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Author Topic: Sawing for profit  (Read 2344 times)

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Offline welderskelter

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Sawing for profit
« on: December 05, 2018, 07:28:37 PM »
My boss wants some white oak logs sawed up into 2 and a half in. planks. What would be a reasonable amount to charge him. He is bringing out the logs. I just got my mill running. I have been building it for about 6 years now. So far I have only dulled 2 blades so havent sawed much. ???  Just need to know what you guys would charge. Thanks Harold

Offline Outlaw

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2018, 07:38:54 PM »
That depends if he is a good boss ;D

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2018, 07:40:40 PM »
Logs brought to me I charge $0.35 / BF International for normal sawing.  All QS or other specialty is more.   
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2018, 08:02:29 PM »
   I would not saw them for him (or anyone) until I was confident in my equipment and skill level. If you are uncertain tell him that and you might suggest you would saw them for the training experience.

    My rate in this part of the country, which might be less than yours, would be $.30/bf for finished product or $60/hr for specialty sawing.

    Good luck.
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Offline welderskelter

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2018, 08:18:08 PM »
Thanks. I am confident in my sawing as I have built and ran a circle saw years ago. And I do have 13 blades on hand. I think I done a pretty good job on the bandmill as it is working pretty good. Another thing is he is just putting them on a dozer trailer. Dont have to be too perfect. Harold

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2018, 08:23:32 PM »
If you are confident in your sawing, then you will find that $0.30 to $0.40 per board foot is typical.  If you have to hire an off bearer then that would be in addition. My rate is $0.36 per board foot or $72 per hour for straight sawing.  I'm to the point now that I can make more on a per board foot rate if the off bearer(s) can keep up.
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Offline Tom the Sawyer

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2018, 08:29:31 PM »
At my mill, 10/4 is .35 p/bf.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2018, 08:18:43 AM »
Thanks. I am confident in my sawing as I have built and ran a circle saw years ago. And I do have 13 blades on hand. I think I done a pretty good job on the bandmill as it is working pretty good. Another thing is he is just putting them on a dozer trailer. Dont have to be too perfect. Harold
   Thx for the clarification. I was not trying to offend or insult your sawing ability. I just read your initial post as if you were just starting out. Good luck.

Howard Green
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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2018, 08:51:50 AM »
With my old age and inefficiency, sawing for profit is an oxymoron.
I only charge .25 per bd ft if the customer is the tail man and $50/hr when sawing hourly
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Offline JamieK

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2018, 10:56:51 AM »
I have a Wood-Mizer LT28 manual mill. Since it is manual I don't charge an hourly rate. I have a minimum charge of $45 for small logs and charge $.37 per BDTF no matter what size boards I'm milling. I've calculated an average day and I have been milling at a $65 per hour pace. And also use the Doyle scale to calculate the BDFT in the log
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2018, 11:10:29 AM »
We are gonna need to see some pics of the home made circle mill.  

;)
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2018, 11:35:17 AM »
I have a Wood-Mizer LT28 manual mill. Since it is manual I don't charge an hourly rate. I have a minimum charge of $45 for small logs and charge $.37 per BDTF no matter what size boards I'm milling. I've calculated an average day and I have been milling at a $65 per hour pace. And also use the Doyle scale to calculate the BDFT in the log
J,

   Have you ever compared the actual finished lumber bf tally to your initial log scale tally? I'd be interested in how that compared.

   I know sawyers who bill by the bf estimates by scaling the logs and I gather that is advantageous to them as they get paid for poor quality logs that don't yield much as well as good quality logs. I have always billed on the actual finished lumber tally which I feel is more fair to the customer. There is likely a happy medium in there somewhere.

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 Skipper11A

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2018, 11:51:25 AM »
Your band saw blades are a lot more flexible than a circle saw blade,  and white oak can be very difficult to cut with them.  This is where I would use  4į blades and be ready to put on a fresh blade as soon as you feel the old one begin to lose its sharpness.  You may also want to use a diesel lube to clean the pitch buildup off the blades. 

You will probably end up with some wavy cuts, just make sure that your boss knows this in advance so that he isn't expecting every board to be perfect. 

Offline Southside logger

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2018, 03:13:50 PM »
 I know sawyers who bill by the bf estimates by scaling the logs and I gather that is advantageous to them as they get paid for poor quality logs that don't yield much as well as good quality logs. I have always billed on the actual finished lumber tally which I feel is more fair to the customer. There is likely a happy medium in there somewhere.
 

