Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: June 22, 2021
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If you are thinking about turning some of the wood into your yard into usable lumber, but don’t want to spend a fortune dragging it to a large-scale sawmill, a chainsaw mill is a perfect tool for you. These portable chainsaw structures are designed to saw through large pieces of wood to leave you with usable cuts of lumber. While the work may be back-breaking with a chainsaw mill, the lumber that these saws produce is of excellent quality and the tool itself costs a fraction of what a heavy-duty bandsaw mill can cost.
The best chainsaw mill has to fit a lot of competing specifications, which can make it hard to find the right one for your needs. Chainsaw mills should be durable and heavy enough to cut through whatever thickness of wood you find in the trees around your property. At the same time, they should be lightweight enough for portability and easy to use to reduce the safety hazard the open blade presents. Choosing a mill that is compatible with the chainsaw you already own can be an important consideration.
To make choosing the best chainsaw mill for you easier, we read through hundreds of customer reviews and pored over technical documents for many of the favorite chainsaw mills currently on the market. Our top nine picks are summarized in the table below, and the features that set them apart are noted. Read on for detailed reviews, based on users’ feedback, and pros and cons of each chainsaw mill. Our buying guide gives you more information about how to choose the chainsaw mill that is right for your needs, and finally, we announce our overall top-rated chainsaw mill.
Granberg’s Alaskan chainsaw mill is a staple in the world of chainsaw mills going back decades, and the Mark-IV model continues their legacy of quality in this mill. This chainsaw mill is designed for large timber without being excessive – the bar width is up to 26” and the mill accepts chainsaws with up to 30” bars. Note that your chainsaw should have 60cc or more displacement to use with this mill. The cutting depth spans ½” to 13”.
One of the most loved features of this mill is the anti-vibration system, which uses metal runners that fit squarely around the log you are working on to keep the chainsaw in place without preventing you from moving smoothly down the log. The end brackets are CNC-machined from steel for precision and Granberg – and users – describe them as virtually unbreakable in the field. The handle in the center of the mill makes it easy to keep control of your saw as well, which users found made this mill perfect for getting a relatively straight and level cut.
Why did it make our list?
Bar width up to 26”
Anti-vibration system with CNC-machine end brackets
If you are cutting larger-diameter wood up to 36” across, this chainsaw mill from SHZOND is a great option for being able to get the job done. Note, however, that you may need to get a longer bar for your chainsaw, since most chainsaws do not come standard with a three-foot-long bar. The cutting depth is limited to 12”, although most users will not mind this maximum depth. The end bar also has an easy-to-read measure on it so it is easy to get the right thickness for your board when making a cut.
Users found that the chainsaw mill is easy to assemble out of the package and makes it fast to start cutting since it clamps directly onto your chainsaw’s bar. The mill is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel and feels sturdy when in use without being overly heavy to carry into the woods. Users also appreciated the added safety of the plastic cover over the cutting area that reduces the amount of wood and sawdust being thrown by the chainsaw.
When buying a chainsaw mill, one of the factors that users look at is the portability. It is important to have a portable unit, especially if your project requires you to move about frequently. Additionally, if you are a DIY enthusiast, you probably aren’t looking for something that looks daunting. This feature, that is, portability, is on of the reasons why the Carmyra chainsaw mill is one of the best options on the market for you.
Aside from the impressive portability which we have discussed above, we love the Carmyra chainsaw mill because it comes in a durable form that will last you for a very long time. It is made from high grade aluminum and steel. Therefore, no matter how much you put it through milling work, it will come out the other end still feeling and looking as good as new.
Additionally, the sturdy build means you can use it even when weather conditions are terrible. If your project is one that you have to handle in bad weather, you’ll be pleased that this model will help you to handle it with impressive ease.
During our testing, we discovered that the model can give you beams that measure from 0.5″ thickness to up to 13″. It can also work on planks up to 36″ wide. Therefore, it is especially suited to anyone looking to carry out DIY projects.
Another feature we liked is that it comes with a calibrated bar. With this bar, you can easily measure out thickness or lengths that you want to work on or produce. Using it with chainsaws is a breeze. Due to the design, you do not require any drilling to attach the chainsaw. Regardless of the specifications of the chainsaw, you can rest assured that this will work well with it.
Although an awesome product, one of the major flaws is that it might come with misaligned bars and erroneous calibrations.
This chainsaw mill from FT&C was designed to be transported deep into the woods to get to large-diameter logs. Although it sports a bar depth of up to 36”, the chainsaw mill weighs in at under 17 pounds thanks to the minimalist frame design. The mill also offers the versatility to cut boards up to 13” in thickness, which can be an advantage for keeping large slabs of wood intact from thick logs.
The chainsaw mill is constructed of steel and aluminum to balance weight and durability, and users found that it feels solidly built with few parts that can break. However, the same simple design means that it can be harder to control the chainsaw and guide it along the log for an even cut. The only issue that users had with this chainsaw mill was that the ruler etched into the end bracket is both hard to read and does not apparently correspond to the desired cut thickness, which can make getting the correct board thickness a guessing game.
