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Author Topic: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?  (Read 1048 times)

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Offline teakwood

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What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« on: August 08, 2019, 06:32:24 PM »
My new customer, she is Canadian, brought some Cocobolo ( Dalbergiawood for a test. it is very hard, dense and beautiful wood, used for high end uses like gun and knife handles, guitar inlays and it's very expensive.

After the first try it was obviously that my saw blades are too soft, very wavy cuts, nasty. i ordered a bimetal blade, will see if that is better. 
What blades have you used for very hard wood. this wood is more than 1000kg/ m3.

the other question, what do you guys charge for milling?
as we have to cut lots of small pieces, like 1.5x1.5"x 18" or 2x2" x24, some live edge, some square but all small pieces because the biggest logs are 8-10" diam. I thinking charging by the hour.
I have a small manual saw mill, lots of manual labor involved.

My client already has a buyer in Canada so a full container load will have to be milled

Thanks 
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Offline OffGrid973

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 08:29:54 PM »
Did she bring trees or lumber?  I would stick to the old fashioned tablesaw or equivalent based on the hardness factor and small dimensions...planning any of that will be a nightmare
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Offline Ianab

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 08:41:39 PM »
Hourly rate for sure. You need to work out what it cost to run the mill per hour (day / week), and what you need to pay yourself.

Have you considered trying a carbide tipped blade? They cost, but it's probably worth it for those really hard woods. The wood also tends to be pretty abrasive, so dulls regular blades real fast, then you get the wavy cuts etc. So expect to go though more bands than normal (or more expensive bands), and factor that into your price. 
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2019, 09:47:53 PM »
A few years ago we resawed some Ipe which is hard and dense on an lt-28 (manual mill).  We only had 25 hp, so not really enough hp to run carbide tipped bands.  We used 4 Kasco blades.  They cut pretty well on the Ipe and everything else we threw at them.  We charged the same as we normally would for sawing but the customer

 

 paid for all of the blades.

Offline Southside

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2019, 10:11:35 PM »
as we have to cut lots of small pieces, like 1.5x1.5"x 18" or 2x2" x24, some live edge, some square but all small pieces because the biggest logs are 8-10" diam. I thinking charging by the hour. I have a small manual saw mill, lots of manual labor involved. My client already has a buyer in Canada so a full container load will have to be milled


X2 on the carbides, they can be sharpened with a diamond stone. That is A LOT of sawing at that size log.
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2019, 10:21:02 PM »
 You didn't say what the bands were that you tried?

With a small manual mill you need to run the smallest degree you can (4).  You need to saw slow to reduce waves.  

Some of those tropical woods I hear have silica in them.  Which means you'll need to change bands often.  I don't know anything about carbide tipped bands and whether or now you can run them.  What degree are they?  If they are more than 4, given your horsepower, I'd really find someone with experience with lower HP and carbide to ask.

As much as you can, do on a carbide tipped table saw or carbide tipped mitre saw if you are able.  Those blades should cost you less overall and perform better.

In what form is the wood coming to you?  Logs, cants, timbers?
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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2019, 11:47:04 PM »
Filling a container with those small pieces will take just about forever.  Banjo
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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2019, 08:24:24 AM »
Have you considered trying a carbide tipped blade?


She brings the logs, so first i have to get some 1.5"/2" boards out of it and could then use the table saw. No such things than carbide tip blades in Costa Rica, i ordered a Bimetal band yesterday and we will see if that works, this band costs 2.5 times more than my normal blades. How wide is the cut of a carbide blade, like a circular saw? 1\8"?
My bands are 1 1/4" x 158"

I'm thinking of charging 35$/h, i'm just curious what you guys charge by the hour for such small pieces. i know i can not charge what is charged in the US or Canada.
I also need to seal the ends with wax, which i already have the setup for.
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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2019, 08:31:35 AM »
X2 on the carbides, they can be sharpened with a diamond stone. That is A LOT of sawing at that size log.


I have a woodmizer auto sharper with diamond wheel and oil cooled, so i should be fine for sharpening.
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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2019, 08:43:54 AM »
I'd really find someone with experience with lower HP and carbide to ask.


