Homestead Sawmill: The Granberg Mini-Mill

Building materials are expensive.  They’re also very specialized.

I don’t recommend making pig shelters out of 2x4s.  They won’t last.  2x6s might, but they might not.  That lumber is ideal for building people stuff.  It’s also too expensive to waste.

I happen to have a local supply of wood.  There are big ponderosa pines on my property.  I don’t like them either.  Not on my land.  They’re pretty, but they’re also poisonous (or allelopathic) to many other plants.  This means only scraggly plants or grasses survive under them.

Ponderosas also don’t have big roots.  They don’t even have a real taproot.  This means that they like to tip over in high winds sometimes.

If only I could turn them into lumber.  Then I could have materials for animal projects and plant trees that are more amenable to my plans.

Enter the Granberg Mini-Mill.  It’s basically a a guide for a chainsaw that runs down a set of rails.

You need to use a special chain (or have a chain sharpened to the right angle) when you use one.

Here’s how it goes…

1.  Trim your log to the length of your rails.  Notice that I have my log propped up on my timber jack.  I’ll use a chainsaw (with a regular cross cut chain) to shorten the log.






2.  Mount your rails (this is a separate purchase, you could use almost anything for rails). Note, I have my 2x4s too far apart.  It worked, but I should have had them closer together.

Duplex nails are used to hold the frame to the log.  I didn’t tap mine in far enough and one came out.  I figured it out before my cut was affected.  Something to watch for.


3.  Fire up your mini-mill and patiently push it down the rails.  Expect about 10 minutes per 8′ plank of seasoned pine.  I didn’t take pictures of the cutting.  Safety first!  Wear gloves, eye and ear protection and kevlar chaps.

I added shims to the cut once I got partway down the log, but they weren’t necessary.  I’d probably need them if I had been doing a bottom cut.


Here’s the cut.mill5 mill6

Now I don’t have to use the rails.  I can use the flat surface of the log to guide the mill.  Of course, if I want to have square sides, I’ll have to rotate the log 90 degrees and run the mill again, rotate the log another 180 degrees, cut, and I’ll have a square post that I can turn into planks or smaller posts.

I complained about my Poulan chainsaw in an earlier post.  It dumped all of its gasoline out the bottom before I could even start it.  Well, Amazon made it right and sent me a new chainsaw.  They are amazing.

My first cut with the new saw was to shorten the log.  The chainsaw cut like a dream and there was much less vibration than I’m used to.

I put the ripping chain on the saw and found that it cut a lot slower.  That’s to be expected.  It’s a lot of work, especially if the log is on the ground and you’re bent over, pushing.  I’m thinking about making stands to roll the lumber onto.

It’s a lot of work.  It only makes sense if the lumber store is expensive or really far away or if you need custom lumber.

Hopefully I’ll have enough planks cut for this weekend.  We’ll see.


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