Chainsaw mill??

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30 Mar 2008
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I have recently obtained some rather large oak pieces, 800 x 600 or thereabouts, and approx 60mm thick. What I would like to do is cut these pieces down so they were 25mm, or 30mm thick, and use them in the kitchen I am building. I have some oak planks, which will be used, but would love to be know that I had turned a lump of tree into the worktop!!
And this is a LUMP of tree.
I have been to a few of my 'contacts' but no-one has the ability to cut this wood down for me. I guess I could take it to the mill down the road, but I had a brainwave.
I have a chainsaw. I thought about making a frame out of some metal to hold the chainsaw so the blade was horizontal over a table of sheet metal, and use a fence to feed the wood through into the blade accurately. Sort of a homemade mill. It would be used at home so health and safety would not be such an issue.
Does anyone have any comments on this, maybe constructive ideas rather than just shooting my idea down in flames. I know it's a little nuts, but I am banging my head against a brick wall here. I also am aware the chainsaw is set to crosscut, but in reality it is able to rip with some success, so it could work in theory.

Come on OPJ, Digit, Woodwayze, Mike G, Devonwoody and all my mentors. I need your assistance. And anyone else with an opinion would be MOST welcome to pass comment here. I have to do something, or will end up paying the earth. I could get my hands on a LOT of timber if something like this could work. So it could end up saving me thousands. Just need to make sure it doesn't cost thousands in healthcare bills!!!

Help folks. Please.

You can get rip chains for chainsaws, they are considerably more dangerous than the usual blades, whilst your method sounds fun it is also a little dicey, maybe a local saw mill would do the job for you for a price? Then you'll have to transport it there and back

Why not use it at 60mm thick, there are many top-end kitchens with at least that thickness (and standard worktop height is ergonomically wrong except for quite short people by today's standards, i.e. 5'6" or less, so the extra 2cmor so will help there, too).
Right, sit down, Neil, take a deep breath and re-think this, please. Chainsaws, even in the hands of 20-year experienced professionals, are extremely dangerous and are not meant to be held in an home-made jig - where's any form of safety?

Feeding a large lump of wood into a static chainsaw is, for me at least, something I would never consider. How's your health generally - insurances topped up? What's the distance to your nearest Casualty Dept?

Sorry to sound a bit flippant, but I'd really reconsider this whole idea. I'd sooner leave the wood in a lump than risk taking lumps out of your extremities. :shock:

Doing it with a chainsaw will produce a lot of wastage. I don't think you'd be able to get two 25mm boards from the one at 60mm, this way.

How dry is the tree? Was it felled recently?

It's very likely any worktop you cut from this tree will warp, bow, split and do everything to p*** you off if it's used in its 'green' state.

It could even curl up as soon as you begin cutting - however dry it may be on the outside, there'll be a great amount of moisture on the inside, which'll unbalance the piece and almost certainly cause it to cup or bow.

I think you'd be better off ripping it down into narrower widths first, and then getting these deep-ripped on a band resaw somewhere, like your local mill. That's if the timber is dry enough, of course. :wink:
hello foks

TBH I am aware its a little mad, but I have had such a problem getting this oak and now I want to maximise the lumps I have. So....

Mcluma - Thanks mate, will do.
OPJ - the lump I am thinking of in particular must have been felled 10 years ago. It is obviously very dry now, and I think it may be dry the whole way thru. However, I do not know, and do not have a lot of experience with oak of this age.
Argee - I AM a twenty year pro, well 15 anyway, and you are right, my old gaffer would clip me round the ear and take my saw off me!! But I am getting desperate here. I know desperation and a chainsaw are a dangerous mix, just wondered if anyone had ever constructed anything like this. And the hospital is almost next door now (just moved!!)
Jonny and Jake - thanks folks
And Tiddles - Fun? Yeah, you're right. God help us!! I hope you don't own a chainsaw!!! You're as bad as me. Trouble is, chainsaws ARE fun, aren't they??

