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Author Topic: Log length question  (Read 4055 times)

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Offline Bibbyman

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Log length question
« on: August 07, 2001, 07:10:41 AM »
My dad worked in the forest since childhood - starting with "hacking" ties with a crosscut, broad ax.  I helped him cut walnut and white oak veneer and stave timber for many years.  He was meticulous with the felling of the trees, bucking the logs to length,  and trimming them neatly - including the removal of spurs, stump swell and such.

We've been running a "Mom and Pop" sawmill business for the past five years.  Some of the farmers do a reasonable job of delivering logs ready to be mill and others don't.  We get some logs off of development sites that are not cut and bucked the best they could have been.

But what I'm querulous about is the professional loggers. (Well, they make their living cutting logs.)  We just got in three loads of logs from three different logging crews on Monday.  Common with all of them were that the logs were cut with no regards to length.  One would be 8'-9" and the next 9"-11" and so on.  No real effort to improve the looks or manageability of the logs were made.  A few even had small limbs still attached.  We had to cull several logs as they just wouldn't make lumber.  We had a chance to talk with the owner of the biggest outfit when we settled up and he had no problem with us culling out a few logs or scaling a 9"-11" log as an 8'.  It was just the way he did business.

Is this common practice these days?  ::)
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Offline timberbeast

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2001, 05:41:06 AM »
Not in my experience.  The loggers I know allow 6 inches for trim,  or what the mill specifies.  Usuall an 8-footer is 100".  If a mill is buying logs they usually won't measure each,  but they will remember.....and they'll also remember if the logs are trimmed and nice,  and usually scale you a bit high for the trouble.  Some will even pay a small bonus.  But some are just sloppy....I've seen loads of cedar "padded" with rotten pulp.  Those guys usually don't last long.
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Offline Tom

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2001, 06:22:12 AM »
The smaller outfits seem to be the most consciencious.  The bigger the logging outfit, the less the owner seems to know about what is going on and fly-by-night employees are more interested in quantity than quality.  I've met quite a few who can't read a tape rule.

There is so much pulp cut here that it is a really tenious job for most loggers to have to cut to length.  They are pretty good about size of tops and what hangs behind the trailer but I think they are stepping off most logs rather than measuring.

Some of the slasher and loader operators are pretty good though.  I've seen one who cared cut loads from 4-6 inches over.

Most of those guys need to be educated and nobody is doing it.  If you could get to the woods and explain it to the logging crew they would probably try harder.  Maybe you could invite one of the crews to the mill for coffee and a hamburger after work one day and give them a tour. :-/

You may also cull the logs to length and charge a fee to cut them back and "dispose" of the waste.  Some are doing what they are doing because it is faster and easier to put the work on someone else.  If it comes back to haunt them, they'll quit. (or find anther mill :))
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2001, 08:03:26 AM »
I haven't experienced that problem here. The loggers I deal with cut clean length logs. They measure out their lengths and grade when bucking.

Research shows that they increase their value by at least 5% through a good cut to length harvest method.

As said, an 8 footer is 100 inches with the 4" trim allowance.
~Ron

Offline Jeff

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2001, 10:12:37 AM »
Ron, it is a problem here. We have one logger in particular right now who is horrible. We are in need of ten foot aspen. Our market for 8ft is all but gone. This guys logs run from 10 foot to 11 1/2 ft. with the majority the longer. What a freakin waste. We sell the mfor 10s the guy on the other end complains because of the extra, because he has to deal with the extra that he is not set up to deal with. We have trouble getting it on our trucks because of the odd lengths, and the log haulers do to.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2001, 03:22:41 PM »
Independent loggers do not make their money logging, they make it in marketing logs.  

I run into the too long problem all the time.  It seems that since they have mechanized saw bucks, the measuring to any degree, has gone out the window.  It's better to be too long than too short.

What I get now is untrimmed butt flares, and excessive knots.  

To some people, that's no big deal.  But, I have to make several extra cuts or turns on a log that just ain't worth it.  Instead of 1 guy standing around, I have 4.  Your profits begin to evaporate pretty quick.

I started to point out how much lumber is lost in the course of a year, just by cutting logs 6-8 inches too long.  Well into 5 digits for a small operation.  After that, there was an improvement.
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Offline Bibbyman

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2001, 03:46:47 PM »
Well,  I don't know if I feel any better knowing it's not just me getting odd length and poorly prepared logs.   :(

For a while I had one part-time logger that I tried to work close with.  I'd tell him when we'd get a big (for us) order for 12' stuff (for example) and ask him to up the volume on them if he could.  The next load of logs would be all 12' long.  Unfortunately,  I couldn't use half of them because of sweep or other defects.  I would try to explain to him that what he was doing was not helping him or me.  If they needed to be 8's, 10's or whatever,  then buck them to that length.  But if he could spot trees that would make the logs I needed,  then cut them and I'd take the others they made too.  