You're funny, i'm the only one with a sawmill in a 50mi radius, so ether i do it or she buys her own sawmill and then hires me to do her cutting, which she already ask for.
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2019, 08:56:59 AM »
Filling a container with those small pieces will take just about forever.  Banjo


I know, i told her 3-4 weeks, i hope that was realistic. this wood is so heavy that the container is only loaded with 11m3 around 400cu ft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocobolo
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2019, 10:32:46 AM »
I'd really find someone with experience with lower HP and carbide to ask.


You're funny, i'm the only one with a sawmill in a 50mi radius, so ether i do it or she buys her own sawmill and then hires me to do her cutting, which she already ask for.

I wasn't trying to be funny.  I think you're mis interpreting what I said.  I assumed that you did not have experience with carbide blades.  So to get a comparable assesment as to whether it would be a viable option would be to talk to someone with a similar HP mill who has tried carbide tipped bands.  I've never used them so I don't even know what rake angles they come in.  If too aggressive an angle, may not work well for your mill.  I have a 19hp engine on my LT15 and bands more than 4 don't work well on hardwoods with my hp.
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Offline Kcwoodbutcher

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2019, 01:35:21 PM »
I've sawn cocobolo before. Yes it's hard, but it is also a little waxy which helps . One thing I noticed that after working it a while it became very irritating. You might want to wear a dust mask. It is also a protected  species so someone should have the paperwork showing the origin of the logs.
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2019, 06:43:32 PM »
I'd really find someone with experience with lower HP and carbide to ask.


You're funny, i'm the only one with a sawmill in a 50mi radius, so ether i do it or she buys her own sawmill and then hires me to do her cutting, which she already ask for.
IF
this works out and turns into a regular order there is your solution right there.
Look, you need circle saws to cut hard logs fast, or wide bands. All said and done circles work out more cost effective in terms of initial outlay, running cost, and the general lack of technical backup you face because of location. You can do it with thin bands - I've seen it done - but you can't do it fast, and boards arent worth more because it took you longer to cut them.
My ideal small scale setup for what you're talking would be a straight line rip with some trolleys or a reversing belt or roundabout. Spot one side flat on the bandmill, then go direct to bench and it'd be about as quick and efficient as you'd get without a multirip or single pass dedicated small log line. 
You might get away with a cabinetmakers sliding table saw running an outsize circle, but the HP equation is still going to be an issue. Hard timber chews up HP fast. I've got an old recovery bench runs a 550mm circle (cuts 180/7" deep) and that thing has a 24HP three phase on it and at full depth shes getting underpowered.
The one bandmill guy i know who has had some success with thin bands in hard timber runs electric with a VFD so he can slow the band down. Those bi-metals will cut steel at 400 fpm but a wood bandsaw is set to run way faster. I'll sound him out about working speeds, (I think he runs aruond 800fpm in the hard stuff) maybe you could fit a different pulley to reduce band speed.
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Offline LeeB

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2019, 11:16:59 PM »
I'm going to assume the logs have to be processed to be able to export them out of the country. Will the lumber be dried before shipping? A container load of green lumber coming from the tropics may not arrive in very good condition and the size blanks you are talking about lends me to be even more concerned. I know nothing about the species though, so it may all be good. Just make sure you distance yourself from any liabilities after you saw it.
 
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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2019, 07:49:56 AM »
It is also a protected  species so someone should have the paperwork showing the origin of the logs.


She has like 3k trees from plantations, so she has all the paperwork together.
That's why they all small diam logs, plantation logs
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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2019, 08:12:32 AM »
I'm going to assume the logs have to be processed to be able to export them out of the country. Will the lumber be dried before shipping? A container load of green lumber coming from the tropics may not arrive in very good condition and the size blanks you are talking about lends me to be even more concerned. I know nothing about the species though, so it may all be good. Just make sure you distance yourself from any liabilities after you saw it.
 
the timber goes to canada, she already has a buyer. the buyer will dry the lumber in canada. the buyer has 40+ years experience in selling wood, i will remember him still about that container getting all gray to canada after sitting one month on a ship.
Thanks all for their insights, i'm well aware off my mill not be the ideal setup, but it's what we have and what we will have to make work.
Still no one gave me a amount on what you guys charge by the hour for sawing such small pieces.
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2019, 08:21:40 AM »
You had mentioned $35/hr. Is that comparable to you normal rates? I have no idea what to tell you to charge. 
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2019, 08:57:53 AM »

