What Size Chainsaw for Milling in 2024? Make Right Choice!

Richard McMann

Knowledge Based

chainsaw milling sizes comparedChainsaw milling is well-known for requiring a large saw. But how large is it, precisely? Why? Is it possible to get by with a smaller saw?

This article will discuss the fundamentals of chainsaw sizing for milling.

In a nutshell, chainsaw milling is a high-powered operation that requires a powerful saw with a displacement of more than 90cc.

Smaller logs can also be cut using lower-powered saws, but they need more attention and are prone to overheating.

Let’s now answer the ‘what size chainsaw for milling’ question in detail:

What Size Chainsaw for Milling 2024? Chainsaw Size Bar Comparisons!

The most commonly used Chainsaw bar size in inches are 11 inches, 12 inches, 13 inches, 14 inches, 15 inches, 16 inches, 18 inches, 20 inches, 21 inches, and 22 inches.

How fast does a chainsaw mill cut?

Because so much relies on the log size and type, chainsaw milling is slow. In general, each cut should take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete.

Are Bigger Saws Better?

Chainsaw milling necessitates a large engine due to the high power consumption and long cutting times. So the best chainsaw for milling would be the biggest you can afford.

I recommend a 90cc to 120cc chainsaws if money isn’t an issue. These saws are sleek, professional logging saws designed for heavy-duty logging and will provide you with the smoothest milling experience possible. A new 90cc+ chainsaw can cost anywhere between $1000 and $2000.

Professional forestry saw with a 70cc to 80cc engine is the next best thing. These saws will mill logs up to roughly 25 inches in diameter and will cost you a lot less, costing around $1000 new.

60cc Farm&Ranch models are the most miniature saws I would recommend for milling. The 60cc chainsaws are designed for tiny logs under 20 inches and are severely underpowered for milling. But, with a bit of care, they’ll do the work just as well as the enormous saws, and they’re less expensive ($600), lighter, and more portable for all-around use.

How Does Chainsaw Bar Size Affect Chainsaw Mill Selection?

The size of the logs you need to treat and the adjustable range of your chainsaw mill determine the bar size you’ll require for milling with your chainsaw.

The diameter of the log will necessitate the use of a specific size bar on your chainsaw to cut the wood to its total diameter. Chainsaw mills are rated for a minimum and maximum bar size to fit correctly and safely within the two clamps.

Due to the bumper spikes and the curve of the bar’s nose, the chainsaw bar can lose up to four inches of length in some chainsaw mills. The exact amount will reduce the diameter of logs you may process.

Because of these variables, a more extended bar is the best option for milling logs with an Alaskan chainsaw mill. The manufacturer’s recommendations limit the size of the bar that can be mounted to most chainsaws. Due to this limitation, you must select a chainsaw that can accommodate the appropriate bar size for milling.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Big Engine Chainsaws for Milling


High torque is the key benefit of a large-displacement engine like a 90cc or 120cc milling.

First, a large saw with a lot of torque mills faster: even with log-wide contact with wood, you can maintain the chain speed up and many teeth cutting simultaneously.

Second, milling with a giant saw is easier to control: the large torque reserve implies the saw will not stall as quickly as tiny saws.


The biggest downside of large saws is their cost.  The size and weight are also evident disadvantages. The top-end big-engine saws weigh anything from 15 to 23 pounds (powerhead only), making them far less ergonomic than the 10-pound Farm & Ranch or home use saws. Further, the 90cc to 120cc saws are lovely, but they’re clunky in most situations.

In other words, the greatest chainsaw milling saws are expensive and solely suitable for milling.

Why is Milling Hard on Saw?

Chainsaw milling places a high strain on your saw’s power output capabilities. But why is this the case?

  • Over the whole log thickness, your saw chain will contact the wood if you mill straight without seesawing, as you should. This means that many teeth will be cutting and absorbing power simultaneously. In cross-cutting, on the other hand, the cutting angle is purposely varied to shorten the contact size, and moving the chainsaw up and down is an essential aspect of an effective technique.
  • In milling, a chainsaw chain cutter cuts across the grain due to its structure. Chainsaw chain cutters rip by repeatedly trimming wood fiber with their top plates rather than ripping between the wood fibers like a traditional saw blade (band saw, hand saw).

Milling is more difficult for a chainsaw than cross-cutting because of the continual cutting of wood fiber. That is, milling a log is more complex than bucking it. Though you can make your own chainsaw mill by following this guide.

  • The second element that makes milling difficult is the length of the milling cuts. Cross-cuts take a few seconds or tens of seconds at most, but a single milling cut can take several minutes.
  • This implies that instead of working for seconds at a time, your saw will run at high power levels for minutes at a time.

Do You Need a Different Chain For a Chainsaw Mill?

A properly sharpened and maintained ripping chain is essential to get the finest possible end product when chainsaw milling. A fresh replacement chain is required when the teeth on the chain dull to make cuts smooth, efficient, and safe to use. Professional loggers thus use the tools with a properly sharpened chain to mill the chainsaw. While milling, they have the support to hold the logs properly to ensure a smooth milling experience.

Wrapping Up: What Size Chainsaw for Milling? 

This is why I recommend milling with secondhand saws of appropriate sizes. For less than half the price of a new saw, you may find an old large Husky or a Stihl in good shape.

Although older versions may lack some current convenience features, you won’t need them in milling. Only torque is suggested.

Richard McMann
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