Project report - Researching portable sawmills

  • Saturday, Mar 2, 2024

This project was created mostly to support renovation in Auroora, but it provided valuable information for the future too. We needed to decide if we could use a portable sawmill to cut timber and woodplanks.


Chainsaw mill

What is needed 119€ or 249€

Electric chainsaw 134€. Make sure that the saw is long enough. You can buy different sizes of bars and chains later too.

Use a chain that is designed for the job

How is it used?

Here is a pretty good video how it is used and another one Following images are screenshots of those videos.

Ladders are used to support the first cut:

Cut two sides first and try to make it square:

Adjust the jig for wanted thickness and cut planks using the cut as a support 

using ladders for every cut seems more safe (starting and ending the cut when ladders are longer than the log). Also these guys are using a weight to assist the saw:

How much time it takes to use?

Setting up the first cuts takes time. It is hard to guess how long, but maybe 20min. Looks like you can cut maybe a meter in a minute.

How safe is it?

The Chainsaw is attached to the rig. It seems safe if you are carefull with moving the logs and don't hurry setting everything up.


The system is cheap, but cutting can be heavy and slow.

You can cut logs as long as you get the first cut straight so most likely how long the ladders are.

With chainsaw mill you can cut the trees, on the ground, where they are cut down.

Bandsaw mill 5990€. Cheapest new one I found was 3099€

Used ones aren't much cheaper.

Building one might be an option

How is it used?

How much time it takes to use?

It doesn't seem to be much faster the a chainsaw  if at all. Less setting up.

How safe is it?

Looks really safe.


Espensive. Blades can be expensive to take care.

Not that hard (physically) to use, safer and setting up easier.

Requires an even platform and moving from place to place needs work.

Less waste because the cut is thinner.

Other things needed to work

Moving and turning the logs

We don't have heacy machines like a tractor to move and lift logs so other solutions are needed.

4m log weights somewhere about 320kg ( It depends on the thickness of course.
It would be nice to get over 4m long timber (Looks like 4,2m is enough for a floor plane).

Log is never lifted straight up, but dragged in the ground mostly.

Winches, pulleys 149€ 400kg 10m/min length 12m.

Work area

Neither type of mill requires a a lot of space or structures. For bandsaw mill it takes more work to install it in place. It is nicer if the log is put higher when using a chainsaw mill, but it doesn't have to be. For chainsaw mill you use just a couple of tree stumps.

The log should stay safely in place.

Other things

Plain Sawn vs Quarter Sawn
How to and what to cut will be in another task.


Cheapest options is a chainsaw mill and make planks and timber where the tree has fallen. Moving the logs requires machinery or winches.

Without any other machinery, carrying the planks is hard work too because planks will be quite thick and not yet dried.

For us a chainsaw mill is currently the best option. Because it is cheap, we can maybe make other purchases that help with the work.