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Portable Sawmills are Too Much Fun: Way too Much Lumber. Help!!!

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Forum topic by Nicholas Hall posted 12-03-2012 05:46 AM 4809 views 1 time favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 824 days


12-03-2012 05:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sawyer portable sawmill woodmizer maine dan charles

My father and I have been jawing about cutting down some trees on his land in Weld, Maine, and having a portable sawmill operator come to mill it for us. Well, we finally did it at the end of September. We milled up a whole pile of hard maple, ash, and white birch. The sawmill owner/operator that we worked with was a character named Dan Charles. If there is anyone in Southern or Central Maine considering hiring a sawyer to cut lumber I highly recommend Dan. He’s been a sawyer working exclusively on furniture grade lumber for about 30 years. Dan is the real deal.

Here is a picture of the stack of logs my dad and I dragged out of the woods

Here is a picture of Dan Charles getting ready to cut the first log:

The next three pics are the same ash log. This pic is the log just after it went on the mill

Here is a picture of it after a couple of passes

Here is the finished product. It’s hard to see the scale on these things, but the big boards are 2.125” thick and 13” inches wide of gorgeous ash.

Here is a picture of me and Dan. Dan is obviously doing most of the work :)

We had so much lumber, we couldn’t fit it all on one trailer. Here is a shot of a pretty heavily loaded trailer. The second trailer is not pictured.

Here is a picture of all of our lumber after we dropped it off at the kiln.

Here is a picture of the actual bill that Dan gave us for the 2 days of sawing. The left column written in pen is the lumber thickness, the second column is the boardfeet for that size. The total bdft at the bottom is 1883.

The actual total is actually 250 bdft larger, because we had Dan quartersaw a ton of sugar maple for us, and he charges by the hour for that, not by the bdft. So the actual total lumber was about 2100 bdft! Usually, when I spend $500 at a hardwood lumberyard I come home with 100 bdft not 2100! The kiln charged us another $500 to dry it all. And then we had to rent a Uhaul truck for $250 to bring it all home. But that still leaves us at $1300 for $2100 bdft of lumber!

Now granted, not every board is perfect, but it’s a pretty amazing bunch of lumber. I took most of the bad stuff for my new workbench. For some reason, some of the 8/4 ash had bad end checking. I took 180 bdft of the worst ash and I’ll be making a benchcrafted split top Roubo. I just started milling the boards today. The boards are actually perfect for a bench, because they’re mostly 11’ long and I only need 8’ long for the bench, so the checking at the end isn’t a problem. Now how many guys get to say that they cut down the tree, milled the lumber, and built the bench? I’m one lucky, happy son of gun. In short, if you’ve been thinking about cutting your own lumber, just do it. Its a ton of fun, and you’ll be truly blown away by the lumber yield.

My biggest problem right now is that I still have 1900 bdft of lumber to use up and it’s taking up the whole upstairs of my father’s garage. If there are any lumberjocks in either Southern Maine or near Albany, NY who are planning on a bench build let me know. I’d like to sell enough lumber to break even on what we spent. I’m pretty flexible on price, because I just did this for fun, I’m not in the lumber business. The lumber is Southern Maine, and I live Albany NY, but I go back to Maine about once a month, and its a piece of cake to bring back a few hundred boardft. My priority is getting rid of as much as possible. If you’re planning a bench build and you live near Southern Maine or Albany NY let me know. I’ve got way too much white birch, ash and hard maple. It’s all kiln dried 8/4 in 8”-14” widths and 10’-11’ long. Make me a reasonable offer and I’ll be thrilled to sell you enough for your dream bench. A windfall like this should go to a good home. If you know a lumberjock in the area pining for a proper bench, you should drop them a line to let them know.

(edit: The last guy that emailed me offered me $3.50/bdft for 8/4 maple. I was barely able to negotiate him down to $2.75/bdft. Seriously folks, I need the room more than I need the money. I’d take $2.50 for the 8/4 maple and ash or white birch. Drop me an email and get yourself a bench for Christmas! I’d be thrilled to think our 3day weekend worth of work resulted in a dozen workbenches.)

