There are a lot of things to consider when you buy and are using a portable chain sawmill. Here is a look at some of the more pressing ones so you can start your journey as a miller more smoothly.
How do you intend to use the slab?
One thing to think about for how thick you make the slab is what the end product is going to be. Are you making floorboards, or a table, or a mantle for your fireplace? There are many options so whatever your project is, will have a big impact on the slab itself. The key here is that the slab needs to be cut thicker than what your final project is going to be as there is the process of machining the lumber to its final dimensions to take into account.
When you have used the portable mill to saw your lumber you will then likely want to plant, joint and saw it into its final measurements. If you intend to have a finished product that is a table at two inches thick, and you cut your lumber to two inches by the time you have planed it to smooth it and so on you will have lumber that is not too thin. Always leave yourself some wiggle room.
Watch out for lumber checking
Checking is when wood fibres separate along the wood’s grain so you have splitting. After you slab up the lumber you have and you then stack it so it dries. You want the moisture to leave the wood but the problem is the process can cause the wood fibres to contract, making the wood narrower than when you cut it. The thinner you cut the lumber the more likely it is to go through this.
Let’s say you use the portable chain sawmill to cut your lumber to one and a half inches in thickness. You stack it carefully in the proper manner to let it dry ready for your table-making project. But you find 6 months in that the ends of the wood have warped a little and there is cracking. Now you have lumber that is too thin and ends that are a problem. It works better if you cut it to at least two inches then correctly stack it.
More freedom than with a Bandsaw mill
There is a lot of good reasons why you would choose a chainsaw portable mill over a bandsaw mill. While the chainsaw mill can be hard work at times, there is so much more flexibility to using the chainsaw mill over the other. Being portable you can take it to the log rather than having to wrestle with the log to bring to your mill. Slab it where it fell and now you have much easier slabs to load and bring back. They are a lot easier to move without having to have a partner to help you.