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How much to mill a log?

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Forum topic by superstretch posted 1177 days ago 8752 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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superstretch

1482 posts in 1296 days


1177 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut milling

This weekend, I cut down a walnut tree that was pretty much dead. About 16’ up, carpenter ants had actually cut the top of the tree off. When I took it down, I was about to get about 10’ of clean, ant-free wood. The log is about 20” in diameter and straight as an arrow.. same diameter on the top and bottom.

My question is.. How much do you think it will cost to mill something like this? I’m in W.NY and have several mills within spitting distance. Assuming I drop it off and then have it kiln dried, what do you think the damage might be? I’m thinking 4/4 slabs and have a 12/4 slab through the middle (would love to make a king size platform bed out of it.

Thanks in advance!

-- Dan, Rochester, NY


23 replies so far

View McKinneyMike's profile

McKinneyMike

79 posts in 1264 days


#1 posted 1177 days ago

If you can get it to a portable bandsaw milling operation, I would imagine that they will charge anywhere from $0.35 to $0.50/BF to saw it up. Also expect to agree to a damaged blade fee if the sawyer should hit any metal objects embedded in the trunk. As far as getting the thicker stock from the log, the very center of the log is pith and unusable, so expect some loss of 2”-4” if the pith is well centered, maybe a little more if not. Sapwood content will likely be at least 2”-3” on the outside of the log too. If it is 20” on the smallest end it should yield approx. 175 BF according to the International Scale.

-- McKinney Hardwood Lumber --Specializing in exotic and figured hardwood lumber http://www.mckinneyhardwoods.com -McKinney, TX

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

690 posts in 1561 days


#2 posted 1177 days ago

Here on the west coast the typical is 50-75 cents a bf, same thing about blade damage liability. When I cut logs, I slice down from the outer edge to about 2-4” from the pith, then flip it and do the same, leaving a 4-8” slab; I then tip it up and either slice off boards or cut big pieces down to about 2” from the pith, flip it, and do that again. The remaining piece, which contains the pith, is great firewood. All things considered, you should expect to pay around $150, but there is a lot to be said about how your sawyer will charge for cutting it. 4/4 slabs take twice as many cuts as 8/4 slabs, meaning they will take more time, dull the blade more, use more energy to do, etc.. The best thing to do is go ask a mill, then go look around for one of us locals with a portable mill and see what they would charge. Any way you go, great job nabbing that tree!

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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superstretch

1482 posts in 1296 days


#3 posted 1177 days ago

Thanks for the info guys.. Just no late-night/early-morning visits to my yard. I have about 25+ more that are harvestable (some are 30” in diameter, one is 3 trunks twisted around each other) and each one is accounted for daily :P

My plan was to use that pith slab as bedposts—the outer pieces. Also, I love sapwood/heartwood contrast in walnut and plan on making the headboard/footboard with 4/4 slabs like a lot of stuff this guy does: http://wickerwoodworks.com/aboutus.aspx

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

690 posts in 1561 days


#4 posted 1175 days ago

Doggone it stretch, how are we supposed to come by and snag some of your wood if you keep such an eye on it? We are all certainly trustworthy….lol

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

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superstretch

1482 posts in 1296 days


#5 posted 1175 days ago

Aha my friend! You have just proven my point. Double checks airsoft ammo and BBs

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View McKinneyMike's profile

McKinneyMike

79 posts in 1264 days


#6 posted 1174 days ago

You might need something a little bigger to fend off serious log rustlers :)

-- McKinney Hardwood Lumber --Specializing in exotic and figured hardwood lumber http://www.mckinneyhardwoods.com -McKinney, TX

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superstretch

1482 posts in 1296 days


#7 posted 1174 days ago

I have plenty bigger.. believe me. Just didn’t think it apropos to mention it here ^_^

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Alex1803's profile

Alex1803

7 posts in 1366 days


#8 posted 1172 days ago

My brother recently paid $0.30/bd. ft. for a local portable sawyer to come to his home and mill his logs. That included us (myself, two of my brothers, and my father) helping stack, load, get the logs up to the saw, running them through the edger, etc. which helped on the cost.

