Best Chainsaw for Milling – Top Picks & Reviews for 2020

Having the best chainsaw for milling is a very important tool for any woodworker, whether you are using it for milling or trimming works. If you are a person who spends a lot of time in your workshop, there is a chance you have a chainsaw stored somewhere. It is an essential resource for any serious woodworker.

When you are looking for a chainsaw that is specifically designed for milling, there are certain factors you should look out for. Since you would likely be cutting through logs of various lengths, you cannot overlook the quality of your device.

Most chainsaws can serve this purpose by using a milling attachment if the device itself is durable enough. In this article, we will look at some of the best milling chainsaws that you can buy at various price ranges to suit your needs.

Why Do You Need A Milling Chainsaw?

Let us start off with the basics. To know why you need a milling chainsaw, you need to know what it means. Milling is when you canter woods and logs into a rounded length to be used later in various projects. If you want to have a good finish on your woodshop, this is a necessary step.

In large industries, there are specific milling machines to handle this job and cut the limbs out straight away. But this is an expensive setup and is not very cost-effective for a recreational woodworker. Moreover, these machines are stationary, meaning that you cannot take them if your work is at a remote location.

If you have a chainsaw for milling at your disposal, you do not have to stick only to your workshop. A chainsaw is also a way more affordable option to go for than a milling machine. Add that to the portability and the versatility of the device, and it should come as no surprise why you need one in your inventory.

Our Best Chainsaw for Milling Reviews

There are a lot of details to consider when you are buying a chainsaw, whatever your choice of use may be.

Keep in mind that you want your machine to be versatile and be able to serve you in a wide range of situations. We have made a list of seven best chainsaw for milling that deserves your consideration.

1. Husqvarna 18 Inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw – Top Pick

Husqvarna Rancher Chainsaw
The name of Husqvarna is not new in the industry of power tools. The company garnered the attention of all DIY lovers because of its innovative lawn equipment and chainsaws. Whether you are an amateur dabbler of the arts or a professional, the company will have something to offer you.

The rancher is one of their flagship products that is revered because of its functionality and durability. It is capable of any type of wood clearing activity in a pinch. With a weight of about 20 pounds, it is not that daunting on you to carry this 18-inch chainsaw for an extended period.

This is a perfect tool for any small to mid-sized milling applications because of its smaller form factor. It comes with a 20-inch bar with an engine displacement of 55 ccs. If you are not planning on cutting massive trees, this is the right tool for you. It found the perfect balance between size and function to keep most users satisfied.

Safety is one of the crucial factors in a chainsaw and this machine has it covered down to the last detail. Its 2-cycle engine comes with a chain bake to use in case of an emergency. A steady supply of oil on the bar and chain thanks to the automatic oiler keeps the tool well-lubricated.

This tool comes with a side mountain tensioning system for the chain. You can make small adjustments to the chain while working because of this nifty little feature. Furthermore, the air filter in the unit is very easy to clean or replace due to the quick-release system integrated into it.

Pros

  • Capable of handling small to medium jobs effortlessly
  • Reliable product from a reliable brand
  • Efficient fuel consumption thanks to the X-torque system
  • Readily available replacement parts

Cons

  • Can be quite expensive

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2. Makita XCU03PT1 18V X2 (36V) LXT Cordless Chainsaw – Our Runner Up

Makita XCU03PT1 Chainsaw
The name of Makita may not be that well-known in the United States, but that does not mean that they compromise on quality. It specializes in creating battery-powered tools that are powerful enough to compete with fuel-driven machines. The XCU03PT1 is an 18v chainsaw that is just one of their many high-end products.This device comes with an 18V battery powered engine that equates to about 32 ccs of a gas-powered chainsaw. For most of your milling applications, this power is sufficient. With a 14-inch bar length, controlling this unit is not difficult even for a beginner. That’s is why it is considered as the best chainsaw for milling by a lot of pros.

The smaller form factor also allows for lower kickback and thus makes it safe to use for anyone. This is a lightweight tool that is simple and easy to operate. Thanks to the ergonomic design and comfortable grips, you can commit to long work hours without straining yourself. Driven by a brushless motor, this device is also highly power efficient.