What do we love it for?
Portable at under 17 pounds
Bar depth up to 36”
Maximum 13” cutting depth
What were we disappointed with?
Difficult to control because of large size and minimal framing
This chainsaw mill from MTN Gearsmith uses a simple rail design modeled after many of the other chainsaw mills in our roundup. The cutting depth ranges from ½” to 12”, on par with its competitors, although the maximum bar depth of 24” limits this chainsaw mill to smaller projects. The most significant challenge this chainsaw mill faces is that it is in the same size and price class as the Alaskan from Granberg, which comes with much more name recognition and a slightly larger maximum bar depth and cutting thickness. Otherwise, this chainsaw mill sports many of the same design features and construction quality.
MTN Gearsmith strongly recommends matching the chainsaw you plan to use to the log size you are planning to cut when using this chainsaw mill. The company recommends chainsaws with 45-67cc power for logs up to 18” and 68-85cc for logs up to 24”. This means that you may need to keep multiple chainsaws or bars around for different projects, which can be an added hassle and expense.
What makes it special?
Up to 24” bar depth and 12” cutting thickness
What cons did we find?
Recommended to use different chainsaw powers for different log diameters
Similarly priced to Granberg Alaskan, which offers higher specifications
If you are on a tight budget, this inexpensive chainsaw mill from Freelancer is a great option for cutting through small to moderate logs. Although the mill does not have rails and resembles the Timberjig from Logosol, it is rated for cutting depths up to 12” and bar depths of 36”. The steel construction makes it durable without being overly heavy – the mill weighs in at under eight pounds.
Like the Timberjig, the guides on this mill work much better when cutting against a log that has been squared off rather than making new cuts on a round log face. Getting consistent, level cuts with this chainsaw mill can require practice, since there are no rails to reduce vibrations and keep you level as you move across a log. However, since the mill attaches directly onto the face of the chainsaw, it is easy to control both the chainsaw and mill together using the handles on your saw as you would normally.
What do we love it for?
Bar depth up to 36” and cutting depth up to 12”
Portable and lightweight
What were we disappointed with?
Difficult to get level cuts, especially on rounded logs
If you’re looking for a first-time chainsaw mill or only have a one-time project in mind, this small mill from Granberg provides an excellent value in a small and lightweight package. The chainsaw mill is limited in that it only accepts bars up to 20” in length and offers only an 18” bar width, which is not suitable for cutting many older trees. However, the cutting depth of ½” to 13” thickness is on par with much more expensive chainsaw mills. This mill is small enough that it can actually be used in the garage for milling down thick boards.
The mill is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum and steel and users report that despite its small size it feels very solidly built. A nice feature, especially for small projects in the garage, is the included cover on the bar end that prevents sawdust and woodchips from flying upward. At only 12 pounds, this chainsaw mill is extremely portable. However, the light weight can also make it somewhat difficult to control when cutting through dense wood, so you may need to use additional guides if you need to cut an especially level piece of lumber.
What stands out?
½” to 13” cutting depth
Plastic cover over cutting area
What cons did we manage to find?
Only accepts bars up to 20”
Too small and lightweight for most serious projects
If you are cutting moderate-diameter wood, it’s hard to beat the value of this chainsaw mill from Popsport. The chainsaw mill has a bar width of between 14” and 24” and clamps directly to your chainsaw bar for easy attachment, although Popsport does not specify the maximum length of bar that will function with the mill. The chainsaw mill has steel runners on the end bars to make it easy to slide along a log for a smooth cut. While the cutting width is restricted to 12” rather than 13”, most users won’t need that extra inch of thickness.
Users noted that the chainsaw mill is made in China, in contrast to the American-made Granberg mills, but that the quality of the steel and aluminum construction is unaffected. However, users were frustrated with the nearly total lack of operating instructions and the difficulty of assembling the mill after first receiving it. Users found that some of the included assembly tools were incompatible with the bolts on the mill, so assembly may require several trips to the hardware store.
This mill from Logosol differs from other chainsaw mills in that it has almost no rails. The result is an extremely lightweight mill at only about 8 pounds, but one that can be very difficult to control. Users noted that the cutting process with this chainsaw mill is slow and that it is difficult to get steady cuts without practice. Moreover, this mill works best when cutting against a log that has already been cut to reveal a square face rather than a log that is still round.
The cutting depth is also smaller on this chainsaw mill than with larger mills with rails – it can only produce boards up to 8” in thickness. Although there is theoretically no limit to the bar depth that can be used with this mill, 24” is a practical limit, since there is no support on the far end of the bar. In addition, plan to use a powerful chainsaw – at least 60cc, and preferably higher – since cutting power is required to get a smooth cut when using this mill.
What makes it stand out?
Lightweight and portable
Can produce effective cuts with practice
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Requires powerful chainsaw to get level cuts
Limited to 8”-thick boards
Difficult to use on round logs
Things to Consider
Now that you have been introduced to our nine favorite chainsaw mills currently on the market, how do you choose between them to get the chainsaw mill that is right for your needs? Our Buying Guide covers the most important features to consider when deciding which chainsaw mill is right for your needs.
