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Home made bandsaw mill - is it profitable?

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Forum topic by Will Merrit posted 01-08-2016 07:36 AM 1286 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Will Merrit

52 posts in 356 days


01-08-2016 07:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: saw mill saw mill chainsaw chainsaw mill milling mizer

Greetings,
1. For those of you who do milling, what kind of $$ did you make when you stared out?
2. How should I figure out if there is a demand for hardwood lumber in my area? Who should I check with?
3. Do you have to have a license to sell hardwood?

I live in N. Louisiana and am considering building my own bandsaw mill. I got right bit by the woodworking bug about a year ago and the passion has outran my time I can allocate to it (having 5 kids and a busy life makes it hard). My passions has driven me to wanting to mill my own lumber, not so much for personal use because I frankly don’t have the time to work it but just for the heck of it. Here are my questions.

The last thing I want is to have the yard all stacked up with wood drying that I cannot get rid of. Any comments are appreciated.

Regards, Will


16 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2410 posts in 1977 days


#1 posted 01-08-2016 12:52 PM

I can tell you this:
I buy from a couple of these folks out in the Smokies. They don’t need a license to sell the wood, as long as they have either harvested it off their land, or bought the log and have proof of purchase. (Illegal to poach trees off Federal land or other’s land, obviously). They work mainly off cash only, so I don’t know how they do taxes, etc. I suspect most of the money is hidden.

The pricing they get to be honest, is great for me, sad for them. There have been two-three of these people who have come and gone around my area in the last year or so. When white oak gets down to $1.00 a bd. ft., somewhat air dried, and nobody comes calling, that is a problem for the log mill owners.

My last load, I brought home about 130 bd. ft. of nice cherry, cut 5/4, and another 70 bd. ft. of maple, a lot of it with flame in it. He also threw in four planks of walnut, cut 5/4, 14” wide, about 60” long. I paid the guy a total of $300 for the load, and he helped me load it.
The cherry was air dried for over a year and I could use it immediately. The maple was not far behind. I had to rick the walnut, but have used one plank and it worked well.

Where I live my city has a lot at the South end of the city, where the tree cutters can dump their logs. The city allows anyone to come in, cut up firewood, take cuttings for lathe work, etc. Usually the wood is mostly maple, oak, some odd stuff like poplar, gum and so on. Nobody throws a cherry tree, or a walnut tree on the pile.
It is not unusual to see a portable mill behind a pickup planking up some of the wood from time to time. But that is somewhat of an exception. There is not enough there to resell, after all the people go through it.

I had given the idea some thought a few years back, and then when I looked over the market, decided that the money was not good enough for the honking work required.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2324 posts in 1759 days


#2 posted 01-08-2016 01:25 PM

It’s not just the mill, but you would need sheds to store the wood, probably some kind of tractor or loader, a truck or trailer with winch to get logs, possibly an employee….if I had seven mouths to feed and had a decent job I wouldn’t abandon it. Wood is like any crop – sometimes the ‘farmer’ has a good year, sometimes not so much.

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

403 posts in 2420 days


#3 posted 01-08-2016 01:26 PM

I believe that it’s important to always keep in mind that lumber is a commodity and as such one will enjoy the highs as well as the perils that come with being in a business where you/your brand is largely irrelevant.

My brother’s father-in-law owned commercial mills. Note the past tense and plural of the prior sentence because he experienced cycles of boom and bust as he plied his trade in western Virginia and West Virginia. When times were good they were very, very good (corporate plane, Caribbean vacations) but when they were bad it was bread and water.

You will always be able to find someone who will buy your wares, so the question is back to you:are you willing to work for literally nothing when demand softens? Personally, I’d love to operate a mill and earn a living doing custom woodwork. But there are too many kids at home to feed to give up the sure thing of the run-of-the-mill day job.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Will Merrit's profile

Will Merrit

52 posts in 356 days


#4 posted 01-08-2016 01:38 PM

Thanks for these responses it really is nice to see there are people who care. I do have a good job and 7 mouths to feed so maybe I am letting my passion run a little hot here. I will back off on the plan to build for now, if I still want it in a few months I may go for it. Thanks again

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

394 posts in 682 days


#5 posted 01-08-2016 01:50 PM

welcome will. heres a couple forums that have dedicated milling sub forums
http://www.forestryforum.com

http://www.arboristsite.com/community/

its great to read your enthusiasm. ive wanted a mill for quite some time myself but just for more of a hobby. the initial investment to get logs to lumber can be quite high. logs are very heavy and a means of moving them is necessary, then the means to store for drying….simply put the cost of the supporting cast.
what ive read in quite a few forums is to make 50 grand a year with a mill is start with 100 grand, or something to that effect.
however, theres also chainsaw milling.

it .seems that those that look at it from a hobby standpoint enjoy it more.

ive done a little chainsaw milling. its exciting to open up a log. then when its dried, i mill it and build something with that lumber, theres a lot of satisfaction.

