Best Chainsaw for Milling Lumber in 2021 (#3 is an Oldie but a Goodie)

Dealing with woods as a profession or as a pastime?

So, you must understand how critical it is to select the right chainsaw for milling and other sharp equipment.

Why is this so?

Milling is the process of cutting your wood into suitably sized boards based on your demands and specifications using an attachment.

This procedure may be carried out with various instruments and accessories, but the most efficient tool for the job is undoubtedly a chainsaw mill.

But here is the thing:

No matter whether it’s for domestic and industrial use, you’ll find a good chunk of variety. So picking the best Chainsaw for Milling isn’t that easy at all. Are you also struggling at this?

Then let me help you here. This guide is designed so that you can take your own decision & select the right one for your job at the end.

The Big Question- Can you mill with a chainsaw?

Yessssss,, Absolutely!

Chainsaws are small sawmills designed for one or two operators to cut logs. Chainsaws were invented for cutting wood in remote areas such as the Alaskan wilderness.

What is milling with a chainsaw?

What you need is a chainsaw that’s strong enough to handle the work of a sawmill. You may need a saw with at least a 50cc capacity and a 20-inch chain-running range.

However, if you cut smaller logs and sand smaller boards, you can use the smaller saw. The same goes for the most extensive and individual in width and length. But let me clear something at the very beginning…….to use the chainsaw, you will also need to purchase a suitable router accessory.

Yeah, few more extra bucks(but you’ll surely thank me later) .

They have different names, but they should be a measuring accessory that helps your saw make cuts to the desired dimensions. You can also use some other instruments for basic measurements, but they are not necessary.

Still thinking- Is chainsaw milling worth it?

Here is # 3 absolute reasons why you should put your money off the table for a milling chainsaw:

  • 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. 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.

#3 Best Chainsaw for milling you might not have (But Definitely Need to Size your wood easily)

Here are my top 3 picks of the best size chainsaw for milling about tackling the lumber effortlessly.

1) Husqvarna Rancher Gas Chainsaw- A classic!!!!

husqvarna rancher chiansaw
The Husqvarna 455 Rancher chainsaw is a beast with the power to cut any wood with ease. You heard that right.

This is something you can use effectively for any grinding purpose- THAT”S for sure.

Motor & power source

A crazy amount of power behind the engine!!!! Thanks to its 55.5cc engine, which delivers a stable capacity of 3.5hp (I didn’t expect that much, actually). This saw never got stuck while we used it and went through all the cuts without any problems. It even starts up quickly every time, which is rare on a gas chainsaw.

Style, dimension & weight

Husqvarna chainsaw bar cover is cool orange-ish and comes with two-cycle fuel in a 2. 6 oz bottle. An additional benefit of this system is that the chain tensioning can be adjusted quickly while working.

Is milling hard on a chainsaw?

The 455 Rancher is similar to its larger sibling but weighs less at just 20 pounds. This gives you more power and control for even more flexibility. In addition, it has a dimension of 41 x 10 x 14 inches.

Performance

As I stated earlier………

It is equipped with a powerful 55 cc engine. It allows you to cut mighty trees of different sizes. The engine is a two-stroke engine with a safety chain that activates the interlock and makes the chainsaw safer.

The X-Torq engine also maintains a 20% increase in fuel consumption, so you can keep working harder. Moreover, Its Low Vibration technology provides a more comfortable working environment.

Bar length

This saw, which is supported by a 20-inch bar and chain, is regarded as dependable in the woodworking sector.

Besides, it is suitable for demanding real estate projects.

In addition, this powerful chainsaw is equipped with a chain lubrication system that automatically and continuously lubricates the chain.

Unique features that make it stand out from the crowd

This machine is also equipped with two additional safety features to prevent accidents or malfunctions. The first unique feature is the inertial switch, which can trigger an upward movement.

In addition, a second distinctive feature of the front hand protects your hand in the event of a slip. These and other features make the Husqvarna 455 the ideal chainsaw for sawing trees and sanding wood slabs.

Pros

  • Husqvarna has released this product with excellent balance and weight.
  • This item requires less maintenance, which saves time.
  • This element is accompanied by an X-torque engine that consumes less fuel and makes the chainsaw environmentally friendly.
  • The centrifugal air purification system makes this item very easy to use.
  • Husqvarna designed this component to save energy costs. As a result, it’s easy to get started.

Cons

  • The fuel tank seems quite small

My Experience with Husqvarna 455 Gas Chainsaw

I have Husqvarna saws, and this one is incredible for its price range. In 6 hours, I cut 34 pieces of Douglas 8 8 x 16 inches for the woodstove.

That turned out to be +/- 425 cuts! And I was really surprised!

The saw didn’t swing, didn’t spit, didn’t spit, etc. Also, no problem with automatic lubrication, etc. If you treat this saw with respect, it will probably outgrow you.

Update 8/8/21 this thing, although not a “professional” saw, will undoubtedly meet even the most stringent expectations of buyers. I passed it with 11 wooden cables and no problem.

