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Author Topic: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..  (Read 1509 times)

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Offline gwisejr

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To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« on: May 09, 2019, 10:17:31 AM »
Good morning,

I'm looking at building a ~2300sqft home this year. I've cut down a bunch of pine trees and will be hiring a portable sawmill to come out and saw the logs into lumber for fencing. I need about ~3000bf of 1x6 fence rails. I've got somewhere around 9000bf of logs and and I'm wondering if it makes sense to mill a bunch of 2x dimensional lumber to use for framing. 

Here in Georgia, Cherokee county specifically, the structural lumber needs to graded and stamped. I understand from some of the posts that I've read that you can hire someone to come out and grade the lumber. Looking over the quote for the framing materials and taking into account only the cost of the 2x dimensional lumber costs, it comes to ~$11k of materials.  

Does it make sense to cut my own lumber and have it graded? Does anyone have any similar experience and can fill in any gaps or oversights that i need to be aware of?



Thanks

 

 

Offline btulloh

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2019, 10:55:50 AM »
Probably better to find non-structural uses for it, all things considered. Siding, shiplap, trim, etc.
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Offline alan gage

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2019, 11:06:04 AM »
I think a lot of it comes down to what makes you feel good/right.

To some people it would be worth it to use their own lumber for framing even if it didn't save them any money. Other people might find it best to saw the logs into something they could sell for $2/bf and then use that money to buy framing lumber for $1/bf.

If I was in that situation I'd probably do what btulloh recommended and use it as siding, trim, or some other non-structural application. Those things cost more than framing lumber too.

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Offline Don P

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2019, 02:40:24 PM »
It is a personal decision. I have wood graded when it is specialty dimensions, heavy timber. It isn't worth it to me to have dimensional lumber graded most of the time. That said I'm sawing out framing for a house now. One advantage for you is TP Inspections is in Conyers, there is likely a grader not too far away.
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2019, 03:34:23 PM »
If I was in that situation I'd probably do what btulloh recommended and use it as siding, trim, or some other non-structural application. Those things cost more than framing lumber too.
I also agree with this line of thinking.  It will make building inspections go much easier.  Once you do something a little out of the ordinary, building inspectors sometimes get real picky on other stuff.  
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2019, 07:01:23 PM »
   I'd get the cost for a grader to come inspect the framing lumber and compute my sawing costs and base my decision on that. I bet your graded lumber will be a lot better looking than what you are going to find at the big box stores. Plus what is the value of the satisfaction in saying "This lumber in this house came off this/my property."?
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2019, 07:09:01 PM »
Consider that store bought framing is machine made completely , ease edged, almost dry and stamped and who will ever see it? Save your effort and wood for exposed places that people can see.

Offline btulloh

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2019, 07:19:28 PM »
Eased edges is a significant thing when youre putting in drywall and flooring.
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Offline hacknchop

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2019, 11:18:22 PM »
It's not that big a deal I do it {grade peoples lumber} often and usually charge less than $200.00 and covers all the material for most houses up to 3500 sq/ft don't give up talk to your building inspector most will have a list of certified lumber graders in your area. We often work together to help people become compliant with By-laws.:)
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Offline Don P

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2019, 06:04:14 AM »
It sounds like we have a different set of rules. Here the grader gwisejr would be using is attached to a grading agency he would be the "check grader" that the agency sends around to audit the graders who work in mills. Those mill graders are not allowed to freelance. How is it done there?
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Offline Magicman

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2019, 08:53:29 AM »
I saw many thousands bf of framing lumber each year and have sawn complete cut list of framing lumber for 15-20 homes, but:  If graded framing lumber is required, we forego sawing framing lumber and concentrate our efforts on "flat" lumber for siding, flooring, paneling, and trim.
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Offline hacknchop

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2019, 04:30:42 PM »
I'm a certified stress grader I went to school for the acreditation I am a NLGA  grader which is good anywhere in North America and some other countries and I am the company.
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Offline Don P

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2019, 04:37:15 PM »
I've also been to grading school under the NLGA rules. Unless I am a member operating under the oversight of an accredited agency that paper and 2 bucks will get you a cup of coffee in the US
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Offline hacknchop

