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Author Topic: log lenghts cut before milling  (Read 2986 times)

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Offline Lumbergent

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log lenghts cut before milling
« on: March 14, 2018, 01:20:43 PM »
Hi guys,
I'm brand new to this site and am anxious to getting quality feedback from several questions I have.
I'm logging mature red pine for two reasons, one for timberframe for a new house and the other to give much needed sunlight to the maple trees grwing beneath. Since I will be hauling these logs to another town I was thinking of milling only once on the building site. Also since most portable sawmills in my region cut up to 20' i am cutting all my logs at this lenght. For sure there will be waste down the road but I was hoping to spare a lot of man hours due to handling and sorting. Is this wise or should I cut different lenghts as to my immediate needs and sort out the logs just before milling?
PS: quantity of logs is not a problem and waste can be recuped as firewood.
Futur Hobbit

Offline Tom the Sawyer

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2018, 01:35:05 PM »
Most mills want their logs with an allowance for trim.  Around here, 3-6" for 8,10, & 12' logs.  6-8" on 16 & 20' logs.  If you are cutting right at 20', they'll likely be scaled at a couple of feet less.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2018, 02:03:17 PM »
Lumbergent,

  Welcome to the FF. Please update your profile with location and such so we know more about you.

  Tom is right on the 6-8 inches of trim most sawyers require. Portable millers may be a little more forgiving on that than big commercial/stationary mills but better to be safe. I suggest you contact the local millers in your area and see what they need/want and can use. Some may not be able to saw, haul, or store 20' stuff. Very rarely do most of us cut lumber that long unless it is a special project. Also you may find some actually prefer log lengths so they can buck them to the desired length for maximum flexibility if they have the equipment to handle them. I do that with the trees I cut here at home.  With a 33 ft log I can get 3-10s, 2-16s or 2-12s and an 8, etc. 

   I am not familiar with red pine and any storage issues as to it staining, rotting or insect damage so I can't answer how long you can keep the logs before sawing. Around here we have white pine and we only have a couple months in warm weather before the borers attack.

Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline starmac

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2018, 02:15:45 PM »
Even for my own use, I want some trim and the longer the log, the more trim I want.
If I understand this, you are going to mill on site, so I would not cut all of them at 20 feet or even 20 feet with trim, I would let the log tell me where it needs to be cut, and cut in lengths that I plan to cut lumber.

Lets say you cut a twenty foot log, and need 16 foot lumber, beam, whatever, you then lose 4 foot right off the bat if you cut it off before you mill it. If you mill it full length, you then lose however much taper that last 4 foot accounted for, the full length of the log, plus the added time and expense of sawing the waste.  I don't know if I wrote that in a way where it makes sense or not.
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Offline TKehl

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2018, 02:22:20 PM »
You will end up with more waste leaving them at 20' unless you need a lot of beams close to that length or say mostly 8 & 10' beams.  However, if you plan calls for a lot of 11-12' beams...

It's more labor handling the long ones, setting them up on the mill, lining up the pith, and handling 20' side lumber.  Many mill charge extra for long logs.  So labor savings in sorting will probably be lost and then some.  

An alternative though, would be to haul them all long, then buck to length just before milling.

Best bet would be to go through your cut sheet for the timber frame and cut the logs a little over (maybe 4-6" longer) than the beam needs to be.  Number them to correlate to your cut sheet, and have some extra logs that can be long just in case a giant defect is found or a beam gets screwed up in milling.

Sure you can use the extra length as firewood, but it's silly to pay to make it lumber or beams, then firewood.  May as well skip that in between step and keep the money in your pocket.   ;)  My $0.02
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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2018, 02:29:38 PM »
OP stated he would be hauling the logs to another town to the building site. He didn't say how he would get them there or what equipment he had to handle them with. I agree that tree length would be best if he has that option.
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Offline starmac

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2018, 02:52:01 PM »
Yep, I miss read it somehow, even though it is plainly written in black and white.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2018, 03:30:57 PM »
First off welcome to the Forum, 

I would leave them tree length if possible and work with the sawyer and your cut list to get the best yield for your project.  Not knowing your level of experience I am not saying the following to be condescending in any way, just pointing out something I have learned the hard way along my journey.

The reality is that most land owners believe they have beautiful timber standing on their wood lot, then a logger comes along and points out all the defects, issues, etc that take that miracle lot of veneer grade timber down to something more realistic.  The logger knows he had bucked the best, most straight logs which will make perfect lumber and delivers them to the mill, at which time the log grader finds a whole bunch more defects, cat faces, sweep, etc and grades the logs accordingly.  Lastly the sawyer is asked to take what he is given and produce perfect lumber from it - well when the log hits the deck of the mill the "rest of the story" begins to be told.  Sweep nobody saw magically appears, those DanG piths are not aligned and the stress in the log begins to suddenly appear, hourglass shows up and that beautiful 10" x 10" cant has a big 'ole spot of wane in the middle, etc.

What I am getting at is you standing there in a wood lot will not be able to detect nearly as many pitfalls as the guy actually producing your lumber who has the advantage of straight steel, reference tools, and experience and by cutting everything to 20' you potentially short yourself a long way to having the finished product you want.  

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Offline Remle

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2018, 04:09:07 PM »
 Lumbergent
Some things to think about.
If you have a plan for your timber frame, IMHO it would be wise to look at the size ( length/width/depth ) and quantity of each timber you will be needing. Most frames use 10' or 12' timbers. You can't get 2, 10' lengths/ with trim from a 20' log. Where as if you cut a 13' log for the 12' and another 11' log for the 10' from the same tree you make better use of the material from one tree. You may need some 24' logs for rafters and such. Their are ways to cut these on mills with shorter tracks.

