Best Chainsaws for Milling – 2020 Review

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Milling lumber can be just as straightforward or as hard as you make it. With a powerful chainsaw for milling, you can turn large logs into boards, almost in an instant.

But what makes a chainsaw ideal for this type of work, other than its power? Keep reading, and you’ll find out.

Comparison Chart of the ​Best Chainsaws for Milling

Product

Our Rating

​Price

Husqvarna 460 Rancher

Best Overall

Husqvarna 455 Rancher

Runner-up

Ladyiok 62CC Chainsaw

Best for the Money

Echo CS-590

Best Echo Chainsaw for Milling

Poulan Pro PR5020

Editor's Pick

What is Milling?

Milling is the process of canting logs. First, you cut off the rounded lengths. And then, you proceed to cut boards of specific dimensions. It’s all about turning freshly cut lumber into ready-to-use material.

These boards are at the core of all woodworks – fencing, decorating, making furniture, wood decking, and siding. If you love working with wood, you must get those boards from somewhere.

Now, the process of milling usually takes place in dedicated, large-scale lumber mills. But anyone can mill a log in their backyard. Of course, the best chainsaw for milling and the appropriate safety equipment are must-haves.

What Size of Chainsaw is Best For Milling?

A chainsaw’s size comes down to engine and bar size. A large engine will spin the chain faster. And it will also generate more power, which turns into torque for wood cutting.

A chainsaw should have at least a 50cc engine and a 20-inch bar to fit the milling job. These two are mandatory for medium to heavy-duty milling tasks. A smaller saw will only do it for tackling smaller boards.

Otherwise, the best logging chainsaw isn’t the largest you can get. It comes down to your personal preference in terms of tools. And, equally important, to make sure it will fit the job.

What Makes a Chainsaw Great for Milling?

A powerful chainsaw will do the hard work. Anything else will make you do the hard work. Still, the most massive and powerful tool won’t necessarily make your milling perfect. Here’s why: 

​It Must Be the Right Size for Cutting Logs

Pick a model whose power and size best fit the size of the logs you’re working on. The bar length should be at least twice the length of the log’s diameter.  And consider an engine close to 60cc and a bar around 24 inches. These two make the difference between good and great.

With the right chainsaw size for the logs, you’ll put less effort. At the same time, you’ll gain more control and fewer odds to cut uneven. Also importantly, this ideal flexibility may come from a chainsaw that supports more than a single bar length.

​It Must Be Maneuverable

First, there’s the size given by the engine capacity and bar length. Then, there are the actual dimensions and weight of the tool. Configurations like the ones from above go hand in hand with all kinds of chainsaws. From bulky and heavy to compact and lightweight. 

To spot the ideal combo, read the numbers, and make comparisons. Remember that the right size for you will allow you to work with less effort and finish the task faster. The ideal, from this perspective, will depend on your body building and resistance to effort.

Quick Take: Best ​Chainsaws for Milling

Hoping to cut right to the chase? Below are the best ​chainsaws for milling:

  1. Best Overall:Husqvarna 460 Rancher
  2. Runner-up:Husqvarna 455 Rancher
  3. Best for the Money: Ladyiok 62CC Chainsaw

Review of the Best Chainsaws For Milling

Below, you’ll find a selection of the top-rated chainsaws for milling. The best overall choice and its runner-up; an excellent deal for the money, a rising star from Echo, and our editor’s pick from Poulan.

All these are options from more or less renowned brands that you can confidently look at!

​Best Overall:
​Husqvarna 460 Rancher

PROS

  • Includes automation for chain oiling and air cleaning
  • Features outstanding power with low fuel consumption
  • Comes with great bar length to cut a wide range of logs
  • Provides compatibility with other bars down to 13-inch
  • Keeps the operator safe with an inertia-activated chain brake
  • ​Facilitates comfortable use, with LowVib anti-vibration system

CONS

  • Plastic brake handle
  • Learning curve for first-time assembly & run

Our Review

The Husqvarna 24 Inch 460 Rancher is perfect for intensive milling. It has a solid 38 x 12 x 12 inches body that weighs 21 pounds. And tucks inside a 60.3cc 2-stroke engine that sets the 24-inch bar into motion. It’s a gas chainsaw with smart start technology and guide bar, providing all the raw power you need.