One of the benefits of this chainsaw is the variable speed trigger system that allows you to switch between 3 settings. The chain in the device can be adjusted easily, thanks to the tool-less adjustment system. It also comes with handy LED lights to work even in low light conditions.

Safety is a sector where this product really shines. It comes with an instant chain brake and also a safety button to protect against any unfortunate events. Another nice feature is the addition off a lock-off lever that prevents the chain from engaging accidentally. The 18v lithium-ion batteries allow the machine to have a decent uptime when fully charged.

Pros

  • Ergonomic and lightweight design
  • Comfortable grip
  • Lithium-ion batteries provide a good running time
  • Addition of LED work light

Cons

  • Can sometimes lack power

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3. DEWALT DCCS670X1 FLEXVOLT 60V MAX Cordless Chainsaw – Best Value

Dewalt DCCS670X1 Chainsaw
It is hard to make a list of anything related to tools and not talk about at least one Dewalt product. This battery-operated chainsaw is one of the best you can buy if you prefer batteries to gas. It houses enough power to tackle the big boys. So, if you want a good and reliable chainsaw, Dewalt has always got your back. The Dewalt DCCS670X1 comes with a 16-inch Oregon bar and chain. Similar to most chainsaws that come out these days, it has a low kickback chain installed. This chain allows the device to do its job effectively while reducing the risk on your part.This unit comes with a tool-free chain tensioner that allows you to set the chain according to your needs. As the name suggests, you do not need any tools for this and can change your setup even when working in a flash. Thanks to the auto oiling chain system, you do not need to worry about lubrication for the chain as long as the oil tank is filled.As far as safeties go, you have a decent number of features to keep you well-protected. The anti-kickback or chain brake lever that, when placed in the forward position, turns off the motor so that you cannot turn it on. Using this feature, you can quickly move between cuts without fear of any kickbacks.

A trigger safety is also integrated into the device to prevent any accidental activation. Overall, this saw is a fantastic investment for anyone getting into milling as a beginner. Though not as powerful as its gas-powered cousins, it still packs quite a punch.

Pros

  • Good safety features
  • Auto chain oiling system
  • Tool-free chain tension adjustment
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Not as powerful as gas-powered devices

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4. Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw – Top Rated

Greenworks 16-Inch 40V Cordless Chainsaw
Using other chainsaws, you get so much vibration that you tend to feel vibrations and pushbacks on your shoulders and elbows, which tire you out quickly. With the Greenworks 40V cordless chainsaw, you won’t get any of that. You have probably seen some of their innovative products when it comes to power tools.

Greenworks is a brand that is aiming to make your outdoor work easier and affordable. This brushless chainsaw is powered by a 40V lithium-ion battery. Let’s see how this saw stacks up in the competition. Thanks to the brushless technology, it is able to generate power more efficiently with less stress on the motor and its parts.

As a result, you will get superior power, long lifespan, and less maintenance. The whole unit weighs about 12 pounds, which is lightweight enough to get the job done without tiring you out. All you have to do is push a button, and that starts the chainsaw. Unlike gas power saws, this one isn’t loud.

It runs great and easy to use. This saw will be enough for someone who needs to cut some firewood for winter or has treefall during a storm. This one has better torque than the competition and is able to cut wood faster and smoother. The battery is able to provide more power for longer use.

Finally, let’s talk about the chain. As you already know, it has less vibration. But that’s only the beginning. It features a low kickback chain as well as a chain brake for increased user safety. With a fully charged battery, you can easily get up to 100 cuts.

Pros

  • Automatic oiler and chain tensioning
  • Brushless motor for long lifespan
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Power cordless unit with long working time

Cons

  • Don’t store this chainsaw with oil in the reservoir

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5. Yiilove COOCHEER 20″ 58CC Gas Powered Chainsaw – Best For The Money

Yiilove Gas Powered Chainsaw

If you want the raw power of a gas-powered chainsaw, this is the one. It’s the ideal tool for milling work, as this saw is meant for heavy-duty wood cutting. Powered by a 58 CC 2-stroke motor, this one is not only fuel-efficient but also powerful as it can generate a maximum cutting speed of 8500RPM with all the cutting attachments.

This efficient motor can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% saving you a lot of money in the long run. To increase the longevity of the motor, it features an air cleaning system that also increases the air filter life. Just like other chainsaws, this too features an automatic chain oiler.