View CovenantCreations's profile

CovenantCreations

127 posts in 1505 days


#9 posted 1171 days ago

My sawyer charges $.15/bf to saw up my logs. For that price I can’t afford to buy my own mill!

View Brian024's profile

Brian024

358 posts in 2003 days


#10 posted 1171 days ago

This thread came up at the right time. After the storms that went through a couple weeks ago, I’m in possesion of 8 to 10, 10’ long hickory logs that are between 18” and 22” in diameter.

View derosa's profile

derosa

1532 posts in 1438 days


#11 posted 1170 days ago

This has come up for me recently and I’ll be interested in your results. I’ve been offered 5 standing cherry trees each over 2 foot in diameter and each good for several 10ft-12ft logs. Been debating if it would be worth renting a larger u-haul to get the logs in a single weekend to the northern finger lakes region. Decision would be based on cost to mill and cost to dry. There is a place near Geneva that will do the milling for .25bf with a 1500bf minimum and they don’t list drying costs.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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superstretch

1482 posts in 1296 days


#12 posted 1170 days ago

A local mill recommended by my boss offered me 65c/ft +10c/ft for kiln drying. Since its a 25 mile trek, I’m struggling to justify that. There’s a mill about 5 miles from me and didn’t tell me costs, just drop it off. Since both my dad and I have late model F150s and he has a decent size car trailer and 29hp diesel tractor with bucket (and engine hoist if necessary), it wouldn’t be that difficult to drop it on the trailer and strap it down for a quick ride.

I’m planning on calling up the mill again this week and seeing when they’d be available and how much. I’ve been checking around on craigslist and through local contacts to see if anyone has a portable band saw mill and haven’t had much luck

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Scsmith42's profile

Scsmith42

125 posts in 1279 days


#13 posted 1169 days ago

There is much more to milling than meets the eye. Sawyers can be divided into two categories – those that saw for grade and those that saw for yield.

Grade sawyers take more time to study the log, and determine the best milling patterns in order to yield the highest quantity of high grade lumber (think FAS and Select).

Typically your lower priced millers saw for yield. You may get move overall lumber, but it won’t be as good (think #1 and #2 common).

A good grade sawer can study a log, and determine how to orientate it so that any defects are along the edge of the board where they can be easily edged off. They will determine the best positions for quartersawing (if oak or sycamore), they will study the orientation of the pith and determine if the log contains stress wood (leaning trees) and align it accordingly in order to minize wasteful movement. They will take advantage of opportunities to mill crotch or feathered wood. They will treat the ends of the logs with a high quality end sealer (not roofing tar or latex paint) so that you will yield the most lumber possible. They will take the time to keep the grain pattern somewhat centered in the boards, for the best appearance on cathedral grain. They will understand wood shrinkage, and the fact that you need to mill quartersawn boards about 1/16” thicker than flatsawn in order to yield the same thickness S2S lumber after drying and surfacing.

If you’re desiring furniture grade lumber from your logs, find a sawyer that understands how to produce it, and pay them accordingly. If you go to the fellow that mills a lot of inexpensive barn siding, chances are that’s all that many of your boards will be good for…

-- Scott, North Carolina, www.quartersawnoak.com

View CampD's profile

CampD

1195 posts in 2089 days


#14 posted 1169 days ago

Check out this site and see if any millers in your area, you’ll get better answers there.
http://www.forestryforum.com/

-- Doug...

View rwde's profile

rwde

41 posts in 2161 days


#15 posted 1167 days ago

I vote for hiring a guy with a portable bandsaw. I recently had a lot of large oak logs milled by 2 different guys with portable bandsaws (first one made it halfway through my log pile and then developed mechanical issues). I think the first guy w/the smaller mill charged $50-$75 per hour; the second guy charged $.50/bf. At the end of the day, they each cut 400-500 board feet, and the overall costs were about the same. And it’s amazing to watch. I would do it again. I am now up to my ears in oak planks and am thinking about a solar kiln to speed up drying time… Good luck.

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