Milling Chilling and Flattening

Intro

Here are some pics and updates on my recent attempts at milling my own wood. This had been on my wood-related TODO list for a long time. The aim was to free up some room in my woodpile by creating planks that I can then try and make things out of – and to have some fun doing so.

All of the wood is local beech, I’m using up old trunks first but plan to do some green milling later, including milling another fallen tree with a nice straight trunk “in situ” then bringing the planks home to dry.

Tools & Setup

Chainsaw: you need a powerful chainsaw for milling, especially if you want to run a long enough bar to mill wider trunks, which I hope to do later. I really really wanted a large Husqvarna or Stihl but the cost for something of the right spec for this job was waaaay over my budget.

Searching for >60cc chainsaws I found this one by Parker:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/62CC-20-PETROL-CHAINSAW-CHAINS/dp/B00M9BBTT4

£80-odd quid for a 62cc Chinese chainsaw with 2 year guarantee and some extras bits ‘n pieces!?! Sounds far too good to be true, but further reading led me to reviews of similar cheap gear being used, mostly with good results, and folk referring to it as Chinese Milling, or “Chilling” 🙂

Bar & Chain: the 20″ bar that came with the Parker was ok but too small and the chains were cross-cut. I ordered a 28″ bar and Archer ripping chain from these guys – very happy with the parts and the service:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/chainsawbarsltd

Mill: there are some very cheap Chinese mill, bar & chain sets on eBay, but I went for this Eco Mill one which gets lots of good reviews:

https://www.frjonesandson.co.uk/products/eco-mill-36-chainsaw-mill/

Pics of the end result – cheapo Chinese saw, 28″ bar, ripping chain and EcoMill together:

First attempt

The first cut is not only the deepest, but the most important and most difficult too – I tried the old approach of screwing a straight plank to the top of the log, then running the saw/mill over this to give me a flat initial cut.

It went ok, but I think the log rolled a little towards the end – it was only small so easy done. This means that all subsequent cuts follow the same slight curve – the planks are still ok, but a lesson learned. These planks are narrow enough to run through my planer/thicknesser later anyway.

The waste/kerf from the ripping chain is noticeably smaller (narrower) and much finer than with a cross-cut chain. The saw runs surprisingly well and starts really easily. It makes a fair bit of noise but for the money it’s superb. I didn’t try to rush or force the cut, pretty much let the chain pull itself through, and I am very happy with the results.

Pics of the first small-scale test – the chicken was grudgingly impressed.

Second attempt

This time I tried using a bigger plank sitting on a crate at either end for the first cut, with the log sitting unattached underneath but secured with a load of wedges to stop it rolling/moving. This took longer to set up but worked much better.

Flattening Sled/Jig

Here are pics of a similar-ish setup I use to flatten large slabs. It’s a “jig” made from a couple of clamped planks (from my daughters old bed), with a “sled” made from a couple of 30mm angle iron sections joined together with Gorilla Tape & wooden blocks to keep it the right width and stop it coming off the rails. All of this keeps the router level while I run it from side to side, moving the sled up and down the jig to flatten the wood.

The router bit is a “1/2-Inch Shank 2-Inch Cutting Diameter Double Flute Carbide Tipped Cleaning Bottom Router Bit Cutter“… so there you go. It’s now done quite a lot of work and still cuts quickly and easily.

This setup is very versatile – I used it to create these too:

Random pics

Other stuff….

TODO: make something useful from those planks….

Three times tables

Pics of three tables I’ve made recently – all are from the same beech tree that fell over in the wind about 4 years ago.

Small

– this one is being used as a plant stand. It was narrow enough to fit through the 12″ thicknesser then was finished with a hand planer. The legs are beech branches.

Medium

– this one has some nice spalting lines around the edges. Flattening this was the first test of my home-made “router sled jig slab flattening contraption” (not sure what to call it, but it worked!) which I’ll post details of another time.

The hairpin legs were made by Designer Legs

Large

– this one weighs a ton and has some interesting features and curves.

It was initially cut from a massive log with a chainsaw “freestyle” as my milling setup wasn’t ready at the time. There are still 2 or three slightly wider and more uniform slabs still to come from the remains of this log, hopefully.

The “router-sled-jig-contraption” was used to flatten both sides, then it was sanded (and sanded and sanded again) to a very smooth finish and varnished with a tough matt glaze.

These three-prong hairpin legs were made by Designer Legs too.

Big spalted beech bowl

Some pics of a recently turned beech bowl.

This was made from a wind-fallen tree I chopped up about 3 years ago. I sealed the ends of some of the nicer logs and left them outside to dry out slowly.

This is the first bowl made from one of these logs, and I’m very pleased with the result – really nice spalting and not too many cracks, plus it was nice and easy to carve on the lathe too.

The unsorted selection of pics below show it on the lathe and on the log it came from, with the random traffic lamp for scale…

Beech Tree 2019

Recording progress on a large wind-fall Beech tree a neighbour has kindly let me have.

Most of this will be chopped up for firewood for next winter, but hopefully some of it will become bowls, planks, spoons, stools or other stuff over the next year – plan is to update this post with progress as that happens…

Some pics of the early stages and first few cuts:

This attempt at a panoramic pic shows the size of the tree better, pity I cut off the top of the photo though 🙁

Most of the first day was spent clearing the branches and chopping off the small bits in preparation to get at the multiple trunk sections next time.

And some shots of the first few tractor loads brought home and added to the woodpile – still nice and green….

Wooden boards

A few pics of some roughly milled Ash planks a friend gave us, which I planed/thicknessed and cut to length & height to create kitchen kick-boards.

Followed by a few pics of a chopping board I finished off at the same time.

The planks had been sitting around the yard for quite a while… here they are after a quick initial run through the planer:

Close up after sanding and applying a load of Danish oil:

Drying in the sun:

The boards are in place now and I’ll add some pics if the kitchen is ever clean enough 🙂


Some close up pics of a couple of chopping board made from a sleeper another friend gave me about 5 years ago – he’d had it for yonks so it must be pretty old wood. I left them extra chunky so when they get too scored and cut I can resurface them several times:

Spalted Beech bowl – green woodturning

The weather’s finally warm enough for me to do some woodturning again.

I’ve been wanting to make some more “green” Beech bowls from the trees I chopped up early last year. Here are pics of the process.

chainsawed a “50p” shaped bowl blank from a slab of wood that’s been sitting in the shed:

quickly and easily made round – green wood cuts very easily, and smells good too!

spinning at about 2,000 rpm:really nice spalting all the way through: some homemade beeswax and oil applied, with help from a bit of heat: inside done too… and the underneath finished in the reversing jaws: all done – will try and let it finish drying out slowly to avoid serious cracking, but it’s bound to warp a fair bit…