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Milling Lumber (grudgingly) #7: Now what?

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Blog entry by MoshupTrail posted 10-27-2011 02:54 AM 4441 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Lessons Learned Part 7 of Milling Lumber (grudgingly) series Part 8: When mistakes are made... »

So now I have a fairly large quantity of red oak. Most of it is probably FAS equivalent. No knots, nice straight grain, and some is quarter-sawn with excellent ray flecking. I’ll probably separate that out and set it aside for hobbyists – furniture. But the bulk of the wood seems like a good candidate for some flooring. If I were to sell it as flooring, I could unload large quantities, like 100-400 bf at a time. It wouldn’t take too many of those to recover the cost of the wood – except for two things: 1) it needs to be dried to 8% MC, and 2) it needs to be milled into flooring shapes – I assume tongue and groove. For the first, I plan to build a solar kiln using the instructions provided by Virginia Tech.

For the second part I need your help. I am looking for one or more pieces of equipment that are beefy enough to process large quantities of wood with a minimum number of passes. My little router table with the 3/4 hp router won’t last long doing this kind of volume and I’m not so sure about my planer either.

So I looked at the Logosol product. $17k. Ouch! I’m looking into the woodmastertools machines too. Those, while pricey are at least in a range I might be able to justify.

So what would you recommend?

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



6 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5351 posts in 1287 days


#1 posted 10-27-2011 03:05 AM

Why cant you just list it online, once dried, as planks for sale by the bf? It seems to me that unfinished oak floors sell for about $2 a sq foot at the big box. If you could get $1.25 to $1.50 for the unmilled fs oak. Seems like you may come out better. Get all the qs out, you should be able to sell that at a premium price. Good luck.

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

296 posts in 1169 days


#2 posted 10-27-2011 03:22 AM

That’s a really good question. I think I can get quite a bit more than big-box pricing due to having wide boards (6” and larger) which you can’t even get at big-box, and cost upwards of $5/sf at the flooring outlets. For someone looking for a high-end floor, I could boast long boards (8 ft), wide widths, and variable widths – having not all your planks the same width makes a really nice-looking floor. Plus, they’ll be able to have it stained however they like.

Also, selling floorboards ready to install gives me a much larger group of buyers.

There’s another option I’m also looking into and that’s having a local mill shop do the work. There will be a cost, but maybe its less than buying expensive equipment.

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

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5351 posts in 1287 days


#3 posted 10-27-2011 03:29 AM

If you go with wide/long planks, it would mean less milling. So that is good, it will be worth more, that is good. The only tough part will be getting close to 100% clear in that plank size across a large quantity. But if the wood is really clear, big planks make good sense. More $, less milling, its a win…win. Keep us updated.

View dpop24's profile

dpop24

115 posts in 1258 days


#4 posted 10-28-2011 08:39 PM

I thought that flooring was manufactured in consistent widths to make it easier to install. With variable widths I would think it would make it difficult as you’d always be searching for a piece to match the last one you laid down until you got to the end of a run.

How about ripping them to a predetermined mix of widths? I do like the look of wide plank flooring though as opposed to the standard 2 1/4” or whatever it is.

-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

View MoshupTrail's profile

MoshupTrail

296 posts in 1169 days


#5 posted 10-28-2011 10:59 PM

@dpop24 – You’re exactly right. Pre-determined fixed widths, say 4”, 6” and 8” wide, is the way to go. Taking the regular-ness out of the floor makes it look so much better, but does make installation a bit more difficult. But this is something a small shop can do that the big shops cannot – they are driven by price, price, price and have to mill to 2 1/2 inches wide by 4’ long to maximize yield and cater to the builder-grade installation companies.

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

View blueoxtimbers's profile

blueoxtimbers

1 post in 1379 days


#6 posted 11-24-2011 07:53 AM

Hi Moshup Trail – as an LT40 mill owner I really thought that you did an awesome job in your #6 article. I even found some tips I’m gonna use ! I have grappled with the same dilemna you have, nice wood and lack of money for equipment. Most of the pro tools use power sources , like 3 phase, that I don’t have access to so I buy T & G wholesale from the commercial planer mills. A few things to consider if you hire them to do the flooring : avoid small mills that don’t have the capacity to plane the edges and will want to charge you for ripping the boards to take out any crooks. The problem is that if you’re not there how do you manage any excessive waste ? This also greatly increases the cost. I found a local mill that has an 8 head planer. So like your LT20 vs LT40 mill, go with the guy with the most heads. Make sure the bottom side is relieved. Use the lumber grading standards (NLGA) profiles for T & G boards.

Theres another solar kiln design that has 2 doors on the front that open up so that you can use a forklift to load the kiln. Otherwise, you need rails that extend outside and retract into the kiln to avoid hand loading.

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