View ste6168's profile

ste6168

250 posts in 634 days


#6 posted 01-08-2016 02:43 PM

Maybe I am reading the OP wrong, but it sounds as if you want to mill and sell wood as a side business, no? I don’t see why that could be a bad idea, in any way. Other than taking some time away from family in the evenings/weekends after work, any additional income, on top of what you are currently making, is going to be beneficial. Sure, you may not want to quit the full-time, and take to exclusively milling wood, but as a side profit, to support your hobby of actually working wood, I don’t see how it could hurt. At some point in life (retirement) you will have the time to woodwork, and you will have plenty of wood to use to build when that time comes.

View Will Merrit's profile

Will Merrit

52 posts in 356 days


#7 posted 01-08-2016 02:43 PM

I did build a chainsaw mill and milled up some purdy cedar with it. My problem there was the 55cc saw I was using, it seems too underpowered for the job. I did not have a ripping chain on and wonder how much smoother or faster the process would be with that.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

394 posts in 682 days


#8 posted 01-08-2016 05:54 PM

will, i hope ya dont think i was trying to discourage you from getting into the business. just want you to be aware there is a pretty big chunk of change necessary to start from scratch and it takes time and lots of work to get a milling business into the profitable side. one thing i have noticed is those that got into the business started with a mill from the likes of woodmizer,hudson , and norwood. that provides a source for replacement part,technical support, and cuts out labor and any reconfiguring if necessary for constructing a mill.
then theres a learning curve. learning how the mill cuts different species, how to cut different species of logs to produce the most lumber how to dry different species, how to market, where to get logs…...theres a lot of learning.
woodmizer has some good reading here
http://woodmizer.com/us/Resources/Resource-Guides
the woods to wordshop one explains some on how to get the most from a log.

theres always a market for lumber.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2324 posts in 1759 days


#9 posted 01-08-2016 11:27 PM

There are a lot of people who build their own bandsaw type mill using car tires for the wheels. Just go to youtube and go down the rabbit hole. If you can weld and fabricate you can do it cheaply. Otherwise look for a used mill. You still may need a machine to maneuver logs around.

View splatman's profile

splatman

558 posts in 862 days


#10 posted 01-08-2016 11:48 PM

A chainsaw mill is probably a good start. Just get a sufficiently powerful chainsaw with the right chain, and the things to set it up for milling. Once you’ve earned enough cash, upgrade to a Woodmizer or other mill. If you lose your day job for any reason; you have got a backup source of income. Get your wife and kids to help you out. Make it a family thing. Even the youngest of kids can do something, especially simple things like sweeping up sawdust or picking up offcuts. Not next to running machinery, of course. An opportunity to teach about earning and saving $$.

View Gixxerjoe04's profile

Gixxerjoe04

835 posts in 1039 days


#11 posted 01-09-2016 02:32 AM

Not sure how much it’d cost you to get started building a mill and all that, but why not do it on the side and keep your job. Mill and all that in your free time and put ads on craigslist and see where it goes from there. As long as it’s affordable with your job, worst case you’ll be milling your own lumber to use, but I’d bet you’d be able to sell it pretty easy. The only negative I see about doing it, without a kiln, waiting for it to air dry to sell it will be a pain. Then if you’re going the air dried route, being able to store a bunch of lumber and keep on milling for when it’s ready to sell and have a constant flow of it. Funny my buddy texted me tonight seeing if I wanted to go in half on a woodmizer lt30 that’s for sale locally for a little under $9k with low hours. Looked like a pretty good deal but we plan on building a house this year and aint got money to blow or I probably would go in.

View Will Merrit's profile

Will Merrit

52 posts in 356 days


#12 posted 01-09-2016 02:40 AM

I have not even considered giving up my job to do this. I originally only wanted to do it as a hobby but figured if I could make a few bucks at it I would try. Sounds like between the drying and the build it might be unfair to the family for me to pour a ton of time into.

View 716's profile

716

502 posts in 379 days


#13 posted 01-09-2016 04:00 AM

I see some people sell lumber on ebay. Where I live the wood is expensive. For example s2s hard maple sells $6 bf . If you have access to good shipping company you can be successful and depend less on lical market.

-- It's nice!

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2324 posts in 1759 days


#14 posted 01-09-2016 03:15 PM

Buy this and take it to people’s site.

https://jackson.craigslist.org/fod/5367605911.html

View splatman's profile

splatman

558 posts in 862 days


#15 posted 01-09-2016 10:09 PM


Funny my buddy texted me tonight seeing if I wanted to go in half on a woodmizer lt30 that s for sale locally for a little under $9k with low hours. Looked like a pretty good deal but we plan on building a house this year and aint got money to blow or I probably would go in.

- Gixxerjoe04


With the Woodmizer, you could mill all the lumber you need for your house. Then sell the Woodmizer and any excess wood, and you wood be all set. :D

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