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Author Topic: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation  (Read 1403 times)

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Offline E-Tex

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How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« on: August 06, 2019, 09:00:35 AM »
I have a lot of people bring me just one log, or old slab, or older Mantel that they want "cleaned up" or resized into whatever.

I get very nervous on some of these because they are "one of a kind" and I'm praying all the way through the cut(s)!  I'm afraid of a blade diving and messing up their "one of a kind" log, slab, mantel, etc......   Recently, I "ALMOST" screwed up a customers mantel when the blade dove in the last 4 inches of the final cut (but the Mantel was 6" longer than needed anyway so it was ok).  But what if it dove in the middle of the cut and I ruined the Mantel?   (I do my best to always keep the mill aligned and sharp blades, but sometime I'll make a sawing mistake or the mill simply has a mind of it's own)

I do not worry about this for example when cutting tons of dimensional lumber since one blade dive wont mess up a big order.....it's just the one-zy two-zy orders that can't be replaced that make me nervous.

So, how do you handle if you messed up a clients "One Of A Kind" log/slab/mantel?  I do not sell lumber and do not have much of anything to offer them if I did mess up their log.  Do you offer a "Guarantee" NOT to screw it up?  Do you specifically tell them "Saw at your own risk"?......and would you spell that out in an Agreement or on a Order Sheet?

Thanks!
LT-50 Wide, Mahindra 6065
L2 Sawmill LLC

Offline Beavertooth

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2019, 09:13:48 AM »
My sawmill has promised me it will never do anything like that. :)      I would just say don't worry about it as it is something that may never happen.  Just deal with it at the time if it happens. 
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Online WV Sawmiller

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2019, 09:39:34 AM »
   I guess you could get them to sign a release from liability if you are really that worried about it. I have told clients I had never cut such wood and did not know how it would react but that I'd try. I also warn them about metal or such in the log being their responsibility. I'd suggest look the log over carefully and decline any jobs you were were not comfortable doing. 

   In cases like that I always put a new, sharp 4 degree blade on my mill. Its a personal choice and you have to decide whether the risk is worth the reward. Good luck.
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 Brad_bb

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2019, 09:53:17 AM »
I don't mill for anybody but myself, but...

If you know you have a sharp band and things are cutting right, just go slow so that if you do hit a nail or it wants to do anything you can stop quick. That's one reason I like the LT15.  Can you manually push your LT50 head?  Is that possible?

Another tip is to use a metal detector like the Garrett super scanner.  Find the nail before it finds you.  Also, remove any bark to reduce the chance of hitting a stone or sand.

If you're cutting really hard material, dry hickory, Osage, Black locust, honey locust, oak...or wood with a bunch of hard knots (dry wood knots are the worst), remember that the blade will want to follow the grain direction in really hard material.  So when you get to knots, you need to go SLOW and have a sharp band so it doesn't rise or dive to follow the change in grain direction.  Any of these woods when dry can dull a band more quickly too and cause dives.  

Also  you need to be sure you've got enough material to cut off.  If you're trying to cut off only 1/8 inch, your band may wand to wander up and down a bit and not give a smooth finish.  At that point I'd use a planer.

You do need to specify to the customer what could happen if there is metal in the wood and the band hits it.  Not only are they responsible for the band cost or sharpening, but you are not responsible for a resulting dive.  That doesn't relieve you of trying to take precautions however.  

Their expectations have to be realistic.  You can take all the precautions you can, and something can still happen.  Should you be responsible for making them whole?  And who determines the value? I think it's all about managing expectations and clearly communicating who is responsible for what and what the possible outcomes are.  What remedies will be spelled out for given scenarios?  You can look at their material and get an idea of what you could potentially run into and warn them.   I think it's  good to have things written down and agreed upon, because you'll always get one of those people who, despite discussing things, and understanding the risks, will still want to make you responsible, and demand some outrageous sum for their "highly valuable" stick and want you to pay for the "sentimental value".

As long as you don't hit metal, or a rock, or concrete in a log(happened to me in a crotch), the sawing should go ok.  There's always the unexpected though, and you need to cover your butt, I think.

Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
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Offline WDH

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2019, 10:06:04 AM »
I just tell them, I will do it, but this is what can happen.

Stuff like metal, stress in the piece if it is split in half, I might make a mistake, the mill might mess up or get possessed by the devil, etc.   

Are you OK with that and do you want me to go ahead?   If they hesitate, I wont do it if they are not willing to accept those possibilities.  
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Online Chuck White

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2019, 10:42:29 AM »
If it's something that the customer really values, they shouldn't mind signing a contract/agreement stating you'll do your best, but there are no "absolute" guarantees!
~Chuck~
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Online terrifictimbersllc

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2019, 06:52:54 PM »
I definitely know the feeling youre talking about. Good answers above. If you want to put it into an agreement, I like the language Under no circumstance shall the remedy for failure to perform under this contract exceed the value of sawing as stated herein....
DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT Woodmizer Million Board Foot Club member. 2019 LT70 Super Wide, 2001 WM LT40SHDD (42HP Kubota, Accuset2, FAO's, Lubemizer, debarker),  Logrite fetching arch, WM BMS250 sharpener/BMT250 setter.  2001 F350 7.3L PSD 6 spd manual ZF 4x4 Crew Cab Long Bed

Offline E-Tex

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2019, 08:42:29 AM »
All great advice.  Thank You!
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L2 Sawmill LLC

Online WV Sawmiller

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2019, 08:52:30 AM »
Tex,

   Another thing to remember is the customer may have inflated expectations about what the log/piece will yield in the first place and no matter how perfectly you saw it the results may not meet his expectations and he will still be disappointed and he may want to blame you for the results.
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"

Online moodnacreek

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2019, 08:57:22 AM »
Good machinery, a metal detector and experience .

