.
Limitations of a Chainsaw Mill
Remember that large-scale lumbering is not what a chainsaw mill is made for. Moreover, be prepared for more wood wastage and a lot of sawdust. This is because the kerf of a chainsaw can be about ⅜th of an inch, which means the lumber yield from the log is not always optimal.
Moreover, a big kerf ensures that you spend a lot more energy to log the lumber using a chainsaw mill. So be prepared for hard physical activity. Using various chainsaw mill attachments you can overcome some limitations.
However, for a limited quantity of wood craftsmen and for those salvaging lumber from inaccessible areas, the benefits of a chainsaw mill cannot be overstated.
What about the Chainsaw itself?
Now, let us talk about the chainsaw itself. It is easy to understand why bigger is really better here. The bigger saws are better able to handle the work without overheating and they provide more power.
In fact, even the small chainsaw mills should have a minimum of 60cc of chainsaw engine capacity. Some people like to use two powerheads for bigger mills, I find that one works fine as long as I’m not in a hurry.
Additionally, if you are planning on using the chainsaw mill very often to process dry wood, getting an auxiliary oil kit might be a very good idea too.
Not keeping your saw properly oiled is a surefire way to ensure you’ll be buying a new one before finishing your project.
14 Tips For EXPERT Chainsaw Milling Experience (Newbie Logging)
Now that you have read about the various chainsaw mills on the market…
…and bought the one that is right for you.
how about getting down to the business of actually milling the logs?
Experienced or otherwise, it always helps to go over the finer points of milling before you start.
Today, I’m going to tell you about 14 tips that I learn over years through logging.
…and I’ll show you how you can grasp them before even touching your chainsaw mill…
First, ensure that your chain is sharp and the rakers are correctly set. A blunt chain makes the work more laborious than it already is.
Sharpen the chain as often as you need to. Stripping the log clear of bark and grit keeps the chain sharp and also makes the milling process easier.
Second, make sure you’ve done all of your routine maintenance and all of your gear is working properly.
The following are a few additional tips to keep in mind when you actually start milling your logs:
- When processing wider logs, protect the chain and bar by using an auxiliary oiler. It can be added to the outboard end of the bar.
- Always ensure that the length of the log rail exceeds the logs being milled.
- To minimize wood warping, paint the ends of the logs. This controls the loss of moisture.
- Once the logs have been cut into slabs, store them under proper cover. Also, space them properly. The logs will dry much faster if you keep them elevated and off the ground.
- After you have finished a cut, do not shut down the engine immediately. Letting the engine run idle for 30-40 seconds allows it to cool down.
- Chainsaw milling generates a lot of sawdust. It is a good idea to position the log in a way that ensures that the fumes and sawdust are blown away from the saw operator.
- Do not move the chainsaw back and forth while it cutting the log. It will result in a rough, gouged board surface. Try and maintain a straight and smooth action.
- When milling very dry hardwood, slice off a few inches from the starting point. Your chain will stay sharper for longer.
- When cutting through the log, do not stop in the middle. Try to cut the entire slab in one go. Having a chainsaw with a throttle lock helps with this step.
- Whenever possible, the log should be positioned off the ground. Use sawhorses or gluts. This will ensure a better working position for you. Ideally, if you’re cutting a large number of logs, it helps if you don’t have to kneel down while milling the logs. Get a more comfortable grip while milling your logs, and consider adding extra handles to your sawmill.
- Another way to make the process easier is to position the log on a slope and cut it downhill. This position makes gravity work for you. Make sure you have something securing the end of the log or it will slip, depending on your hill placement.
- The chainsaw bar and the rail should always be parallel to each other.
- Before you start milling, check for any loose bolts, nuts, and fasteners. You do not want them to come undone while you are milling the log.
- Whenever possible, avoid cutting down live trees. Trees felled by wind, driftwood, or wood discarded by large commercial lumber units and other reclaimed wood are good raw materials for small-scale chainsaw milling projects.
How To Be Safe When Using A Chainsaw Mill
All power tools can be dangerous if not used properly and can cause grave injuries.
Also, in the case of chainsaw mills, you need to factor in the slow lumbering process, which means you will be exposed to extremely fine sawdust, loud noise, vibrations, and fumes for a long time.
Always wear safety goggles, chainsaw boots, a dust mask, and ear muffs. Sturdy gloves will protect your hands as well.
Invest in good quality apron chaps that can prevent, or at least reduce the severity of an injury in case of accidental contact with the moving chain.
A hard helmet is a must too. It’s also important to keep a first aid kit always at hand.
If you are working in a remote area, do not forget to carry adequate drinking water, food, and fuel with you. Grease, engine oil, and a portable fire extinguisher should also be part of your kit.
Positioning of the log is of utmost importance as it can easily roll over and crush you. Use chocks to make them sturdy.
Finally be mindful of people, especially children, and pets around you when you are milling the logs. You don’t want the dust in their lungs if it’s not necessary.
The Final Word
For many, getting lumber from felled trees is a passion. It is a raw material for many of their artistic creations.
To use a mill, you don’t necessarily need a professional chainsaw. Others just enjoy the highly physical activity undertaken literally in the lap of nature.
Yet others, see milling as a viable business option. Whatever your reason to pick up milling might be, a good chainsaw mill is crucial.
When maintained well, a sawmill can last decades and become your chainsaw’s best friend.
All you have to do is: know your requirements, choose wisely and be safe when handling a chainsaw sawmill.