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Reply by HalDougherty

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Posted on Buying rough cut lumber

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HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1956 days


#1 posted 07-21-2012 01:36 AM

Rough cut sawmill lumber is the deal of the century at least when you compare prices at the big lumber stores. It’s just about the only way to get lumber at a price normal people can afford to make a lot of projects. I spent big bucks buying my own sawmill because I needed specialized lumber and if I had to pay retail, my profit would disappear. When you buy green or airdried lumber it’s not going to be usable for a while so buy in advance. I’m in East Tennessee and here it takes 30 days this time of year to air dry 1” thick rough lumber to 20% moisture content. It must be stacked at least 18” off the ground, with 1” X 1 1/4” stickers every 24”. Also make sure the line of stickers lines up for each layer. Also the stack needs to be covered or shaded while allowing good air flow through the stack. After air drying, I move the lumber to the attic in my old 2 story farmhouse. It’s like a solar kiln, it gets very hot in the day and cools off at night. 30 days this time of year and the lumber is ready to check for moisture. The Virginia Tech website on building a solar kiln has a section showing how to calculate moisture content by weighing a sample, then drying it overnight at 170 degrees in a home oven. The calculations are on this webpage. It’s easy and simple.

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/420/420-030/420-030.html

After you dry your lumber, it will need to be planed and one edge jointed. So you may need more equipment. 300 bft of walnut at $5 a bft is $1500. (if you can find it that cheap) 300 bft of rough cut walnut at a small sawmill might be bought for $1/bft or at the most $2/bft. You may also get the chance to buy all your lumber from one log so the color and grain is the same throughout your project. That’s especially important with wild cherry. So, $1500-300 = $1200 you can spend on tools and still break even with the first 300 bft. That sounds like a lot but it’s only 60 boards if they are 6” wide and 10’ long. You can use up that much lumber pretty quick. The cheaper price for lumber will either let you make more projects or make more profit if you have a woodworking business.

I started buying lumber from small sawmills. Then I learned how to dry it, and how to surface it. Next I needed a more reliable supply of high grade walnut, maple and cherry lumber, so I saved the money I made woodworking and bought a Timberking 1220 sawmill. I only have a few acres of hardwoods that I’m willing to cut for my use so going to use my trees to make products I can sell so I can buy some mountain land with lots of hardwood timber.

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


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