Milling and selling advise

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Forum topic by kevjett posted 07-14-2015 04:48 PM 912 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View kevjett's profile


2 posts in 540 days

07-14-2015 04:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood lumber tree mill milling slab live edge

I have 5 trees I’m going to get cut down in my yard next week and need some advise on milling them. I am a hobby woodworker and love the idea of drying some of the lumber myself and using it in the future. I would also like to see about selling some of it too to offset the cost of getting it milled. I found a company which will remove the trees and mill them into slabs on their bandsaw mill! It will cost me $75/hour for the mill.

Here are my trees.

What is worth milling?
How much can I sell most of it for?
What sizes should they be milled?
Sell them green or pay for kiln dry? (Don’t know cost of kiln drying)

1 huge red oak 28” diameter and really tall.
1 huge white ash 26” diameter and really tall.
1 small maple 12” diameter.
2 huge “tree of heaven” 27” and 31” diameter and super tall.

I would hate to see these beautiful tree get thrown into the chipper if they are worth saving.

10 replies so far

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 597 days

#1 posted 07-14-2015 05:11 PM

I have never heard of a “tree of heaven” but a lot of non-common wood (apple, peach, etc.) are just as beautiful as the well known woods woodworkers work with. So, I would consider all five trees as useful for lumber.

I attended a seminar and was told that for air drying wood it takes at least 1 year per inch of thickness and to estimate a 25% shrinkage during drying. So 8/4 wood can dry down to 6/4 thick plus there will be some twist, cup, etc. You can cut the wood to thickness, sticker it with wood to allow all four sides to have air flow and then cover it with a tarp. I would keep it a couple of feet above ground level to discourage the insects.

Wood-Mizer has an option on their web site to locate local sawyers. I would contact several local sawyers and see what they charge. They may offer kiln drying. You could also offer the wood you don’t want to local woodworkers. Check a local wood supplier for prices of wood in your area. Remember prices will be lower if the wood is not dried.

Whatever you do coat the ends with paint, wax, etc. to prevent checking.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Ripthorn's profile


1402 posts in 2406 days

#2 posted 07-14-2015 05:48 PM

When I buy from a private party like yourself, air dried common woods have usually run me between $1-2 bd/ft. There are so many factors to consider to answer your questions. Things like:

- Will any be quarter sawn, rift sawn, or all flat sawn?
- Any sawing for grade?
- Are they all sound?
- What types of projects to you make?

My recommendations would be mill all except the maple (that small it can be hard to get much usable lumber out of). Just have it flat sawn, plenty of 8/4 (especially if you have a bandsaw you can resaw on), plenty of 4/4, some 6/4. I would also just sell it air dried, but then maybe kiln dry some for myself, if I were you. Just my $.02

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View AlaskaGuy's profile


2396 posts in 1730 days

#3 posted 07-14-2015 08:17 PM

View bigblockyeti's profile


3573 posts in 1142 days

#4 posted 07-14-2015 08:47 PM

Rough wet lumber won’t be worth much, but it’ll be out of your hair and you’ll have cash in hand sooner than later. Drying the lumber takes up a lot of your space and time before you get paid. I buy rough, dry red oak for $1.75/bdft, Ash for $1.50/bdft (sometimes less) and Maple usually right around $2.00/bdft. Check around locally to see what’s being sold and for how much, that will help you determine if it’s a viable option. Ask the sawyer too to see how much lumber he can get out of what you have and what it’ll be worth. His opinion will have to be taken with a grain of salt as it’s not in his best interest to deter you from giving him business. Ask many, many questions before committing to having him do the work. $75/hr. doesn’t seem to bad, but that depends heavily on the equipment being used and the competency of the operator. If there’s one guy using a 16hp manual mill and has a half lame donkey to drag the logs onto the mill deck, that could result in some pretty pricey lumber by the time all is said and done. If a competent sawyer has a helper running a skid steer loading logs onto a fully hydraulic 130hp mill, that could be a good deal for you. Pictures might help too. Keep us posted and let us know how things turn out.

View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1897 days

#5 posted 07-15-2015 01:48 AM

Wood actually shrinks more like 8 – 12%, not 25%.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Aj2's profile


629 posts in 1219 days

#6 posted 07-15-2015 05:08 AM

Hope you are not expecting too much from your trees,

View rwe2156's profile


2117 posts in 902 days

#7 posted 07-15-2015 12:38 PM

I would check your area for prices on rough lumber, but the $1-2/bf is a good number.
I’ve never heard of milling by the hour, but I guess thats OK.

If it were me, I would quarter saw the oak. It is an ordinary type wood but will double the value if 1/4 sawn.
Also I would have some of the lumber cut 5/4 and some of it 8/4.
Alot of ww’ers, myself included, like 5/4 lumber.

You may even want to consider cutting slabs like 12/4 or 16/4 for some like the maple.

I would not spend the $$ and hassle of transporting to kiln dry. I see no advantage in that, plus air dried lumber is better and more stable.

One big job you’re going to have is setting up your drying rack.

It is very, very important to have a level, planar set of supports.
I lay down concrete blocks and use 4×4 posts and shim to a string line.
Have the sawyer cut stickers for you. You will need ALOT, so don’t forget this.
If you don’t have a shed to store it under, you will need to cover it.
DO NOT use a tarp, just cover the top with some roofing metal and put some cement blocks on top.

Allow 2 years of drying time, more for planks.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View FellingStudio's profile


93 posts in 1103 days

#8 posted 07-15-2015 10:40 PM

$1-2/BF is probably the minimum that you can get for it. At that price, I would consider keeping the bulk of it for myself. Again, check out the prices in your area.

You may want to get some of the bigger oak and ash cuts flitch sawn (just slabbed out, not quartered) for table top purposes if so, these cuts should be 8/4 or 10/4. Quarter saw the rest of the oak and ash.

You won’t get a lot of lumber from the maple, but it is probably worth milling. Just flitch cut it for simplicity.

Personally, I would air dry the whole lot of the lumber instead of paying to kiln dry it.

Sounds like the tree of heaven is worthless.

Edit to add: Talk to your sawyer. If he is competent, he will have ideas for how to saw up those trees.

-- Jesse Felling -

View kevjett's profile


2 posts in 540 days

#9 posted 07-16-2015 01:01 PM

Thanks For all your info. I understand there are many variables and the more time/money I spend on it, the more I can charge. The question is how can I get to break even. I live in Nashville so I should have a pretty big audience.

I’m thinking about just putting an AD on Craigslist about the 2 tree of heaven and see if anyone wants to buy the full trees and pay themselves to mill up. I don’t think they would be worth me milling. The research I’ve done on those are they aren’t very good for woodworking. My sawyer said those can have nice pattern and used for table tops. Not sure I want to deal with that.

As for the maple, not going to cut it up cause it’s too small.

My main focus will be on the oak and ash. I’ll probably put an AD out for that too for green wood just to see if I get some hits. Those two are very straight and I think there will be some good lumber out of those.

I’m going to talk with my sawyer to see how much work he thinks it will take for those two trees. That way I know what the cost is to me for milling. If some people reach out on Craigslist before I mill then I can custom cut some green wood for them. I’m thinking a bunch of 4/4, some 6/4 and a few 8/4.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3573 posts in 1142 days

#10 posted 07-16-2015 04:00 PM

As far as breaking even, that will depend a lot on the cost of getting the trees on the ground. Close to power lines or structure and the removal price is usually pretty high. In the middle of a field and the cost to just drop them and walk away can be next to nothing.

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