A full-scale sawmill can be efficient, but often they’re far too large and expensive for most people. A chainsaw mill takes all the best features of a sawmill and scales them down into an affordable, portable, but still efficient package Our buyer’s guide shows you exactly what you need to look for in a chainsaw mill. But, first, we’ll walk you through the best chainsaw mills on the market. Here’s how to find the best chainsaw mill for your personal needs.
To cut right to the chase, here are five of our favorite chainsaw mills. These chainsaw mills meet (and exceed) a long list of requirements, including durability, ease of use, and performance. Other factors we take into consideration are portability, ease of assembly, versatility, chainsaw fit, and additional features. No matter your specific needs or preferences, you’re sure to find a chainsaw mill that works well for you.
Here are five of the best chainsaws available right now:
5 Best Chainsaw Mills Reviewed 2019
1. Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill
It doesn’t get much better than a Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill. Widely considered the best overall chainsaw mill on the market (as well as the best value), this model is available in a variety of sizes to accommodate a wide range of chainsaws. This model in particular, the Model # G777, is a small, lightweight chainsaw mill designed to fit chainsaws with a 20” bar or shorter.
Among the most notable characteristics is the anti-vibration system which helps keep the chainsaw in place for smoother, more efficient cuts. In addition to this overall ease of use, all Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mills are made with CNC-machined steel which ensures they’re all but unbreakable. There’s a reason Granberg has been the go-to chainsaw mill for the past half a decade – and that reason is their dedication to quality.
What We Like:
- American Made
- Anti-Vibration System
- Lightweight and Portable
What We Don’t Like:
- Cuts Rough Until You’re Practiced
2. Farmertec Holzfforma Portable Chainsaw Mill
You can’t go wrong with the Farmertec Holzfforma Portable Chainsaw Mill for milling lumber at home or in the woods. It’s one of the best options for larger saws, although it works well with any chainsaw with a bar length between 14” and 36”. In fact, this model’s compatibility with a variety of bar lengths makes it an incredibly versatile tool. It’s an excellent choice for those that want to use the same chainsaw mill with several different models of chainsaws.
Diving deeper into this tool’s design, you’ll notice that it’s constructed entirely from aluminum and steel for a lightweight yet durable finish. The chainsaw mill features a fully adjustable milling height and milling width to increase the device’s compatibility with various sizes of lumber. Note that although this Farmertec Chainsaw Mill does work with a variety of different saws, it is most effective and efficient with a larger chainsaw, especially when milling larger pieces of lumber.
What We Like:
- Rugged and Durable
- Compatible with Range of Bar Lengths
- Fully Adjustable
What We Don’t Like:
- Heavier than Some Models
3. Carmyra Portable Chainsaw Mill
The Carmyra Portable Chainsaw Mill strikes a solid balance between ruggedness and precision. This versatile chainsaw mill is durable enough for the toughest jobs, even those deep out in the woods, but cuts with a precision that few other models can match. The device is constructed from a mix of stainless steel and aluminum for the utmost in durability as well as a very low overall weight.
It’s available in a variety of different sizes to suit different chainsaw models, from those with a bar length as small as 14” to those with a bar length as long as 40”. This Carmyra Chainsaw Mill is fully adjustable to cut from thicknesses ranging from 0.5” to 13”. The largest model is capable of handling logs up to 40” wide. Unfortunately, the instruction manual for assembly isn’t very detailed. It does include schematics but fails to include step-by-step instructions.
What We Like:
- Extremely durable
- Fits a variety of chainsaws
- Wide range of milling thicknesses
What We Don’t Like:
- Difficult to assemble
4. Timber Tuff Chainsaw Mill
The Timber Tuff Chainsaw Mill is an excellent option for milling jobs of all sizes. Although it’s available in multiple different sizes, the 24” version discussed here is perhaps the most versatile. It is the perfect balance between lightweight and efficiency. It’s small enough to pack deep into the woods, but still rugged enough to mill logs up to 24” wide.
