If the budget allows I would consider either a Stihl 880 or Husky 3120 with 404 chain. These are the two largest professional saws on the market with plenty of torque to power through big logs. These saws will take big bars and Cannon makes custom large bars that are very good.
As for kickback, how the chain is sharpened can reduce kickback, but also reduce the speed of the cut. I use a square grind on all of my chains which cuts more aggressively and takes a little getting used to.
I run a Stihl 880 with a 5' cannon bar when splitting bigger logs. The saw is heavier and does not rev up as fast as the smaller 660, but the torque powers through and does not bog.
I agree - I have been using my 088 (now known as 880) with a 36" bar, a full skip .404 chain, for just that purpose for close to 15 years now - I cannot speak highly enough of the quality or reliability of that saw.
There won't be much opportunity to bump the tip of the bar against the log when milling, so kickback issues should be close to nil. Ripping chains typically are ground at a flatter angle (about 10 degrees) than conventional cross cut chains. I'd recommend you buy a ripping chain and sharpening guide. I use semi-chisel, but some people prefer full chisel. My saw is an old Husqvarna 2100.
I use a stihl 660 magnum with a 42" bar. with my alaskan mill I can mill a 36" diameter log with ease. The 660 uses a 3/8" chain the larger saws use a 1/2". this is 25% more material to remove, just one thing to consider. But a 42" bar is the largest bar I can find for the 660. The saw runs great and could probably handle a bigger bar. It's been worked hard it's whole life and still going strong, but like me it can be a little hard to get started.
I sharpen my chains at 12 degrees across the top, with a 40 degree tooth angle. Through testing I've found this to be a good compromise between speed, and chain life.
Last time I milled it took 12-15min per cut for a 9', 36" wide slab.
I buy the Oregon rip chains from Bailys. I bought a bulk roll and made my chains. I bought the chain, a spinner, and a sharpener for about the cost of pre-made chains locally. I find 5 chains are usually good for a day (I always seem to hit metal, or something in the bark).
I thought that I would throw in my two cents worth. Been away from the forum for a few months.
I have two 3120xp’s that I use to rip logs. Most everyone has used an Alaska saw mill. I have taken it to the next level. For years I have been thinking about ripping large logs an easier way. I got bored a few months ago, so I built this slabbing attachment to use on my both my mills, (stationary and portable). The power feed on the mill works well, now that I have figured out how to cut without burning the clutch up on the saw. I too years ago, bought ripping chains from Bailey’s. Then I just bought 100’ rolls of chain and made my own. I have come to realize it is a waste of time to make up a ripping chain unless you’re cutting with the grain. Cross cutting makes no difference how it is sharpened. I split 6 big logs with this set up and love it. Cuts straight and perfect. My next thing is to get a 72” bar since I saw a show on TV that used a 13 foot bar on a 3120xp.
Be save everyone!
AJ's Custom Portable Saw Milling & Wood Turning
19304 Filbert Rd
Bothell, Wa 98012
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