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Author Topic: New here looking for advice  (Read 2491 times)

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Offline amgont75

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New here looking for advice
« on: August 20, 2013, 04:39:21 PM »
Hi all,

     My name is Andrew and I am like most people on here looking for advice in how to start up in this industry.  I live in Arizona and am looking for get a portable mill and kiln.  I know most of  you are thinking....aren't there only palm trees and sand in Arizona?  well to be honest yes in my area there is.  But n the north and south of Arizona there is Pine and Ironwood. 

     I would just like to hear thoughts from you guys about what you think about trying this around Phoenix.  There are a few larger mills that specialize in Pine here.  If you live in the area even better since you would know the market.  I am mostly looking to saw, dry, and maybe mold or finish it for the furniture quality lumber.

     Sorry for a short and choppy start to this.  I am sure you will have questions to ask and I will be happy to answer all I know.

Thanks,

Andrew
Andrew From Arizona

Offline drobertson

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 04:45:43 PM »
Howdy, and I hope you find some good info Andrew, if there is pine the mills will come,  some good info is surely soon to come,  david
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline beenthere

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 05:04:20 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum.
A good place to hang out and for us to hear about your venture into milling. The ponderosa pine to the north should make great sawing, if you can get some logs down to your area. Others will chime in and know the availability of logs on the market.
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Offline Deese

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 05:08:59 PM »
Hey Andrew,
Welcome to the forum. I am new to the forum as well. The folks on here are extremely nice and eager to help.
I am new to the world of sawmilling, otherwise I would be glad to help!
Good luck!
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Offline samandothers

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 05:24:41 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  I look forward to some of the responses here.

Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 06:43:00 PM »
Thanks guy already reading old posts and learning a lot.  Hope to find people with knowledge of the Arizona market.
Andrew From Arizona

Online Chuck White

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 06:55:51 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum, Andrew!

Lots of good info in all that reading!  :P
~Chuck~
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Offline Sixacresand

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 08:53:51 PM »
Welcome to the Forum.  With the low humidity in the South West, I wonder if you could get by with air drying your lumber.   Looking forward to your posts.

Offline Migal

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2013, 09:06:26 PM »
Welcome to the FF  8) Im sure mesquite buckeye  might have some advice on Arizona Lumber JMO enjoy your endeavor  :)
Stihl learning and picked up my Log Master LM2 Cat 34hp 02 21 12! 230MF+ the toys that go with it! MS361 MS271 Stihl PB500 Echo 48" Logrite 16ft Bass Tracker Pro' Abua Garcia 5600 bait caster, Wood working equipment' Lake Lot never enough time! oh don't forget the fridge with ale! Loving Wife Rebeca

Offline thecfarm

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 09:18:47 PM »
amgont75,welcome to the forum.AZ? Any wood workers around Phoenix? Might be able to sell them wood for projects?
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Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 09:26:14 PM »
There are many woodworkers around in the area.  I would have to get set up and have the wood ready to sell which wouldn't be too hard.  A lot of cabinet makers, home builders, furniture makers, even hobbyists.  I just have to get my name out there and my services.  Also need to know what wood they use and see if I can get the logs at a competitive rate to have a chance with the supply houses.  Nice thing is a few of the supply houses list their prices that I can see. So I know roughly what the going rate is at retail end.  But I am so green in this field and want to learn.  I also want this to be a full time business and not a hobby.  So any feedback would be great.

Thanks again all,

Andrew
Andrew From Arizona

Offline thecfarm

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2013, 09:40:44 PM »
WDH is the man when it come to selling to wood workers. He will be along sometime.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2013, 10:06:39 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum, amgont75.   :)
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2013, 10:58:38 PM »
Glad to have you here.   8)
YH
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2013, 11:34:59 PM »
Oh, there you are. ;D

Welcome to the forum. I mostly mill mesquite in AZ. If you live in Phoenix, you should get in contact with the tree service guys. They are always removing trees and have to pay to dump them. Instant logs for free. You might have to convince them not to cut them all up into 2 ft lengths. You should be able to get aleppo pines, eucalyptus, mesquite, acacia, african sumac, sycamore and who know what else in your area if you are willing to be brave. Be aware that it may be easier to produce lumber than to sell it. Just sayin'. I cut up some red gum eucalyptus about 20 years ago thinking I would get rich on it. The stuff is absolutely gorgeous, extremely challenging to dry, and twists, curls and collapses when drying. Good luck getting woodworkers to try it. Once they do, though, they will be back. I am building the floor in my house with it, since I have sold maybe 1% of what I made. I think I will be using it all up myself. Too bad for those other guys.

