Estimates of Board Foot Costs When Using a Portable Sawmill Contractor?

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Forum topic by gerrym526 posted 09-08-2011 07:10 PM 7671 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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275 posts in 4048 days

09-08-2011 07:10 PM

Have any of you called and used a portable sawmill company to cut up a tree on your property? I’ve got friendly neighbors who need to have a maple cut down and have offered to let me contract with a portable sawmill guy to create hardwood planks from the trunk.
Some questions-
1) What’s a typical charge for these services?
2) Does the trunk have to already be on the ground, or will these guys cut it down as well.
3) How do you/they determine if the wood is useable in the trunk?
4) Estimates, when all is done, of the coast per board foot?

My dream would be to get a bunch of 8/4 or 12/4 planks (in long lengths) to sticker and dry for a couple of years, for pennies.
Thanks for the help.

-- Gerry

5 replies so far

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 4005 days

#1 posted 09-08-2011 08:27 PM

Gerry, try this site. These guys are hardcore.

- JJ

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4062 days

#2 posted 09-08-2011 09:52 PM

Gerry, Here is a list of sawmills in Illinois that come from Daren Nelson’s database. You might find some of them of use in addressing your questions.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 3198 days

#3 posted 09-09-2011 11:34 PM

What a person charges is different between people as their requirements will be different; but most people here in NW Oregon will cut at your site for around 75cents bf. I’ve seen it higher and lower. Whether or not the wood is “good” depends on what your interpretation of good is; some people really want the spalted wood, others only want the fresh sap wood. Maple is generally the most valuable in the sap wood, as that is where you tend to find the most figure; I always slice them down on 2 sides evenly until I have about 8-10 left, then slice lumber on those sides until the log is done, tossing the center piece that has the pith. There is no way to determine what is what in the tree without slicing it, you may end up with hundreds of board feet or maybe just a few; cutting down the tree to see how solid it is in the center helps a lot. Whether or not someone can fell the tree is mostly up to the situation; if there is room anyone can do it (provided they know how…), but if it’s near a building then a pro should do it. Bets of luck, I’ve cut up tons of maple and every one is great.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2716 days

#4 posted 09-10-2011 03:57 AM

The going rate around here is about $.30 to $.35 per board foot, more like $.35 if the sawyer has to come to you. Some charge by the hour and some have a minimum charge to come to your site and set up their equipment. All in all, it is a very good value if you have the wood. Generally, the sawyers want the logs already felled, bucked to length, and staged for sawing.

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

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3543 days

#5 posted 09-12-2011 03:14 AM

They like money best—-don’t offer percentage unless they suggest it. 1. Band mill $30/hour. I catch, stack boards and handle slabs. I haul logs in and out. must take chips and bark slabs. $20/ blade for metal-only one 22cal bullet. Yield 100-300bf/day 2. American Saw – 52” circle—not portable—Charged $30/ hour for mill. $20/ for sawyer and key grip. I handled slabs and lumber. This setup yielded better lumber, far faster, seemed to get higher quality. Much higher efficency. Band mill had problems with blade reacting to knots and difficult to keep dogged—Tapered boards and wane means lots more handling for me. For my money, I’d haul to a circle mill making pallets, 4×4, etc. 12-pack’em and see if the crew will work a bit over. —Several thousand BF per hour completed thirteeen cord of ugly wood in less than two days—11hrs. Have done this several times before—Net cost is usually $.35 to $.85 BF. I find I can buy a better quality from other folks that have use a band mill and need to get rid of the lumber. The whole operation is a lot of fun, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. My experience is sawyer doesn’t handle the chainsaw – ever. Look up the three current methods for estimating board ft in logs. Inaccuracy in small size logs is poor 10-20pct. The sawyer has several rules of thumb which were very close to what my estimates were. One last thing, you need an outstanding butt log to make planks. Good luck, don’t let the slab hit ya in the a**.

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

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