I am looking into getting a chainsaw to use in my Alaskan sawmill. I will get either a Husky 395XP or a Stihl 66. I will run a 24 inch bar. I am leaning to the Stihl, with a 1/4 inch chain. Not only for thinner kerf, but I imagine it would take some strain off the saw as well.
My questions are: How good is the Husky of this size? How hard is it to change the Sthil over to a 3/8 chain for firewood cutting, or is it feasible to cut firewood with the 1/4 inch chain?
I have used a 394XP with my Alaskan for about 4 years. It is a good saw for milling when using ripping chain. I have used the Stihl 066 and I think it is a bit better. I bought my Husqy used at a good price, so that is what I use. They are comparable in size but the 066 has a tad more hp. The Husqy has great chain speed, while the Stihl is torqier. The 395 is this yearís replacement for the 394.
Narrow kerf chain does cut faster, but has some limitations. They are designed for smaller saws and have less stressful cutting. Milling puts quite a strain on both saw and chain. Narrow kerf chain, such as Stihl Pico, will break while milling with a large saw.
Sharpening is also a consideration. Smaller cutters mean less tooth to be ground away. You can only sharpen so many times before the tooth is gone. Another limitation to narrow kerf chain is that as you remove the teeth when sharpening, the cutters become narrower than the saw bar. Even with a narrow bar. When this happens, the chain is useless because it can't cut into the wood.
If you are not sawing for production, kerf is really not a concern. If it is, maybe you should consider a portable bandmill. That 1/8" difference in chain size only adds up to lost production if you do it for money or need to get absolutely the most lumber from your log. The narrow chain also leaves a bit of a choppier finish than regular chain.
It is very important to run the power heads as rich as possible. Under heavy load the fuel mixture seems to play a larger than normal part in both lubrication and cooling. It is a good idea to avoid extended periods of operation without giving the power head a break, since most chainsaws were not designed for long duration, continuous operation.
Several years ago I did burn the cylinder of a large Johnsred saw. I replaced the cylinder, readjusted the carb. as rich as possible and that saw still runs today.
I agree that a wider chain is the way to go - I have never had a chain break on any saw, but anecdotal evidence would indicate that such an occurrence could be very dangerous. I use an auxiliary oiler at the far end of the bar, and keep the manual oiler moving the whole time the chain is running. Yes, you do produce a lot of sawdust, and the kerf is pretty darn wide, but given the nature and location of the trees I work, this is the ideal set up for me.
I use a Stihl 066 for cutting the log to length, and am impressed with its power and torque. I figure it will be able to drive the mill when the Husky ceases to be.
Three weeks ago, I bought a new Stihl 046M. It seems to want to die after a cut. The 28" bar makes felling larger diameter trees an easy, precise operation, but is bulky/unbalanced for limbing and clearing slash.
Comment from contributor A:
I am running 4 Stihl saws right now - a 026 Farm Boss, a 038 AVS Farm Boss, a 041 Farm Boss, and a 044 Magnum. I like the bigger saws, but the 026 is a piece of junk in my book. The 041 was bought new in 1978 by my grandfather and will still go through a log with a 36" bar like there is nothing there. My saw guy has run Stihl, Husky and Jonsored and only runs the Stihls now.
I run a Stihl 090 powerhead on up to a 4' bar for milling logs up to 42" in diameter. I had a custom-built bar made (cheaper than purchased through a dealer) that takes a powerhead on either end and can do logs to 54" with this.
The second saw I run is a Stihl 075. I grind standard Stihl skip chain to 0 degrees. This produces a cut that is remarkably smooth. You do sacrifice a bit of speed, but the smoother cut gains you more at resawing with much less planing.
The 090's are hard to find. They quit selling them in the U.S. years ago. It is the saw with the amount of power required to pull long chains through big hardwood logs. Absolutely run the saw on the rich side. You will strain the motor much more in a day of milling than falling or bucking. Make sure you have the oiler turned all the way up and let the saw cool some between passes. I use an aluminum extension ladder to make the first cut. Just use four pieces of plumber's strapping and a screw gun to fasten the ladder securely to the log.
I find myself sharpening a Stihl chain about once a dozen passes on a 36" diameter, 9' long maple log. Oregon chain must be sharpened about every 6 to 8 passes. It sharpens easier than the Stihl, but the edge goes away faster.
Definitely paint the log ends with wax based emulsion before milling and sticker your wood carefully, making sure there is equal airspace between slabs. Stickers are spaced evenly and on top of one another in the pile. Weight the top of the pile with the first or last log side and put several bags of concrete on top of that. I find 8/4 takes about two years to dry here in western Oregon. 4/4 takes about one year. I move pieces into the shop for a few months before using them just for good measure. Good luck and be safe.
I have used both regular and milling chain and would recommend a compromise of regular chain modified to about 10 degrees and increassing the hook to about 45 or 50 degrees. Someone wrote that 0 degrees producess a smooth cut, but sacrifices some speed. Increassing to 10 degrees produces a cut almost identical without the loss of speed. I do caution increassing the hook. It can severely increase the risk of a kickback if used for bucking. Because of the increased time required to sharpen a milling chain, I have a smaller saw with regular chain I use for bucking. The reason for increasing the hook is because of the diference in grain orientation in milling versus bucking. This results in larger size particles of swarf in milling and increassing the hook allows for more clearance for the swarf. I feel this also allows the chain to have less movement in the kerf and results in a smoother cut.
There are very few things in this world that have not been seen by a pair of human eyes. The inside of a log is one of them. Have fun and enjoy.
I burned it out again on tree removal (cross-cutting). I donít know if it was unmixed gas or the bored out fuel jet with 40-1 gas mix but I will run it at 25-1 from now on. I used to run two saws, and I added a husky 272xp. I like the auxiliary oiler, exhaust diversion and water cooling ideas. The best rip chain was old style, and a guy used to make it on request - it was 5 and 10 degree angles on a skip chain with two full teeth, one on each side, and the two teeth ground from the side so they made a 2mm groove on each side.