Outside of urban wood, getting access to stands of timber worth cutting except on private land has a high PITA factor. I hope this is of some help.
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2013, 11:37:38 PM »
And if you are just a little patient, you don't need a kiln in AZ. The wood will dry to 5-7% with just air.
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2013, 12:03:03 AM »
Is that using no kiln at all or a solar kiln?  I would love to hair dry lumber to save on money but during the summer wouldn't the lumber dry too fast for the wood?
Andrew From Arizona

Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2013, 12:13:34 AM »
You can control drying rates with tarps, cloth, whatever. You can even wet the pile if it really starts to get away from you. It is only a problem in the hottest, driest months of the year and with certain, collapse and check prone species.
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline Migal

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2013, 12:21:38 AM »
Is that using no kiln at all or a solar kiln?  I would love to hair dry lumber to save on money but during the summer wouldn't the lumber dry too fast for the wood?

Im not in AZ but do know wood is going to equilibrium with its surroundings but the wood mb suggested is very dry even when alive so different sparks for different fart's err different area's requirements for different types of wood due to the area it is in I see this all the time on this forum and very seldom chime in due to the fact that This is a great place but also take's a bit of common sense too! That being said not a lot of difference between Spalted and Rot to me but don't reckon there is much spalting occurring in AZ LOL but it is beautiful to see what nature has left for us to display with pride!
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2013, 12:25:46 AM »
We get spalted mesquite logs, but nobody wants to pay for them. :(
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline Migal

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2013, 12:28:47 AM »
Well Dang the Luck  :-X
Stihl learning and picked up my Log Master LM2 Cat 34hp 02 21 12! 230MF+ the toys that go with it! MS361 MS271 Stihl PB500 Echo 48" Logrite 16ft Bass Tracker Pro' Abua Garcia 5600 bait caster, Wood working equipment' Lake Lot never enough time! oh don't forget the fridge with ale! Loving Wife Rebeca

Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2013, 08:15:21 AM »
This is great guys.  I have not been on a forum this active for a long time.  Keep up with the advice every little bit helps.
Andrew From Arizona

Offline dboyt

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2013, 10:49:35 AM »
I'm an advocate of the solar kiln route.  It gives you more control over the drying process and is more consistent, without wondering whether to put a tarp over the wood.  It will  cut down the drying time, cause minimal defect, and the procedures are well documented.  You've basically got three factors: temperature, humidity, and air flow to control.  If your wood will be used locally, you'll want to go a little drier than most kiln dry wood-- 5% to 6%.  Any thoughts on the sawmill features you'll be looking for?
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Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2013, 10:58:48 AM »
Hello dboyt.  Thanks for the great info.  I was thinking about a solar kiln they look fun to build and easier on the pocket book. 

The features I want on a mill....as most people want I want everything as cheap as possible.  Having said that I would like it to be efficient, able to cut enough BF to make this a full time business.  Hydraulic loader since most of the time I will be doing this alone.  I was looking at the TimberKing or the Wood-Mizer lines.  Portable would be great for the service of going to the customer.

I hope this helps you if you have more questions for me please ask.

Thanks,

Andrew
Andrew From Arizona

Offline MAI

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2013, 11:57:32 AM »
Welcome to the FF Amgont75.  As you can see the info and feedback keeps coming.  The members are great and are always willing to share their experiences.

Offline Ianab

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2013, 04:12:47 PM »
Is that using no kiln at all or a solar kiln?  I would love to hair dry lumber to save on money but during the summer wouldn't the lumber dry too fast for the wood?

