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AndrewS

Best small mill option

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AndrewS   

Evening all!

 

I'm new here but have found the forum to be a fantastic source of info thus far. That said, I haven't yet found a definitive answer to this question:

 

I'm just about to make the transition from firewood gatherer to some simple furniture making. I've got an MS 260 with 15" bar for firewood and an MS 361 currently fitted with an 18" bar. If I want to make up to an 18-20" rip cut with a portable mill, would I be better with a Small Log Mill, or a 24", or even 30" Alaskan Mill? Happy to keep the 361 dog-less to gain an inch if necessary...

 

I fully expect to get hooked, but won't have funds for a while to go the whole hog to MS 660/880 and large Alaskan Mill... Sadly!

 

My main priority is not speed, but accuracy - does the Small Mill produce noticeably more chatter, or allow more bar deviation than the A'kan Mills?

 

Cheers,

 

Andrew

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tommer9   

If accuracy is your thing then a chainsaw mill isnt really the way forward. Look at small bandsaw mill, although there will ALWAYS be a degree of inaccuracy whatever miling process you use, every stage of timber conversion increases accuracy.

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Rob D   

I don't know Tom. I've seen a lot of the small bandsaws at shows and I have a to say although wasteful I find the chainsaw mills are more accurate.

 

The smaller bandsaw mills will cut softwood alright but you put some oak with a knot or two on and they do seem to waver in the cut.

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Rob D   
Evening all!

 

I'm new here but have found the forum to be a fantastic source of info thus far. That said, I haven't yet found a definitive answer to this question:

 

I'm just about to make the transition from firewood gatherer to some simple furniture making. I've got an MS 260 with 15" bar for firewood and an MS 361 currently fitted with an 18" bar. If I want to make up to an 18-20" rip cut with a portable mill, would I be better with a Small Log Mill, or a 24", or even 30" Alaskan Mill? Happy to keep the 361 dog-less to gain an inch if necessary...

 

I fully expect to get hooked, but won't have funds for a while to go the whole hog to MS 660/880 and large Alaskan Mill... Sadly!

 

My main priority is not speed, but accuracy - does the Small Mill produce noticeably more chatter, or allow more bar deviation than the A'kan Mills?

 

Cheers,

 

Andrew

 

As far as milling width you'll only get a max cut of 16" with the small log mill using your MS361 + 18" bar. you could increase this to 18" using a 20" bar.

 

You will only get a 12" width cut using an Alaskan (because it clamps on in 2 places on the bar) and you can't just use one clamp as it does not pinch the bar securely like the small log mill does.

 

With 18" bar you'll be pretty accurate with the small log mill. Smoothness of cut comes down to using ripping chain and good chain sharpening.

 

May be a tad thicker (1/8") on the far end if you went to a 20" bar with the MS361....

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tommer9   
I don't know Tom. I've seen a lot of the small bandsaws at shows and I have a to say although wasteful I find the chainsaw mills are more accurate.

 

The smaller bandsaw mills will cut softwood alright but you put some oak with a knot or two on and they do seem to waver in the cut.

 

A well set up alaskan with attention paid to rails is VERY accurate, and those narrow band blade mills can waver alot. Mine doesnt like ash in big sizes at all i have to admit. :001_smile:

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agg221   

I haven't tried a mini-mill - I have heard reports that it can be tricky to control the bar tip to avoid wobble, but the thread on here about the log cabin suggests it comes out OK. The Alaskan is a rigid frame, so if you keep an eye on everything at once and make sure the frame doesn't lift off the rail you end up with pretty good accuracy. The surface finish will require some planing off. Small bandsaws are worse - the band is more likely to follow the grain, whereas a chainsaw bar doesn't get the option!

 

You're not going to have a lot of power to play with on a 361. I recall some discussion on one of the US forums regarding use of low power saws, about 10yrs ago, and it seems OK but you need to minimise the work you're asking your saw to do, which means reducing the kerf to a minimum. The one thing in your favour is that with low power saws like this you can run picco chain (the bigger saws just break it!). I would suggest looking at a 24 or 25in bar, with a 0.050" groove and picco chain sprocket. You would also need to fit the appropriate picco sprocket to your clutch - get a spur one rather than a rim one as they last better for milling. You can't buy picco ripping chain to the best of my knowledge, but re-filing at 10degrees rather than the normal 30 will give you a good approximation. I would also leave the rakers a bit high to start with and take them down a bit at a time so it 'bites' but doesn't bog down.

 

I would probably still buy a 36in mill though, as if you get hooked you'll want it, and you can pull the rails in a bit until you do. With that lot, you should just about get a 20in cut. I would de-bark any logs to keep the chain away from grit and dust, which tends to dull it in the cut - you'll notice it far more with the low power.

 

It will definitely be slow, but your interests suggest you don't necessarily need long timber. I would try to work with 4-8ft length logs, which will give you decent lengths allowing for a bit of end shake, and you will probably get through in a tank of fuel.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

Alec

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agg221   

The smaller bandsaw mills will cut softwood alright but you put some oak with a knot or two on and they do seem to waver in the cut.

 

Oddly enough, in my experience it's the other way around. Mine uses 0.75" wide bands, 0.050" thick and has a 14" opening. I mostly mill oak and find it doesn't wander by more than about +/-1mm across a cut with a fresh band. I've been milling some spruce lately and it wanders by a good 2mm.

 

I've also found that a Forester bandmill with a 4" band about 2.5mm thick and a 3ft opening is quite capable of climbing or diving as much as a quarter of an inch if it feels so inclined as the blade starts to dull.

 

By contrast, running a stringline over a 14ft length of spruce milled with the Alaskan the other weekend it didn't vary by more than +/-1mm (plus the depth of the ridges).

 

I can't see any particular logic to what is easy or hard to mill. I wondered if it related to whether things were easy or hard to cleave, but it doesn't seem to.

 

Alec

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AndrewS   

Thanks for the feedback chaps, much appreciated!

 

Reading between the lines, I'm probably asking too much of the little 361, albeit a 20" solid ripping bar with a Small Log Mill may be a reasonable short-term option.

 

Cheers,

 

Andrew

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agg221   

You're asking a lot of it, certainly. With a picco chain on, you'll probably get away with it in the short term.

 

Alec

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Rob D   
Oddly enough, in my experience it's the other way around. Mine uses 0.75" wide bands, 0.050" thick and has a 14" opening. I mostly mill oak and find it doesn't wander by more than about +/-1mm across a cut with a fresh band. I've been milling some spruce lately and it wanders by a good 2mm.

 

I've also found that a Forester bandmill with a 4" band about 2.5mm thick and a 3ft opening is quite capable of climbing or diving as much as a quarter of an inch if it feels so inclined as the blade starts to dull.

 

By contrast, running a stringline over a 14ft length of spruce milled with the Alaskan the other weekend it didn't vary by more than +/-1mm (plus the depth of the ridges).

 

I can't see any particular logic to what is easy or hard to mill. I wondered if it related to whether things were easy or hard to cleave, but it doesn't seem to.

 

Alec

 

Thanks for the replies Alec.

 

It's one of those hard things - what is harder to mill? Some softwoods full of sap are quite fibrous and sticky and so perhaps are harder to mill....

 

What's the smaller bandsaw you have going there?

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