Beginner-friendly guide: Getting started with chainsaw milling

If you’re wondering what chainsaw milling is, it’s cutting logs into planks using a frame mounted on your chainsaw. It’s an excellent way to turn unwanted logs into something useful, and it can save you a lot of money compared to a bandsaw or contracting with a wood processor.

When people say chainsaws are dangerous, they aren’t kidding around. It can be a daunting task for beginners. But don’t worry; this will be your guide to help you start chainsaw milling and avoid common mistakes.

Understand your chainsaw

To operate a chainsaw mill, you must be familiar with the basics of using a chainsaw. This includes knowing how to operate the saw and perform basic maintenance.

Understand your mill and milling needs

There are different types of mills on the market today, and the right one for your needs may not be immediately obvious. There are a number of factors that will determine which mill is right for you, including the size of log you want to mill, the relative power of your chain saw, and what the intended use for the finished wood product will be. For instance, you would want to use one style of mill if you are processing logs for building a cabin, and a different style of mill to make a slab table to put in the cabin.

Each mill is different in size and shape, but they share certain similarities. For example, all mills require a saw carriage and rails (or guide boards), and all milling should be done with specialty chain, known as ripping chain, that is fundamentally different than the chain you would use for felling a tree.

Set up your mill

Make sure you have chosen the right size mill for your project. Then make sure that you have set it up to be safe while in use.

Use your mill

Always remember safety first. Never use a chainsaw mill without first wearing proper safety gear such as a hard hat, goggles, face shield, and ear protection. Do not use this machine without training or supervision!

Choosing the right chainsaw mill

Before you buy your chainsaws, you should consider a few things.

Saw size and power

Probably the most significant deciding factor in the mill you buy and, more importantly, what you will be able to do with it. Your standard chainsaw designed with a homeowner in mind will typically only have enough power to mill logs in the 18-20 inch range. Do not expect to mill a 6-foot diameter tree with an off-the-shelf electric saw. Conversely, if you are the proud owner of a professional-grade feller’s harvesting saw, it is going to be very cumbersome to mill a 12-inch trunk. Granberg staff are always happy to answer any questions you have, and we never want to sell you something you can’t use, so if you want guidance to match you with the best mill for your needs, please do not hesitate to call.


Finally, think about how much money you want to spend on your new chainsaw milling machine. You can head over to your local box store and buy a chainsaw, but whether or not that saw will be suitable for chainsaw milling is a different question. As a general rule, the larger and more powerful the chainsaw, the heftier the price tag will be. You should consider what the biggest work you want to do will be, determine what saw is best equipped to handle that work, and see if you are willing to make that investment. If not, it may be necessary to reevaluate your ambitions.

Learn about essential milling accessories

While chainsaw milling is a straightforward process, you’ll need to learn about the different accessories available to get the most out of your chainsaw mill. Many accessories are available today, each designed to improve your milling experience and make things easier for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the essential chainsaw milling accessories:

Ripping Chain

While not, strictly speaking, an ABSOLUTE requirement, your cuts will take less time and need less finishing if you’re using a Granberg ripping chain. There is really no substitute for having the right tool for the job.

First Cut Guides

The first cut is the most important for any milling project, since all cuts you make after that are going to follow the same line, and if you make a mistake, it will be replicated in all cuts you make afterward. Making an error in your first cut can also impact how your lumber will dry, and whether/how much it will warp or crack during that process. You do not necessarily need to buy a Granberg product to do this job, but you do need to have a plan in place before you start milling.

Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill

The industry leader for good reason! Our line of chainsaw milling products can fit bars from 18-84 inches, and can be used alone or together to make any of your lumbermaking dreams come true.


As you can see, there is a lot of information for anyone who wishes to use a chainsaw mill. There are many different types of chainsaws, and each one is made for specific applications. The information above should help a person who lacks experience in chainsaw milling to understand more about this unique form of working with wood. If you are a beginner, start slow, ask lots of questions and, as always, make safety your top priority.

If you want to learn more about chainsaw milling and know more about quality chainsaw milling. Find out more by visiting the FAQ section our website, call our toll free number 800-233-6499, or email us at