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Best Chainsaw for cutting large diameter logs lengthwise6/14
What is the best chainsaw for quartering large logs lengthwise that are about 3 to 5 feet in diameter?
Also, what is best chain and pitch (i.e. semi-chisel or full chisel) for cutting these large logs?
Are there any dangers with large bar chainsaws kicking back when using an aggressive chain and what preventive measures could be taken?
I'm not going to pretend to know the answer to your question. What I will do is share my experience on the subject and then stay tuned in and maybe learn something too.
Presently I'm milling a 62-inch (max. dia. @ log's butt - not dbh) white oak. I followed the chainsaw mill's manufacturer's recommendation of buying the largest chainsaw (engine size) I could afford. I got a used Stihl 088 off Ebay about 3-years ago. So the saw has some age on it. Then I bought a new 59-inch Stihl bar. The bar and 1 cross-cut chain cost $300.00. For a guy just getting into milling the larger logs I started looking at ways of saving money on ripping chain. I have been milling logs for several years prior to getting into the larger logs. I knew I was going to need at least 3-ripping chains for the way I operate. .404 ripping chain loops were $100.00 each. I discovered that I can buy a 100' spool of chain for $350.00 +/-. Now I have backup loops and don't have to shut down to file. Off the top of my head I believe I am using .404 semi-chisel chain. The way it holds an edge is what makes me think this. * If you want to know just ask and I'll go check the saw to be certain.
I've talked with a few tree guys about the Stihl MS 880 (Stihl 088) vs Stihl MS 660 (Still 066) and found a lot of guys prefer the 660. Reason being they say is the 880 seems to have less chain speed on the topend. Initially I concurred with them until I burnt the piston rings on the oak log. When I tore down the engine and replaced the piston rings I was amazed that the saw ran at all for the thick buildup of carbon soot. I cleaned up the cylinder to the point it looked new and closed it up. Then put a carb kit on for good measure and the old saw screamed to life like a new saw.
I've been milling this oak log that is 62-inch diameter by 15-feet long. Initially it was taking 2 tanks of gas and about 1-hour to make 1 cut. Now I'm at the middle of the log and it's taking 3 tanks of gas and 1-1/2 hours per cut.
You will be wise to get extra chain tensioners to keep on-hand as I have had some break bouncing through knots. It's worth the $20.00 investment to have an extra vs downtime waiting for a order to come in. Most dealers don't stock MS 880 (088) parts.
As far as kickbacks go always be on top of your game when running a professional grade saw and especially with a bar mounted mill. You the operator will be standing in a position all the safety books warn about when starting a cut. Once the bar and mill are about a foot into the log I'd say kickback can still happen but the mill attachment should help to stop the saw from getting out of the log; looks to me like it would bind inside the cut on the log. On this note, I did throw a chain when starting a cut with my Stihl MS 661once. The chain hit me in the stomach but didn't cut my clothing or me. If I was a cat I just burned 1 of my 9 lives. When this happened the clutch bearings had a catastrophic failure and everything came off the crank.
Some guys will swear by their trusty Solo's, Husqvarna, Stihl, etc. I say make sure the saw you pick is of professional grade and get to know it well so you are confident and safe with it. Always respect the power of the saw and never become complacent with it. Happy milling.