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Chainsaw Mill vs. Bandsaw Mill: Which Is Better?

When it comes to using a portable sawmill, your decision comes down to either of these two options: a bandsaw mill or a chainsaw mill. But before you decide on any of these milling saws, you must have figured out if it meets your specific needs. The market is populated with both of these products and more, it is not surprising that the demand for them is actually high. You must carefully consider the features peculiar to both the chainsaw mill and the bandsaw mill before you choose either of them.

Chainsaw Mill vs. Bandsaw Mill: Which Is Better?

Both a chainsaw mill and a bandsaw mill are used to turn logs into lumber. A chainsaw mill is cheaper, more portable, but not meant for a larger production. It also has a thicker cut. A bandsaw mill is a more efficient way to turn logs into lumber. It uses a more complex setup and is more expensive, but it can handle larger volumes.

Do you further want to know the difference between a chainsaw mill and a bandsaw mill? Do you need to know which option best suits your task? This article will guide you through the basics, answer your questions, and provide you with the necessary insights you need for the best milling experience.

What’s a Chainsaw Mill?

A chainsaw mill is a small sawmill designed to be used by one or two people to mill logs into lumber. There are different types of chainsaw mills on the market, but the basic type typically consists of a steel guide that is mounted to the chainsaw bar and follows a straight edge. Other elaborate chainsaw mills usually consist of a track and frame system where the chainsaw is mounted. They are much similar to the portable bandsaw mills.

What’s a Bandsaw Mill?

Bandsaw mills are certainly very good sawmills, but, they are quite expensive compared to other sawmills. This is because of the engine size responsible for driving the band. There are higher-priced bandsaw mills that have 20 horsepower or more, it is possible to install a wider and slightly thicker band blade which will allow a higher tension, cutting the log precisely, effectively, and smoothly. The only issue is that not many people can afford to have such a high-priced sawmill just to cut their own trees in their backyards when they can easily use the same amount of money to buy as much wood as they need to build just about anything they want to.

For those bandsaw mills with lower prices, the drive engine is usually between 12 and 15 horsepower, the band wheels are often narrower than their counterparts (due to the cost). Hence, the band blade is also narrower and thinner. Although the bandsaw mill can cut lumber quickly, the tension on the band blade is not as high as the blades on the highly-priced bandsaw mills.

Chainsaw Mill vs. Bandsaw Mill: Which Is Better?

If you’re considering different types of mills to cut your own wood or want to start a sawmilling business and you are not entirely sure about the type of mill to choose, don’t fret. We have put together some features you should consider to help you make the right choice according to necessity.

● Production Capacity

The level of productivity of sawmills and milling techniques vary. They also depend on the manufacturers and models. The level of productivity here refers to the amount of sawn lumber that can be produced on average within a day. If the number of wood available for processing is more, logically a more productive sawmill should be the ideal option.

However, many other factors may affect this decision. They include the level of output required as well as the availability of capital and labor. The availability of technology, spare parts, operational means, and other social and environmental factors can affect the decision-making process too.

With a chainsaw mill, production is quite limited. This is because it is not a tool designed to produce large numbers of lumber. However, if you are looking to make a few boards or planks and have other options, then a chainsaw mill can be the difference between wasted logs and marketable wood. A chainsaw also has a saw kerf around 3/8 inches, making it very inefficient. It also produces a lot of sawdust in the process.

Due to these, a chainsaw mill is not recommended for use if you’re looking to optimize the number of wood that a log can yield. A large kerf on the chainsaw mill requires a lot of time and energy to cut your wood.

On the other hand, with a bandsaw mill, it becomes economically possible to manage logs for sustainable and adequate wood production.  For commercial loggers, about 20 to 60 acres would be required to make bringing in the equipment feasible. You will need a lot of space to house all the good lumber. Also, a bandsaw tends to utilize more log because of the blade kerf, as the cutting band is very thin. A bandsaw mill significantly increases the value of the harvested trees, this makes it easy to selectively harvest trees at their peak value, removing the cull trees and salvaging the dead and dying ones.