WV - I make an honest effort to account for sweep, rot, defects when scaling logs I custom saw.  Basically use the same standard I would be held to as if I were selling those logs to a mill, so not just what the stick reads.  I think that makes for a fair medium.  
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Offline OffGrid973

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2018, 04:41:16 PM »
Two logs you may want to barter for some BBQ and a bar tab on a ďgoodĒ night out.

You will come across some hurdles (possible metal if no detector) so mention they will be ďaroundĒ 2.5 inches and that you like your steaks rare and plentiful.
Your Fellow Woodworker,
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2018, 06:24:00 PM »
Mike,

  I have repeatedly said in various threads "All forms of charging are fair as long as both parties agree and understand up front." I stick by that. I still think the most creative was where the sawyer listed the limitations of his mill and the logs he could accept. He charged a set fee for every log. The sawyer knew exactly how much he was going to make, the customer knew exactly how much he was going to pay.

  I just assume most of my work will average out - the crappy logs with low yield where I waste more time than I prefer and the good straight logs where the lumber just flies off the mill. If I see up front the logs are short, small diameter or otherwise low yield I just advise the customer up front I will be sawing by the hour and show him why. We agree before the blade hits the first log.

  I was/am just wondering how the comparison worked out using the Doyle scale vs actual finished lumber yield.
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline WDH

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2018, 09:47:39 PM »
I have measured Doyle versus actual yield on maybe a hundred logs.  On average size logs, say 12" to 18" on small end, I average about 25% more actual yield than Doyle.  On small logs, that is more like 35% more.  On large logs, the actual is closer to Doyle and mostly a bit more, maybe about 10% more.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2018, 10:00:58 PM »
Every now and then I will compare scale to actual on International and generally the larger the logs the more I beat the scale it seems.  
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2018, 10:25:35 PM »
I usually equal or beat the International Scale.  The logs have to be really poor not to equal the scale.  The bandsaw makes some difference as does evaluating each log as it is cut versus production sawing where output weighs heavily.  Southside is right, the larger logs beat the scale proportionally higher as long as they are relatively free of defects.  
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2018, 10:46:58 PM »
For the customer, I think it's really got to boil down to cost/BF.  This presents a problem for Sawyers sometimes because milling smaller logs is less efficient/productive than larger logs.  This assumes we are talking about fairly clean straight logs and not branch knots and crotches sticking out all over the place.  Those would be specialty and require an extra charge.

On the other hand, what matters to the sawyer, I think, would be his time.  If he got a straight cost per hour, well that's a little less pressure as it doesn't really matter what kind of logs he's sawing (sort of- absent the customers expectations).  But he does have to hustle to produce to try to meet the customers output expectations.  

Last year I employed the help of another Sawyer to cut 2x8 (10/4 x8 to be exact).  He charged $100/hr.  I was hoping his productivity with his LT50 hydraulic and off bearer, would keep production to a level that was reasonable.  What's reasonable?  Well it ended up coming out to .83/BF.  Not sure how to take that as it seems everyone on here is cheaper.  

In the end, remember that you can always lower what you charge at the end, but you cannot increase it!
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2018, 11:24:13 PM »
Brad - Basically he was sawing 125 BF / HR on a 50?  Is that correct?  Was there anything unusual that would cause production to be so low?  
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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2018, 12:13:39 AM »
No.  Log diameters 14-28".  Honestly, I found it a bit hard to swallow.  I didn't know what his production would be before hand.  How is one supposed to know?  I think a BF basis should be established.  But he was adamant that his rate was his rate.  So I don't think he would have agree to a BF rate.  Consequently, I'm reticent to send any more work that way if I have time to do it myself.  Last year I was trying to get the sawing done quickly so I could get it drying quickly.  That was not a factor in the pricing though.  
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2018, 08:52:26 AM »
Brad,

   That sounds a little high to me too. You could almost buy the finished lumber for that around here. I'd have told him the cost was more than I had expected, I'd have paid for the work and if I had more work I'd suggest a bf rate. If he accepted fine, if not I'd find another sawyer. No ill will involved just simple economics. He knows the kind of logs you are going to be bringing and what his production should be. 
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 moodnacreek

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2018, 06:29:18 PM »
Custom sawing by the board foot is an old tradition from the days of traditional saw logs. Problem is today you might get either shrubbery or giants to saw not to mention all the limbs and gravel jammed up in the cracks of logs cut 2 years ago or more.  I never quote until I see the wood and whip out the metal detector and then another person doesn't like me. 









 P

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2018, 06:51:18 PM »
    Good point. This is why I leave myself and out and tell my customers short, dirty, small logs and custom sawing will be by the hour. As long as both parties know which rate will be applied and agree in advance everything is cool.