Depends on the species. Some like pine and cedar you pretty much can't dry too fast, commercially they will kiln dry it in about 2 days. Other species like oak can air dry too fast and develop surface checks etc.

A kiln does give you better control of the drying process.

Ian
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Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2013, 10:18:03 PM »
Thanks Ianab.  I think around here is mostly pine.  But in the south there is Ironwood.  Does anyone have any experience cutting or drying Ironwood?
Andrew From Arizona

Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2013, 11:19:16 PM »
Almost all the ironwood is on government land and in general, they are not selling. I bought some in the 80's from the state, lots of work to arrange, only could get "flood damage" dead and down, since a bird might still sit on a standing one. Only lost a few thousand dollars on that deal. Cutting: most are hollow, lots of sand in the down ones, and eat blades for breakfast, don't worry about them lasting more than a few cuts. Wood doesn't move much after it gets cut, since it is already dead and usually dry. ;D





Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2013, 06:47:05 AM »
Oh, ironwood is a species of tree?  I thought you meant iron IN the wood  :D .  You'll probably cut plenty of that, too.  There are a lot of good mills, and I'd suggest checking out the sponsors links.  I've been very pleased with my Norwood, which has hydraulics that you can either buy with the mill or add on later (I'm still running a manual mill).  I cut a fair amount of hedge which is also a very dense wood.  No problems, as long as you keep a sharp blade on the mill.
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Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2013, 02:48:52 PM »
Yes Ironwood is a species.  Mostly used for knife handles and some pens I hear.

I am looking around this website and there is so much to look at.  You guys know your stuff and I like tat your willing to share. 

Thanks for all the responses so far.
Andrew From Arizona

Offline beenthere

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2013, 02:59:40 PM »
Many trees get the name or nickname of ironwood. The list is long, and locals seemingly wherever will use the name.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironwood
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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2013, 03:23:09 PM »
Olneya tesota, Desert ironwood.....this is the ironwood I was referring to.  I was happy to see it on the list lol.
Andrew From Arizona

Offline Brad_S.

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2013, 06:20:39 PM »
There are many woodworkers around in the area.  I would have to get set up and have the wood ready to sell which wouldn't be too hard.  A lot of cabinet makers, home builders, furniture makers, even hobbyists.  I just have to get my name out there and my services.  Also need to know what wood they use and see if I can get the logs at a competitive rate to have a chance with the supply houses.  Nice thing is a few of the supply houses list their prices that I can see. So I know roughly what the going rate is at retail end.  But I am so green in this field and want to learn.  I also want this to be a full time business and not a hobby.  So any feedback would be great.

Thanks again all,

Andrew
Not many woodworks make furniture out of the pine in your area or even use pine in general.

You can't compete with Home Depot in selling 2x lumber even if you had free trees.

Cabinet shops want a one stop source for any species they need in any thickness they need and they want it NOW. And planed...paying an extra few cents to have planed lumber vs. hours planing it themselves is a deal for them.They also want plywood with that order and want it all delivered. Very hard to woo them into buying wood from you.

It's very difficult to saw, dry and inventory all the species and dimensions both professionals and hobbiests want, even here in the Northeast where a wide variety of trees is available. I can't imagine trying it in Pheonix.

I know, I am mister negativity. But I am just trying to save you the heart ache and expense of what I had to learn the hard way.
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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2013, 07:43:07 PM »
And on a less negative note (no offense to the good advice of Brad_S) the Phoenix area has the snow birds and retirees who may be looking for the specialty sizes and figure for continuing their woodworking hobbies, be it building a piece of furniture, or some yard items, or turn a bowl or a pen.
Not the 2x dimension material for building a wall or a car port, but something unique to feed their woodworking tools.
Might there be some woodworking clubs in the Phoenix area that meet regularly and possibly support a woodworking shop of shared tools? Might be good to check out.
 8)
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Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #34 on: August 22, 2013, 08:54:19 PM »
Hi guys.  Brad_S wasn't being negative he was being realistic.  I also totally understand where he is coming from.  But knowing retail and being in wholesale and working with contractors a lot I understand that they want a one stop shop.  On the flip side if I can offer them a product that they save money on and I deliver to them, there shouldn't be an issue.  If all the have to do is tell me what type of lumber they use more often I can stock, cut, and dry that.  For the trim on cabinets there are only afew type of wood they use in general.  I am looking for a specific market not to become a supplier who stocks everything.