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 06:55:10 PM »
For a traditional stick built house, the builder will develop a bill of materials for framing.  X number of 2x4x8 for wall framing, Y number of 2x10 for floor joists, Z number of 2x6 for rafters etc.

It should be no different for a timber frame.  That bill of materials should dictate your cut list.  The cut list will dictate the log length.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 07:15:28 PM »
End use should determine how you cut the logs. 

For example I cut a tree into board and batten to make a new wall for my workshop. It needed to be about 7ft tall (fitting under a low beam). So I bucked the tree into 7'6" logs and got sawing. Squared up each board and trimmed to exact length during the install, and had minimal waste. Now if I'd done 20' logs, I would have ended up with 2 pieces from each board, and a useless 6ft leftover. 

Yes I could have sawn ~15ft, but the shorter logs made for easier handling due to the log size. (Tractor couldn't pick up the butt log even at 7'6" long)

Choosing the end product before you buck also lets you work around some of the log problems. A 20ft log may have too much sweep to saw out a good beam, but you can make 2 decent 10 ft ones. Same with taper, and defects like large knots etc. You buck to avoid the obvious faults. 

Realistically the sawer is going to be happy to work with whatever length you have, as long as it's not stupid short, or over length. If some logs are 8ft, some 12 and some 16, that's just what the job is. Look at the cut list and start sawing. 
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2018, 08:15:37 PM »
I have the opposite problem.  I was given a bunch of logs that were already bucked into random lengths.  Anywhere from 9'11" up to a couple in the 24' class.  Most are 10 to 12'.  I produced a cut list ordered by girth, if you will.  The big timbers first all the way down to the 1x4 strapping.  Within each girth, I ordered from longest to shortest.  I pick a log and put it on the mill.  Then I match it to what is left to cut, starting with the biggest that could come out of a log.  So far, so good.
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Offline Lumbergent

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2018, 08:31:01 PM »
Man you guys are fast!! I just had time for dinner and I get all this advice to digest along with my meatballs.
Ok heres additional info
I'm located in Quebec so knee deep in snow right now but with my Chinese 50hp Tractor set in place and a Farmi winch in the back I can haul the logs up the slope ready to drag to the road when the snow melts.
Red Pine is similar to white pine only if they are left out too long it will darken really fast.
I have a cutting list for the post and beams as well as the 2 inch thick flooring. Only the space out in the woods is limited since I dont want to damage anything out there and encourage futur growth. I can have a 53' logging truck clamp the logs onto the flat bed without any problems since there is a good sized road right next to the lot.
I intend to ship the logs on my building lot in May and have it milled a couple of weeks later. Once stacked they can sit there for a long time to cure.
This might be naive of me but I was thinking once the mill is in place I could set the tractor behind the mill and pull the longs from the pile towards  the mill onto the forks with my winch. Im not sure this would work since I have no idea how much clearance there is beneath the mill for my cable.
I did cut the logs so far at 21' for a 20' beam. Each red pine tree is over 80' tall. I can cut 2 21' logs clear of branches before the trunk gets narrow and full of knots. This I cut into firewood for the coming winters.
I also would like to know what the rule of thumb is as far as % when someone asks you to cut the lumber on thier lot and they want to pay you with lumber. Someone told me it was 75% for the wood cutter and 25% for the owner. Is this true? keep in mind that the owner is very particular as to how you leave the lot in good condition and all exces wood to be cut and stacked for firewood.
Futur Hobbit

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2018, 09:24:00 PM »
LG,

   I don't think there is a set % for trading logs for lumber. We often think of a 50/50 split but it really depends on the kind of logs, market prices, degree of difficulty involved, need for the lumber/logs, etc. 

  One of the best suggestions I saw in past thread was to determine your value/price for sawing then the value of the logs if you were buying them then do enough sawing at your jointly agreed upon rate to pay for the jointly agreed upon value of the logs you received and whomever ends up with the bigger value pays the other the difference in cash. Pretty hard to beat that system IMHO.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Lumbergent

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2018, 10:41:05 PM »
Thanks
I believe starting with that 50/50 split, add demands from the owner plus cutting in a slope. Having to clear a road on the lot, a 75 / 25 split is fair.
Futur Hobbit

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2018, 11:24:30 PM »
Fair is whatever the two parties agree on.
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Offline starmac

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2018, 11:30:46 PM »
Are you talking about cutting logs on a percentage or cutting a picky land owners trees on a percentage, huge difference there.
Cutting their staged logs may be doable on a 50/50 basis, but would not get my interest up too high, unless I desperately needed something to cut, then they would have to be cut, trimmed and staged right. If you are talking cutting, trimming, skidding, bucking, decking then sawing, well I would not be interested in a 75/25 split unless were talking the 75% going to the saw, then maybe, depending on circumstances.
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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2018, 11:41:00 PM »
I think LG may be talking about timber on shares rather than lumber but I quite easily could be wrong. If the discussion is harvesting timber and processing to lumber on shares, I would be hard put to get involved. Too many variables.
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Offline Lumbergent

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2018, 08:31:25 AM »
Yes what I was talking about was harvesting the logs on shares. We would split the stacked logs at an agreed percentage per size of logs. The owner would manage the milling at that point.
The owner also prefers to burning the branches out in the forest to letting them rot. What is tbetter for futur growth?
Futur Hobbit

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Re: log lenghts cut before milling
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2018, 08:38:18 AM »
While I am not a logger, I would think you need to research log price on the stump for the area versus on the landing and set shares from that. 
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