Offline E-Tex

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2019, 10:44:48 AM »
WV & Moodna..... good points!


I have two more customers bringing me "Special to Them Logs" to mill into Mantels this week......I'll still be praying through each cut!  ;D


I appreciate the feedback and help!
LT-50 Wide, Mahindra 6065
L2 Sawmill LLC

Offline OffGrid973

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2019, 12:53:37 PM »
Hey Brad,

Did we finally win one...no retort on the Can your LT-50 do that...LOL

Small victories
Your Fellow Woodworker,
- Off Grid

Offline Hilltop366

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2019, 05:23:19 PM »
I'd be tempted to keep a few samples of wood around with labels on them (dive caused by: nail, caused by small rock, unknown...) as well as a good sample so you can show the customer the good results that you usually get but what can happen sometimes that is beyond your control

Then see if they agree to get you to cut their wood at no risk to you.

Online WV Sawmiller

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2019, 05:53:59 PM »
E-Tex,

   One tip I learned watching David Poston is when a customer brings a log for a mantel cut him a thin board off the side and return it to him to use as a test if he wants to stain the mantel. He can first stain the board with various stains to see what the final results will look like before actually committing to staining his mantel. Pretty good idea for a goat if you ask me.
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 YellowHammer

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2019, 11:37:45 PM »
I get these reasonably frequently, and in many ways it should be taken as a compliment, as they are trusting you to do a good job, and are expecting that you will.  

So, generally when its still in their truck or trailer, while they are here I give it a very thorough inspection, probably the last one it will get, and look for the one flat side, if it has any.  Thats also when I set my price, based on what the log looks like or how many fat sides or how warped the mantel is.  If I think there is a problem, or they dont like the price, we dont unload it and they drive away.  No big deal.  If they want me to continue, I mark the flattest side with a lumber crayon, and what Im expected to do.  Right on the log or cant.  

The flattest side, is my bed down side and everything starts from that reference side, and I look a little more, and I know in my head what can be done with that piece from a geometry standpoint.  All the while Im listening to them and hearing what they want.  

As long as what they want coincides with what Ive figured I can get from the piece, its OK, Ill do it, and Ill call you when its ready.

Then, during the next normal sawing day, or whenever I know the mill is working well, and I have a sharp and true cutting band on, Ill stop sawing my logs, and cut their stuff. A few cuts, its done, throw it on a pallet, and get back to my logs.

This gets my muscle memory tuned in, gets me in my rhythm, and then its quickly over.  Or if I have several customers stuff to do, Ill knock theirs out, also.  

I personally wont put on a new band and make my first cuts on a customer heirloom without sawing a few logs with it, so I can get the feel of it and know its cutting true.  

I really dont fret over it, its a piece of wood and I have a sawmill and Im supposed to know how to use it (most times).

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Offline luap

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2019, 12:41:12 PM »
A little bit different but the same,  I used to do custom machining. Snow mobile racing and hill climbing are popular around here and word got out that I milled heads for raising compression on these engines. Had a few repeat customers. I always thought about what happens when I either screw one up or some one blows one up and wants to blame me. I was willing to make it right if I screwed one up but I finally quit doing them so I wouldn't have to think about it.

Offline Sixacresand

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2019, 01:52:01 PM »
Most time, folks are happy that someone will help them with their project.  I double check my thicknesses and have faith in the mill.  I have messed up a few.  It is usually due to metal or heavy pitch.  

Offline Ea$y Money

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2019, 02:14:33 PM »
My suggestion would be to limit your liability. Not everyone is your customer. Some dude strolls up with a mantel. He ain't in the mantel business. This is the one and only time you will ever see him again whether you do the best job or the worst. Price is set way up, and if he still wants it, you offer your services with the understanding (in writing) that your liability is limited to x amount of $ per board foot of the timber and you keep the timber if there is a claim. You can feel all you want about the blade diving into this ancient timber that was once the keel of the Mayflower but financially you are only risking a few bucks. It's a risk for both parties and not unlike any interaction between customer/business that deals with customized work, refurbishing services, etc.
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: How do you handle this "Custom Sawing" situation
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2019, 06:08:49 PM »
My approach is like Yellowhammer's.  We have a discussion prior to unloading.  I repeat that my equipment is set up saw straight but stuff happens that is out of my control.  If they understand that they are assuming the risk for the unforeseen and I am assuming the risk for what I can control, we unload and proceed.

My rate for one off custom work like this is higher than custom sawing everyday stuff.  That is, in part, to discourage the faint of heart.
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