How to Cut Logs into Lumber with A Chainsaw

We understand that the topic is slightly misleading and confusing to most woodworkers. A majority of woodworkers consider a log and lumber the same thing. But, in reality, the log and lumber are two different pieces of wood with distinctive shapes.

  1. The log has an uneven surface and features a round or cylindrical shape.
  2. The lumber has a flat surface with an entirely rectangular shape.

In woodworking, you will need to prepare lumbers from large pieces of wood logs for furniture. Hence, it is a must that you know how to cut logs into lumber with a chainsaw.

And today, our discussion includes the same topic.

How to Cut Logs into Lumber with A Chainsaw

When it comes to cutting lumber with chainsaw, you are free to choose from two alternatives. These options are-

  1. Freehand use of the chainsaw
  2. Using the chainsaw with the chainsaw mill

Now, let’s discuss the two processes with step by step guidelines.

Cutting Logs into Lumber with The Chainsaw Only

It is called the freehand process since you will only handle the chainsaw and no additional tools to cut through the large logs. You will only need a long chainsaw with a powerful motor. It is cost-effective since you don’t need extra tools.

So, how do you use the chainsaw free hand? Here take a look at the steps carefully.

  1. First, find a sturdy piece of small wood and then place it underneath the log you will cut. Make sure the smaller woodpiece holds the cutting log properly without any unexpected moves.
  2. Wear gloves, goggles, and work boots for safety requirements. Wearing work boots are highly encouraged since you will work with some hefty logs.
  3. You should begin the cut from the uneven surface. The cut must be performed in a vertical position. Also, measure the cutting line right from the rough surface of the log.
  4. When you use the chainsaw to cut through the logs, ensure that you are using the saw’s front part. It is essential to avoid any kickback and retain the blade sharpness.
  5. As you cut through the uneven surface, you will get a flat surface by this time.
  6. Flip over the log and position the flat surface underneath. Cut the two sides evenly with the chainsaw.
  7. Finally, cut the upper section with proper alignment of the rest three sides of the log.

Although preparing the lumber from the log with the chainsaw needs skill, it is money-saving. You won’t have to purchase the chainsaw mill additionally. But if you can afford to get the chainsaw mill, follow the next process.

Cutting Lumbers from Logs with The Chainsaw Mill

You will have to cut the log into four different steps with the chainsaw mill—likewise, the chainsaw’s freehand use. The cuts will be firstly on the uneven surface, the sides, and the upper position of the wood log.

But before we dive deep into the cutting process, let’s discuss a chainsaw mill and how to use it properly.

Shortly putting, a chainsaw mill is merely a prolonged attachment used with the saw. Sometimes, artisans refer to it as an Alaskan mill also. The chainsaw mill is compact and comes ata relatively affordable price.

It quickly transforms the chainsaw into a portable woodcutting mill. Also, the chainsaw mill is easily detachable, so you can use the chainsaw for other sorts of cutting requirements. The most common types of chainsaw mills are-

  • Frame mills
  • Rail mills
  • Carriage mills

The use of these mills is straightforward and almost similar. You will only sincerely and effectively need to follow the steps mentioned below.

Step 1: Cutting the uneven upper surface

Since the log will have an uneven surface, position it securely on a flat surface. You might place a long (longer than the working log) underneath it to use as a slab or platform. As the slabbing rail is ready, switch on the chainsaw.

Now set the cutting thickness according to your necessity. Alternatively, you can set it according to the thickness of the uneven surface. Once you cut the variable upper portion, you can flip over the log and set the flat surface below.

If the log is too heavy to turn, you can still perform the cut underneath with a little bit of your body position adjustment.

Step 2:  Lumbering the underneath portion

The cutting thickness will remain identical to that you used in the upper portion. Cut the bottom of your log. Hence, it is nothing to expect the repetition of the first extended cut. Now, your log is partially prepared to be used as lumber.

You will have to cut the sides now.

Step 3: Making the 3rd and 4th cut

Position the log so that it faces a 90° angle with the chainsaw mill. Now, rip through the two sides properly following the 1st and 2nd cut. It will leave a rectangular box-shaped wood piece to you.

It is the desired lumber.  You can now remove the wedges and use them to create any furniture in the workshop or at home.

You can outline the thicker lumber with a pencil and measuring tape to cut it according to your woodworking requirements.

Advantages of Using Chainsaw Mill to Cut Logs into Lumber

  1. The chainsaw mill is affordable and easily portable. So, it is pocket-friendly.
  2. You can use the chainsaw mill to transform thicker lumbers into workable boards.
  3. It also serves you in other types of milling jobs at ease, reducing your effort and cost.

Why Should You Use the Chainsaw to Cut the Log Lengthwise?

  1. Moving logs to the exact workplace are often tiresome. Hence, using the chainsaw, you can size up the large logs into more manageable lumbers.
  2. In some places, workable lumbers aren’t readily available. In such cases, you might use the chainsaw mill to speedily cut the logs at home and use it to make the required furniture.
  3. Homeowners can prepare lumbers from logs in their garden and store them for future use without a second person’s help.


From landscaping to pruning jobs, a chainsaw offers maximum versatility to homeowners and woodworkers. This guideline on how to cut logs into lumber with a chainsaw will only add another versatility to your chainsaw operation.

Luckily, the steps are super-easy to transform a log into manageable lumber. So, never miss the trick to make the woodworking chores convenient.

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