Jump to content
I Forge Iron

A Chainsaw For The Blacksmith Shop??????

John R

Recommended Posts

Oh yea.    3 inches thick, up to 36 inches wide.  Douglas Fir from my front yard, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  Finished sawing last week now stacked and stickered in the barn to dry.  Anchor End Seal on the slab ends to prevent checking.

Bench tops for the blacksmith shop.  And a few other uses.



Started with a bunch of logs from trees I dropped.  They were too close to the house and parking shed, leery of one falling in a windstorm.


The Stihl 090AV.   Bad Boy saw.


55 year old McCulloch Gear Reduction saw, did a good job also.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Existing benches in the  Machine shop are a mix of wood tops and metal.     Metal for the hard duty and the welding bench.    Wood for the easier jobs.  Some are covered with heavy felt for those delicate machined items that must not be scratched.

I am building a well ventilated shop behind the existing shop for all the blacksmithing stuff.    Will have a couple of metal toped benches plus two or three benches with the fir slabs for tops.  Sanded and sealed of course.  Forge will be on an open side to maximize air flow for creature comfort.


Some of the slabs are destined for outdoor furniture, and with your suggestion of forged legs.

The two best grained slabs will be for a dining room table, 10 feet long by about 5 feet wide.   Sawed and planed edges to be joined, other edges will be left "live".  All this after a year or two for curing.


Wish I was in your area for the good wood curing weather!!    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will you be doing butterfly joints with contrasting wood(s) for your table? (Could do etched real wrought iron butterflies...) Forged chairs?

My workbench tops tend to be dimensional lumber, cheap and easy to replace. (Though the clean shop does have one commercial hardrock maple benchtop I picked up at a factory clean out sale.)  In the dirty shop I have a slab of soapstone I use on top of the bench for hot items and/or a propane forge. (ex old school  lab benchtop) I also have an ex-school welding table; but it's out in the yard near the kitchen window where I run the welder cord in through to the old stove plug when I need to weld...

Actually we have terrible wood curing weather---try to keep it from cracking when it's 100+ degreesF and 7% relative humidity.  (I had to reseat all of my wood handled tools when I moved out there from NM.  Now when I buy handles I let them sit in a shop for a year before using them and do the BLO soak after they are fitted. The plus side is that I tend to buy multiples when I find handles cheap and so always have handles I can use!)

(Don't you need at least 3 chainsaws to be able to juggle them?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice milling work. I've run a few feet with my stihl and alaskan mill over the years. 

My good friend and I a few years did a similar milling job. We milled Two blue spruce planted by his grand parents that came down,,, just missing house and garage. They are sticker'd and drying. He wants to make special gifts to all their children, grand children, and great grand kids when the wood is ready. A great project to have a small part in.  

I'm getting ready to mill the siding for my new shop. Hopefully next month, depending on the weather gods.

Ripping a 150 yr old barn timber in half


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...

You can use a longer bar but it's not practical to hand feed much more than 30-36" cut. An Oregon mill operates on side "rails" and takes less strength but it harder to set up and keep even.

Milling old barn timbers would be a major job of work, keeping the ingrained dirt and dust from dulling the chains in seconds is a tough trick. Carbide chains are a must.

Green timber mills more easily and dries faster without warping or splitting as much.

A friend and I played with a few chainsaw mills maybe 25 years ago, in the day you could actually rent the things. He decided spending $6k on a used Mobile Dimension saw and flying it to the lake in 3 trips was the better choice. One flight for the VW engine and some of the hardware sort of flights. We carried the tracks externally. Man a Cessna 180 feels weird with all that drag on the floats. 

Like Anvil says 30-36" is about the practical limit to hand milling with a chainsaw mill.

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That'd be elementary school.

When I was still killing trees I had my chains professionally sharpened. It was faster, maybe 5  minutes and they do a better job. It's nice if your saw cuts straight. 

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In The pic above of me using my mill, Im milling 100+ year old barn timbers.

I sharpen my own chains. By the time you drive there, drive home, and, if lucky and they will sharpen while you wait, it takes far more than 5 minutes,,,  ;)  No carbide chains for me. Tried them once. They are expensive and need too much power and time to sharpen. In my shop, my post vice is a perfect height for sharpening.

Frosty, I didnt mean to imply that that setup was the limit for milling. Its the limit for that mill. You can get longer rails for the mill and with a more powerful chainsaw or even two and a handle at the bitter end the skys the limit for what you can cut. 

Even tho I use it for many things, its best use is as a specialty tool. You can take it into places that would be impossible, or very expensive, and mill large slabs for furniture. Im talking trees that cannot be hauled to a mill, but when milled on site can be hauled out a slab at a time. Cant beat a day in the woods with friends getting premo wood for custom furniture especially since they use my custom hardware as well.  

The drawback is with a 3\8" kerf, it makes a lot of sawdust when milling half inch slabs. 

Like Charles said, tooth angle, rake height are important. Also ripping chain is what they call skip tooth. Every other cutter is removed. 

Lol, in case you cant tell, I like my Stihl and my mill.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wasn't taking any exception with what you said Anvil, we use our Stihls for different things. I've owned Stihl saws as long as I've owned chainsaws. I agree carbide chains are more practical for demolition work say opening a roof or wall in a burning structure, not for the woods or yard.

I have 9 chains in good condition to use. I typically carried 4 in the carry bag when cutting in the woods. I kept a 1/2 pt. water bottle of bar oil and 1/2 gal of mix gas. It let me cut steady for about 5 hrs without running low on anything and that's enough time doing what I used to do to need a break or call it a day. When I was using one all the time I could change a chain in maybe a minute and the bar being warm I didn't have to adjust after running it a couple minutes. I could keep them sharp with 2 strokes per tooth. Still having it done makes sharper chains and they last longer. The Stihl dealership is about 15 minutes from our place another saw dealer is closer but takes longer to get to chains. 

We used chainsaws to clear forest to get the track drill onto location. It's not even close to milling lumber and only sort of like cutting firewood. I used to sharpen my chains but that makes you want to keep using them after they begin to dull a little. Having replacements right there makes you want to stop as soon as the chips don't curl. The guy at the saw shop is only touching up half my working chains and has to have a bunch to do for me to wait a day. 

Keeping sharp chains on the job with me is something I learned from loggers in S.E Ak. The saw shops in logging towns have chain sacks for cheap so your chains don't rub against each other. Just little cloth sacks and properly rolled a chain can't rub against itself and dull.

Milling lumber with a chainsaw is something I just never did, I eyeball milled a little and if your chain is evenly sharp it's not hard though not practical for more than a piece here and there. 

Like I say I wasn't taking issue with you. The larger chainsaw mills are prohibitively expensive and the set up is a PITA, you almost have to reset and chalk the log for every cut. 

Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...