Still no one gave me a amount on what you guys charge by the hour for sawing such small pieces.
When you work by the hour, the size of raw and finished product doesn't matter because you are NOT charging for the amount of product produced ... you're charging for the hours spent to produce the product.
Up here in the boonies of northeastern Ontario I charge $60/hour plus bands if they get damaged due to something other than wood in the wood.
You may want to calculate how many bands you're going to go thru per hour/day etc, and add something into you hourly rate to cover that expense.
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2019, 09:21:22 AM »
The post on rates to charge by Ianab was the best post re deciding on your rate.  What do you need an hour to cover the cost of the mill, consumables, etc, add a profit margin that you feel makes it worthwhile.  That's going to be your hourly rate and if that is $50 or $25 it doesn't really matter, it guarantees you your target profit margin if you have all your costs.  Don't forget to charge for your own labor before calculating profit.  If you can't make a decent profit then move on.  

In terms of production ideas, the best I've seen is to run a carbide band.  Folks could ship a couple to you, you have a cbn so you could sharpen, judging from your experience I would not have concerns on you figuring out how to sharpen.  Would Fedex of a couple of bands be an issue?  How long to wait if something is fedex'd from the US?  2 days to CR, clears customs (? days) then over to you (x days? ).   Might make sense to just order 2 and add that to the project as a setup fee.  It would be interesting to know how bimetals do but carbides may offer some hope.

 Another issue is dust...cocobolo is famous for creating a lot of fine sawdust, you may need to tweak your bands set and gullets to help extract sawdust more effectively.  Also you may want to make special efforts to keep bands clean and reduce the buildup of sawdust when sawing.  I am not an expert but maybe ask folks like yellowhammer, customsawyer, the goat, etc what steps to take to help a band remove dust more effectively and see if that has an impact on the cut.  Did you look at the sawdust coming off the blade?  

Lastly, how goes the quarry?

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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2019, 09:38:18 AM »
The post on rates to charge by Ianab was the best post re deciding on your rate.  What do you need an hour to cover the cost of the mill, consumables, etc, add a profit margin that you feel makes it worthwhile.  That's going to be your hourly rate and if that is $50 or $25 it doesn't really matter, it guarantees you your target profit margin if you have all your costs.  Don't forget to charge for your own labor before calculating profit.  If you can't make a decent profit then move on


I now the math, i did a business school back in Switzerland, i just wanted to know what's a going rate in the north. i thinking more like 40$/h now. that dust issue has me worried, i hate to work with masks and by our temps it's almost impossible to do.

We spoke to woodmizer Costa Rica and it seems that they have carbide bands awailable. today the bimetal blade arrives so i will give that a try first.
I can import anything from the states in 1-2 weeks. the time doesn't matter to much here. the customer just has to wait some more. nobody will move fast here!
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2019, 09:44:53 AM »
Lastly, how goes the quarry?


well,.... we are still fighting! almost 6 years now. we presented final papers in the last gov agency, the mining agency, in January and we are going back and forth. they ask for some senseless papers, we provide. and it goes on and on. i'm close now, maybe 2 month, but that is what they told us 4month ago.  
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2019, 10:07:29 AM »
The post on rates to charge by Ianab was the best post re deciding on your rate.  What do you need an hour to cover the cost of the mill, consumables, etc, add a profit margin that you feel makes it worthwhile.  That's going to be your hourly rate and if that is $50 or $25 it doesn't really matter, it guarantees you your target profit margin if you have all your costs.  Don't forget to charge for your own labor before calculating profit.  If you can't make a decent profit then move on


I now the math, i did a business school back in Switzerland, i just wanted to know what's a going rate in the north. i thinking more like 40$/h now. that dust issue has me worried, i hate to work with masks and by our temps it's almost impossible to do.