With this model from the Rancher class, you get plenty of features. And it will make milling both easy and secure. The automatic oiling system ensures a steady oil supply. And, also enchanting, the quick-release air filter will facilitate easy cleaning and maintenance. All that while the chain brake is waiting for the inertia chain brake to interfere when necessary.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

The size of this chainsaw makes it a robust choice for all heavy-duty milling jobs. But their latest X-Torq technology for 2-stroke engines stands out even more. Thanks to it, this chainsaw for milling needs 20% less fuel and generates 60% fewer emissions.

​Runner-up:
​Husqvarna 455 Rancher

PROS

  • Protects you with an inertia activated chain brake
  • Surprisingly compact and lightweight design
  • Allows comfortable operation with low vibrations
  • Facilitates quick chain tensioning during operation
  • Great balance and power while tackling milling jobs
  • ​Eco-friendly, with low fuel consumption and emissions

CONS

  • May start harder on cold
  • Tricky side cover removal when unboxing

Our Review

Part of the same Rancher class, this Husqvarna 455 Rancher is the runner up. Close behind the 24-inch model, it shares many features with it. Still, at a glance, it’s a smaller size with a 55.5cc 2-stroke engine and a 20-inch bar. It measures 20 x 9.5 x 41 inches and weighs as little as 12.8 lbs.

The X-Torq, LowVib, and air injection centrifugal air cleaning systems are included. And they all contribute to superior performances and comfortable operation. It comes with automatic chain oiler and inertia activated chain brake. Whereas the side-mounted chain tensioning system is in an optimal position to allow quick adjustments.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

The product features show that size-wise, it is perfect for most milling purposes. But it is also surprisingly lightweight and easy to maneuver. The reputation of the Husqvarna name makes buyers even more willing to try out this chainsaw.

​Best for the Money:
​Ladyiok 62CC Chainsaw

PROS

  • Includes safety valve throttle switch
  • Built with reduced fuel consumption in mind
  • Relies on a sturdy chain with great service life
  • Boasts a compact design for smooth operation
  • Provides surprising quality and power for its price tag
  • ​Includes a big rope wheel to reduce pull force at the start

CONS

  • No warranty
  • Occasional start issues

Our Review

The Ladyiok 62cc Chainsaw is getting more and more popular among the best chainsaws for milling. Despite not wearing a famous brand label, it provides an excellent choice for the money. The 35 x 10.6 x 9 inches chainsaw with a 20-inch bar weighs 16.53 lbs. And it is powered by a robust 62cc engine.

Both the bar and the chain are highly efficient and wear-resistant. Just like other similar models, it features automatic chain oiler. And many safety features are on the table - valve throttle switch and low kickback chain. The same goes for the ergonomic design features, like the slip-free handle.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

It ranks as the best choice for the money, though it could easily carry the best-for-the-power label. The 62cc two-stroke engine at 3.5 hp points to one conclusion. It cuts shoulder to shoulder with more reputable Husqvarna models.

Best Echo Chainsaw for Milling​:
​Echo CS-590

PROS

  • Facilitates easy maintenance
  • Comes with unparalleled warranty
  • Boasts solid, durable bar and chain
  • Includes a toolless two-piece air filter
  • Chain backed with metal chain bumpers
  • ​Comes with a built-in vibration reduction system

CONS

  • Plastic chain guard
  • Somewhat difficult to find replacement parts

Our Review

A powerful chainsaw for milling from Echo, the Echo CS-590 model promises optimal output and design. It packs a professional-grade 59.8cc engine within an 18 lbs, 20 x 13 x 11 inches well-balanced case. And it is equipped for maximum performance, as it boasts a 20-inch bar with standard side chain tensioning.

As expected, it comes with a built-in vibration reduction system. And the air filter incorporates their proprietary G-Force Engine Air Pre-Cleaner system. The latter allows you to change the air filter less often. Whereas it also makes your life easier with a decompression valve for a more natural start cord pull.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

First of all, it’s the unparalleled 5-year warranty that won’t go unnoticed. Moreover, this model stands out as a competitive Rancher class chainsaw for milling. So, it’s a great alternative to the Husqvarna Rancher models that tend to catch the eye.