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2019, 04:52:46 PM »
Do you also have a permit number identifying me , and under company name is my name , the only condition mine has is that is has the disclaimer subject to reexamination should it be deemed necessary . I have been grading for companies ,cities ,federal government,provincial government as well as individuals. When I got mine I also got my wife to take the course as well which she passed it was 2weeks at a lumber mill in Mattawa Ontario. 
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Offline Don P

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2019, 07:18:37 PM »
I wish our system worked that way. I trained for one week at a grading agency's facility and got a certificate of completion. After that you or the mill you work for applies for your grading ticket with the auditing agency. The mill whether one I'm working for or my own if it is stationary and I pay the monthly extortion fee is then audited periodically with surprise inspections. If you are a new grader he is going to be pulling your piles and giving you on the job training, he'll pick on you special for awhile. If a mill grader fails the pop inspection several times he'll pull your ticket. There is no such thing as a freelance unattached grader in the US. If I call for transient grading here it will be that "check grader" from the agency who shows up. My partner in training was becoming one of those guys. You can check all that on the ALSC website, the overseeing body of all the grading agencies. I'm on the email list for their minutes when the board there meets quarterly, updates to design values, new species combinations, agency changes/mergers, etc. Might be worth it if it's of interest how ours works.
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Offline barbender

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2019, 07:41:00 PM »
Unless I had no need for "appearance boards", trim, siding etc. I would also focus on on those items and buy the framing lumber. I realize some of the box store framing lumber can be pretty poor quality, but when I've got lumber from lumber yards it's pretty nice stuff. You'll never match that with rough sawn, and it sure makes it nice when you're hanging drywall. If it didn't have to be graded, I'd use rough sawn framing in a heartbeat though. 
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Magicman

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2019, 08:07:19 PM »
When a potential customer calls me about sawing framing lumber, there is a sorta checklist that I go through with them; Is it allowed in your county/city, etc., (building permit), get it ok'ed and in writing from your builder, lending institution, and insurer.  Omit any of these and you may have a whack of framing lumber that you can not use or you may even be taking down a rejected/condemned building.  :-\  :-X
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Offline Southside

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2019, 08:46:13 PM »
Even though I own a mill, (two actually), a kiln, and a 4 head moulder I would probably just buy graded lumber to frame with and use my stuff for the rest.  Honestly, you can't do it cheaper, better yes, but not cheaper.  Here in the States rough sawn lumber is just like raw milk, it's easier to obtain fissionable material than to use either the way you want.  That last statement is not hyperbole as I have family that have been and still are in the uranium business.  
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Offline hacknchop

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2019, 09:17:50 PM »
The course that we took was expensive and you did not get a certificate of completion you needed to pas the exam with an 85% or higher to receive your permit 75% ----85% gives you a probationary licence and you retake the within a year get below 75% you get nothing except experience, I stayed in touch with the instructor and he said the course had a 50% failure rate for first timers ,it was tough and I had been sawing for probably 10 or more yrs by then. 
   We took the course in response to the bylaw requiring graded lumber.
@ Magicman most of the time when I'm grading someone lumber it's because they are in a bind because the sawyer who cut for them was not as imformative as you are and now they need it graded,sometimes I go in and grade standing buildings so that they become compliant and can remain standing.
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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2019, 10:01:27 PM »
There is one county within my normal sawing area that will not allow ungraded framing lumber even for "out" buildings.  When potential customers call, I direct them to their Building Permit Office.  None have ever called back and I have never sawn anything in that county.  Nothing.  It's all about permitting and real estate taxes.

I have sawn in every county surrounding that county.  ::)

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Offline hacknchop

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2019, 10:14:13 PM »
Where we are if you need a building permit you have to use graded lumber and it's unfortunate because other than the odd undersized lumber there's rarely a problem. 
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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2019, 10:59:20 PM »
It sounds like a similar class, we are operating out of the same grading manual and I know your grading agencies operate the same as ours, at least this side of the border. It sounds like there is better provision for small time operators within your borders, which, if you go back to the enabling legislation of our grading laws that was the intent here, insert rant :D. Our grading requirement for structural lumber has been written in building law for a very long time. The main difference between me and Magicman is I live in that county. In the next county over I cleared a lot, told the inspector that I planned on having the timbers sawn for use in the house, "what do I need to do?" "Well I guess you need to build it". Enforcement varies considerably from one jurisdiction to the next but the trend is tightening. I can see both sides, when I rehab older homes well, they don't build them like they used to, we have laws against that now.

