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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking into buying a portable sawmill, but will need it to make some side money to pay for its self. I am wondering what other people charge for milling service. I am looking at a mobile demension circular mill or maybe a lucas, I don't like band mills so I will stay away from them. I am thinking that anything between 250 and 1000 bf I would charge .45 ft soft woods and .55 for hard. One mbf or more I am thinking .30 and .40 ft. I would have to charge a blade damage fee if I hit anything in the logs, but no set up fee. I would mostly be milling hardwoods like oak, black walnut, locust, cherry, and then what ever specialty wood people need milled. For soft wood its pretty much just cedar around here and a little white pine. Maybe I should also offer an hourly rate?
 

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Our local sawmill guy charges by the hour $150, with a $150 minimum. We were able to get 190 bf of pine & ash for 190 (trees that came down during the hurricane). We then teamed up with several friend & got...hmm, maybe close to 1000 bf each for about 450 of oak. Great deal with 4 men working on it. He comes to the jobsite for estimates. He says he charges by the hour instead of the bf because he doesn't want to waste time moving/cutting logs ect. So when he comes out he makes recommendations on where/how to stack the logs, paint the ends ect. to save the customer money (and to let them know if it's even worth it). He also charges a blade fee (not sure how much though), he has a Woodmizer. He also sells wood because he says alot of rich people just want to make sure the trees get recycled & don't want it. He makes a pretty good living at it, always busy for sure! Good luck to you! :)
Hillside
 

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I had a fellow with a portable sawmill come to my property to custom saw my red pine/white pine logs into log cabin logs. He charged me $25/hour or $185 per thousand board feet. I was very happy with his work.
Personally, I thought the guy was charging me too little.
Another person I knew charged $75/hour for custom sawing with his portable sawmill. He was lazier than lazy and was doing some work for a friend. He was worth maybe $10/hour. At best.
If someone is charging me by the hour, I want to make certain the person has a good work ethic.

At the end of the day, however. Rough sawn boards will always be rough sawn boards. Individual states are passing regulatory laws banning the use of boards that are not grade stamped for framing of residential housing.

If you are thinking of charging $.30 board foot for milling softwoods, IMHO, this is more than the market will bear. Lets put this into perspective. A 2 x 4 x 8' has 5 1/3 board feet. One can purchase 2 x 4's that are grade stamped, kiln dried and planed for $2.50 each or approximately $.47 board foot. Few would furnish their own logs and pay $.30 board foot to wind up with a finished product that requires 1 -3 years of air drying, and still is inferior to the products one can purchase at a lumber yard and use immediately.

Other than using a portable sawmill for use in milling log cabin logs, I will never again use their services. IMHO, it just isn't economically feasible. I am far better off to sell my logs and purchase grade stamped, kiln dried, planed lumber.

Just letting you know how what you're up against.
 

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I own the mill and do custom sawing. You have to judge what the person has to work with. What is his skill level. and What is his reliablity factor.
I have a friend that I sawed for and he bought a mill for his self. He does great work but is running 1/2 the power that I do and is manual set works. I saw twice per hour as he does with better quality in larger wood. Not because he isn't good but in larger oaks and such it makes a difference for how much power you have.
I charge $50 set up fee and .25 cents per foot cut. $30 dollars if I hit metal.
You need to be carful in your pricing because cut Poplar in 2 by material is only .45 cents per board foot to buy at the yard.
 

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My brother charges $150 per thousand board feet if you help off bear. If he hits metal, you buy the blade. His was a mobile Woodmizer mill, but he fastened it down and built a building around it. All the logs come to him, so he doesn't have any travel or set up costs.
 