Personal rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Check Price On Amazon

2) Makita XCU03PT1 Cordless Chain Saw – Best  chainsaw for milling hardwood

makita cordless chainsaw
Contractors and residents alike are clamoring for more wireless replacements to cable and gas outside electrical infrastructure.

And the good news is……..

Makita keeps up with demand by offering an ever-expanding selection of wireless modules, such as the X2 LXT (36V) 18V Brushless Chainsaw Kit (Model-XCU03PT1).

What’s so special about it?

The chainsaw is the long-awaited cutting and pruning option that produces no emissions, makes little noise, and requires no maintenance.

Motor & power source

Composed of 2 18V LXT cells, it provides 36V power and runtime despite leaving the favored 18V battery architecture.

And……..

Thanks to Makita’s efficient brush-less external rotor motor, users get the same high energy efficiency as a gas chainsaw.

Style, dimension & weight

It looks more like a traditional chainsaw (and I kinda like this old-fashioned look) Placing batteries between your hands improves balance. It’s incredibly lightweight at just 22.1 pounds at 10.63 x 22.24 x 10.59 inches.

Performance

The Makita XCU03 Edition cordless chainsaw doesn’t only look good, it’s the most badass performer I’ve ever tested.

Here is why:

With a relatively thin rod and chain, it melts with wood, including oak. Furthermore, owing to the efficient Makita outer rotor brushless motor with a direct drive system, customers benefit from great power efficiency as compared to a gas chain saw.

Bar length

Though this beast comes with 14″ bar………… but the coolest part is you can also use a 12″ or 16″ bar.

This means that it is suitable for thinning and pruning.

There are techniques for cutting to diameters much larger than the length of the rod, but for this type of work, you will need a chainsaw.

Unique features that make it stand out from the crowd

When the saw is in the lock position, a hand-guard trips the brake and prevents it from starting. You also have a chain brake that instantly stops the chain when you release the trigger.

Pros

  • This item comes with 36V Li-ion LXT batteries for long-term use.
  • It has effective productivity with cutting speeds up to 940 rpm.
  • You will get built-in LED functionality.
  • For operator comfort, Makita has introduced this part with minimal noise and zero emissions.
  • It is supplied with an electric brake for maximum performance.

Cons

  • I didn’t find it user-friendly, although a simple Google search might help!

My Experience with Makita XCU03PT1 Chain Saw

This is “put charged batteries in the chainsaw, make sure the chain is on, and fill the tank with oil, okay.”

Start immediately, all the time!!!!

It has enough power to cut trees at least two feet wide. I usually work slowly and carefully, so that’s all I need. The battery typically lasts for 2 to 4 hours.

If I made a continuous cut in the limb, it would take about an hour. Since I have four pairs of batteries, I’m not worried. I’ll gladly suggest this product.

But first warning:

It doesn’t matter if it’s cold—no mixing of gas and oil. Do not play with the carburetor. Don’t worry about gas leaks. You can leave it in the car and not worry.

Personal rating: 4.3 out of 5 

Check Price On Amazon

3) DEWALT DCCS670X1R Cordless Chainsaw- Best size chainsaw for milling

dewalt dccs670x1r chainsaw
As a mill owner the first question that may pop up to your mind………

” what size chainsaw to mill.”

The answer is that size doesn’t matter as long as the length and strength of the bar are suitable for grinding.

And that’s the Dewalt DCCS670X1!

This way, you don’t have to worry about tripping over the towing rope or getting bitten by chainsaw fumes. Just insert a charged battery, and you’re done.

Motor & power source

The DeWalt DCCS670X1 has a brushless motor, so you NEVER need to replace brushes with this tool. Plus, the 60V lithium-ion battery means you have more power for longer than a regular cordless saw.

Here is the clever part……..

Apart from the low-grade starter and Oregon chain (with chain brake), this saw is a desirable proposition.

Style, dimension & weight

Its ergonomic soft grips make it a very comfortable tool.

Moreover, it is very light and weighs only 12.2 lbs! Even tensioning the bar and pensioning the chain is made easy with a handy tensioning button that makes it easy.

What about the measurement?

I would say it is quite decent as the dimension of this item is 10 x 35 x 9 inches.

Performance

There is a handful of reasons to fall in love with this saw.

The FlexVolt is one of three chainsaws to break the 6-second barrier by cutting an 8-inch pine wood with an average of 5.93 seconds.

It ranks third in battery performance as measured by watt-hour reduction (read: fuel efficiency or fuel economy).

The tested output battery is 167W, but the final models with the output power will be bigger and better.

Bar length

The length of the bar in a chainsaw is of vital importance, and on this chainsaw, the bar width of 16 inches is impressive. This will help the user to get through the dense forest quickly. And don’t forget how powerful this chainsaw is.

Unique features that make it stand out from the crowd

The most outstanding feature of this saw is most probably the FlexVolt technology. The FlexVolt System uses a unique battery design that alternates between 20 V and 60 V depending on the voltage requirements of the tool.

