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Milling Lumber (grudgingly) #2: Inventory

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Blog entry by MoshupTrail posted 09-07-2011 12:10 AM 2283 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: What would you do? Part 2 of Milling Lumber (grudgingly) series Part 3: The work begins - buck and stage the logs »

I got a lot of good advice – most of which I’m taking in one way or another – from the first in this series. Thanks to all who put in their two cents. Now, on to the next task…

In order to estimate how much it will take to gather the logs and mill them I needed to take some kind of inventory. So I took some blue field marking paint and went out and labeled trees showing where I wanted them cut, and also giving each log a number. I recorded the diameter of each log at about the center point.

There are 10 trees down that are probably worth milling. All are greater than 12” diameter at the middle of the first log. Most of the trees were in the 16” to 18” range, but 2 were over 20” in diameter. I measured logs in 8 1/2 foot lengths, numbered them and took a diameter measurement at the middle of each log. Why 8 1/2 feet? It’s an arbitrary number, but, only an exceptional jointer can joint a board longer than 8 feet. I would like to have boards about 8 feet for people who want to do projects like beds, or tall bookshelves, but I don’t think very many will really want anything longer. Also, it’s a little more precise to mill shorter lengths, although more efficient to mill longer lengths.

When they have been gathered I will have 30 logs. 3 poplar, 5 willow oak, 3 white oak and the rest red oak.
The plan is to have a guy with an excavator cut and pull all the logs out of the forest and stage them in an open area. Then I will bring in a guy with a portable Woodmizer to mill them. I’ll invite over a couple of friends to help stack and sticker so that the mill stays busy.

I’m thinking that the large (>20”) logs should be quarter sawn, and the others simply flat sawn.

How does this plan sound to you?

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.



5 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 2698 days


#1 posted 09-07-2011 12:54 AM

Here’s a bunch of log calculators in one place that should help your planning.

http://www.woodweb.com/Resources/RSCalculators.html

Take a tape measure and measure the butt and at the each 8 1/2” length where you marked the logs, then the formula you use to find diameter is: (diameter = circumference / PI) – (PI=3.1416) Then use the diameter of the little end of each log section to find how many board/ft of lumber you should get. The doyle scale is most often used in my area. It’s very friendly to sawmills and allows for a 1/4” kerf, the International scale is closer to the yield a bandmill will get from a log. Next you can use the log weight calculator to see what each section will weigh and last you can get an estimate of what the lumber will weigh when cut. I’d use 60% for that estimate. It helps know how much weight each piece of equipment has to deal with. At least you have some small logs to work with for your first adventure.

Do you have a marketing plan to sell your lumber and a place to sell it? Or, will you use it yourself?

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

302 posts in 1941 days


#2 posted 09-07-2011 02:44 AM

@Hal
Using the International 1/4 rule, I’m coming up with 2445 bf. How many stickered stacks will I need?
http://woodworkersjournal.com/woodworking_blog/index.php/how-much-lumber-is-in-a-log/

It would be nice to recover the cost of all this work, machinery and fuel. But I don’t have a plan yet. My initial intent was to beat the bugs to the wood – i.e. not it go to waste. Do you think there is a market for this?

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 2698 days


#3 posted 09-07-2011 04:08 AM

I cut most of my logs to 12’ lengths and make my stacks 48” wide. It makes it easy to calculate how much wood is in a stack. Each layer is 48 bf. 20 layers of wood equals 1000 bft. The rough estimate is a 4’ wide stack, that’s 4’ high (with stickers) and 12’ long is 1000 bft. When I was working with a tree service and had the use of a skidsteer that would lift and move a full 1000 bft in one lift, I made this my standard size. Now that I have to do everything by hand, I make them 500 bft stacks.

There is a market somewhere for almost every board. The slabs can be used for firewood if you slap together an X shapped box to lay them in and cut them to 18” lengths for firewood. Each log I cut will have a few boards that need to be edged to remove the bark. I usually cut those into 1” X 1 1/2” strips to use as stickers. Rough sawn green lumber around here goes for $0.55 to 0.75 per board ft. Air dried hardwood of most species goes for $1.00 a bft. Kiln dried lumber that’s surfaced two sides is much higher. I’ve got about 1000 bft of red oak that I quartersawed. I’m going to kiln dry all 1000 bft and put them on Ebay in 25bft lots to see how they sell. If they don’t sell for enough, I’ll just keep them. I need 3200 bft of quartersawn red oak to make flooring for the two story farmhouse I live in. A good way to see what anything is worth, is to go to ebay and search for whatever you want to sell. Like “Quartersawn red oak” and see what the asking or starting price is. Then go to the ad and click on the number beside the sellers name. It’s their feedback score and you’ll get a list of completed sales and for the last 30 days you’ll see what items they’ve sold and the price it brought. You can also go to the advance search using the keywords to bring up items similar to what you want to sell and click on “completed sales” and the items with red prices didn’t sell. The ones with green prices did sell. The sawyer you hire to cut your wood will know what the prices are for wood in your area.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

302 posts in 1941 days


#4 posted 09-07-2011 12:06 PM

Hal -
Wow! Evidently, while you are not shaping a beautiful gun stock, or sailing, you are a very busy guy indeed. You’ve got some great ideas there. Interesting – my previous sawyer always recommended that I mill to 5/4. It does make nice stable boards that don’t warp or twist while drying. But it appears you are sawing to 4/4, right? I’ve tried to use some of the 4/4 boards he cut by accident and if there’s any warp it’s sometimes hard to get a full 3/4 finished thickness. What’s your take on 4/4 vs. 5/4?

Based on what you’re saying, I should probably make my stacks 8’ x 4’. So each layer will be just shy of 32 bf. And if I stack 4’ high (24 layers of wood, and 24 layers of stickers) that puts about 768 bf in a stack. So according to my calculations I will need 3.2 stacks. Then there’s the issue of separating the white oak, red oak, and poplar. Hmmm, I’m gonna need a 4th stack!

Also, that allows me to set the stack on a base made of 2 length-ways 8’ 4×4 pt, and 4 4’ 4×4 pt cross-ways about every 2’. Then cover the stack with a 6’ x 8’ plastic tarp held down by a couple of slabs. I’ve found that makes a nice neat stack that air drys well.

So now, on to the marketing plan. If I know anything about marketing, it’s that the price on eBay is the commodity price, and marketing is all about making a commodity into something special – that’s worth more than the eBay price in the eye of the buyer. (e.g. Florida OJ is better than the stuff they import from goodness knows where)

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 2698 days


#5 posted 09-07-2011 02:05 PM

So far I’ve not had very much trouble with warping. Most of my wood is used for gunstocks. The nicest wood goes on the outsdie and if I cut it 5/4, it just gets carved away. The interior pieces are made by resawing the 4/4 boards and planing them down to whatever thickness I need, from 1/2” to 1/8”. I try to end up with a 3” blank for varmint/benchrest type stocks and 2.5” for blanks to carve sporter stocks. Most of the oak, poplar and pine have been sold as rough sawn, green lumber for building barns and outbuildings. Stacked and stickered with stickers every 2’ it’s dried just fine. I did have one hackberry log that had beautiful grain that after a few weeks looked like a nest of snakes. It made a nice fire one fall evening. I also cut a lot of logs into 2” slabs and sometimes thicker for benches and table tops. You’ll also want to box the heart of some of your logs and make 4X6 beams. They make great supports for your lumber stack and you’ll find lots of other uses for them.

Sounds like you had marketing 101 in college. Good luck with your project.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

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