We spoke to woodmizer Costa Rica and it seems that they have carbide bands awailable. today the bimetal blade arrives so i will give that a try first.
I can import anything from the states in 1-2 weeks. the time doesn't matter to much here. the customer just has to wait some more. nobody will move fast here!
Oh, so rather than what to charge it is what is a normal charge in Canada?  So yeah $50/hour and north is normal.  Maybe a few guys are below $50.  One guy close to me charges $90..that's what I get for being close to DC.  Yeah, anywhere in the tropics will teach you to slow down.  Great that WM CR can get you carbides.  Super!
$40/hour should make her happy.
Cocobolo is just famous for having dust issues, not so much the toxicity but quantity.  The quantity of dust is what would concern me, seems it has short fibers that don't stay together well also maybe lots of silicon and and other compounds that might be issues.  That could be clogging bands, causing friction, heating blades, fouling cut, etc etc.  I'm sure no expert though.  
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2019, 10:08:35 AM »
Lastly, how goes the quarry?


well,.... we are still fighting! almost 6 years now. we presented final papers in the last gov agency, the mining agency, in January and we are going back and forth. they ask for some senseless papers, we provide. and it goes on and on. i'm close now, maybe 2 month, but that is what they told us 4month ago.  (Image hidden from quote, click to view.)(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2019, 01:33:54 PM »
I charge $60/hour plus bands if they get damaged due to something other than wood in the wood.


What do you charge if the bands are damaged by wood in the wood? :D
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2019, 09:34:01 AM »
the wood mizer blade is the same thickness than my normal blades. 0.045" and the agent also told me that my sawmill is probably too small for that blade.
what i don't get is, if the kerf i need to cut is the same thickness why would the sawmill need more hp with different blades??
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2019, 09:47:45 AM »
Which profile is it and what do you have for HP on your mill?  The carbide 7 from WM is not the deep gullet like the turbo 7 is so I agree with you there.  
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2019, 10:11:35 PM »
my sawmill has a 600cc Honda with 20hp. 
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Offline Ianab

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2019, 10:27:12 PM »
If the logs are smaller then the HP requirements should be less too? Having 24" of band in the wood must need more power than only 12".
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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #29 on: August 11, 2019, 10:46:00 PM »
steeper cut angles take a more aggressive bite and would take more hp.  softer wood usually uses a lesser angle so it does not take more than the gullet can handle.  I use 7 degree on everything but I have a 38 hp motor.
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Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2019, 08:10:20 AM »
i'm pretty sure my mill will be sufficient, it won't be fast but a manual mill never is. The logs are small diam and very short so i just go slower if the hp's aren't sufficient
National Stihl Timbersports Champion Costa Rica 2018

Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2019, 11:02:24 PM »
ok, today i met with my client in her plantations, after arriving i ask, where are the trees??  here she told me,....  every 3m where a cocobolo tree with 2-4" diam. 
every here and there the are some with 8-12" and then there are some old grown ones with a nice 20+" diam.
so from the initial 3000trees she told me she has, 2800 are useless, maybe 200 are small/mid sized and 15 are nice trees. 
You have to understand that cocobolo is a very unregular tree, if you're lucky the main log will give you 7' and after that it's all branches with more curves than a mountain road.

I tried to explain here the basics of wood, timber and sawing. had to bring her down back to earth, she thought that 50 of the small trees will give a container load . I explained that she maybe gets one load of all the trees she has. 
after that she left and let me there with her right hand which is actually an old friend of mine. half in the conversation i knew that she was getting annoyed with me.

after she left we dropped a 10" tree and i took it home, the first log (3'long) had 4" of heart  

I did the test run with the bimetal blade and it works like a charm.

the employee told me that she does that some times but afterwards she calms down and is back to listening, the heck i have a strong character too, so we will see if something good comes out of all that.

But i learned that my sawmill is perfectly capable of milling the hardest wood and that i like the new bands. 
In Life everything has to be seen as a gained experience.
National Stihl Timbersports Champion Costa Rica 2018

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2019, 07:12:49 PM »
Teak, you sure seem to have a good attitude.   Some of the experiences I gain I could do with out and wish I had never had to come to grips with them.  Banjo
Cooks AC 36--Prentice 210C--Morgan edger--Kubota M7040 with loader--Case 580 K with extendahoe--Case 850C dozer--Int 1700 series twin cylinder dump/log/flatbed truck--logging arch--2 Logrite mill sp.--Cat claw sharpening system--And a bulldog to make sure it all stays here.

Offline teakwood

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Re: What to charge for milling tropical hardwood?
« Reply #33 on: August 15, 2019, 08:46:18 AM »
well yeah, you have to learn disappointment here, normally it's just bla bla if anybody comes to you with a brilliant business idea. 
also if you sell something like a car or truck, half of the possible buyers don't even have the money but they still negotiating.

Didn't heard back from the client yet, so probably won't.
National Stihl Timbersports Champion Costa Rica 2018


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