How to Use a Chainsaw Mill in 8 Easy Steps – A Guide

Richard McMann

Knowledge Based

using a portable chainsaw millBeing a handyman, it’s necessary for you to use updated equipment and tools for a better working experience, right? And that’s an obvious reason you are eager to know how to use a chainsaw mill.

What if I tell you that after giving this article a thorough read, you’ll be able to cut your first log or produce lumber easily?

Sounds great? Let’s dive deep into the process.

But before that, let’s have a look at…

How to Use a Chainsaw Mill in 2024? A Quick Rundown

Chainsaw milling is a process to cut down trees into boards, slabs, lumber, etc. In other words, milling is cutting trees into a usable form. It also helps handypersons to utilize maximum quality and save trees as well. Thus, milling leads to more production with a reduced waste rate of wood. Moreover, a chainsaw mill, also called a guide, is connected to the chainsaw and attaches to the log. It keeps the chainsaw straight and cuts the log in streamline.

Now gather all the necessary tools by your side that we are going to use for milling.

Tools and Equipment:

Let’s find out more about the equipment and what you need to cut your first-ever wood slab.


You might already have a chainsaw in your garage. But for milling, make sure your chainsaw is not smaller. The more powerful your chainsaw, the easier it’ll be for you to cut wood. You can also opt for Stihl chainsaws which are highly efficient for your milling purposes.

Chainsaw Chain

For milling, it’s recommended to use a ripping chain. The ripping chain gives quick straight horizontal cuts with its specified angle and sharp cut edges. Thus, you get two in one (a smooth cut and reduced work timings).

Chainsaw Bar

Check what your respective chainsaw bar length is from the manufacturer’s guidelines. As the length of a chainsaw varies and there’s no exact recommendation. But, from my observation, you can take a 36 inches chainsaw bar.

Let me specify it more, the length of your chainsaw bar relies on the fuel capacity your saw can support. For instance, the saw lubricates both the chainsaw bar and chain to avoid overheating. Thus, if your chainsaw bar is longer, your saw would have to lubricate and require more fuel.

Saw Mill

Now comes the major equipment, i.e., the sawmill. You can’t make free-hand wooden boards or slabs with your chainsaw alone. Thus, finding the write sawmill is all you need to cut-cut your wood. As recommended, you can opt for Granberg chainsaw mills that come in different varieties.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is the chainsaw’s adjustability. It should fix easily with your chainsaw bar. Using Granberg chainsaw mills, you can cut wood in both longer and shorter lengths.

Fuels (Oil or Gas)

As discussed earlier, the lubrication process is maintained with fuel consumption. Therefore, keep extra oil and gas (as per your chainsaw requirement) to cool the machine. After every milling cut, you can refill your chainsaw with fuel to avoid heating and keep the machine at optimum temperature.

Guide rails

In simple words, guide rails support the mill during cutting. You have to adjust guide rails with the log to slide the mill and have your first cut easily. You can either buy guide rails or produce your own. An extension ladder around 2 × 4 s can also work as a guide rail.

Protective gear

While working with hefty machines, the chance of getting injured is more than causal work. Therefore, it’s important to keep your safety a priority. For this purpose, you can use the following things;

  • Mask or a respirator (to avoid dust, fumes, or chips)
  • Protection glasses (to prevent particles from entering your eyes)
  • Earplugs or earmuffs (to keep your hearing abilities at pace)
  • Knee Pads and Gloves (to help you avoid any injuries on your knees and hands, respectively)


You’ll need wedges to avoid the chainsaw getting in contact with the wood and moving the wood in the same direction as of notch cut. Thus, it ensures the protection of your machine.

Chainsaw wrench

A chainsaw wrench is essential in the milling process because you’ll need to tighten your chainsaw chain at varying intervals.

After collecting every tool and equipment to process milling, we will finally see how you can make your first cut to bomb!

How to use a Portable Chainsaw Mill? Step to Mill for the First Time

Chainsaw milling for beginners might seem a daunting task. But behold, and start practicing the following steps;

  1. Cut off all the branches and twigs from the log and place it over a smooth surface.
  2. Identify the flattest log surface to ensure a better straight start. And use a leveling machine across the log to place guide rails and screw them into the log.
  3. Place the saw mill just under the guide rails to avoid hitting. And start moving your chainsaw mill. You’ll easily mill your first cut because you don’t have to remove a huge amount of wood.
  4. After your first cut, it’s time to proceed with the other. To start with the rest, remove your guide rails.
  5. You’ll start milling by setting the thickness level around 2 – 2.5 inches or according to your will.

(But make sure it’s not too heavy to handle while removing)

  1. Keep milling without placing guide rails and eventually cut slab by slab or board by board.

(Try to cut/slice the pith of the wood which gets split during the drying process) 

  1. Reaching the end of the log, you might find it difficult to practice milling. So, you can place a prop under the log.

(Don’t forget to readjust your chainsaw mill angle per the downward log position)

  1. Finally, you are done using the Alaskan chainsaw mill, and it’s time to rest your slabs in any room to get them dry.

Have a look at how the guys at Woodworking Barcelona set up and use a chainsaw mill below:

FAQs: Get the Fastest Solution to Your Queries

Are chainsaw mills worth it?

Yes, a chainsaw helps a handyman in cutting wood into lumber. And being the most powerful and efficient machine, the chainsaw mill easily produces boards and slabs. Without exerting pressure and getting tired, you can get lumber effortlessly.

How long does it take to chainsaw mill?

Depending on the type and size of the chainsaw, the cutting time varies. For instance, a small chainsaw will take more time to cut one slab compared to a larger one. Moreover, a large and powerful chainsaw mill usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to cut a moderately sized log. While a small chainsaw mill might take hours to cut a single board.

Is it better to mill logs green or dry?

Commonly, green logs are considered easy to cut as they do not split. However, dry logs build stress and start splitting. Therefore, always mill your logs before they start drying and cause you more trouble.

Wrapping Up

Ending the stepwise chainsaw milling procedure, I’m super excited to see your first cut. Don’t forget to share pictures of your wood milling experience with us.

And if you have any queries in your mind, hit the comment section and jot down your concern. Our team will get back to you really soon.

Have Exciting Woody Vibes!

Richard McMann
Follow Me