What Size Chainsaw for Milling?

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Getting freshly cut lumber ready for use involves a number of processes, with one of the main being milling. If you cut down a tree, to get usable boards out of it, you first need to mill the logs down to size. Now, generally speaking, log milling is done in large-scale lumber mills, and they large machines to get the job done.

However, chances are that you probably don’t have a full scale lumber milling operation, with all the required machinery, set up in your backyard. Yet, if you didn’t already know, you can mill a log using your chainsaw, along with the appropriate attachment. Let’s talk about what kind and size of chainsaw you need to for milling, as well as some other important factors.

Why Use a Chainsaw for Milling Lumber?

You might be wondering why you would want to use a chainsaw to mill your own lumber. For one, chances are that you don’t have a lumber mill in your backyard. This would mean that after you have cut your tree (s) down, you would have to transport it to a lumber mill, which you might do on your own, or you might hire a lumber truck for the job.

Either way, you are looking at paying someone else to transport that lumber to the mill, to get it cut for you, and to then transport it back home. So, in essence, the reason you want to mill your own lumber has to do with cost effectiveness.

Transporting heavy lumber costs a lot of money, and the same goes for hiring a lumber mill to cut it down to size for you. However, with a good chainsaw of the right power and length, and the right milling attachment, you can do all of this in your own backyard totally free of cost, well, besides the initial purchase of the equipment, but still, you won’t have to hire anybody to transport and cut the lumber for you. It really is a great way to save money.

The Chainsaw You Will Need For Milling – Power and Size

The first thing that you need to look into is the chainsaw itself. You will want to invest in a fairly high-quality chainsaw, one that will last you for quite some time. It’s always a good idea to get a chainsaw that you are comfortable using. Something to keep in mind is that you do not automatically need the largest chainsaw available, just one that is ideal for dealing with the size of logs you plan on milling.

When it comes to the size of the chainsaw you need, a lot depends on the size of the logs being milled. If you are simply sawing down whole trees, it might be fine to go with a smaller chainsaw. If you have a small chainsaw, it might take more time and effort to cut down a tree than with a much larger saw, but generally speaking, you can still get the job done. However, in terms of milling that log into boards once the tree has been cut down, you need something large, smooth, and powerful enough to efficiently mill the lumber.

Engine Power – the CCs

What is important is engine power. When milling lumber, the engine power of the chainsaw will determine how much effort you need to put into milling, how long it will take, and how smooth the job can get completed. Usually, for most milling purposes, a 50cc chainsaw should do just fine, at least for everything but the largest of jobs.

That being said, the heavier and more powerful the chainsaw is, the faster you can get the job done, the smoother the cuts are going to be, and the easier to control the chainsaw will be as well. Therefore, for the best results, you want a chainsaw with a lot of engine power. If you are serious about milling your own lumber, and you have some large and knotted logs that need dealing with, you might want to invest in a 100cc chainsaw.

Chain Length

The other important factor to consider is how long the chainsaw is, specially the arm and the chain. For most purposes, an average 20-inch chain should do just fine. That said, do keep in mind that 20 inches is not all that long, and if you are dealing with very large logs, you will want to go for something longer than that. You may need a chainsaw with a chain length up to 30 inches, or more. Remember that how long the chain needs to be depends on the diameter of the logs being milled.

Simply put, as long as the saw is long enough to make its way through the diameter of the log, you should be good to go. So, keep in mind that there really is no general rule of thumb here. The size of chainsaw you need, in terms of chain length, depends on the size of lumber being milled.


As you can see, if you want to mill your own lumber, you really don’t need that much equipment. You will need to get a high-quality milling attachment for your chainsaw; you really cannot mill lumber without the appropriate chainsaw attachment. Of course, you will also need an appropriate chainsaw for the job. Usually, this means having a chainsaw of at least 20 inches in length and with 50ccs of engine power. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, the size of chainsaw you need to get to mill lumber completely depends on the size of the lumber itself.

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