Have Chainsaw, Will Homestead: Granberg Alaskan mill helps couple establish new lifestyle

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Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill helps couple establish homestead lifestyle.


When Cody Crone and his wife decided to leave the city life behind and embark on living a homesteading lifestyle in rural Oregon, they had their work cut out for them.

They left the relative comforts and amenities of living in a more urban area in order to restore an old log home more than 100 years old and to live largely off the land.

Along the way, Cody documented their adventure in a series of YouTube videos that has grown so popular he can enjoy a significant income from it, and the couple also has authored a book on their experiences.

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A Granberg International Alaskan Chainsaw Mill has been instrumental in Cody’s successful homesteading activities. With the Granberg mill and a chainsaw, Cody has been able to cut his own timbers and lumber for a number of projects that have helped the family carve out their new home and lifestyle.

Cody, 46, worked in construction trades and other businesses for a number of years. He operated heavy equipment, worked in construction, felled timber, and also has been a firefighter. (He still works as a wildfire firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service in the summer months.)

He and his wife were both working professionals, but they decided on a drastic change in their lifestyle. They opted to become homesteaders, getting back to the land and living largely off what they can grow and produce themselves. Their goal was to change their life, to slow down the pace of living and have more time as a family. The couple sold their home and other property and purchased an old, decrepit log house on 60 acres about a three hour drive east of Portland, then spent the past five years making it their home.

The old log house, built in 1904, was in “terrible condition,” recalled Cody. It had no heat, and the pipes had burst some time ago. The family moved in during the winter. “That first winter was pretty rough,” said Cody, who put new plumbing and electrical service in the house.

Before embarking on homesteading, Cody already had begun making YouTube videos, sharing various exploits and skills, and they attracted a following. He continued making new videos, documenting the family’s progress in their homestead near the Cascade Mountains.

They now live a life that is “pretty self-sufficient,” said Cody, who has a son, Jack, 11, with his wife.

(Cody has his own YouTube channel, the Wranglerstar Channel. It has more than 1,300 videos, and more than 371,000 people subscribe to it. The YouTube channel gets about 7 million views daily, according to Cody, who earns a percentage of advertising revenues from the channel.)

The Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill has enabled Cody to cut all the timbers and lumber he has needed for various do-it-yourself projects, including a greenhouse, two cabins, fencing, and more. “We use it for all our construction,” he said. “We use it to mill all our timbers and lumber.”

Cody actually bought his Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill seven years ago, before the start of homesteading. He had seen U.S. Forest Service personnel using one in Yosemite National Park about 10 years ago. Park staff were using it to mill timbers out of a fallen tree. “I’d never seen anything like it before,” recalled Cody. “That’s what really got me thinking about it.”

He didn’t make a snap decision, however. He researched and considered similar equipment. “I looked long and hard and I talked to a lot of people that used them.” His decision came down to Granberg and another brand, but the Alaskan Chainsaw Mill “looked to me to be the better of the two,” he said.

His experience has borne out that choice. “It’s wonderful,” he said.

He likes the affordability of the Granberg mill. “It’s something most guys can afford,” he noted, and likely able to use with a chainsaw they already own.

Another factor is portability. “It’s totally portable,” said Cody. “Mill the log where it falls.” It is portable enough to be used in remote areas. “They’re super versatile that way.”

It is well suited for hobbyists, homeowners and farmers to make timbers and lumber for various projects, according to Cody.

The Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill produces good quality lumber, he added. He can cut lumber with accuracy good to 1/16-inch. “It’s really good providing you take the time with the set-up.”

The set-up, attaching the mill to the log, is critical, he noted. “The first cut is so important.” He had a brief learning curve with the mill to learn setting it up properly for that first cut. “You have a round log, you’re trying to cut something square out of it…so that first cut is really important.”

The mill is essentially a lightweight, box-like metal frame that attaches to the chainsaw. The frame rests on the flat surface of the wood and moves forward as the operator pushes the chainsaw through the cut.

For making the first cut on the round surface, Granberg also sells a two-frame rail that attaches to the top of the log with the aid of a level. Even a couple of straight 2×4 will suffice for rails. Cody has used an extension ladder for the same purpose. “It gives you a nice straight surface,” he said.

When asked for other tips he has learned from using the sawmill, Cody recommended using ripping chain supplied by Granberg. The chain is specifically designed for ripping a log and leaves a smooth finish on the lumber. He also recommended a chainsaw with a motor of at least 90cc.

Saw chain must be sharpened regularly, noted Cody. For that reason, he also recommended an electric sharpener supplied by Granberg. It runs on a 12-volt motor, so it can be hooked up to the battery of a pickup truck or other vehicle. “It’s really quick and simple,” said Cody. Depending on the length of the saw bar, sharpening the chain takes less than 5 minutes. He has about a half-dozen chains; he will have them all sharpened when he begins milling a log, then just swap one out when it becomes dull. “You can go out and cut all day without stopping and sharpening,” he said.

(For more information on the Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill and other Granberg products, visit www.granberg.com, call (800) 233-6499, or email info@granberg.com.)

The topics of Cody’s YouTube videos include various how-to videos on making a rope swing, timber framing, felling big trees, sharpening saw chain, blacksmithing, filing cross-cut saws, skidding logs without equipment, and buying an axe. Some of the most popular ones include those on how to kill a tree by girdling, bucking and splitting big wood, and others on axes. “Viral” or wildly popular videos include Cody’s account of how a coyote attacked his two dogs and he managed to shoot and wound it with a pistol; that video has more than 9 million views.

Cody also writes a monthly article for Mother Earth News magazine, and he is a keynote speaker for fairs the magazine sponsors across the country. The fairs feature various workshops and exhibits geared to homesteaders.

The book the couple authored a book on their experience, Modern Homesteading: Rediscovering the American Dream, was published last fall and now is in its second printing. It is available from Amazon.