Step 1 The log is lifted off the ground using a jack and metal support base. The jack is attached to the log by hammering a large U bolt into it, and a support is installed on the side of the log for stability. Small logs are placed under main log so the log is off the ground.
Step 2 Index lines are drawn on both ends of the log to determine the taper and the dimension of the lumber to be cut. Custom made end boards are leveled, and bolted into place on both ends of the log. Then a string line is placed from end board to end board too determine exact position and height of plank support bridges.  Risers can be installed on top of the end boards to help correct log taper. In this case I'm using 1 inch end board risers.
Step 3 Plank support bridges are placed every 7 feet. (This log is 20 feet long) An 8-foot plank is placed onto end board and onto the first plank support bridge. The plank is moved to the next position to check for any errors. The plank is moved to the next and final milling position and again checked for errors.
Step 4 The mill is adjusted to the correct cut depth and placed on the plank to ensure the first cut is accurate. A log dog is hammered into the end of the plank so the plank will not slide forward during milling.
Step 5

A closer look at the saw – a Stihl model 076, turned on its side. Here I’m double-checking the blade position with the index lines to ensure accuracy. I use a modified throttle attachment and bridle to control the saw. The yoke and winch are attached at the far end of the log, the winch handle is attached and lines are checked for proper pull.

Step 6 A counter weight is placed on the mill to ensure the guide rails remain flat on the plank. The saw is started and the milling begins. I draw the saw through the wood from the other end, using the hand-cranked winch, slowly and steadily. The chainsaw blade is specially designed for rip cutting (with the grain) so it leaves a cleaner surface on the beam.  Most chainsaw work is cross-cutting (like bucking up firewood), a rougher, less precise practice.
Step 7 Wedges are placed along the cut (the kerf) to ensure the bar is not being pinched by the sagging top slab. Once the saw has reached the first plank support bridge, the plank is moved to the next position and a log dog is hammered into the end of the plank. As the milling continues, more kerf wedges are placed into the cut.
Step 8

After the cut is completed, all the equipment is removed and the top slab is lifted off the log. In this picture you can see how straight the cut is. All that measuring pays off!


Step 9 The cant is now turned on edge using a peavey and then the set-up begins all over again. End boards, plank support bridges, string lines, yoke and winch are all painstakingly reinstalled. End boards are leveled using a square. Planks are again placed in position and checked for errors. The milling procedure is the same as the first set up.
Step 10 Here we see the final, 20 foot beam straight and square. The leftover top and bottom slabs are later milled into planks.
All lumber is marked and stacked for proper air drying. The results of a few days of work have produced some nice lumber from the owner’s own trees, which she intends to use for her cabin.
© 2008 Mike Bjelos, Enviro Tree Milling