So, it's a shame, cos I don't wanna have to use the oak as 60mm, it involves getting more of the same, and will no doubt introduce other problems. Should never have told the Mrs an oak kitchen would cost thousands from a shop; now look where I am.

I am gonna have to do some thinking on this one.

Thanks all

Neil (2 arms, 2 legs, 1 head and everything else in far)

Jonny - wow, thats the sort of thing I am on about. Didn't think for a minute you could buy one!! Maybe I'm not so mad, or at least so is somebody else, and they got there first!!! Think I might buy the 'timberjig' and pay a visit to the woods!!! They say it'll work with my saw I have, so.....

The whole idea of this is to keep the costs down, that is why I am trying to mill my own wood. I don't suppose anyone knows where I can get some cheap oak near Bedford, do they? I have the facilities to sort it out if it is not too bad. Thanks folks, and sorry to be such a cheapskate!!!

Take a look at these sites;

I believe that the chain saw needs to be at least 50mm longer than the cut (ie 600 mm cut=650mm bar and chain).

I have looked at this but the wastage is too much and the safety aspect is a major concern, the cut is made with the chainsaw at 90 degrees to normal use and I think this would allow less control in the event of kick back. As a colleague tells me 'you do not have accidents with chainsaws, only death'...!

If I could get a regular supply of timber instead of the occaisional bits I would invest in the horizontal band saw.
Neil, as Ray says think again. Trying to re-saw 60mm with a home made jig I think is foolish. Better to cut the boards into 75mm strips then turn 90degs and cut in half. This way most of the stresses will be released and you can re-glue them alternately to produce a more stable board. You could get 4 12mmm thick strips out of each 60mm and glue them to a MDF substrate for the worktop. It would make the oak go a lot further :D .
I do have a specific rip blade for my Husky but its not really worth you trying to rig something up allowing for a bit of blade wander, some cupping and cleaning up the sawn surface you will be lucky to end up with 20mm boards.

Either split it into three 200mm widths and then resaw with a bandsaw or take it to a sawmill, my local one will happily whizz through it with his big woodmizer in a few seconds and the kerf is only about 2mm

I definitely wouldnt try and feed wood into a static saw - for a start how are you going to keep the chainsaw revs up when you arent holding the handle - and please dont say duct tape - the last guy i heard of who tried that severed his wrist and damn nearly bled to death !

mill with a saw by all means but use a chainsaw mill (about 200 notes) and move the chainsaw not the wood. (you need a big saw for this - at least something like a 361 with an 18" bar

also be aware that these are meant for planking up trees - they are not ideal for ripping a 60mm plank in half as you will have significant wastage and be lucky to get two x 20mm

short of taking them to a mill , your best bet would be to find someone who has a woodmizer (looks like a really big bandaw lying on its side) - it would be uneconomic to hire one but if you can find someone who is hiring one in they might be prepared to rip your boards for a small fee.

Have you given any thought to substituting a hand powered rip saw instead of the chainsaw?

What I was thinking of is a frame saw guided parallel to the face you want to cut. Something like the Swedish miter boxes but with the blade turned ninety degrees to the frame. Stand the board and frame up so that gravity does the work of feeding the saw. You could probably get by with a coarse bandsaw blade if you don't want to make one.

If you hooked it up to a rowing machine you might be able to get a team of rowers to come over to exercise on it. :lol:
tell you the truth folks, what got me started was the 60mm board, but tbh I then moved on a bit in my head and was considering the options open to me with a home -made mill thingy.

I have spoken to a few people who have BIG bandsaws; the local timber-yard has a huge BS, and they have all expressed a concern at sawing a thick lump of oak like this. Even though the saw will 'technically' take it the chances are it will pipper up the blade some. So I am stuck.

I used to be an arboriculturist, or tree surgeon. So I do have some experience with saws, and have seen some accidents too. I know how dangerous they can be.

So, all of you who have expressed concerns - You are, of course, quite right. And I thank you.