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This topic brings tears to my eyes.
My grandpa (RIP) had a guy come to his farm like 15 years ago and cut up some stuff for him. He had it stacked in his barn loft from then until well I will get to that.
I am talking every thing from 4x10 to 2x4 and every thing between of Walnut, Oak, Cherry and Hickory. It was up there all these years until he passed away. I told my mother what it was worth (Big $$$) and she said she would make sure it stayed there until I got back up there to deal with it.
Well my stupid brother in-law without knowing any better cut it all up for fire wood.
When I went up there a couple of years later (Mom lives in Indiana and I am in Florida) and seen it gone I went nuts. I figure it was between 20 and 25 grand worth of wood up there. I had planned on selling it all off and giving my mom all the money as she sure could use it. When my mom told me what happened to it I was ready to go hunting a stupid brother in-law lol. He told her I was wrong and it was not worth even trying sell.
 

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When you start out your in training.

Higher prices come with experience you start out slow and you keep your prices cheap, and build up coustomers and word of mouth takes over.

As time goes on your income increases simply because you are cutting more board feet per hour than when you started out.

The if your business gets to be doing good, and you are covered up and have a waiting list you can charge a little more per. bf.

Because you are faster and your product is coming out better because you learned how to do a better job.

bumpus
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Our Amish sawmill I believe charged us $100 Canadian/thousand, for mostly hard woods. Over 30,000' though. We took the logs to him and helped part of the time. This was a guy with 20 years of experience. A lot of what we brought home is furniture quality.
 

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Everything in all businesses is based on two things, Supply and demand, and that is what you have to figure out for where you are going to saw.

You can be the best and have the best saw but if no one is buying your done before you start.

bumpus
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I saw that thread, like that chain mill setup, but I am going to need something a little more high tech for what I am wanting to do. Plus I will be sawing very little soft woods and I think a chain mill will be too slow in some of the harder woods around here like Osage and Sycamore. We have some really steep hillsides in eastern kentucky and I need a mill that can be packed in. I also need one that can be run alone as I don't want the liability of the landowner or others helping. The mobile demension is a great mill and does not have log diameter restrictions, it does however have a limited cut depth of 12 inches. The older models only cut 4x8 max.
 

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most of the guys around here that run mills charge between 50 and 75 per hour. They all have the same feeling about milling...they bought the mill for themselves, there own use, and any money they make with it at least pays for their wood. You need to buy a very high end mill to cut at production speeds. Most simply can't afford that and are forced to buy a lesser model, therefore limiting production, therefore limiting profit. Go to a site I belong to called Arborist site and pose the same question in the milling section, you'll get feedback from guys who own these mills and what they think of making a buck with them. Personally I have several chainsaw mills, and quite a few saws. Works for me, but then I only mill for personal use and the sheer enjoyment of turning damaged or salvaged trees into usable lumber for furniture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the link to the aborist site......been reading through some things and it looks like a good site. There is an amish guy in this area that hauls around an old hand set mill and does all right with that.....I imagine a real portable will do fine. I know my rates are a little higher than most, but gas cost more than it used to and rates haven't gone up any in the past 7-8 years. I think .30 a bf is not too high as there is very few evergreens in this area and I haven't ever seen cedar anywhere at less than 4.00 a bf and that is rough sawn. I don't expect anybody to pay me to mill 2x4s, custom milling is for stuff you can't buy at homedepot.
 

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The local sawyer I use charges 25c/bf, or if you're cutting a lot of beams, he'll work by the hour. He's 74, and can outwork me any day of the week. He also cut's on the halfsies.

Like he said, and others here already, he can't charge too much more, or folks would just go to the lumber store and get kiln dried lumber for the same price.

I rarely if ever get any 2x lumber cut, as I'm using my logs, I've got to cut em, haul em, then sticker em when I get home, let em dry for half a year, then restack em. I DO get lots of beams, as they're not readily available in the larger sizes (or any size) at most lumber stores... it's also a good bargain for me to get 1x lumber..... a 1x12x10' will cost me 2.50, where the same board will cost at least 9 or 10 bucks, for a #3 board.

He's told me he averages ~200$/day, after everythings said and done. He does charge for blades... unless you're a volume customer like myself or my relatives (and if you mess up more than one blade, he'll call and ask if you want to continue, and if so, it'll be 30$ a blade.)
 

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$170/1000, and you buy the blade if the sawyer hits metal.

$150 for 190bf of lumber is simply outrageous, IMNSHO....
 
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