Wood mills are extremely expensive pieces of equipment. That is an unfortunate fact.
However, with the best chainsaws for milling, you don’t have to have your own large wood mill. And you don’t even have to go to a professional to get your raw lumber milled.
Instead, now you can use a chainsaw and a milling attachment to create your own milled wood relatively cheaply and easily.
If you are looking for a multipurpose chainsaw that will mill as well as cut wood, then read on.
In this article, PowerOfTool.com has all of the answers you need.
- 1 Top 4 Best Chainsaw for Milling
- 2 Is chainsaw milling worth it?
- 3 How to choose the best chainsaw for milling
- 4 Alternative Tools for Milling Lumber
- 5 Conclusion
Top 4 Best Chainsaw for Milling
If you’re looking for a great chainsaw for milling, look no further then these four products.
1. Husqvarna 24 Inch 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw
My top pick for the best chainsaw for milling is the Husqvarna Forest & Garden 460. This chainsaw has a 24-inch bar and 60.3 cc of engine displacement, so it is well within the recommended range for a milling chainsaw. Plus, the two-cycle gas engine is designed for safety with its inertia activated chain brake.
Although it is smaller than Husqvarna’s professional chainsaws, the 460 is powerful enough to meet your milling needs while also being accessible to the non-professional user. You will enjoy the automatic chain oiler, side-mounted chain adjustment system, and quick-release air filter. For safety, performance, and usability, you can’t beat the Husqvarna 460.
- Powerful 60.3 cc engine.
- 24-inch bar will cut most sizes of lumber.
- Quick-release air filter makes for easy cleaning.
- Decent gas consumption and emissions.
- On the expensive side.
not have a reusable air filter.
2. Husqvarna 20 Inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw
Husqvarna’s 455 also deserves a mention on my top four list. It is slightly smaller and less powerful than the 460. It only has a twenty-inch bar, not a twenty-four-inch one. And, the engine displacement is 55.5 cc instead of 60.3 cc. However, this small farm and ranch chainsaw will get small and medium-sized milling jobs taken care of in no time.
Husqvarna is known for their great chainsaws, and the 455 shows why. It has Husqvarna’s patented X-torque technology, which reduces your environmental impact while using this gas chainsaw. Plus, all of the great features of the 460 are included in the 455 as well, including the side-mounted chain tensioning system, automatic chain oiler, and quick-release air filter.
- Decent size and power for small to medium jobs.
- Husqvarna is known for their high-quality chainsaws.
- X-torque system decreases fuel consumption and emissions.
- Replacement parts are available.
- Not as powerful or large as the Husqvarna 460.
- On the expensive side.
3. Poulan Pro PR5020
At twenty-inches and with 50 cc of engine displacement, the Poulan pro PR5020 is right on the edge of the chainsaw you would want for milling. However, for the user new to chainsaw milling, the PR5020 is a great buy. The PR5020 is extremely affordable and easy to use.
Other reasons to consider the PR5020 include Poulan’s OxyPower technology. OxyPower is a system that will reduce the chainsaw’s emissions by 70% and its fuel consumption by 20%. The purge bulb in the carburetor helps the PR5020 start quickly and easily. To make starting even easier, Poulan has included an effortless pull starting system, which requires 30% less pull force than other models. One final good design decision is the combi tool’s placement in the rear handle. Poulan has done everything they can to make the PR5020 usable, powerful, and affordable.
- Reduced fuel consumption and emissions.
- Easy to start.
- All plastic construction.
- Primer floods easily.
4. Echo CS-590-20
The Echo CS-590-20 is a gas-powered chainsaw. It is another product that has a twenty-inch bar. But, unlike the Poulan PR5020, the Echo CS-590-20 has 59 cc of engine displacement, so it creates more power in a smaller package, which is perfect for milling lumber.
Echo’s CS-590-20 also has a number of interesting features that make it a good choice for chainsaw milling. It has an automatic and adjustable chain oiler. It also has an anti-vibration handle. The handle helps make this chainsaw comfortable to use. And, at 13.2 lbs., it is one of the lightest chainsaws on this list. Therefore, no one will struggle to use the Echo CS-590-20 for lumber milling no matter their skill level or experience.
- Anti-vibration handle makes the CS-590-20 comfortable.
- Very lightweight.
- Lots of power in a small package.
- Large fuel tank.
- Expensive for such a small chainsaw.
- No primer button.
Is chainsaw milling worth it?
Dedicated wood mills will always do a better job milling lumber than your chainsaw. So, you may be wondering if chainsaw milling is even worth it. I would argue that, yes, it is.
The number one reason why chainsaw milling is worth it for the homeowner is that it is much cheaper than purchasing your own mill or taking your lumber to a professional. This fact will be even truer if you have a large piece of property with lots of lumber to mill.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at some numbers.
A good chainsaw for milling will run you between $200 and $500. The chainsaw mill costs about $100-$200. So, the equipment you need—not counting safety equipment—for chainsaw milling will run between $300-$700.