He had only one method of felling trees - CUT FAST!!  :o :o He busted up,  stump cracked, and pulled splinters on lots of good logs. (Yes,  he's still alive. But he had a good chance not to be on about every load.) I'd show him in the lumber where I had to cut boards off because of cracks or splinter pull.  I even went to where he was cutting nice white oak and showed him how to cut a notch, leave a hinge,  plunge cut up to the notch and back and then cut the tree loose to produce a controlled fall.  He stood talking to the landowner and never paid any attention.  He continued to fell the way he always did. ???

He's the foreman on a power line clearing crew now. :-/
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Offline Tom

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2001, 05:33:16 PM »
It seems to be a difficult thing to do today, find someone who cares about his job.  Jobs have become so specialized that a provider doesn't know what he is providing for and is too independent to find out.

I'll have to admit there are some doggone good loggers who care, but they are few and far between.
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Offline timberbeast

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2001, 11:49:13 PM »
I'm independent as you can get,  but if I'm selling logs (I'm not now,  I'm milling them),  I always call the buyer before I bring them in and ask what he wants.  Sometimes it gets me in trouble.  I had a load of 100 inchers on the trailer ready to go,  I called him,  and JUST THAT MORNING,  he needed 75 inch.  I'm still using up the kindling from that fiasco,  but he'll buy from me sometimes even if he's not taking wood.  He remembers that I did that.  Besides,  I needed the money!!!
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Offline Tom

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2001, 06:43:03 AM »
That's an admirable way of doing business.  When you help out your customers they usually will help you out too.  It kind of evens out in the long run.  I've found it funny that a lot of the loggers don't consider mills customers, they consider themselves employees of the mill.  Because of this they take a lot of guff off of mills that they wouldn't if they considered themselves an independent business.

Of course mills tend to have a "captured audience" in that there are fewer mills than loggers but when dealing with small mills, good customer relations are good for business.

I hold dear to my heart customers, suppliers and vendors who acknowledge me as just another human being trying to make a buck and will bend over backward to return the favor.  
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Offline Gordon

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2001, 03:14:08 PM »
Trimmed butts and 4-6 inch excess at one mill or else the pay will be lower on the load.

Another mill wants ALL logs full length, if even close to straight. Usually nothing shorter than 10 foot. Just goes by the tops at times no smaller than 16 inches at the top other times of the year might be 8 or 10 at the top. They say the reason for this is it leaves open as to what they need. Also had so much trouble with poorly bucked logs from a lot of the loggers.

Better be straight, top dollar, any twists pennies. A lot depends on the mood of the grader at times I think. I've got top dollar for loads that I thought weren't worth much and loads that I thought were top dollar got pennies for. Evens out in the end I guess.

Anybody else have problems with the graders at times?
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Offline Bibbyman

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Re: Log length question
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2001, 04:15:56 PM »
Timberbeast's comments ring true all up and down the fickle "supply and demand" food chain.   I don't know how many times I bought logs I didn't need and at the same time had orders waiting for want of logs.  

Just one example:

There is a lot of aromatic red cedar logged in our area.  A good many farmers and part-time loggers cut cedar because of the low investment in equipment.  We would buy a load from time to time to fill our local orders.  Probably 6 loggers in the neighborhood wanted to bring us cedar rather then haul it 75-100 miles to another market.  We just couldn't find a market for it all.  Then the broker I was taking our oak to ask if we could get him cedar.  I told him I could get him 1000 bf from logs I had on hand.  We did and he was very pleased and wanted more.  I contacted every cedar logger we had dealt with or talked to in the past and one by one - none could get us any cedar logs.  It was deer season - tractor broke and don't have money to fix it - went back to work at the factory,  and so on.  After about 3 months,  two old farmers in their 80's took pity on us and cut us a half-dozen pickup loads of cedar logs.  We got a 1000 bf sawed out and loaded on the truck.  Called the broker and he had found another supplier and didn't need any.  

Another there months passed and here they were in our loglot with loads of cedar.  "Well,  you told me you wanted cedar."  "YES" Six months ago!"  Six months ago I could have established a market that would have benefited everyone.  
???
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