   In the customer's defense, they, like most of us, are on a budget and need to know in advance a reasonable estimate of what their lumber is going to cost to produce. We know some logs produce more at a cheaper rate for us to saw - they don't know that. This is one reason repeat customers are so much easier to deal with - they now have confidence in the process.

  This is also one of the reasons I am so intrigued by the Per Log rate I mentioned earlier. The customer may not know in advance exactly how much lumber he will get but he sure knows what he is fixing to spend and doesn't get stuck with sticker shock like Brad describes. I guess I could work up a Per Log rate and offer that to nervous new customers. One of these days I may put a pen to paper and calculate such a rate.
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 DPatton

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2018, 08:03:07 AM »
Brad,

   That sounds a little high to me too. You could almost buy the finished lumber for that around here. I'd have told him the cost was more than I had expected, I'd have paid for the work and if I had more work I'd suggest a bf rate. If he accepted fine, if not I'd find another sawyer. No ill will involved just simple economics. He knows the kind of logs you are going to be bringing and what his production should be.
I agree with WV. I also believe being up front and professional with the sawyer when you feel you are being overcharged. The old adage of ďif you like my service please tell your friends, if thereís something you donít like about my service please tell meĒ goes a long way here. 
Brads right that his per bf price seems high for someone operating that mill. One question I have is was the tailgunner in Brads situation included in that $100.00 per/hr price or was it added on top of the $100.00. That could make a substantial difference in the bf price. Also was there any travel, setup, or blade fees applied that brought that bf price up.
As a starting out portable sawyer I do not not bid a job without first seeing the customers site layout and logs. Pricing is agreed upon and documented before the mill is ever delivered to the site. I am more than willing to price my sawing on how the customer is most comfortable. By the log (Doyle scale), by the bf, or by the hour. 

Itís important to understand your customer, their site situation, and what they are wanting out of the logs beforehand. All of those rates are adjusted based on observation of the site, logs, and what the customer wants for a final product. 

The customer is always responsible to provide tailing unless prior arraignments are made. Tailing myself is a real production killer and your per log or bf cost can double. I am always very clear with the customer about this. If your cutting wide slabs or larger dimension stuff you will need additional hands helping with the tailing.
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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2018, 08:31:27 PM »
Brad

Those numbers don't seem to add up.
I would not be going back.
I generally saw around 100-125 feet an hour when sawing 4/4 by myself. 
He should have been doing much better sawing 10/4 with a tailgunner.
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Offline PAmizerman

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2018, 08:33:42 PM »
I never saw by the scaled logs for price.
It's either hourly or by the bf.
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Offline Tom the Sawyer

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2018, 11:30:48 PM »
I would never, ever saw logs by scale - especially Doyle.  Doyle shorts smaller logs, which would come out of your pocket.  If you must use a scale, the International 1/8" Scale would be the closest but, if you are sawing thicker than 4/4, it'll still be short of actual production ( on average).
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2018, 07:55:55 AM »
I only saw hourly. But I think about switching more and more. Especially if I were to get a new mill.

One instance where sawing by scale would make more sense to me is when sawing logs through and through into natural edge slabs.  The measurement is easy and standard, whereas measuring the slabs is not.  If I charged by bf I would not necessarily use the same bf rate for natural edge slabbing as for other sawing, probably less.  Often it is 2-1/8" slabs.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2018, 09:48:16 AM »
   I'll repeat my earlier comment "All methods of billing are fair as long as both parties understand the rates and agree before sawing starts."

    The sawyer just needs to determine a charging method and apply a rate that is profitable to his operation. You also need to be flexible and often have multiple rates for different circumstances where a standard rate doesn't work profitably. The risk is if you charge by scale and at the end of the sawing job the customer compares to actual yield and finds he has been significantly shorted, in his opinion. In that case he is going to be angry and be sure he will tell others. 

   Sort of like Brad paying by the hour and finding at the end of the job he paid a much higher rate than he had been expecting. Now I doubt Brad is going around telling folks the sawyer ripped him off but I bet he is telling anyone who asks that he was very expensive for the work he did. 

   Of course if we saw by the bf and the job goes super well, as happens once in a while, and we make a decent payday the customer may still decide we are overcharging when he tabulates an hourly rate. :o You just can't please everyone so just be sure at the end of the day you are comfortable in your own mind with what you did.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

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

Offline DPatton

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2018, 01:42:00 PM »
Weather pricing by scaled log, by the bf, or by the hour, it is simply a way for me to offer the customer a pricing method they understand and are comfortable with.

Since Iím new to this business I donít have a strong established repeat clientele that understands how the whole process works. Some are just more comfortable making the deal if they know exactly what itís going to cost up front. An hourly rate doesnít provide the customer that safety net they are looking for. Donít yíall think Brad now wishes he would have had a by the log or by the bf price instead of by the hour? Yes there are some instances where by the hour is the only way I will saw. But if you canít offer the client something they are comfortable with to begin with you have no client.