● Portability

A portable sawmill will typically produce good income and lead to subsequent business growth. It might surprise you that even when the housing market and the standard lumber prices are down, the market demand for wood products remains the same.  That being said, portable sawmills are flexible enough to mill profitable wood at any point in time, be it for flooring, construction, railroad ties, or custom lumber for area farmers and woodworkers.  If you need a sawmill that you can take with you anywhere you go, then a chainsaw mill is the best option for you. Do you need to build a log cabin deep in the woods? Then a chainsaw mill is an ideal sawmill for you. Even where roads don’t go, you can easily pack a chainsaw mill in a bush, plane, or helicopter and take it with you. You will find that it is very portable. You can even cut your logs wherever they lie. The one great advantage of chainsaw sawmills is the extreme portability and low cost.

● Cutting Capacities

A chainsaw mill is an excellent machine for cutting wide slabs and planks out of large trees. The only limitation you may encounter when using a chainsaw would be the length of the chainsaw bar. In as much as the bar can conveniently reach across the log, you can easily cut it into lumber. If you plan to build, for instance, a table with a single slab top, a chainsaw mill would be the ideal option for you. If you have a portable sawmill that has limited cutting capacities in terms of length, you can add a chainsaw mill to your arsenal, use it to cut down larger logs into manageable sizes, before fitting the smaller log onto your portable chainsaw mill.

Compared to the chainsaw mill, a bandsaw mill is undeniably the most efficient way to turn logs into lumber. A portable bandsaw mill can yield about eight 1-inch boards for every seven produced on other sawmills. So if you are buying logs or you’re cutting them by yourself, an increase in yield would mean a better return on your investment.

● Cutting Blades

Because a bandsaw blade is usually thinner than a chassis, bandsaw mills are effective in their low kerf rating. Kerf refers to the amount of wood lost on each cut due to the thickness of the blade. A chainsaw blade generally produces a rougher cut and an extra amount of wood.

This extra amount of wood might not seem very significant during the process, but it could add up to a substantial amount of lost wood and potential loss of revenue when it is multiplied over an entire day’s work. Regardless of the size of the wood or the blade kerf, one important thing to remember when dealing with a bandsaw or chainsaw sawmill is that the blades need to be sharpened regularly.  This is because a dull blade will relatively reduce productivity and damage the wood in the process.

A bandsaw mill blade also needs to be sharpened and maintained regularly. If it happens to hit a rock or any hard matter in the log, you will need to take out the mill and change the band. Not all logs are clean, in fact, there is usually some amount of abrasive material or little stones present in the log, as well as a certain amount of pitch which can be a huge problem for the blades.

As you know, the blade is very thin and the tooth set is quite narrow, so when the pitch attaches to the band, the band blade is bound to get thicker and the tooth set will no longer be able to provide clearance to the band, causing it to bind in the cut. If the wood is denser, it becomes harder for the blade to move, and you may not get a precise cut. The bottom line is to always sharpen the blades frequently if you want to achieve precise cuts.

Final Remarks

In short, the nature of the work determines the optimal machine choice. For woodworks that involve more variety but lack volume, a chainsaw is your go-to equipment. For larger volumes that hardly differ in terms of variety, bandsaws have to be the ideal pick. Make sure the equipment you use is properly maintained and well-sharpened so that its performance stands out.

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  1. Earl Reynolds says:

    Which one produces smoother cuts, the chainsaw mill or the bandsaw mill?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Chainsaw mills are better for smaller projects and portability, while bandsaw mills are more efficient for larger volumes. Consider what suits your needs best before deciding.

  2. Emily Taylor says:

    The explanation of the cutting capacities of both types of sawmills is very insightful. It helps me see which one would work best for my needs.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Emily! I’m glad the information was helpful in determining which sawmill suits your needs best. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

  3. Ronnie Mitchelle says:

    What are the environmental impacts of using one of these sawmills compared to the other?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      The environmental impacts of using a bandsaw mill are generally lower than those of a chainsaw mill due to the more efficient cutting and lower wood waste.

  4. Connor Peterson says:

    I found the final remarks of the article to be very helpful. It summarizes the key points well and makes it easier to understand which sawmill to choose based on the nature of the work.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Connor! I’m glad the final remarks were helpful in your decision-making process. Let me know if you have any more questions on choosing between a chainsaw mill and a bandsaw mill.

  5. Jeremy Warren says:

    What kind of maintenance is required for each type of sawmill?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      For minimal maintenance needs, a chainsaw mill may be best. Chainsaw mills are portable, cheaper, but less efficient than bandsaw mills. Choose based on your specific needs.

