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another mill owner,

Started by alanh, February 13, 2016, 10:59:38 AM

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After a few years of borrowing his lt 15 auto feed or bringing logs to his place my buddy sold me his mill, after he was nice enough to make it mobile, repaint, new decals and all. It even has a home inside where you can actually load and cut (I planned that when I built the addition). ....Right now I`ve got a pile of pine to cut into a timber frame porch/pavilion on the house...after that I`m not sure what I`ll need it for. I do know the phone is ringing from a lot of new "friends" that heard I have it....gonna have to figure out how to charge. What would be a fair hourly rate, I`m in semi rural Ct.


On a lower production mill, which is what I have too, I think the most fair way to charge is by the board foot. That way the customer isnt penalized because you have to go a little slower than others. Around here, .35 - .50 seems common.  sometimes when friends ask me to mill, Ill just eyeball the log and throw a price out.  For one or two logs, thats a way of doing business most folks can understand.  Im not trying to make a living at it and it sounds like you arent either.

Congrats on the mill.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.


Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79


I did small jobs like these on my LT15 and usually gave a price for the job after understanding what was wanted. I was targeting about $25 per hour but you'll have to decide what works in your area. I wasn't doing this for a living and this "low" rate wasn't taking business from those that were in the business. They didn't want small or odd jobs that weren't more suited to higher production mills. Enjoy your new mill!

WV Sawmiller


   As to rates I'd suggest you get an idea what your costs are then decide how much your time is worth and combine the two. You might tack on a nuisance fee if aren't really enthused about working for the guy. If at your place remember you will still have clean up of sawdust and slabs and such after the customer leaves.

    I'd also let every customer know they were responsible for band damage if they bring you logs with metal or rocks or such in them. Many of us charge $25 per damaged band. Some may be salvaged and just resharpened but unless you sharpen your own it will usually be weeks before you know if just dulled or ruined.

    Good luck and enjoy the mill.
Howard Green
WM LT35HDG25(2015) , 2011 4WD F150 Ford Lariat PU, Kawasaki 650 ATV, Stihl 440 Chainsaw, 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


Thanks for the input, you`re right, I don`t plan on trying to make a living, just looking for some kind of base line. I have been  self employed long enough to know that owning a piece of equipment and not charging enough puts you in a position of getting taken advantage of pretty quick, I already have plenty of "friends", most of the inquiries so far have been the "hey, Ive got this log I think would be cool to cut up and make some stuff" I think I`ll be using the one price plus blades approach on them,  like 75. minimum set up and first hr. and board ft or 25. hr after that.... thanks again


I certainly wish you the best with your new venture.   8)
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic   WM Million BF Club Member   WM Pro Sawyer Network

It's Weird being the Same Age as Old People

Never allow your "need" to make money to exceed your "desire" to provide quality service.....The Magicman


Wood mizer lt50 47hp yanmar Diesel  Sthil MS311, Ms661 MS200T, 029 farm boss  and a New Holland T4  75hp.


O.K. I`m sure you guys have been asked this dozens of times on pricing.. am I thinking this right? I just cut up a pine log for some work at my  son`s house, it was a 16 ft, 33" diameter at the small end. We cut a big header out of the center, the rest into 2x framing stuff and 1x for siding. Using info from another thread the doyle scale says its like 784 bd ft., so if I was charging .50 a bd ft as suggested above it would be o.k. to charge 395. to cut a log like this? We didnt spend 2 hrs cutting it so my previous thought on hourly appears alittle light,  I`m curious because I have a good size pile of this stuff.


Set a rate that compensates you for your time fairly, covers ALL your costs, and pays for the eventual replacement machine.  Then demonstrate your value by your work ethic and product quality.  I bet it is much more than $25 an hour after you think on it for a while. 
Firewood is energy independence on a personal scale.

Bandmill Bandit

How many BF can you produce on average over a week of daily sawing? Count all of the hours of sawing and related tasks and divide those hours by that MBF number.

Calculate your costs for fuel, bands, repairs etc. and then ad a value of minimum 1% to 3% max of the replacement cost of your mill and milling related equipment (depreciation) and add that to the price calc and then add your personal labour/expertise value to that.

With my LT40 hyd  and related equipment replacement is at approximately $55,000 to $60,000. So the first number in the column is $60.00. General operating costs run me about $7 to $10 bucks an hour depending on fuel price and which bands I am using.

My time and expertise is worth at least $35 an hour and I know that is too cheap but it is fair.

So my hourly rate looks like this; $60 + $10+ $35 = $105 for an hourly rate.

If the customer asks me to provide the additional labour then I add $40.00 an hour to cover that.
Have not been asked to do that yet.

Now convert that to a BF price by dividing the average number of BF per hour (300BF is my average) that you produce in week of average cutting. For me that comes out to $.35/BF. You will note that this price kinda matches up with what many people on the site are indicating is the rate in "their" area.

I have been using this method to establish price for custom work I do or have done for 40 years and it has served me well.

I only use the board foot rate if the production rate for the overall job exceeds 300BF/hr.

Most customers just pick the hourly rate unless I get into a job where I am parked for 2 weeks or more and have real high quality timber too saw where the BF rate will make sense.       
Skilled Master Sawyer. "Skilled labour don't come cheap. Cheap labour dont come skilled!
2018 F150 FX4, Husqvarna 340, 2 Logright 36 inch cant hooks and a bunch of stuff I built myself


Thanks, bandmiller, makes sense., pretty much the same formula we use for backhoe and our other equipment, just in this case you need a base to get it to a bd ft price, where with dirt we can figure a by the yard average.


alanh, You have not added your location to your profile so it is difficult to recommend pricing amounts.  For here, .50 per bf would keep you out of the sawing business.  That is double the current sawing rate.  It is also too close to what a customer would expect to pay for "store bought" lumber.
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic   WM Million BF Club Member   WM Pro Sawyer Network

It's Weird being the Same Age as Old People

Never allow your "need" to make money to exceed your "desire" to provide quality service.....The Magicman


I`m sure you`re correct mm, ..just doing some research, as I`ve said, looking at a hobby , not a job, fair is fair, not looking to take advantage of anyone, I just don`t want to be doing  too many favors. I work hard enough at the day job...


Notice that I said in my area.  Other area seem to have a wide variation.  Prices seem to be lowest where there is Amish, etc. competition.
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic   WM Million BF Club Member   WM Pro Sawyer Network

It's Weird being the Same Age as Old People

Never allow your "need" to make money to exceed your "desire" to provide quality service.....The Magicman

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