Processing oversized logs

Approaches for dealing with large-diameter logs. March 16, 2000

I have red oak logs that are between 48 and 60 inches in diameter, 6 feet long. Any suggestions for reducing them to a size that a Woodmizer bandsaw mill can handle? (Specified max size: 38 inches.)

If they are just a little too big, you can sometimes notch out a corner of the butt end so the outer guide will pass. Sometimes you can gain another inch or so by making a notch where the backstops hit the log.

I've occasionally split large logs with a chain saw. Large red oaks generally have one or more frost cracks. If your logs have this frost crack, that would be the place to start with the chain saw and wedges.

I have just a little Woodmizer LT-15 which can only handle logs 28 inches wide by 29 inches high. I just sawed up a large oak, 48 inches at the butt end.

I just ended up eye-balling 28 by 29 down the length of the log and ripped it with a sharp, 32-inch-bar chainsaw. The biggest problem was getting the thing on the bed of the mill.

All of the other suggestions are good and I have done all of them myself.

The one thing that I learned is that it is better to get the log up on the mill BEFORE you rip it. Mother Nature was thinking ahead when she made logs round... they move much easier that way. If you split it first you will have a hard time moving the halves without a loader or something. I've found it best to get the log up on the mill and over toward the dog side as far as you can. You may have to lower the dogs down, and still clear the inboard roller and the headrig.

After that, extend your outboard roller out as far as you can, and use that as a guide to mark a line to follow with the biggest chainsaw you can get. I use a chalkline and a Husqvarna with a 44-inch bar.

If possible, take a cut off the top of the log, using the mill, to give yourself a place to walk safely, before you rip the log. The piece you rip off the side can be resawn later so it's not wasted.

My recommendation is to find someone with a chainsaw mill to split the logs into quarters and have the material quatersawn on the Woodmizer.

A lot of people have chainsaw mills (more than Woodmizers). I have both and find that the chainmill is a nice complement for large log sawing. If you can't find a chain mill, Mike is right, get it on the mill first then cut a notch down the side so that you can make a single pass. Set aside that hunk, and roll the sawn face against the dogs. Cut another notch and roll again. You should be able to get by with the mill at this point.

I've used this method several times, for logs 52 inches plus. Good luck, and most of all be careful -- you're talking about logs that exceed four and five tons a piece!

You guys are boring! A little black powder, a fuse and one piece is quickly two halves! I have split MANY 40- to 60-inch red and white oaks. Split one a few weeks ago 16 feet long and 72 inches on the butt!

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the advise. I ended up renting a Husky 3120 saw with a 72-inch bar, fitted with a ripping chain. Sawed the logs in half along the long axis, then again into quarters -- this was way easier than I thought.

Now I'm just waiting for bandmill to show up.