Milling with a chainsaw is one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever put your tools through. A light duty saw for handling firewood just isn’t going to cut it. Instead you’re going to need to find something heavy duty, durable, and larger than average.
If you’re looking for the right chainsaw for milling, we’ve taken the liberty of tracking down some. There’s something here for every level of this exhausting but rewarding task.
Here are our recommendations for the 4 best chainsaws for milling:
Poulan Pro 967196401 PP3816A 38cc Chainsaw
This chainsaw from Poulan Pro is just the right size for those who are looking to take care of some lighter milling. It’s not going to rip enormous logs, but it has the power and durability to make short work of anything you can attack with its 16” bar.
The 38cc engine provides a pretty impressive amount of power. The only real shortcoming is the bar size which might not be enough for those who are working with massive lumber. One thing is for sure, though: the price is right and the quality can’t be beat for the same amount of money.
Husqvarna 445 18-Inch 45.7cc 2-Stroke Gas Powered Chain Saw
Husqvarna makes some of the best chainsaws in the world and this 18” bar has some serious ripping power. The chainsaw itself is dead solid and reliable enough to tear lumber all through the night, making sure that you’re going to be cutting for as long as you have the gas to do so.
This 45.7cc engine isn’t quite the top of the line, however, and you may want to stick with softer woods while you’re utilizing it. Don’t take it to mean that it’s underpowered, of course, but when milling hardcore, you might need some more power.
Husqvarna 965146701 18-Inch 50.2cc Chainsaw
If you’re looking to tear oak or maple, then you’re going to want as much power on the bar as you can possibly manage. This 50.2cc chainsaw with an 18” bar is exactly what you’re looking for in that case. It’s big enough to handle almost any job, and powerful enough to make short work of even the densest of lumber.
All of this extra power comes with some cost, but the design is sturdy, made for delivering the maximum amount of power you’ll be able to find with this size of bar. It’s an investment well worth making if you’re looking to cut up some serious lumber. For the money, it’s among the best chainsaws for milling period.
Husqvarna 460 Rancher (60cc) Chainsaw Cutting Kit
Big jobs require a big saw, and the Husqvarna 460 Rancer delivers. This chainsaw boasts a full 24” of bar and an absolutely insane 60cc engine to power it. For some people this is the saw of their dreams. This is seriously one of the most powerful chainsaws you’ll find anywhere.
It also has the price tag to prove it. If you’re serious about milling some lumber, however, there’s really no substitute for the huge bar and ability to plow through just about anything.
Picking Out the Best Chainsaw for Milling
Milling is a pretty specialized task, and it’s something that a lot of people struggle with. For the most part, the struggle is real enough since even with a powerful chainsaw, it’s going to be a pretty daunting task.
That said, using the proper saw greatly decreases your chances of frustration. While a lesser saw might be able to fell a tree, or even cut rounds, milling puts a ton of stress on the saw and means that you’re going to have to make sure that you can really slam on things.
You’ll need to look for the following qualities in the saw to make sure you’ve got what you need.
Durability is king when it comes to a milling chainsaw. It tends to go hand-in-hand with the extra power you’re going to need to take care of the task but the breakdown is pretty simple: an off brand chainsaw might break when you’re milling and that’s both dangerous and will turn into a money pit quickly.
That’s why all of the saws we recommend have a pretty high price tag. Don’t use a generic saw to mill. It’ll break quickly and then you’ll be out your initial investment.
With durability also comes reliability, a motor which binds up while you’re 12” deep in a log is going to be a serious liability.
Milling Chainsaw Power
The bigger the motor, the more power is being delivered to the bar. Milling is one of the most powerful applications you’ll find for a chainsaw, since the blade will be buried and working against the wood for an extended period of time.
This means that naturally you should go as large as you can afford. For hard woods, a larger engine is pretty much a necessity, but if you’re working with particularly soft woods like pine then you should be okay with a little bit smaller of an engine.
Chainsaw Bar Length
The length of your bar is going to affect which logs you can take care of. It’s pretty simple, really: a bigger bar means you can make boards out of larger logs.
However, if you’re freehand milling when things get over 18” or so you’ll need some serious skills to be able to make sure that you get everything in order. It takes a lot of strength to make a 24” bar run in a safe and sane manner without a portable mill.
At the minimum, you want to be looking at something which is 16” long. If you go any smaller, then you’re going to have a ton of trouble with this task.
Milling wood is a pretty stiff demand of any machine, but if you take your time and make sure you find the best chainsaw for milling possible then you’re going to be in good hands. As long as the chainsaw is big, powerful, and reliable you’re on the right track and don’t be afraid to spend the money you want to get the saw you need. Good luck!