It keeps the chain and bars lubricated to increase the lifespan of the chainsaw. The problem with gas-powered models is the ignition. You need to pull the lever to get it going. Sometimes two or three attempts are required, but that’s not a problem for this model as it features a Quick Start technology.

This makes the pull starts reliable and a lot easier. With this feature, you can easily start the chainsaw. Furthermore, it has an ergonomic handle that allows you to comfortably hold the saw for a long time without getting fatigued. To make the handle comfortable to operate, it is paired with cushions that also makes this tool maneuverable and balanced.

The fuel tank capacity is 550ML, and the oil tank capacity is 290ML. For the size of the engine, you could say this one has some great power that can easily handle most of your cutting jobs. If you are looking for a cheap saw to handle all your garden work, this one is well worth the money.

Pros

  • Reduces fuel consumption up to 20%
  • Low kickback bar and chain
  • Power 58 CC 2-Stroke motor
  • Better air filter and reduced noise
  • Easy pull starts that are reliable

Cons

  • Couldn’t find any

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6. Makita XCU02PT1 18V X2 Cordless Chain Saw Kit

Makita XCU02PT1 Chainsaw
The next-gen cordless chainsaw from Makita has some serious power under the hood. This top-handle model comes with a 12-inch guide bar, and it uses .043 3/8” chain. The battery tool gauge is on the back, so you can check the charge level anytime you want.

This tool features an outer rotor motor design, and that’s going to give you more torque, more power, and more chain speed than your typical inner rotor brushless motor chainsaw. This design is going to help you out tremendously. For the price, you will get actual metal bucking spikes for better cuts.

In addition to the metal bucking spikes, you will also get a metal chain catcher that the pros really like. With the X2 design, you will be able to dig that chain into harder wood for a long time. This is an absolute monster. The initial brushless power is on par with gas-powered chainsaws and perhaps even better.

For convenient maintenance and operation, this saw features tool-less chain adjustment. The built-in motor is able to provide 1650 FPM chain speed that allows for faster wood cutting. This one actually uses two 18V battery so that you won’t have to leave the 18V LXT platform.

To prolong the lifespan of the tool, this one features Makita’s XPT protective mechanism that protects the key internal components from water, dust, and debris. This saw represents their quality tool lineup, and you won’t go wrong with this one.

Pros

  • Twin 18V battery
  • Faster cut speed
  • Easy to operate
  • Low noise

Cons

  • So far, I haven’t seen any downsides yet.

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7. Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw

Tanaka TCS33EDTP Chainsaw
If you dabble with power tools from time to time, the name of Tanaka should be quite familiar. It is a small, family-owned company that specializes in two-stroke outdoor power tools. This device is a flagship product of the brand and comes with all the features you would expect from a high-quality chainsaw

With a 1.6 horsepower, Pure Fire Green technology engine, you do not need to worry about causing harm to the environment. This commercial-grade engine comes with low emissions and is entirely eco-friendly. Similar to any decent chainsaw, you can use this device in any orientation.

The chainsaw comes with a 12-inch bar and a chain set of 3/8-inch pitch. However, you can switch it out since the unit can handle longer bars. The design of the unit comes with a reduced kickback that promises improved safety. Additionally, the inclusion of a side chain tensioner allows you to adjust the saw on the go.

The safety features in the unit do not get in the way of being easy to use. Featuring the Tanaka trademarked “Inspire” design, using the device is effortless even for the inexperienced user. It has a measly weight of 9 pounds and comes in a small and compact form factor.

To further improve your experience, the handle of the saw comes with an Elastomer grip. The grip reduces vibration when the device is in operation and thus prevents any strain or fatigue. If you have a small to medium-sized shrubbery to take care of, you cannot go wrong with this product.

Pros:

  • Tanaka special “Inspire” design
  • Lightweight
  • Low-emission and environment friendly
  • Compact size with comfort grips

Cons:

  • Not powerful enough for heavy-duty use

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Things to Look for In the Best Chainsaw For Milling

Choosing the best chainsaw for milling for your specific task can get difficult as the industry is filled with countless tools with different “new and improved” features. You need to be a smart buyer and be well-versed in the field if you want to make the most out of your investment.

