As well as an accurate chainsaw mill and a suitable chainsaw, to successfully undertake chainsaw milling you need to have the correct ripping chains and chain bar. This is important for both softwood and hardwood chainsaw milling.
Most chainsaws come supplied with a cross-cutting chain and bar. Typically, this chain has the teeth ground to around 30 degrees. This is a sharp 30 degree angle and quite aggressive and excellent for cross-cutting logs. But the aggressive tooth angle when used for ripping can cause excessive vibration, cause the chainsaw to stall, and produce a poor quality finish on the sawn log.
A 10 degree tooth angle takes less bite, reduces vibration, and stalling and produces a smoother finish.
Comparisons between ripping teeth and cross cut teeth. Different teeth pitch and drive links.
Chainsaws powerful enough for chainsaw milling are usually supplied with cross-cutting chains/bars with regular chain tooth width with a drive link (part of the chain that sits in the groove of the chain bar) width. Usually the drive link and bar groove are 1.5 or 1.6mm wide, and the tooth is also wide and produces a wide kerf around 8mm. The chainsaw requires more power to move this wider tooth through the timber as it removes more timber producing a large kerf behind.
For ripping it is best to use a narrower tooth chain producing a 5mm kerf, with subsequently narrow drive links of 1.3mm. These typically have a tooth pitch of 3/8th low profile drive link. Stihl call these chains Picco, Husqvarna call them Pixel, generally called 3/8th LoPo. The narrower cutting teeth and 5mm kerf wastes less timber as sawdust and reduces the power requirement of the chainsaw.
To correctly support the 3/8th low profile chain with 1.3mm drive link, you need a matching bar. This bar has a drive link groove 1.3mm wide and nose sprocket matched to 3/8th low profile chain drive links. A solid bar (rather than a three piece laminated bar) is also preferred as it is stronger and stands up to the stresses of chainsaw milling better.
Our Logosol ripping bars and Stihl ripping bars are all solid and match our Stihl ripping chains.
Logosol premium ripping bar with 1.3mm drive link groove and Picco 3/8th nose sprocket.
Chainsaw drive sprocket
Lastly, you need to consider the drive sprocket on your chainsaw. This sprocket also needs to suit 3/8th low profile chain drive links. Check with us or your manufacturer to ensure you have the correct sprocket on your chainsaw. A 3/8th low profile (Picco) drive sprocket is perfect, some 3/8th sprockets are also suitable for 3/8th low profile chains (again check with your chainsaw manufacturer). And if you do fit a 3/8th low profile sprocket to your chainsaw, a standard 3/8th chain will not fit anymore.
Stihl Picco 38th low profile drive sprocket to fit MS660 and MS661.
Good news… we have the solutions all laid out.
On each of our chainsaw mill pages you will find matching ripping chains and bars grouped by bar length. This makes it easy to select the right ripping chain and bar for your needs.
We also have chainsaw sprockets and further information here.
Some excerpts from our cutting tools handbook. Download the handbook (1.1Mb PDF).
Taking care of the chain.
It is quite common that the saw chain has to be sharpened after 3-4 logs if normal spruce or pine timber is sawn, but this can, of course, vary substantially. Mainly, it is the cuts into bark that wear out the sharpness of the saw teeth. Trees that have grown next to a road, or are dirty of some other reason, cause severe wear. Different wood kinds can be more or less hard to cut, and dry timber always causes more wear and tear than fresh. If the timber is perfectly clean, if it is felled on snow, or if the logs are barked you can saw a longer time before the chain needs to be sharpened.
There is no rule for how long you can run the saw; this is something you as a master sawyer has to assess while operating the equipment.
When it comes to the chain, the most important points are: Right and left teeth should be filed down equally. An unevenly filed chain can steer wrong and increase the wear and tear on the guide bar. The teeth should be filed at the correct angles for the purpose, the depth gauges should be kept at the right level and, above all, the chain must never get dull. Change to a newly sharpened chain as soon as you see the first signs of declining sharpness.
A little sharpening is enough
If a ripping chain is to work it must be correctly sharpened. The cutting edge of the tooth cuts the wood fibres and it has to be razor sharp. A rip saw chain is very rarely damaged the way a cross-cutting chain is. Normally, it only gets dull, which means that there is very little material that needs to be grinded off to make the edge regain maximum sharpness.
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