Milling for Accuracy


For the last two years I have been perfecting my milling and learning with every log.  Along the way I have learned a few tricks to help me become a better sawyer and I think that is a good time to share some of those tips with you.

First off is log placement on the mill.  Most logs that you have will have some amount of taper to the log, it could be very minimal or very pronounced.  The best way that I have found to place the log on the mill is to place the small end of the log on the operator end of the mill.  This is important because at that point you can layout the cuts on the log from the operator end without having to guess at what you will get out of the logs by placing the large end towards the operator.  This helps avoid a lot of waste.

Second would be having a plan for each log.  Each log you put on your mill will be a little different than the one before.  Each log will have its own challenges that you should be able to foresee with a little practice and a good layout on each log.  Below is a video on laying out your logs with a level before you make any cuts.  This will allow you to see what you will be able to get out of each log before making the first cut.

Laying Out a Log for Timbers

Third and final for this article is learning how to cut em square.  This can be the most time consuming step to milling timbers.  I have yet to see a mill that makes a perfectly square cut on the first two cuts.  It is a good practice to make your first cut, turn the log 90*s from the first cut and square the first cut with the blade of the mill with a framing square.  having square timbers is the biggest time saver when you actually get to the point you can cut joinery.  You also need to be creative with turning the logs to save your body and to hold it in place while you square up the second cut to the first.  I use a chain hoist for this and that allows me to make minute adjustments to the log while squaring to the blade.   If you take the time to do nothing else mentioned above do not skip this step, you will thank yourself later.  Below is a video showing how to do this step.

Using a Chain Hoist to Turn Logs

At the end of the day we want our work to be enjoyable and problem free.  While this does not always happen we can negate a lot of mistakes by taking the time on the mill to make good timbers.  Remember that this is the first step towards building your timber frame and as most first steps go it can save you a lot of time along the way.


Jim the Tradesman

5 thoughts on “Milling for Accuracy

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  1. Love your show,your show is one of the few that I look forward to seeing. I have been a butcher for 35 years and a woodworker all my life ! I have learned a lot watching your show ,keep up the good work. Thanks

  2. Jim. Great advice I hope to have a mill some day and be able to try these out. Appreciate all the work you put into your videos and website.

  3. 63 years old and you’re teaching this old dog new tricks. I love your youtube channel and just discovered this site. Thanks Jim. You’ve given me the confidence to start my own timberframe barn project. I might even send you videos of how it’s going!!!😀

  4. Thanks Jim for all your words of advice and showing us all what to do and what might be done better. You are honest and forthcoming, a true Tradesman. I appreciate all your work and effort, keep it rolling. I’m doing the same in Natural Bridge. Thanks again Sir.
    Tom Walsh

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