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  • Rob D

    Article: Double Ended Chainsaw Milling

    Double ended chainsaw milling - What is it? Chainsaw milling usually involves using x1 powerhead. Double ended milling means you are running a chainsaw at each end.
    Favourite question? Surely the chainsaws have to run at the same rpm or else one will be running the other. A resounding ‘no’ is the answer!
    Say you have an MS880 and when you rev the ‘nuts’ off it unloaded it is running at 12,000rpm. Say you have another MS880 and you rev the nuts off that and it’s rev count is 12,500rpm.
    If you hitched these up to a double ended bar and ran them both full tilt out of the wood then one saw probably would be driving the other to a certain extent. But that’s the point – when do you rev saws that high for any period without cutting? You don’t!
    Both saws revs will drop right down as you introduce it into the wood – both saws say may now be revving at 8,000rpm – both are trying to push that chain around the bar.
    Second favourite question? Do you need to use the same saws? Again a resounding ‘no’! The combos I’ve used (and have worked really well each time) as follows:
    • MS260 and MS440 on a 50” double ended bar running 3/8 .063 chain
    • Makita 9010 and Makita 9010 on a 60” double ended bar running .404 .063 chain
    • MS880 and MS660 on a 72” double ended bar running .404 .063 chain
    • 395XP and 372XP on a 72” double ended bar running .404 .063
    • 066 and 088 on an 87” double ended bar running .404 .063
    • MS660 and 390XP on 72” double ended bar running .404 .063




    Which manufacturer’s chains used in the above – can’t remember! But various and all worked fine.
    Speed? How much faster? If done correctly you mill around x3 times the speed as with a single powerhead. Not actually measured this but that’s what it feels like. Power at both ends and oil at both ends makes a huge difference in keeping chain speed up and pulling the saw dust out of the cut. No need to buy an MS880 as x2 medium size saws will do it.
    So if it’s all so brilliant why isn’t everyone doing it?
    • Set up is very awkward indeed. .404 chain is the strongest so that’s the best to use which may mean changing the drive rim over. Fine on outboard clutches but a pain in the backside on inboard clutches. With such long bars trying to fit the saws each end with one being back to front can be fiddly and time consuming. You will also likely need bar spacers on saws 90cc and smaller.
    • Not everyone has access x2 saws to do it with!
    • If one saw won’t start then can be frustrating.
    • Starting the cut is more awkward than a single powerhead and especially so when using the log as a reference (not a ladder or first cut system).
    • Chain slackens regularly and easily.
    • To start with cutting can be uneven and it’s harder to get flat even cuts using a double mill.
    • Takes x2 people instead of x1.
    • You need someone who knows what they are doing on the far end. They control the speed of cut.
    • Communication is tricky between both millers – you need to have a feel of how the other person works
    • Lead saw gets pulled hard up to log. Going ‘up’ and around a bump is fine. Coming off the other side of said bump all that power means the mill really jumps around it and causes the chain to bog down (see further below – running a straight edge down the log for lead saw). You can almost be caught in a groundhog moment pulling the saw back and then it jumps forward and bogs down again. With a single powerhead you can hold it back but with a double ended set up you can’t!
    • Poor set up and inexperience operation can mean the bar flexes up or down in the cut.
    • Allowing the saws to rev themselves too high can only lead to piston scoring and a large bill. An inexperience person on the end of the log could easily cause this.
    • Temptation is to go the whole way down the log without resting the saws – another way to overheat them.
    There are some pretty awful videos of people chainsaw milling on youtube so be careful what you watch and read. Some of the blunt chains used mean that no matter how much power you have the results are painful to watch.
    Here’s a few of myself running different set ups -
    Husky 395XP and 372XP (the chain tensioner position on the 395XP makes it harder to adjust chain tension but it is still possible)
    Stihl MS660 and Husky 390XP
    Stihl 088 and Stihl 066
    Not a bad video here, but would be good to have a method of siting the mill so power heads are the same distance off the log.







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