How To Make a Chainsaw Mill at Home

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Are you thinking of organizing a chainsaw mill, but you do not know how to make a chainsaw mill? If yes, then you are certainly in the right place at the right time.

Making a chainsaw mill is easy as long as you know the right steps. For making a chainsaw mill from scratch, all you will need to do is build rails and support, attach the sled and milling chainsaw, assemble the pieces, attach the anchors, run the chainsaw mill, and make the cuts. However, you should remember that operating a chainsaw mill can be dangerous, so taking safety precautions should be of utmost importance.

In this article, you will get to learn all about chainsaw mills, tools that are needed for making chainsaw mill, how to make chainsaw chain, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.

What is a Chainsaw Mill

A chainsaw mill is among the most effective tools for converting wood into limber. It can be quite helpful for creating useful planks and boards by processing wooden logs of limber. With fallen logs to spare or trees in your backyard, processing can be done at home easily and efficiently. Using material readily available to you, you will be able to mill easily.

Chainsaw milling is the act of cutting trees into planks, boards, or slabs such that they can be used to build things. One of the most enjoyable aspects will be the saving of the tree. Each day, trees are cut down and turned into firewood or mulch. This will give you the opportunity to save trees and turn them into something beautiful.

Tools and Equipment Needed for Making a Chainsaw Mill

Here are the tools and equipment you will need for making a chainsaw mill –


The most critical tool that will be needed is obviously a chainsaw. In the world of chainsaw milling, the more powerful your chainsaw is, the better it will be. You can also mill with a smaller saw; however, it will be quite slow. On average, it’ll take around 10–15 minutes to make one cut using the saw, based on the size of the logs. You can expect that a smaller chainsaw will cut slower.

Chainsaw bar and chain

The bar is part of the chainsaw that sticks out and holds the chain. Each chainsaw comes with a recommended maximum bar length, so you need to check the chainsaw manufacturer for guidelines. However, some people can exceed these recommendations, which means it is not a hard and fast rule. The length is usually based on the amount of bar oil that your chainsaw can support. The chainsaw lubricates the bar and chain such that they do not overheat. 

The longer your chainsaw bar, the more lubrication it will require. If your chainsaw cannot support oiling, then there might be a risk of overheating. To get around that, some millers add an extra oil pump to their setup.

If you’re starting out in milling, you should know that the size of the bar won’t be the size of the logs that you can mill. Some space will be taken by the mill itself. While milling, you need to refill the gas and bar oil after every cut. It is common to go through almost as much oil as gas, you can adjust the chainsaw such that it splits out as much oil as allowed, as million can be taxing on a chainsaw.

You can make use of a ripping chainsaw for milling. A ripping chain has teeth that are cut at a certain angle, which allows it to cut faster horizontally with the grain. It will also give smoother cuts. 


You won’t want to free-hand anything when making a slab, this is why you should use a sawmill. There are many brands out there. Doing a quick search for chainsaw mills will show you the different options. It is important to consider all the features of the mill.

You will want a mill that fits the length of the chainsaw bar. Most mills will be adjustable along the length of the bar. This mill will clamp directly onto the bar, but you need to leave room at the tip of the bar such that the sprocket can spin freely.

Further, you will want a mill that’s easily adjustable in height. If you want to cut the slabs 2 inches thick, you should consider how long will it take to adjust the mill to 2 inches.

Guide rails

The first cut will require the guide rails to be attached to the log. Guide rails will provide a flat surface for the mill to slide across when making the first cut. They can be manufactured, or you can even make your own. A section of extension ladders can be used as guide rails. 

Safety gear

Safety gear is critical as there is an increased chance of injury when using a chainsaw mill. Running a chainsaw at full throttle can produce many wood chips, dust, and fumes. It can be easy to feel nauseated if you aren’t wearing a mask. You can use a respirator, but it is recommended that you should use a mask that you’ll likely continue to wear. If you don’t like what you’re wearing, you will likely make excuses so that you don’t have to wear it. Along those lines, you should also wear safety glasses, hearing protection, and a face shield.

You should also wear gloves and chainsaw chaps. They are designed to help stop the chainsaw chain by unraveling when they’re cut, binding it, and forcing it to stop. Moreover, it makes the milling process much more comfortable.

Other extras

There are a few extra things that will turn out to be incredibly helpful when you are milling. You need to have a chainsaw wrench with you. You will have to tighten or replace the chainsaw chain. You will also require wedges. These do not necessarily need to be fancy or expensive. You might also want to use a hand file such that you can sharpen the chainsaw manually. Further, you should use a log peavey as it’ll allow you to roll the log over for finding the best ways to cut it.

How to Make Chainsaw Mill

Step 1: Build rails and support

The first step would be to construct the rails and support. Rails should be used for sliding the chainsaw along. It is important that you should build support for the log too. You must follow the course of action as described here –

  • The 1×12 must be cut to equal lengths. A 12-inch margin must be left for the log for having clearance from both sides.
  • Moreover, four pieces of 2×4 must be cut at a length of 11.5 inches. This will help in mounting the rails while supporting the end braces for the width of 1×12.
  • Two 2×4 pieces must be cut 3 inches shorter than the 1×12, which will ensure the supporting length of it.
  • Using a screw or drill driver, you must screw the 2×4 at the bottom of the 1×12 after screwing from the top of the 1×12.

