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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!

I'm new to the forum. I've been reading through many posts but this is my first official one. I have become very interested in milling!

I'm very seriously considering buying a portable sawmill, Probably a new Woodmizer LT28. Anyways, I will give you my situation and see if you agree with my plan or have any advice.

Currently I run a landscape company as a side job with my brother and some friends. I'm a teacher so I have summers off. We have a lot of equipment including a 2007 John Deere Ct322. We regularly cut down trees, mostly oak and pine in my area, and cut it into firewood. (Pine we pay to get rid of) My thought was instead of firewood I would mill the boards, dry them in a solar kiln, and plane/joint them to sell to furniture shops, cabinet makers, hobbyists, etc. We usually charge to cut down the trees and I would be able to keep all of the wood we cut. I can cut it into any lengths and the max width a LT28 goes is 32'' diameter.

So my question is, does this sound like a viable plan? Will I get interest from people who would buy my lumber? Should I take a class on lumber grading? (I have been watching many videos and reading many articles on this) Sorry about the long post, I just want some of your thoughts and opinions. Thank you very much.

-Dave
 

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I'd say it's viable. Given that you have a landscaping outfit & get to cut a lot of trees, I assume you cut most in or around town? Lots of urban trees have great figure & it's not uncommon to find burls. If you can somewhat regularly cut figured wood, then you'll have some lumber worth selling. The rest can still be cut for firewood. I wouldn't expect an instant return on investment, but then that really depends on the volume and quality of wood you're cutting.

I'm certainly not knocking bandsaw mills. I have one. But one thing I would do differently is get a swing mill equipped with slabbing attachment. It might actually be ideal for your situation. You can set the mill up over the big logs right where they fall, and carry away lumber or slabs. Wide slabs, especially if figured, sell for big money. It might be something to consider. Either way, there's potential to make some extra cash by milling lumber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, mostly around town. I know that some trees could contain metal, but given the area I believe that most would be free from obstructions. I would like to cut 2000 Bd. Ft. per month. As far as quality, most trees I would be cutting seem very healthy and straight.

Thank you for your reply, I will definitely consider the saw that you recommended. I'm looking at this approach from all angles.

-Dave
 

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I'd also invest in a good metal detector.
Don't limit yourself to just those trees you cut. Don't know about your area, but there are folks with logs that would love to have them cut for their own use. I'm one. Care to tow your saw to AZ?:laughing:
 

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Dave, I'd say you are right on target with your idea. I am baffled that more people in the tree care industry don't make them part of their business. I cut a lot of urban lumber with my Norwood band saw mill, sometimes backing it right into a driveway and milling the log with the mill attached to my truck. Blades cost about $32 and can be resharpened, though serious hardware in the log will destroy them. Home owners often want their logs milled into wood for furniture, and it is a great service. A friend of mine with a tree service near Toronto, Ontario built much of his home with urban wood that he milled. He also says that he has gotten several jobs simply because customers didn't want to see their trees ground into mulch or buried in a land fill.

Urban wood is a mixed bag. The trees often branch out low, and many of them do have metal... but the size and variety of species, plus knowing that you put them to a tree to its best use makes it rewarding, and often lucrative. I have encountered few jobs in which a swing blade mill would have much advantage over my band mill. 36" diameter logs and 28" wide slabs satisfy most people.

Instead of lumber grading, your best bet would be to look into drying the lumber. There are some inexpensive dehumidification kilns available, as well as plans for solar kilns. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'd also invest in a good metal detector.
Don't limit yourself to just those trees you cut. Don't know about your area, but there are folks with logs that would love to have them cut for their own use. I'm one. Care to tow your saw to AZ?:laughing:
Great point! I haven't even give that much thought. I would love to mill in AZ! Sadly, there are just too many miles in between. :sad: Let me know if you ever move this way, and thank you for the advice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dave, I'd say you are right on target with your idea. I am baffled that more people in the tree care industry don't make them part of their business. I cut a lot of urban lumber with my Norwood band saw mill, sometimes backing it right into a driveway and milling the log with the mill attached to my truck. Blades cost about $32 and can be resharpened, though serious hardware in the log will destroy them. Home owners often want their logs milled into wood for furniture, and it is a great service. A friend of mine with a tree service near Toronto, Ontario built much of his home with urban wood that he milled. He also says that he has gotten several jobs simply because customers didn't want to see their trees ground into mulch or buried in a land fill.

