Pulling A Chainsaw With Gravity

[Flowering Elbow] had a large ash log that needed to be milled. He had his chainsaw and shared an excellent technique for an easier cut. After cutting down a tree, letting it dry for a season, and then hauling it to your saw site, you’re ready to cut. However, cutting a humongous tree with a chainsaw is an enormous task. A few hacks make it better, like tilting your log slightly downhill, so the chainsaw flows downhill or using a jig to keep the cut straight. Some use a winch system to drag the jig along to assist, so it’s not just pure manpower. The problem is that a winch will exert more force if the saw hits a knot or challenging section. So you would want to slow down and let the saw work through the area.

[Flowering Elbow] uses a pulley and offcut from the log and hangs it from a tree. The log drops as the cut progresses and exerts a constant force. This means that the saw can slow down during challenging sections and take the time it needs, extending the blade’s life. There are other excellent tips in the video, and combined with his earlier chainsaw mill jig, you’ll be set to mill up logs with nothing but a chainsaw and some ingenuity.

Video after the break.

18 thoughts on “Pulling A Chainsaw With Gravity

    1. exactly there is literally thousands of variations of this on youtube and even more in practice around the world so i’m not sure why or even how this is a hack when it is a very common thing to do.

  1. My complaint about using a chainsaw is the amount of wood that is wasted due to the width of the saw. Other than that, it it works, it is a nice use of physics.

      1. Not really, making wood pellets is more of a commercial operation. Though sawdust can be used to amend soil and in the case of oak wood, especially white, you can use the sawdust and shavings for natural weed control.

  2. Cutting Ash in the first place is a major task as it is a pretty hard wood. Using a chain saw for a mill is a wasteful effort as well because the chain is so wide, by the time you cut out a few planks, you’ve made a lot of saw shavings that could have been another plank using a band saw blade. Of course a person must use what they have or can put to use. Then there is the issue of staining the wood with the chain oil too. I used to cut a lot of ash for firewood and never did get much life from the chains doing that. I constructed a large saw mill years ago using a band( had a 36 inch throat and a 24 ft rail bed. I ran a fair bit of Ash, Cottonwood and a major volume of Pine through that mill. It was always hard to get a good plank of Ash milled out, that wood always came out wavy and very inconsistent.

    1. As to the staining from chain oil. Here is the hack… Clean your chains well, wash the oil tank with isopropyl and replace the normal chain oil with mineral oil or low-grade olive oil. I have used both and although you will still get stains both of these oils can be used to treat the woods and then as you sand or plain them for use the stains will be even the color may be a little different than it was normally but the wood will be perfectly usable for any furniture project. Be sure to use plenty of oil, running a chain dry with little oil is dangerous, chain breaks are no joke.

    2. Wasteful of wood? Sure. But, hauling to a sawyer is going to cost and the sawyer doesn’t work for free. Since he already had a chainsaw, his approach was significantly less expensive. While he reinvented the Alaska Mill, his use of gravity is unique.

      And, FWIW, he can plane off the oil stained parts – he will probably be taking at least 1/16″ per side anyway, so no big loss.

  3. Nice set up, I never thought about using a weight on a pulley to pull the saw, I might have to try that. I used a crank system on someone else’s setup and after a few logs it is a real pain.

    I built a chainsaw mill and put it on a utility trailer with an adjustable up – down carriage for the saw that rides on a two rail system. That way I just walk upright and do not have to bend down and breathe sawdust and fumes. I was going to add (4) corner adjusting jacks as I had on my old ProCut trailer, but, it is just as easy to drive over a couple of 2x12s to adjust height unless it is off by 3+ inches.

    I built mine mostly out of scrap metal including free lolly columns of Craigslist, metal bed frames, and a Ford E-100 van frame.

    Front end loader for stacking boards on and for moving the log = sweet.

  4. Using a chainsaw is a bit wasteful of the wood and it obviously is a compromise.

    What I do find a bit strange is the use of two carabiners as “pulleys”. It’s obviously the material that was at hand but those carabiners add a lot of friction, which makes it hard to reset the system for the next saw cut.

    1. In many woods, using a band saw can result in wavy or band patterns in the board. Using my chainsaw mill, with the proper ripping chain, I have produced wood so smooth customers thought it was already planed and just slightly sanded it before sealing it. Not having to plane the wood after producing the board saves both wood and labor.

      Hitting embedded objects in urban trees happens no matter what precautions you take, imho, hitting a hardened screw with a band saw blade is much worse then hitting it with a sawchain. Once I hit a small cannon ball that had to be 40 feet up in the tree, must have been from the USA civil war.

      They each have their place, same as with a frick saw, for me the main attraction for a band saw is it generally is faster, especially in a permanent location in a production environment.

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