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx


38 replies so far

View exelectrician's profile

exelectrician

1701 posts in 1144 days


#1 posted 12-03-2012 07:50 AM

Yes – You are one lucky, happy, son-of-a-gun! I would jump at the offer but I am way over in the great North West.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

15059 posts in 1055 days


#2 posted 12-03-2012 08:04 AM

Great score. I love sawing my own logs. However, I don’t believe you can ever have too much lumber.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1184 posts in 1193 days


#3 posted 12-03-2012 12:34 PM

The only thing better than that is having your own sawmill.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1954 days


#4 posted 12-03-2012 12:37 PM

Don’t stand too close to the sawdust, it’s going to infect you with the sawmill bug. The 2nd symptom of infection is making money with your lumber. If you turn very much of your new lumber into cash, you’ll know you are hooked when you start looking up sawmill manufacturers websites. Here’s one to get you started. If you’d bought this mill, and processed your own lumber, then used some of it to build your kiln, you’d be well started toward paying off the sawmill.

http://www.timberking.com/1220

I can’t wait to see what you build with your ash lumber. Take a sample and sand it to 220 grit, then polish it with tung oil and extra fine steel wool or wet sand it with tung oil and wet or dry sandpaper to 800 grit and you’ll see a luster and depth of finish that makes ash have the pretty grain pattern of oak, with the surface luster of maple. The combination is beautiful.

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

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 824 days


#5 posted 12-03-2012 03:14 PM

“Don’t stand too close to the sawdust, it’s going to infect you with the sawmill bug.”

@ Haldougherty: Now you tell me! I’m afraid I must have stood way too closes to the sawdust. We’ve already been out walking the woodlot to pick the trees for next summer. We have 80 acres of land just teeming with 24” in diameter ash, yellow birch, and hard maple. I’m not sure that I’m up for buying a sawmill since I’ve got a guy like Dan Charles who’ll cut for such a reasonable price. It’d take me 30 years to learn what he knows and 30,000 bdft to breakeven on the lumber. For now I’ll keep working with Dan and learning as much as I can from him. The guy is a walking encylopedia of wood and sawyering!

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View TreeBones's profile

TreeBones

1823 posts in 2740 days


#6 posted 12-03-2012 03:36 PM

There’s nothing as satisfying as making projects from your own trees/lumber. Great storytelling.

For thoese wanting to find a sawmill near you check here.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service http://westcoastlands.net/Sawmill.html http://westcoastlands.net/SawBucks2/phpBB3 http://www.portablesawmill.info

View Post_Oakie's profile

Post_Oakie

84 posts in 871 days


#7 posted 12-03-2012 06:14 PM

Good post. I love it when a customer sees a stack of lumber made from his own logs. You can just see the wheels turning, thinking about the projects that will come from it. TreeBones, thanks for mentioning Portable Sawmill Finder. I just posted my mill on it so people in southwest MO & northeast OK will know I’m open for business with my Norwood band mill!

-- Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6960 posts in 1631 days


#8 posted 12-03-2012 06:48 PM

Wow, if only I were younger and more motivated! Great score!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 824 days


#9 posted 12-03-2012 10:12 PM

@Treebones: Thanks for posting that portable sawmill finder. I bet there are plenty of folks that who might be surprised that there is a portable sawmill operator right in their town or within 20 minutes of it.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112486 posts in 2294 days


#10 posted 12-03-2012 10:23 PM

Great story and photos. It looks like a beautiful area and you sure have a lot of super material that should last for years to come.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Don W's profile

Don W

15395 posts in 1285 days


#11 posted 12-03-2012 10:36 PM

Hey Nicholas, I live just outside of Albany, almost to the vermont border. I’ve got about the same problem though,

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/43445
http://timetestedtools.wordpress.com/my-saw-mill/

I got the white oak stacked

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Post_Oakie's profile

Post_Oakie

84 posts in 871 days


#12 posted 12-03-2012 10:43 PM

Don, any way you can get a cover over that pile? The sun and rain will degrade it pretty badly. Maybe a lean-to off the side of that building?

-- Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15395 posts in 1285 days


#13 posted 12-03-2012 10:53 PM

oh yea, it’ll be covered, I just finished the stack today. it’ll be covered tomorrow. Thanks.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

348 posts in 824 days


#14 posted 12-04-2012 02:57 AM

@ Don W:

That’s a nice looking stack of oak! It makes me feel better to know there are other crazy guys like me cutting up their own lumber. My wife looked at me like I had 2 heads when I told her what I was planning on doing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent most of my woodworking career starving for nice hardwood. It feels pretty darn good to have a multi-year lumber stash!

-Nick

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1753 posts in 1281 days


#15 posted 12-04-2012 04:12 AM

wow what a story…wish you lived a bit closer to me

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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