On the other hand, a decent portable sawmill costs between $4000-$80,000. And, taking your lumber to a local sawmill could cost thousands of dollars depending on the number and type of trees. Clearly, the chainsaw mill is a cheaper option.
Additionally, chainsaw milling is extremely convenient. Once you have the equipment, you can mill whenever you have the time. You do not have to make an appointment with professionals or wait until you have enough cut lumber to justify using your extremely expensive portable sawmill.
However, whether or not chainsaw milling works for you depends on how much milling you actually need to complete. If you only have a couple of trees on your property, it may make sense to leave them and buy milled wood from a store. Or, you could hire in professionals. If you have a lot of lumber to process, then purchasing your own chainsaw mill is definitely the way to go.
How to choose the best chainsaw for milling
Consider the following features when you are looking for a chainsaw for milling. Knowing the product’s size, ccs, and power, and your budget will help you narrow down your chainsaw options. Let’s look at each of these factors in more detail.
Size and cc
Size and ccs (cubic centimeters of engine displacement) are intimately related. In fact, as you probably know, these are the two ways that a chainsaw is measured.
Size, of course, involves the size of the chainsaw bar. In general, the bigger the bar and the more displacement a chainsaw has, the better suited it is to mill.
There are a couple of handy guidelines to bear in mind when looking for a chainsaw for milling. (These numbers are not always true, but it is a good place to start.) You will want to purchase a chainsaw that has at least 50cc displacement and a 20-inch bar.
Essentially, this means that you will want to purchase a farm and ranch chainsaw or a professional model. Bigger is not always better. If you are uncomfortable handling the professional chainsaws, a farm and ranch chainsaw will work just fine.
Just make sure to get a chainsaw with a bar size and enough power to run your chainsaw mill attachment and cut through the lumber on your property.
Unless you are independently wealthy, your budget will come into play when you choose a chainsaw for milling. The budget is likely the factor that drove you to chainsaw milling in the first place, as this option is far cheaper than purchasing your own mill.
As mentioned above, the chainsaws appropriate for milling will cost anywhere from $200 to $500. You could also spend more than $500, but that amount of money is not required to get a good product. You will be able to find chainsaws that work perfectly for milling lumber in any price range.
Also, when budgeting remember that you will need to purchase the chainsaw mill attachment. These are typically under $100.
A final consideration you will need to think about as you look for a chainsaw for milling is its power source. Gas chainsaws are the most traditional model for large cutting jobs. But, you can also find corded and cordless electric models. Let’s look at each of these power types in more detail.
Gas is probably the power source you recognize when thinking about chainsaws. Anyone who’s grown up smelling the exhaust of a hard-working chainsaw knows what I’m talking about.
In general, gas chainsaws are still recommended for chainsaw milling. This is because they typically make more power than electric chainsaws. Most gas chainsaws have an engine displacement of 30-150 ccs. This is a huge range that allows a lot of flexibility in power with gas chainsaws.
On the other hand, electric chainsaws use electricity to run. They either need to be plugged into a power outlet (corded chainsaws) or they run off of a rechargeable battery (cordless chainsaws).
Electric chainsaws are great for small cutting jobs because of their portability. However, they are much smaller and have less power than gas chainsaws.
Alternative Tools for Milling Lumber
Milling lumber without a mill of some kind is going to be hard. If you have full-sized pieces of lumber to mill, I highly recommend purchasing either a portable sawmill or a chainsaw mill—or getting the lumber professionally milled. But, if you have small pieces of lumber that need to be milled, you can try using the following tools and methods.
A bandsaw is an electric saw that has a band of metal teeth stretched vertically between a wheel in the base of the machine and a wheel in the top of the machine. Bandsaws are perfect tools for precision cuts and cutting irregular shapes.
If you need to mill lumber and do not have a chainsaw mill or portable mill, you can use your bandsaw. The bandsaw should be 14-inches or larger to work the best, and it will only mill lumber from 36-ft. to 48-ft. long. However, because this tool can make precise, straight cuts on a piece of wood, it will work perfectly to split small pieces of lumber in a pinch.
Wood splitters are another unconventional tool to mill lumber. To use this tool, you may also need to employ splitting wedges depending on the thickness of your lumber.
Wood splitters will not be as accurate as a bandsaw for milling wood. Occasionally they may not split the lumber evenly. However, for small jobs, a wood splitter should work fine.
Some people also prefer to freehand mill lumber. You do not need a special tool for this type of milling as long as you have a chainsaw. But, you will need a considerable amount of skill.
You guide the chainsaw through the lumber to create the straight cut. If you are not comfortable ripping straight lines, then freehand milling may not be for you.
If you want to process lumber on your own property, you need one of the best chainsaws for milling. Milling with a chainsaw is more affordable and convenient than using a professional service or purchasing your own portable sawmill.
You just need to purchase the right chainsaw for the job. Lucky for you, I’ve given you all of the information you need to find a great chainsaw for milling for yourself.
So, what are you waiting for? Try one—or all—of the four chainsaws listed in this article and begin your milling journey.