  6. Jeanette Horton says:

    Are there safety precautions one should take when using either of these machines?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      When using these machines, be sure to wear appropriate safety gear such as goggles and gloves. Also, read and follow all safety guidelines in the user manual. Stay safe!

  7. Virgil Ross says:

    I didn’t realize how much the type of blade could impact the efficiency of a sawmill. This article highlighted the importance of blade maintenance.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Virgil! Maintenance is key for the efficiency of sawmills. I’m glad you found the article helpful in understanding the impact of blade choice.

  8. Robert Romero says:

    How difficult is it to handle a chainsaw mill compared to a bandsaw mill?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Both have their pros and cons. Chainsaw mill is cheaper and more portable, but less efficient for larger productions. Bandsaw mill is pricier but more efficient for bigger tasks. Consider your specific needs.

  9. Ramon Howell says:

    I appreciate the breakdown of the different features of chainsaw mills and bandsaw mills. It helps to see the pros and cons of each.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Ramon! I’m glad you found the breakdown of chainsaw mills and bandsaw mills helpful in making your decision. Happy milling!

  10. Sylvia Cox says:

    Which one is more cost-effective in the long run?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Sylvia. In the long run, a bandsaw mill is more cost-effective due to its higher efficiency and increased lumber yield. Consider your specific needs before making a decision.

  11. Wyatt Kelly says:

    The comparison of chainsaw mill and bandsaw mill blades was really interesting. It shows how blade thickness can affect the cutting process.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your insightful comment, Wyatt! I’m glad you found the comparison interesting. It’s always important to consider blade thickness when choosing between a chainsaw mill and a bandsaw mill.

  12. Julie Rhodes says:

    I like how the article explains the importance of maintenance for both types of sawmills. It’s crucial to keep the machines in good working condition.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Julie! I’m glad you found the article informative. Maintenance is key to keeping sawmills in good condition for optimal performance.

  13. Mae Foster says:

    How long does it take to set up and start using a bandsaw mill or a chainsaw mill?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Setting up and starting to use a bandsaw mill or chainsaw mill can vary based on your experience level, but typically, it can take a few hours to set up and start cutting logs into lumber.

  14. Felix Kennedy says:

    Thank you for breaking down the differences between chainsaw mills and bandsaw mills. This article cleared up my confusion and now I have a better understanding of which option is best for my needs.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Felix! I’m glad the article helped clarify your decision between chainsaw mills and bandsaw mills. Best of luck with your milling needs!

  15. Marshall Miller says:

    This article has given me a better understanding of the differences between chainsaw mills and bandsaw mills. It will definitely help me make a more informed decision.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Marshall! I’m glad the article helped you understand the differences. Let me know if you have any more questions about chainsaw mills or bandsaw mills.

  16. Erik Hamilton says:

    The information provided here is very helpful and detailed. It makes it easier for me to decide which sawmill to choose for my projects.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad you found the information helpful! Make sure to consider your specific needs before making a decision. Happy milling!

  17. Dennis Carr says:

    Thanks for including the videos in the article. It helps to see the sawmills in action and understand how they work.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Dennis! I’m glad you found the videos helpful in understanding how sawmills work. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions about chainsaw mills or bandsaw mills.

  18. Tommy Hansen says:

    I never knew there were so many factors to consider when choosing a sawmill. This article really opened my eyes to the options available.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading! I’m glad the article helped you understand the options available when choosing a sawmill. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions.

  19. Amanda Stephens says:

    Can you use a bandsaw mill for personal projects or is it mainly for commercial use?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, you can use a bandsaw mill for personal projects. It may be more expensive but is more efficient and yields better results compared to a chainsaw mill.

  20. Adrian Henderson says:

    Is there a specific type of wood that works best with each type of sawmill?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      It depends on your needs – a chainsaw mill is more portable, while a bandsaw mill is more efficient for larger production. Evaluate your priorities before choosing.

  21. Brayden Garza says:

    What are the key differences between the two types of sawmills?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Both use unique methods of milling wood. Chainsaw mills are cheaper and more portable, while bandsaw mills are more efficient for larger productions. The choice depends on your specific needs.