I like the idea of the swedish saw thing. Will i find anything if I google it?
The fact remains I would be able to save a LOT of money, over years and years, if I had the means to mill my own wood.
Could one of the 'clarke', for instance, horizontal BS's be bastardized into being productive in this manner? What sort of cutting capabilities do they have? (Actually I need to ask another question, so will start another thread re; BS motor upgrade)

Folks, you have all been great, as usual. Many thanks for your help so far.

Cheers all,

So, with re-sawing my oak in mind, I need to know if I can do this -

I own a startrite Bandit 5. Max depth 8", or thereabouts. I feel it is a little underpowered, tbh, and this is echoed by one of the technicians at startrite, who contacted me recently.

I do have a rather large induction motor, off a lathe, brand new and running nicely. It is a performance power pro lathe, which is made by the Ryobi group (or tti), and is quite good really. It is a lot more powerful, and newer, than the motor fitted, and is already rigged up to run a belt.
I am thinking to fit this motor to the BS, with a little help from my rocket scientist mate. What do you all think?? Should be ok, eh? Anything I shoould be aware of, or is it all fairly straightforward?

I would like to do this, upgrade the fence and feet, and then I feel I would have a really nice bandsaw. Which would surely be much more powerful than the current set-up.

I am being quite demanding, I know, but am in the process of setting up the workshop/business, so I need all the help I can get. When I am done I would be more than grateful, and willing to share my experiences.

Thanks all, again.

neilyweely":dglty57f said:
I like the idea of the swedish saw thing. Will i find anything if I google it?

Could one of the 'clarke', for instance, horizontal BS's be bastardized into being productive in this manner? What sort of cutting capabilities do they have?


The idea for the Swedish saw thing was just something I dreamed up based on a vague recollection of an illustration of a veneer saw from a book. I was referring to the Noblex(sp?) hand miter saws as an example.

As for adapting or making a saw, here are some links that may give you a few ideas. ... e/138.html
For hand resawing you need a frame saw. Your boards are very wide, so the frame saw would need to be huge and it would be tremendously hard work.

sorry, I haven't read all of the replies to this, so please ignore any repeats.

Firstly, just don't do the chainsaw thing. Just don't. Don't even think about it. You might regret it for a very long time......

Have you got a band saw or a hand-held circular saw? If so, one approach you might take is to rip 28 or 30mm strips off this piece, giving you strips of wood 30x60x800 if I am reading your sizes right. Prepare the faces and you will be left with lots of strips (maybe 18 or so) around 25x55x800. You can then glue all the thinner edges together to form a laminated worksurface (alternating the cups in the grain if there are any). Or you could use the pieces as frames for panelled doors.

Given that you are cutting small pieces from a really chunky piece, it might be worth taking extra care over acclimatising the timber before you make something from it. Stack it carefully in its final location for quite a few weeks.

Hope this isn't a boring repeat of something someone else has said..!!


Not at all mate. Seems you may be spot on, again. I think this may be the way forward, for the moment at least.

I am a bumpkin, thru and thru. I have access to a lot of timber, in it's most basic form, and would love a way to sort it into useable pieces. My bandsaw (startrite bandit) is underpowered for this kind of wood, and although I do have a selection of circular saws, they all have approx 200mm blades. So, this leaves me with a problem. I could certainly cope with the piece of oak I have, but any more I 'acquire' will have to be milled for me.

This morning I recieved a dvd from a company called Logosol. They sell a range of timber-jigs for chainsaws, and small mills, which are within my price range. Perhaps this could be a way forward. I am gonna have a good look at them and see. They do look slightly like an accident waiting to happen, but they are sold all over the world, presumably with H+S blessings, so how bad can they be?

Why is this proving to be such a problem, you would think someone else would have been in my position before, and got it sorted. Hhhhmmmpphhh!!

Thanks Mike, and Inspector. And everyone.


I don't suppose you have a tractor? There are plenty of huge circular saws designed for farmers run from the power take-off of tractors.......


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