I don't care for rough sawn framing, what I'm harvesting and sawing currently is one of those situations where time is not the main concern, time is gratis and trees are available, the grading is taken care of. We can donate labor to help someone rebuild but cash isn't there so the equation changes. Each situation needs to be weighed on its own. What I prefer to do and we're doing it here is saw, borate, dry, plane, straight line. That equation generally favors store bought dimensional framing and if I'm going to that kind of effort making wood it is usually for finish material.

I don't know if y'all have noticed, it started with eurowood but is becoming more common, the eased edge on store bought is often 1/4" radius now, you'll feel it, look at the stamp it'll usually have a line "1/4EE" ...  1/4" Eased Edge. I kind of despise it myself, it makes it harder to line things up over that sized gap between members. It does mask more wane ;), which can change grade upward on a stick here and there, it adds up over many pieces.
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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2019, 08:22:23 AM »
Not the first stick of graded framing lumber here.

>

Sawed.



Stickered.


 
Foundation complete.


 
Ready to be dried in. 



Rear roof on.


 
Front roof on.  All "rough sawn" ungraded.

The only thing that the county was interested in was measuring it so that they could increase my taxes.
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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2019, 08:26:36 AM »
Some counties don't require graded lumber, but none of them miss a chance to increase your property taxes.

Offline gwisejr

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2019, 01:35:48 PM »
I appreciate everyone's comments. Sounds to me like I just need to saw the fence boards and other non-structural lumber. I like the idea of sawing extra and selling it. Are there any suggestions of what sells easily in my area? I see some posts for green and air dryed 1x lumber in craigslist with prices between $8-$9 for 1x6x16 boards.

Thanks.

Offline WranglerSS

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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2019, 05:31:54 PM »
I too live in Ball Ground and recently built a 36' x 48' barn on my property using lumber I milled on my Woodmizer. I had to have a structural engineer sign off on my building since there was no architectural documentation on my design and he also signed off on the grading of the lumber as opposed to having to hire a grader to inspect and stamp which is acceptable to Cherokee County. 

A couple of observations from your post is since you are planning on building a dwelling you will need to have the lumber sterilized so you don't have critters in you home. This will add to the cost of the lumber to a point where it may be better to buy. Another is I hope you have more logs than the picture. It takes more than you think. I used approximately 120 logs between 12" and 28" in diameter and 13' long. My barn is built with 2x6x12 walls with 2x4 purlins and 1x8 B&B siding. I bought the engineered trusses.

 

  
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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2019, 10:54:22 AM »
I wish our system worked that way. I trained for one week at a grading agency's facility and got a certificate of completion. After that you or the mill you work for applies for your grading ticket with the auditing agency. The mill whether one I'm working for or my own if it is stationary and I pay the monthly extortion fee is then audited periodically with surprise inspections. If you are a new grader he is going to be pulling your piles and giving you on the job training, he'll pick on you special for awhile. If a mill grader fails the pop inspection several times he'll pull your ticket. There is no such thing as a freelance unattached grader in the US. If I call for transient grading here it will be that "check grader" from the agency who shows up. My partner in training was becoming one of those guys. You can check all that on the ALSC website, the overseeing body of all the grading agencies. I'm on the email list for their minutes when the board there meets quarterly, updates to design values, new species combinations, agency changes/mergers, etc. Might be worth it if it's of interest how ours works.
This is what happens when "good citizens" roll over and play dead.
I'll bet if you dig (you don't have to--just follow the money), you'll find this is controlled by the big mills in cooperation with the unions. It's a win-win for them--YOU HAVE TO BUY THEIR PRODUCT or pay your dues one way or another! >>>>8>
There's also no provision for otherwise (like using say 150-200% sizes.) It's a tax on people of lesser means that could otherwise do for themselves.
If this was really a "safety" issue like they portray it, we'd be tearing down any building built before and replacing it. But amazingly enough, those buildings are still standing and probably will be long after the new construction is falling down. What did we ever do before we had government and concerned businesses to look out for us?
This makes me furious! It's unAmerican.
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Re: To Mill and Grade or Buy, That is the question..
« Reply #27 on: May 14, 2019, 02:30:31 PM »
None have ever called back and I have never sawn anything in that county. Nothing. I have sawn in every county surrounding that county. ::)

Well, wonders never cease.  It won't be framing lumber but I will be sawing in that county Friday.  thumbs-up
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