Pros

  • This component has a tool-free chain tensioning mechanism for convenient and simple chain adjustability.
  • DeWalt released this product with an automatic fourth lube oil cap lubrication system.
  • It is mighty and has the torque for a cordless saw.
  • This product is well designed and provides a balanced saw blade.
  • It has a chain brake for shock protection.

Cons

  • Some customers say they need to remove the oil after use to prevent leakage.

My experience with DEWALT DCCS670X1R Chainsaw

I had to shop at Home Depot because there weren’t many options on Amazon. You weren’t sure what to anticipate because a battery couldn’t possibly be as wonderful as fuel, right?

But I was taken aback.

Immediate start-up is difficult to beat, even in a dangerous situation, and I’m wary of oil and gas clogging and other issues that will leave me with the tool as the owner who won’t be using it every day. When I needed it, it didn’t function.

Mine is still brand new. When I use it again in six months, all I have to do is prime the chain, drain the oil, and recharge the batteries. Overall, a great saw that can effortlessly cut through 12-inch branches.

This is definitely one of the hottest chainsaws I’ve ever tested.

Personal rating: 4 out of 5

Check Price On Amazon

How big of a chainsaw do I need for an Alaskan mill?

Let me say this really loud……

High energy consumption and long cutting times when grinding chainsaws requires a large chain saw. And……..

The best milling chainsaw is the most extensive milling saw you can afford.

Alaskan Mill is usually available in 7 sizes 72″, 60″, 56″, 48″, 36″, 30″,24″, and will fit any size of chainsaw bar (except less than 5 bar and some narrow bars). So if money isn’t an issue, I recommend buying a 90 to 120 cc saw.

These saws are the highest quality professional wood saws designed for heavy sawing and the smoothest cutting possible. But be prepared to pay for it – the new 90cc saws usually cost between $ 900 and $ 1800.

Ouch!

The next best option is a professional logger with a volume of 70 to 80 cc. These saws offer decent milling performance up to 25 logs and cost much less, around $900 new.

Most of the tiny saws I would recommend for Alaskan mills are 55cc Husqvarna models. Saws 50/60cc are mainly suitable for small logs up to 20″ and have very little power for milling operations.

But with enough care, they get the job done and are more affordable (~ $ 600). Besides, they are lighter and more practical for general use than larger saws.

What size chainsaw for milling?

Sanding wood is a slow and demanding job, so you’ll need a chainsaw with enough power to handle it. In general, this means a more efficient chainsaw, not a weak or soft tool.

You can use a chainsaw that can handle a shaft at least 3 inches longer than the width of the barrel you are grinding. Most Alaska mills require at least 3 inches at the end of the bar to mount.

Get it?

For more reliable operation, you will need a chainsaw with an engine of at least 50 ccs. Although the larger, the better, especially if you plan on working with large logs.

And while the length of your chainsaw shaft will depend on the size of the trees you are cutting, the general rule of thumb is that the minimum is 20 inches. In addition, a 24-inch bar will give you much more flexibility in the field.

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.

Note: We also reviewed some budget-friendly chainsaws. If you are interested please click here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What are the other saw we tested

#1 Greenworks Cordless Chainsaw

Greenworks cordless chainsaw
The most horrific part of using a chainsaw is most probably……….. the vibration & pushback.

Pushbacks on your shoulders and elbows are the common issue woodpeckers have to face.

Greenworks kept that in mind & designed the 40V cordless chainsaw to ease your fatigue issue.

I was always fascinated by the Greenworks quality standard.

Greenworks is a brand that aims 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 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, a 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 is 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.

Wait…….did we 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

#2 Yiilove COOCHEER Gas Powered Chainsaw

yiilove gas power chainsaw
A big fan of the raw power of a gas-powered chainsaw?

Then this one is only for you.

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.

And the surprising part?

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.

Quite impressive!

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 make 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. It’s the ideal tool for milling work, as this saw is meant for heavy-duty wood cutting.

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.

#3 Makita XCU02PT1 X2 Cordless Chain Saw- best value chainsaw for milling

makita xcu02pt1 chainsaw
The next-gen cordless chainsaw from Makita has some serious power under the hood.

So freaking true!

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.

I can assure you one 1 thing:

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 batteries 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.

#4 Tanaka TCS33EDTP/12 32.2cc 12-Inch Top Handle Chain Saw

tanaka chainsaw
Look:

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.

Tanaka TCS33EDTP 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.

It’s crazy, but at the same time, captivating.

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 badass inclusion of a side chain tensioner allows you to adjust the saw on the go.

Oh… hang on… wait… did I just say “Badass”?

It truly is!

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 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.

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.

As you can see………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.

Now it’s decision time- what’s the best chainsaw for milling?

Our favorite pick was the Husqvarna 455 Rancher chainsaw. You can get it with the thinnest blade we’ve seen – 18 inches.

If you want to spend a little less but still have a viable chainsaw for milling, we recommend checking out your DEWALT DCCS670X1R, the cheapest yet mighty one.

Don’t overthink too much.

Go with your GUT.

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