     Brad_S do you do this as a hobby or a business? Just curious.  you seem to have a lot of good points.


     To beenthere....You are absolutely right.  There are woodworking clubs around here.  I have not thought of them and I thnk you for that lead.  I am just looking for a way to make a ok living helping the little guys make more money.  They would win and I would win.  Everyone knows in business the bigger customers always get the best deals.  I think I would ike to help the little guys out just trying to make it.  From the furniture makers to home remodelers if I have the control from start to finish and not have to pay someone to dry my lumber I would save and pass it on to them.  Most wholesale suppliers are just middleman.

     I hope this make sense I am typing this and trying to help my kids with homework. lol Multitasking with this isn't the easiest lol.

Thanks all,

Andrew
Andrew From Arizona

Offline Brad_S.

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2013, 10:56:07 PM »
     Brad_S do you do this as a hobby or a business? Just curious.  you seem to have a lot of good points.
It was my full time job and sole source of income for 16 years. I threw in the towel in 2008 when my assets and liabilities became equal. I didn't want to run a deficit.

It was never more than a subsistence living for me. Most years all I did was break even. The carrot that kept me going was the thought that when I could sell retail, things would turn around. Rochester has a large, active and affluent woodworking community. The largest store in town that catered to them was outrageously expensive. It certainly wouldn't be hard to beat their prices! I finally achieved the goal of a retail outlet after about 13 years of effort. (Custom sawing was my bread and butter while I built an equipment inventory, secured storage space, secured a retail space and built a retail inventory)

What I didn't understand was the mindset of the hobby woodworker.

The hobby guy will spend $20 extra dollars in gas to drive somewhere where he can get 20 boardfeet of lumber at 10 cents a bdft less than your price. He wants an absolutely clear piece of 8"x12' material which he then takes home and cuts into a half-a-dozen small pieces but he will not buy #1 common for a third of the price because it has knots in it and he can't see the absurdity of what he is doing. The hobby guy will spend an hour tearing your stack apart to buy one single board. The time you spend with him greeting him, showing him the stack and either waiting for him or stopping what you are doing to go back and tally him out is a loss.
Add in the overhead of maintaining a controlled storage space, the cost of the material, the bookkeeping to make sure the govt. gets their cut, etc, and suddenly I saw why the store in town was so expensive! BTW, they are still standing, I am not.

I don't want to be a dream killer and I know many of my posts are negative, but I have been down the road so many of you guys are eyeing and I can tell you it is a lot rougher than it looks.

Repair costs were my downfall. I could not afford new and buying used is buying someone elses headache. Then there is the sheer volume and capital expense of equipment needed. The sawmill is just the tip of the iceberg. You need a machine to handle logs and lumber, the kiln and the associated energy costs, a truck, chainsaws, cant hooks, planers.

You have taxes, insurance, utilities, accountants, health insurance, advertising, phone plans, computers and internet, office supplies, blades, log sealer, sharpener expenses and a million other nickel and dime costs to consider. The amount of diesel fuel I went through to keep the sawmill, skidsteer and truck operating was staggering and that was before it was nearly $4 a gallon. You spend your evenings returning phone calls because you can't stop working during the day every time the phone rings. You have the visitor who wants to sit around and talk about how his great grandfather owned a mill, calls from Harry Homeowner who needs to put his kid through college and wants you to buy his 12" diameter walnut tree that hangs over the house or professional associates who can't work today due to rain in the woods or some other reason and just stop over to shoot the breeze. Don't even get me started on the retired guys with nothing else to do!

On top of all this, you are in an area of limited species. Local trucking costs floored me, I can't imagine what it would cost you to truck in non-native species. And remember that only a third to half of the log will yield top grade lumber...you will need a market for that marginal stuff as well.