To make this troubling job a bit easier, here is a list of things that you should consider before buying a chainsaw for milling. This section will allow you to narrow down your selection of products and eventually settle on the perfect one for you.

Power Options

Milling demands a lot of power from the chainsaw, and for that, it needs to be on top of your list of considerations. A mid-power chainsaw will never be able to compete with a heavy-duty chainsaw when it comes to this job. Nothing beats an excellent gas-driven chainsaw when it comes down to sheer power.

What you want is a gas-chainsaw with at least 50 ccs of power and two horsepower motors. Most of our selection meets this specification. Although if your use is relatively lightweight, you can get away with a lower-powered engine. Using a low power chainsaw is safer but might not serve you too well for milling purposes.

Length Of The Chain And Bar

Another vital thing to consider is the bar and chain length, as it directly contributes to the thickness of the wood that you can work with. Since you would be working with massive logs and timbers, give some serious thoughts to this point. If the bar length is small, you will be limited to cutting thin wood limbs.

A bar and chain length of at least 20 inches should be enough for most milling applications. There are also models with higher ranges that you can look into if you will be working with heavy workpieces. You need to think about your current and even probable future requirements when making this decision.

Power Source

Another critical thing to consider when choosing a chainsaw for milling is the power source. Whether it is gas-powered or battery-powered has a significant impact on the power output of the unit. Gas-driven units are the best of the bunch but also are quite expensive to maintain.

powerful chainsaw

Battery-powered devices work using lithium-ion batteries and need to be charged in between uses. There are also electrical devices that can be hooked up with an outlet, but then you are limited to the length of the cord. The one you choose must match what you need out of the product. You cannot expect a battery-powered unit to match the raw power of that of a gas-driven chainsaw.

Compatibility

If you are planning to use a chainsaw for milling purposes, you need to make sure that it is capable of doing that. You need to use a mill attachment with your device that you can buy quite easily in the market. But if your machine does not support this attachment, there is no point in buying it.

This is not a massive issue though, as most chainsaw available today can support this attachment. But still, it is worth taking a look at even if for a second than regret it later on.

Safety Features

An essential thing to consider in a chainsaw is the safety features that come with it. It is a dangerous machine and can be fatal to the user if he is not careful. So, the main safety of the device lies in your hands. You should know what you are doing before you decide to pick up a chainsaw and get to work.

A man milling lumber with chainsaw

That being said, there are a number of safety options featured in a modern chainsaw. You should go through these features and pick out the one that might seem the safest to you. Whether you are a professional or an amateur, safety is always a big thing to consider.

Budget Constraints

The price of the product is always a limiting factor in any investment. Your expectations should always come with an estimated budget in mind. It will save you a lot of hassles when narrowing down your selection.

A low price does not mean a cheap product, and premium bucks do not always give you the most utility. There should be a certain amount of balance between the price and your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do milling chainsaws vibrate a lot?

Yes, every milling chainsaw vibrates at different rates. But if that is a problem for you, some models come with vibration-less technologies. Although it does not entirely eliminate the jitter, you will notice a significant improvement.

  1. What are the safety measures in a chainsaw for milling?

A chainsaw usually comes with many different safety measures. There are kickback prevention and safety guards, among others, that allow you to carry out your work with some amount of protection.

  1. How much power do I need for milling chainsaws?

In general, you need around 50cc or more power in your device. However, you can get away with less if you are planning on doing lightweight milling.

  1. Should I choose a gas-powered or electric-powered chainsaw for milling?

Gas-powered units are meant for heavy-duty works that will serve you well in all situations. Electrically powered devices suffer in this field and should be avoided unless you are planning to stick with low-profile jobs.

  1. Is the maintenance process complicated?

It all depends on the user. If you have a certain amount of experience with this type of tool, it should not be that troubling for you. Besides, most machines come with an instruction manual to guide you through the maintenance steps.

Final Thoughts

For milling work, you will be cutting logs of various lengths, and it’s important to pick a chainsaw that is specially designed for that. The guide bar, chain quality, power, and attachments are all important considerations if you want to buy the best chainsaw for milling.

The only thing you should decide on your own is the power type. Whether it be gas or battery-powered, it depends on the kind of workload you have on a daily basis. Apart from that, this list should provide all the top options to make your purchasing decision easier.

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