This Timber Tuff device is notable for its overall durability. This chainsaw mill is all but indestructible – even after years of heavy use. Another important highlight is its ease of use. Not only is it simple to install and attach to your chainsaw, but it also makes milling lumber extremely straightforward. Even though this product works well and lasts for a long time, some of the individual components are slightly flimsy (such as the screws) and might need to be replaced after time.
What We Like:
- Intuitive design
- Made from durable, aircraft aluminum and steel
What We Don’t Like:
- Some components are flimsy
5. Norwood PortaMill Chainsaw Mill
The Norwood PortaMill Chainsaw Mill is a little different from the other chainsaw mills on this list. Unlike the other models on this list, this chainsaw mill from Norwood Industries is much larger and slightly less portable. In fact, it’s more like a portable sawmill than a portable chainsaw mill. This device has more features than the average chainsaw mill. Not only do these make cutting and milling easier, but they allow you to adjust the specifics more carefully.
The biggest highlight of this model is its milling power. Alongside a powerful chainsaw, it provides smooth, accurate cuts to your desired thickness. This portable chainsaw sawmill operates much like an actual sawmill. It’s self-propelled thanks to an easy hand-push feed system. A variety of safety features are built-in, including a safe throttle operator station.
Despite the innovative design, the Norwood PortaMill Chainsaw Mill certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s steep price (more than five times more expensive than other models on our list) mean that it’s only for those serious about milling lumber.
What We Like:
- Portable design
- Lots of safety features
- Sawmill-like function
What We Don’t Like:
- Very expensive
What You Need to Know About Chainsaw Mills
Not all chainsaw mills are created equal. Although they might look the same to the untrained eye, there’s actually quite a lot that goes into their construction and design. Among the most important factors to consider are construction, chainsaw compatibility, bar capacity, cutting depth, and durability.
» COMPARE: Best Chainsaws Reviewed
Today, I’m going to show you why these factors matter, how to select the model that will help you accomplish your goals, and how to avoid a model that won’t meet your needs. Here’s what you need to know to buy the best chainsaw mill on the first shot.
Chainsaw Mill Benefits
Owning a chainsaw mill has a lot of benefits. First and foremost, chainsaw mills are a highly affordable alternative to much more expensive bandsaw mills and sawmills. They are compatible with a wide range of chainsaws. As long as you already own a chainsaw, this will be a welcome addition to your arsenal of tools.
A chainsaw mill is lightweight and portable. This makes them the perfect choice to take out into the field. You can mill the lumber where you cut it down – no need to haul unmilled lumber back to your shop first. The best chainsaw mills can be used by only one or two people. You don’t need a whole team to operate. Simply clamp the mill to your chainsaw and you’re good to go.
According to Granberg International, despite their small size and light weight, chainsaw mills are surprisingly efficient. The best models accurately mill wood with straight cuts to your desired thickness. Finally, a chainsaw mill is highly adjustable. You’re not stuck with a single thickness. Instead, you can select your preferred thickness for your milled wood depending on the project.
Chainsaw Mill Negatives
Like any type of tool, these do have a few negative aspects. First up, a chainsaw mill is basically a hand tool. This means that they take a lot of strength, stamina, and overall effort to use. Over a long period of time, this work can be brutally hard on your body. The only other real negative is that they are less efficient than full-fledged bandsaw mills or sawmills.
There’s no denying that these more robust, comprehensive sawmills are more efficient at milling lumber – and take far less human effort. However, a quality chainsaw mill is usually between $100 and $200 while a sawmill can easily run you $10,000 or more. Wood Web states that unless you’re running a full-scale lumber milling operation, a chainsaw mill is the better option.
Who Needs a Chainsaw Mill?
A chainsaw mill has a wide range of uses. Chief among these applications is to mill logs into lumber. These will help you make reasonably level cuts to your desired thickness. Madsen’s Shop & Supply states that anyone who plans to mill lumber on a regular basis will benefit from buying.
Although those that only need to mill lumber once in a blue moon might be better off visiting an actual sawmill, a chainsaw mill is ideal for those that do so on a more regular basis. These tools are great for those that plan to mill lumber on a regular basis.
Chainsaw Mill Buying Guide
Don’t invest in a tool without first doing your research. An understanding of the most important characteristics and features will help you select the model that best meets your individual needs and preferences.