If I were you, I would make a new post asking how many members sell retail, cutting out the middle man and what their success rate is...I would be interested in the answer as well. Do a search for non-active member "Kelvin" and read his posts. Since I am in the dialog window, I can't see how many posts you have but when you get up to a certain number (~50 or so) a new forum board should open up for you called "business" or a title to that effect. Read the thread "How's business in your area" for a broad view of the world of sawmilling. Search for an old thread titled something to the effect of "Can you really make a living running a sawmill?"

Again, I am sorry to be so negative and I don't mean to squash anyones dreams. Just trying to get you to open your eyes wider than I did mine. The FF did not exist when I started. This is a tremendous resource, use it well. And while it is great to get all sorts of responses, remember that few on this site do it full time. It is easy to feel buoyed by the positive responses of those that do it as a hobby. They tell you how they are making money with their sawmills but they forget their "day" jobs are subsidizing many of the costs that your mill and your mill alone will have to cover for you.

Best of luck! (and I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically)
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." J. Lennon

Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2013, 11:03:27 PM »
Good call, Brad. It always looks easier from the outside. I can't tell you the number of lumber deals I have lost money on, or just broken even. Once in a while you get a good one and make some money. I can tell you it isn't easy in the mesquite business. I'm sure the other guys could tell you similar stories. I'm thinking retired and part time with soc sec or pension and you can maybe do it. Very scary to do your whole living from it. Takes a very special person. ;D
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline WDH

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2013, 08:09:34 AM »
Very well put, Brad. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5640SU, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline amgont75

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2013, 09:41:51 AM »
All very good points Brad thank you.  I have posted a new thread asking about the making a living at this.  Slowly getting responses.  I do not have enough activity to get access to the business section yet but I am getting there. 

I have contacts in the trucking industry but I don't know the charges to get non-native logs to my area.  I am getting in contact with local landscapers and tree removal companies to see if I can get the "free" logs to save them money.

I like reading all the experiences people on here have had and to learn different point of views.  It helps a lot to come up with different ideas someone hasn't thought of.

How about advertising?  How does everyone get their name out in their area?  I don't know how big of area everyone is from but Phoenix is not a small city and spread out more then most think.  When I moved here I was amazed.  I know networking and word of mouth works well.

Talk to you all soon and cant wait to read more posts.
Andrew From Arizona

Offline AZ_builder

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #39 on: February 10, 2019, 01:59:53 PM »
Bringing back an old one. Just curious if your plans ever worked out or not?

Offline starmac

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #40 on: February 10, 2019, 03:37:26 PM »
I don't know how much money is in it, but contractors use a lot of grade stakes and dunnage too.

Big dunnage is our local mills bread and butter, and their prices are out of sight, but there is no competition for big orders.
They started building pallets last year and are using lots of wood that way too. 
If pine is your main lumber there it may pay to build storage buildings or something similar to add value to the lumber you cut.

Are they still killing the pecan plantations off around there to build subdivisions, maybe possible to get some different type of wood.

I looked at some rustic cabinets up at black canyon city, that a guy built out of spalted mesquite, they came out very nice.
Old LT40HD, old log truck, old MM forklift, and several huskies.

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Re: New here looking for advice
« Reply #41 on: February 10, 2019, 06:04:48 PM »
Brad_S, re-reading this many year old old, your reply #36 was dead on, and got me to laughing.  Loved the walnut story, I get those calls constantly.  Can you come and cut down the walnut thats growing next to my backdoor, pay me for the tree, clean up the branches and then give me half the dried lumber? No?  Why not?  I thought you were a sawmill, dont you cut trees??  

Great post.  

Some of the things you mention happen to us all the time.  
About the only one you didnt mention is the person who literally drives for hours in the pouring rain to get here, passes a dozen Wal Marts with racks of blue tarps for $25, shows up in their open bed pickup truck, buys a stack of high dollar, kiln dried and planed S4S wood and then asks if its ok for the wood to ride back home in the rain.   ::)

HobbyHardwoodAlabama.com


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