What is a chainsaw mill and how to use it?
A chainsaw mill is a miniature sawmill designed to be operated by just one or two people. The mill itself is typically just a metal frame designed to clamp to your chainsaw and sit squarely on a piece of wood. As you push the chainsaw along the wood, the frame will help to hold it level so that you can cut a relatively straight board from the wood. Chainsaw mills allow you to adjust the height of the chainsaw relative to the top of the log so that you can adjust board height between a minimum and a maximum thickness.
Note that chainsaw mills are just the frame and do not come with a chainsaw – you’ll need your own relatively powerful professional chainsaw or chainsaw for firewood to fit into the mill (see considerations about compatibility below). In addition, while some more expensive chainsaw mills come with a guide track to help you make the perfect cuts, others are designed to simply approximate a level cut and you may need to build your own custom guides. The accuracy in this process can dramatically affect the level of wasted wood that your chainsaw mill produces and the ease of squaring your lumber later in your woodworking process.
Unlike larger bandsaw mills, which are the type of saw used by typical lumber operations, chainsaw mills can be back-breaking and time-consuming to use. They are also far less efficient, meaning that they create more sawdust and leave you with somewhat less usable lumber from a given log. However, chainsaw mills cost hundreds of dollars whereas bandsaw mills can cost tens of thousands or more – hardly a bargain if you’re only planning to cut a small amount of lumber from around your property rather than start up a full-fledged logging operation. In addition, chainsaw mills are extremely lightweight compared to bandsaw mills and were originally designed for frontier areas where it was difficult to move logs to a sawmill. This portability is a huge advantage since it means you can cut logs where they are rather than drag logs out to wherever your saw is.
The length of the longest chainsaw mill bar is the primary limit on the width of a log that you will be able to cut through, so consider bar capacity carefully. The best way to ensure that your chainsaw mill will work for your needs is to measure the diameter of any wood you are planning to cut or may cut in the future, and ensure that you purchase a chainsaw mill that has a bar at least that length. Unfortunately, chainsaw mill bars are not extendable later, so ending up with a bar capacity that is too small for your needs will require purchasing a new chainsaw mill. So consider if you will use a small chainsaw or a cordless one.
The cutting depth is another extremely important consideration since it determines what thickness of boards you can cut using your chainsaw mill. Cutting depth is typically adjustable so that you can cut boards of different thicknesses, but there are limits – which depend on your chainsaw mill – as to how thin or thick a board you can cut. The vast majority of chainsaw mills have cutting depths that range from ½” to 12” in thickness, although some in our roundup can cut up to 13”.
Chainsaw mills are designed to work with a chainsaw you already have, but not all chainsaws are compatible with all chainsaw mill designs. To avoid having to purchase a second chainsaw, ensure that your existing saw will work with whatever mill you purchase. Although some chainsaw mills require a chainsaw with a drilling hole, many, like the mills from HiHydro and FT&C, don’t require a drilling hole to attach to the chainsaw handle. Other mills, like the one from Logosol, require chainsaws without a full-wrap handle.
Also consider that you’ll want your chainsaw to be at least 50cc to give you enough power to cut through most logs smoothly, and more than that if you are cutting through particularly dense wood. You should also invest in a ripping chain for your saw, which is specifically designed for cutting through wood and producing an even, parallel grain.
Construction and durability
Chainsaw mills are designed to be used for heavy-duty cutting and milling of lumber, so you need a mill that can stand up to the work. For that reason, look for chainsaw mills that users have confirmed are well-constructed and durable over years of use – durability is one of the first things that most customers report on. Steel, aluminum, or a combination of the two materials are most commonly seen in the construction of chainsaw mills. While steel is more durable, aluminum is lighter and can make the mill more easily portable, while also adding some flexibility in the case of a jam while cutting. If choosing an aluminum mill, look for those that use aircraft-grade or similarly high quality, durable aluminum.
Weight can be an important consideration when choosing among similar chainsaw mills since it can dramatically affect both performance and portability. A heavier chainsaw mill will typically give you more inertia when cutting through a log, which increases its steadiness and can make it somewhat easier to use. However, a heavier chainsaw mill is also more difficult to transport to wherever your log is in the first place. If you are frequently cutting logs that are deep in the woods, where you have to carry the mill a decent distance before you can begin cutting, a lightweight mill can be extremely important. However, if you are able to transport the mill and chainsaw with an off-road vehicle or are cutting logs near a road, the weight may not be as important a consideration.
Having a chainsaw mill can enable you to turn downed wood around your property into usable lumber for your next woodworking project. Although operating a chainsaw mill is hard work, the best chainsaw mill makes it straightforward to cut a board to your specifications without having to drag your lumber to a sawmill or pay thousands for a bandsaw mill of your own. The best chainsaw mill is easy to operate, durable, and offers plenty of cutting depth for whatever wood you’re working on. Thanks to our roundup and Buying Guide, it’s easy to find the best chainsaw mill to turn your wood into lumber.