Editor's Pick​:
​Poulan Pro PR5020

PROS

  • Built to reduce engine flooding risks
  • Offers the right balance of power and weight
  • Looks and feels easy to use even for a non-pro
  • Comes with an average bar length with low kickback
  • Includes nice design features like the in-handle multi-tool storage

CONS

  • Plastic handle
  • Limited warranty

Our Review

Easy to handle by those who are just starting with milling, the Poulan Pro PR5020 equally satisfies the pros. The 50cc 2-stroke engine idles great and delivers massive power. Whereas the 12 x 16 x 11.8 inches and 17 lbs chainsaw carves wood with a 20-inch low kickback bar.

Medium to large logs stand no chance in front of this tool with OxyPower patented engine technology. And users will appreciate the combined choke & stop control that reduces the engine flooding risks. For small interventions, the combi tool tucked in the rear handle is easily accessible.

What Makes This Product Stand Out?

Poulan’s chainsaw for milling comes with a great combo of spring-assist pull cord & easy-to-use purge bulb. Thanks to it, the chainsaw will start easier, with fewer cord pulls. And the whole system requires 30% less pull force.

Pros and Cons of Milling Your Lumber With a Chainsaw

Log milling happens in large-scale lumber mills. With special large machines that gulp logs like nothing else. Why would you take this job to your backyard?

First, let us underline the pros of milling your lumber with a chainsaw.

Pros

  • Saves money

Factory-derived products involve increased costs. Anyone involved in the process needs to be paid. And you pay the price. Unless you do it yourself, in which case you only pay for the initial equipment purchase.

  • Trains your skills

Do you love hands-on activities? Then this will bring you many growth opportunities. There are tech aspects you need to grasp and physical abilities you will get to train.

  • Saves money

Factory-derived products involve increased costs. Anyone involved in the process needs to be paid. And you pay the price. Unless you do it yourself, in which case you only pay for the initial equipment purchase.

Cons

Safety issues

Milling is no piece-of-cake. After all, you work with a powerful tool with sharp teeth. While the best chainsaws for milling are buckled with safety features, you need to be permanently aware of the perils. Use the chainsaw precisely as intended, for the best & safest results.

Gas vs Electric Chainsaw for Milling - Comparison Overview

As you might have noticed, there are no tools out there with a specific “chainsaw for milling” label. You just have to ponder the options and pick a model that would work best for this type of activity. And so, electric chainsaws might catch your eye. Consider, though, the following:

Power

Gas chainsaws are more powerful. And you already know you need the power to cut through logs.

Bar Length

You have plenty of options with both gas and electric models. From this perspective, no worries.

Maneuverability

Electric models are easier to handle. Physically and technically, they’re more enticing.

Reliability

Chances for gas models to get stuck in the process are significantly lower. Gas is the better bet.

If you’re a newbie, you might want to pick an electric chainsaw. Quieter, with easy start, easy to maintain and with no emissions. It’s sure tempting. But as you’ll soon discover, for a serious job such as milling, you need a serious gas chainsaw. The learning curve is worth a ton!

Conclusion

Do you like to go above and beyond with your own research? There are so many models you will be looking at. Just keep in mind how to pick the right chainsaw size for your milling needs. And, from there, consider all the other design and safety details, along with the warranty.

Needless to say, Husqvarna doesn’t have to be your only option!

Popular Reads

People Also Ask

If there are still questions left in the back of your mind, there is a good chance you’ll find your answers in the section below.

What CC Chainsaw Is Ideal For Milling?

For average-sized logs, you can work well with a 50CC chainsaw, minimum. But ideally, it should be around 60CC. For heavy-duty tasks, 100CC is more appropriate.

What Is Best Gauge For Chainsaw Milling?

The medium gauge for a chainsaw is .050 inches. For milling purposes, however, it is best if you can find something slightly larger, as in .058 inches.

How Dangerous Is Chainsaw Milling?

It can be just as dangerous as using a chainsaw the wrong way. To minimize the risks, one should always carefully read and follow the user manual. To keep the chainsaw well maintained, as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. And to always use the appropriate safety equipment when working with it.