Chainsaw milling by Zac

zac built Alaskan sawmill


I’ve always dreamed of a sawmill of my very own.  Given the retail price of hardwoods these days I decided it was time to do something about that dream.   A bit of reading, some research,  a raid of the metal stock racks in the shop, and about 2 hrs later I had my very own Alaskan style mini sawmill.   I have a few chainsaws, but the 450 Husqvarna is the one I decided to put this on for now.   I based my design roughly off the Graberg International small log sawmill. I had considered buying one, but in this economy money is tight and the total cost to make mine was 6.95 (for the bolts). Everything else I had as scrap, scrounged from something or left over stock already payed for by some other project.

Alaskain Sawmill on which I based my zac built sawmill design  Home built Alaskain sawmill


Side by side showing the commercial Alaskan Sawmill on the left and the Zac built sawmill on the right

Milling downed trees into lumber has become one of my favorite past times.  Partially because I know I’ll use the wood for some project down the road, and partially because I feel happy knowing I’m turning trees grown on the property into valuable and useful material.   My first few boards were not great as you can see below.

First boards milled with my zac built alaskain sawmill

The number one thing I learned early on is that it’s all about sealing the end grain on the log as soon as you cut them.  Some of the maple I cut up checked faster then I could put down the saw and brush on the sealant.  More on my end grain sealant of choice in a future post.

17 thoughts on “Chainsaw milling by Zac”

  1. Hi- I just built an alaskan saw mill based on your but I ran into
    A problem, I sharpened the saw and it cuts cross grain fine,
    But one I try cutting with gran the saw doesn’t seem to cut right,
    I’m wondering if you used a ” ripping chain”? Or a normal one? any
    Help would be great! Thank you

    1. Dillon, my first attempts at milling were with the standard chain that came on my Husqvarna, which I think was a semi-chisel type chain. Cross cutting is a lot different then ripping along the grain. Milling you get very different sawdust and cutting speed. It also is very dependent on the type of wood you are trying to cut. I now use ripping chain exclusively for milling from and get much better results in terms of smoother finish on the boards. I don’t think the ripping chain speeds up the cutting much at all. It takes considerably more force on the saw to cut with the grain. I’m not sure why but the saw does not tend to dig in and pull itself through the wood when milling as it does in crosscutting. Be sure to check and file for proper tooth depth on your blade when sharpening. Depth guage on milling is more important. I try to mill with a constant force and not bog the saw down or stall the blade. My poor little saw has seen much more abuse then it was made for after I built the Alaskan mill. I’m looking for an affordable used 100cc range saw for milling. has a great section on sawmilling with a chainsaw. I hope some of this helps you out.

  2. Hey Zac, Really excited about this post I found on your alaskan sawmill, i had a couple of questions if you don’t mind. I’m building one myself, my dad has a steel shop so parts, welders, and tools are all readily available to me. I wanted to ask you 2 questions: 1. how did you attach the mill to the saw bar? and 2. what size cc is your saw?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Adrian, My saw is a little 50cc Husqvarna. It runs great but isn’t up to big milling tasks. I hope to get a 95 or 120cc saw for my next sawmill. I built a clamp type mechanism that attaches to the bar but leaves the blades free. I’ve decided that if I did it again I would drill a couple holes in my bar with a carbide drill bit and bolt directly to it. Either way will work. If you build one like mine that only attaches on the saw side of the bar, be careful you keep everything level. It’s easy to make unsquare lumber. Not the end of the world when you run it through the planer but it makes stacking and stickering the green lumber to dry difficult. Let me know if you have any other specific questions and thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. Greetings

    I am in the same boat as many of the people that have written in asking questions about how to connect the bar to the saw and if you perhaps have photos or drawing of the mini mill?

    Thank you from sunny South Africa

    1. Ryan, it just clamps with opposing bits of 1″ aluminum tubing and bolts about 1/2″ outside each side of the bars. I have some 1/4″ aluminum plate cut and welded on the 1″square tube to space it off from the blade. I’ll try to take a picture at some point when I’m home and post it up for you. work has me away from home too much to keep up my blog in a timely manner, but eventually i’ll post a pic for you

    1. I’m sorry I do not have more photos or a technical drawing my Turkish friend. This is long ago passed on to the great scrapyard in the sky. I built a bigger better version years later, and now don’t have much time to mill lumber anymore sadly so it never gets any use. There are a lot of online photos of the small Alaskan type sawmills on amazon if you search there you likely can find what you need. Cheers!

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