Urban wood is a mixed bag. The trees often branch out low, and many of them do have metal... but the size and variety of species, plus knowing that you put them to a tree to its best use makes it rewarding, and often lucrative. I have encountered few jobs in which a swing blade mill would have much advantage over my band mill. 36" diameter logs and 28" wide slabs satisfy most people.

Instead of lumber grading, your best bet would be to look into drying the lumber. There are some inexpensive dehumidification kilns available, as well as plans for solar kilns. Good luck!
Excellent points! I feel that many people in this area would love the fact that the trees were going to something worthwhile and not just ground up or burned. Do you feel that having a skid steer is something not even necessary then? Backing up with my truck would be amazing, just 1 less vehicle I wouldn't have to worry about.
 

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MY only experience with portable mills was a few years back in the mid west. The son of neighbor decided to to give it a chance and make a few dollars. As long as he was the only person involved he did ok. But when he decided to hire help. He got into all kinds of hassles. Taxes, insurance, and a bunch of other things. A straw that broke his back was when he had to buy 3 blades in 2 days. there were embedded spikes in some urban wood he contracted to mill and sent one guy to ER.

However, if you go into this with all the knowledge, you will probably do much better than he. Just research the associated obligations.
 

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That sounds like a rough experience with a portable sawmill. From your description of the blades and injuries, it sounds like your friend in the midwest was using a circle saw blade. After hitting nails, bolts, ceramic insulators, concrete, and an axe head (all in different logs), I have had no event that required more than putting on another log, mounting a fresh blade ($30), and getting back to work.

I'd love to have a skid steer. You need to think about the logs-- how big they are and how you could move & mill them. My primary log moving tools are a log arch and chain saw powered winch. It can take as long as an hour to extract and load a log with these limited tools. Good luck, and keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
MY only experience with portable mills was a few years back in the mid west. The son of neighbor decided to to give it a chance and make a few dollars. As long as he was the only person involved he did ok. But when he decided to hire help. He got into all kinds of hassles. Taxes, insurance, and a bunch of other things. A straw that broke his back was when he had to buy 3 blades in 2 days. there were embedded spikes in some urban wood he contracted to mill and sent one guy to ER.

However, if you go into this with all the knowledge, you will probably do much better than he. Just research the associated obligations.
Ouch, that sounds like a rough time. Thank you for your insight. It's good to know everyone's story, both good and bad so thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That sounds like a rough experience with a portable sawmill. From your description of the blades and injuries, it sounds like your friend in the midwest was using a circle saw blade. After hitting nails, bolts, ceramic insulators, concrete, and an axe head (all in different logs), I have had no event that required more than putting on another log, mounting a fresh blade ($30), and getting back to work.

I'd love to have a skid steer. You need to think about the logs-- how big they are and how you could move & mill them. My primary log moving tools are a log arch and chain saw powered winch. It can take as long as an hour to extract and load a log with these limited tools. Good luck, and keep us posted!
Great points. It seems like it sure would be a lot easier to use a skid steer. I'm contemplating on selling it but maybe I'll keep it for now and see how things turn out. I would like to turn over as many board feet as possible! My goal is about 2000 Bd. Ft. per month, not sure if that is possible but I'll try and set that as my standard. Mostly red and white oak.

Has anyone bought logs from other tree companies and if so, any luck or advice? I think I could get pine for free from anyone around here, people just have to pay to get rid of it.
 

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Has anyone bought logs from other tree companies and if so, any luck or advice? I think I could get pine for free from anyone around here, people just have to pay to get rid of it.
I've worked with several tree companies. None have asked for payment, even for walnut. What they get from me is free log removal so that they can get on to the next job. Trick is to be on time, do a clean job, and be courteous to the home owner, since the tree removal is a reflection on the company that contacted you. The fancier the home, the harder it is. One job, I wound up paying the home owner $500 for "damage" to the lawn (a few scratches that would have grown over in a month). That's just part of doing business. I have managed to score some nice logs, including oak, maple, walnut, and sweetgum.
 

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Not actually into milling, own one acre property and have had some wood ( Cedar) milled. Usually I take down my own trees , this one was close to hydro lines so had a pro do it, bucked it up for firewood and as the photo shows got lucky. The nail is a 4" , perfect condition and I estimate has been in the wood for 30/35 years.
 

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Yikes! Close call on that nail. They're hard on chain saws!

I started out with a chain saw mill, and still use it to break down logs too big for my mill. As inexpensive as they are, I believe they are too slow and expensive to run to form a business around them. I've found a good quality band saw mill suits milling urban logs pretty well. Also, better add a metal detector to your equipment list!
 
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