Step 2: Attach the sled and chainsaw

Constructing the sled that will move the chainsaw along the 1×12 rail will be the next step. The design can be customized depending on the chainsaw you own or are looking to buy. Here the use of a sled would be to slide along the chainsaw mill and is a requirement regardless of the size of the chainsaw mill.

  1. The plywood must be cut to 14.5” x 8”
  2. Two lengths of 2×4 to 8” should be cut 
  3. Use screws for attaching the two 2x4s to the bottom of the plywood (14.5” x 8”) at the opposite ends
  4. The 1×12 must be able to fit between the 2x4s easily

You can mold it to your liking, as you’ll be attaching the chainsaw to your plywood so that the chainsaw bar is running perpendicular to the 1×12 rail you built. The plane of the bar and the plane of the 1×12 bar must be perfectly parallel to each other. To ensure stability, the chainsaw should remain attached to the sled.

The fear of going the wrong course or it tipping over could be eliminated if it is fixed properly. This is possible easily by building support for the handle. Adding a 2×4 support under the bar that holds the blade in place and another one to brace the handle, the chainsaw will only be able to move on the sled.

Step 3: Assemble the pieces

Cut two pieces of plywood to 24 x 30” and attach the rails to its end for support using screws. A parallel and leveled rail with log support must be constructed. The thickness of the cut will be directed through the adjustment of the height.

Step 4: Attach the anchors

Safety will be of utmost importance. It is recommended that you must build support that eradicates the chances of the log rolling while you’re using the chainsaw mill. Add 2×4 supports and screw the log with it, as it’ll make for reduced waste and cutting errors.

Step 5: Run the chainsaw mill

person holding the sliced wood from chainsaw mill

Now, you need to check whether the cut is proper or not. To achieve that, you should see if the chainsaw is long enough that it can cut through the entire width of the log. There needs to be ample space at the back and in front of the chainsaw and sled.

Remember not to rush the process. Chainsaw milling for beginners could see challenging, so it’ll be best to take it slow, and you’ll get the desired results. The chainsaw must be oiled as necessary, and the boards should be cleaned before you proceed to the next cut.

Step 6: Make the first cut

You have to maneuver the logs into the position that you want. You should log the log over and then determine how to get the coolest-looking grain. Further, see which side seems to have the flattest surface. In case there are any lumps or branches sticking up, you should remove them with a chainsaw before attaching the guard rails.

The first cut should be riding across the guard rails. Set the mill such that the chainsaw can cut under the bolts. You definitely won’t want to hit them while cutting. The first cut usually goes quickly since you aren’t removing a lot of wood.

Step 7: Make the remaining cuts

Remove the rail and slab such that you can start slabbing up the log. Set the mill to the thickness that you want. You can try cutting the slabs at 2-2.5 inches. You should remember that the thicker you cut, the heavier they will be. Further, you should ensure that you have the means to move them.

All subsequent cuts will not require the rails. The mill should be sliding across the surface of the log. As you’re cutting the log, slab by slab, you’ll eventually end up at the pith. The pith is the center of the log, and it is easily seen when looking at the end of the log. During the drying process, the pit is likely to split. You should try making the cut such that you can slice through the center of the pitch such that you don’t have a slab that contains the entire pith. This will reduce the probability of a giant split down the middle of the slab.

When you’re down to the last remaining section of the log, it could be difficult to cut more slabs without the chainsaw dragging on the ground. A good solution would be to prop one end of the log on something. This will give you extra space, but it’ll also position the logs at a downward angle. Gravity will serve as your ally and make cutting a lot easier. You should do this when milling smaller and lighter logs.

How to Build a Chainsaw Mill from Scratch


How to make cheap a cheap chainsaw mill?

A cheap chainsaw mill can be made with the help of tools and appropriate materials. There are different tools for manufacturing a chainsaw mill that can vary depending on different factors. Creating a chainsaw mill yourself is a good start to save yourself money and have a fully operating chainsaw mill.

Is chainsaw milling worth it?

Chainsaw mills can be cost-efficient if you have an idea of what to do and how to do it. The idea that trees can be cut down using a chainsaw and can be easily split into logs where it falls will make it well worth the time and effort that you put in. The quality of chainsaw milling will depend on numerous factors.

How big of a chainsaw will you need for a chainsaw mill?

Depending on the type of wood you are dealing with, the size of the chainsaw will vary. For softwood processing into logs, a chainsaw that has a diameter of 4HP or 60cc will be suitable. Meanwhile, for processing hardwood logs, a minimum of 6HP or 90cc chainsaw diameter gets recommended.

How to make a chainsaw mill portable?

Portable chainsaw mills are small enough that they can be carried or moved and set in the field. Influenced by the kind of work you’re leaning towards, a chainsaw mill can be made portable by decreasing its size or by arranging a vehicle big enough for carrying it wherever you want.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.