Here are the most important factors to remember:
- Chainsaw Compatibility – You must make sure that the mill you choose is compatible with your chainsaw model and bar length.
- Construction – The best chainsaw mills have durable construction, typically from steel, aluminum, or a mixture of both.
- Bar Capacity – You must select a chainsaw mill with a large enough bar capacity to fit around the diameter of the logs you plan to cut.
- Cutting Depth – Although cutting depth is adjustable, it’s important to think about the deepest cutting depth setting when buying a new chainsaw mill as this dictates the maximum thickness of your milled lumber.
- Weight – Although lightweight models are more portable, they are somewhat less steady and more difficult to use than heavier models.
- Number of Users – Most chainsaw mills can be used by a single user. Some larger models, however, require two users.
- Brand reputation – Not only is a chainsaw mill manufactured by a reputable brand likely higher quality, but they typically come with the best warranties as well.
Lure of the North has an excellent video guide on how to use a chainsaw mill.
Best Chainsaw Mill Brands
Take even just a cursory glance at chainsaw mills online or in a store and you’ll notice there are dozens of brands available. Although most brands produce top-quality products, there are more than a few phonies out there producing lackluster equipment and riding on the popularity of chainsaw mills.
Our short list of the best chainsaw mill brands will point you in the direction of reputable manufacturers:
Granberg, short for Granberg International, is the number one name in the world of chainsaw mills. Founded in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the company is still family owned and operated more than 60 years later. They’re dedicated to manufacturing the highest-quality, American-made chainsaw mills and accessories.
Granberg sells a wide range of chainsaw mills to fit a variety of chainsaw models and sizes. All of them are simple yet very accurate. Most of their products come with a lifetime warranty.
This brand, also known as Norwood Sawmills, is a big deal in the world of sawmills, chainsaw mills, and related accessories. They manufacturer a long list of models, most notably their portable sawmills and portable chainsaw sawmills.
Norwood makes all of its products in North America. They’re notable for their patented designs, extremely durable chainsaw mills, and 2-year warranties available for most products.
Timber Tuff Tools is another leader in top-quality chainsaw tools and accessories, including some of the world’s best chainsaw mills. Created by BAC Industries and sold under the Timber Tuff banner, their chainsaw mills are created with top-of-the-line performance and quality in mind. All of their chainsaw mills are durable, accurate, and simple. They work well for small or large jobs.
Here are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about chainsaw mills:
What kind of chainsaw do I need?
A: You can find a chainsaw mill compatible with most chainsaw models. Your best bet is to buy a chainsaw first and then buy a chainsaw mill that matches its bar dimensions.
What size do I need?
A: Chainsaw mills are available in a variety of sizes. It’s important to select a chainsaw mill that matches the bar size of your chainsaw. Note that smaller models are more portable, although larger models are sometimes needed for bigger jobs.
How do I care for and maintain my chainsaw mill?
A: Chainsaw mill care and maintenance is simple. Keep the device clean to ensure proper working order for years to come. Repair damaged parts right away to prevent further damage.
How long will my chainsaw mill last?
A: No matter the manufacturer, your chainsaw mill should last at least a decade. The very best models will last for a lifetime with proper care, maintenance, and storage.
How do I store a chainsaw mill?
A: Store your chainsaw mill in a dry location. Because of their robust design, they can withstand large temperature variations, so an unheated shed will do, although a temperature-controlled garage is best.
Any of the five models recommended above are a good option for anyone looking for a chainsaw mill. That said, the Granberg Chainsaw Mill is the best of the best. Not only is it durable and high-performing, but it’s also the best bang for your buck.
This particular Granberg model is designed for use with chainsaws with bars between 16” and 20”. If your chainsaw is outside of these dimensions, Granberg has many other models that fit both smaller and larger chainsaw bars.
For those serious about milling logs (and willing to pay top dollar), the Norwood PortaMill Chainsaw Sawmill is more like a portable sawmill than a chainsaw mill – but it costs more than five times more than any other models on our list, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
What chainsaw mill tops this list in your opinion? Sound off in the comments below.