I donít have a set fixed rate for any one of those individual pricing categories, but more of a sliding scale depending on the actual logs, the setup required, and the end product the customer is looking to get. When your portable each job is different so why price them all the same?
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Offline Percy

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2018, 08:23:19 PM »
Didnt read the whole thread...sorry...Alot of customers are savy...as in when asking me  to cut a big pile of logs on recovery(bdft) and I refused, the hourly log pile shrunk to half its original size. Point being, cutting on recovery encourages the customer to bring just about everything as its no skin off their nose if you dont get anything out of the big limbs they include. Its smart...
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2018, 08:44:25 PM »
   Good point. I have done site surveys and told potential customers "I can mill this batch by the bf but those would have to be milled at an hourly rate" then you see what Percy says and they weed out the small stuff as suddenly less important.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

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

Offline Magicman

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2018, 09:29:13 PM »
I saw logs by the BF, junk by the hour.  Limbs ain't logs. 
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Offline derhntr

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2018, 12:37:33 PM »
I only saw by the hour as I mostly saw mobile, hourly rate seems to make the most sense for my operation. I get mostly storm damaged trees and yard trees. I had to start a minimum sawing fee to weed out the 1-3 short log jobs. Seems like most jobs the owners want to talk a lot or ask questions about the mill. Seems like I get better help tailgunning when I am on the clock.  
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Offline Westcoastct

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2018, 08:16:27 AM »
Depending on how many logs the average Iím charging is $0.70 per bdft for yard sawing customers log but only because of a few factors. Yard storage space, use of my equipment to unload load logs, use of equipment to move logs to sawmill, use of equipment to load finished products upon pick up. 

If itís a special piece one of type deal I charge $120 /hr that rate covers a sawyer, off bearer and sawmill. I have adding up all cost involved comes out at this rate. When you start factoring in insurance, time spent doing maintenance to ensure your mill is cutting accurately so they get a premium product and so on. When I go to a mobile job my rate is $0,50 for 1.5Ē and bigger and 0.60 for 1.5 and under. Any requirements for my equipment is build out by the hour and mobilization costs to and from site. There are now few of us doing it in the area and as it is my full time business I aim to make it as profitable as possible while still making a product for the customer that is less money then the store and a better quality then general box store lumber. I have also made my price points based on local sawmills and equipment owner in my area. I donít check logs for metal but outline to my customers they are replacing blades if any foreign object is hit In their logs. Have only ever had one customer try to dispute this. 

If you cut a nice true and straight board you can demand higher amounts. Itís always wise to not be the cheapest price in town and also not the highest price. Find a middle ground that makes you feel like the work your doing is worth while and rewarding. But find where your quality is proven to a customer so they feel like they are doing something worth while. 

Best of luck

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #37 on: December 12, 2018, 09:37:53 AM »
Westcoast,

   Your cost of living is much higher out there than we have here on the east coast and many of us could never get those prices for our work. Then again, you'd probably go bankrupt charging what we do because you have other expenses we do not have. You make a good point about not being the most or least expensive in the area. Continued success and good luck to you.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2009 4wd Dodge PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Sthil 440 & 441, homemade logging arch (w/custom built rear log dolly), JD 750 w/4' wide Bushhog brand FEL

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

Offline Westcoastct

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #38 on: December 12, 2018, 10:50:56 AM »
You bet, VW. I know prices vary easy to west, I wasnít sure of the location of the original poster but just thought I would add my side. Not to mention Iím up in Canada on the Westcoast. I have compared my pricing to other similar businesses that are in Ontario and we are very close. However with the exchange rate Iím sure my $120 works out to about $60 lol

Thereís a guy not to far away from charging $250 per hour with a 2 hour minimum for an LT40. I wish I could charge that but I also want to keep my phone ringing. Iím booking months out in advance and can barely keep up. Itís actually one of the reasons I did up my price about 8 months ago. Iím getting to the point that Iím to busy and need to hire a sawyer to run the mill while I go look at jobs and such. This was the direction I intended on going I just hadnít thought it would happen In 3 years time.

A lot of our local old time sawyers have called it quits and sold their mills, so we have a void in our market that Iím trying to fill and build a small portable and custom milling business. It still has its challenges up here tho.

Offline welderskelter

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Re: Sawing for profit
« Reply #39 on: December 14, 2018, 08:48:29 PM »
I want to thank everybody for their info. It will be very helpful. I am trying to post some pics in my profile of me sawing a red oak. Thanks again.


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