How To Cut Logs Into Lumber With A Chainsaw Mill!

How To Cut Logs Into Lumber With A Chainsaw mill

Using a chainsaw and cutting woods is nothing new for woodworkers. It’s actually a great way of saving some money by using a chainsaw for logs into lumber conversion. You can find a number of designs available for such mills. However, there surely is a certain way and some steps that you need to follow for a good result at the end.

I plan to keep my today’s article dedicated to the topic. Yes, we will have a fun chat over how to cut logs into lumber with a chainsaw.

Step by Step Process on Milling Lumber with A Chainsaw

1. Making Your First Cut

At the very beginning, you will have to set up your chainsaw mill slabbing rails. This is an important step to prepare for cutting logs. The mill usually rides on this slabbing rail. So that it can make the first cut easily.

The flat and smooth surface will make your first cut easy. This is the reason why rails are used. The logs you work with are originally quite uneven with a round shape.

The rail needs to extend more than log’s end. Otherwise, the mill won’t be able to make any cut as there will be no support.

If there is a certain feature that you would want to avoid or highlight, consider it while setting up the slabbing rails. This is the right time to do so.

There should be a kerf behind the chainsaw. Use it to install tiny wedges once the cut is on. The cuts should not collapse on a bar or chain. Installing tiny wedges this way will help you to avoid such hassles.

Once you are done with making your first cut, get rid of the slabbing rails. Keep them aside safely.

2. Making Your Second Cut

Now you need to make your second cut. You should have created a surface to guide and go. For the next cut, your mill is going to use it.

The second cut is usually within log’s bottom when sawing into beams or lumber. This process will eventually create another smooth surface. It is usually parallel with your first cut.

If you need to make log turn into partly completed lumber then the case is different. You would have to make the second cut below your first one. Simply use any depth you want to go for.

Typically, woodworkers go for such second cuts whenever they are cutting woods for instrument or furniture. For these needs, using a partly completed lumber gives better results. Especially when cutting trees for lumber. They can simply mill a tree at the very place it falls. Parts that are easy to move are simple to manage or handle this way.

You need to go through some seasoning before cutting it into boards. This way a woodworker is able to decide quality of the final result. It gives them the ability to select better solutions. Also, this way it is easy to use a thinner kerf or band chainsaw to finish final cuts.

While working with really valuable woods, this step gives extra freedom. It’s easy to make such expensive wood’s chips without hassle if you have a quality chainsaw.

3. Making Your Third Cut

Now if you decide to use a sawmill for finished lumber then turn the log 90º. Once you do so, the slabbing rails will sit above log again. Then you need to use a carpenter’s square. Using the tool, you should square rails. This way you can ensure that the sides are at right angles with each other.

As soon as you check the setup, let’s go for third cut. After finishing the third cut, simply detach slabbing rails from the round top. Keep them aside and now you have partly square log. There should be three flat surfaces now.

Suppose you need to use the width while cutting logs into planks. The mill will use your surfaces of cut and follow it as guide. You should select thickness and set the depth to do so. Your logs should start cutting into boards now.

4. Making Level Cuts

There is some chainsaw cutting guide that offers better power. However, there is no most accurate tool available in any shop. But you can still use an easy technique to make even cuts.

For the work table’s support, you can simply use telephone poles, logs or stumps. But for the perfect assistance, you need to have an even flat surface. With a chainsaw, making level cuts are somewhat difficult. But if you make a basic square jig and level then it is possible.

Simply make one with 2 x 4s structure. Now slide it with the log or pole you are working on. Using a level be sure to get the flatness and surface in place. You can use the deck screws for this purpose.

The main point here is to not go with chainsaw digging into jig. You should simply slide it across. Make sure to do so while attaching thin wood pieces to the bar. These strips will just slide along square jigs and raise saw above. It will make it raise higher so that the jig is untouchable. This makes a reusable jig and nice level cut.

Key Points at A Glance

  • Get a good long bladed chainsaw that is also powerful.
  • Work with logs raising a bit higher than the ground, don’t cut in soil.
  • Don’t go for angles while making cuts. Use cut vertical for avoiding messy results.
  • Use saw’s tip to score a straight shallow grove.
  • To get flat surface make sure to take a face off.
  • Get rid of next two faces while rotating the log flat surface down.
  • To mark the right guidelines, use a good pencil. You need to keep the wide kerf blade in mind.

Good & Bad Sides

This process has its own good and bad points. Let me make them clear for you. Let me start with the good ones. You won’t have to spend extra money on a sawmill using this shortcut method. Also, the resources are quite available to use. You don’t need to handle heavy logs. You can simply use the process and carry small cuts with ease.

However, using chainsaw will make a lot of sawdust. So, you are going to waste a good amount of lumber in this method. Your resultant boards are sometimes quite rough. Here one of the biggest factors is operator skill.

Can You Do This with Any Chainsaw?

Yes, for most cases you can use chainsaw mills for such DIY lumber projects. I believe it’s one of the cheapest ways for renters and homeowners to use for wood growing in backyards. Using heavy lumber wastes a lot of time and effort. Your chainsaw mill can simply turn them into useful pieces that are easy to deal with.

However, if you have a weak or smaller chainsaw, the process is going to be quite daunting. Sometimes a few hard lumber becomes a huge challenge even with the best chainsaw mill.


So, you know how to cut logs into lumber with a chainsaw mill now. I hope your frustration and fatigue with huge lumbers will run away with the method. With some time and effort, you’ll be able to get right log sections quickly and effortlessly. Just Don’t Give Up!

About Sam Maxi

Hi, this is Sam Maxi. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.

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