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Author Topic: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?  (Read 6995 times)

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Offline Verticaltrx

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I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« on: March 30, 2016, 10:49:16 PM »
I'm getting quite an accumulation of good hardwood logs that I need to get sawn and subsequently sold. I have Red and White Oak, Tulip Poplar, Cherry, Ash, Red (soft) maple, Black Locust, and several others, mostly 8-12' long and 10"-20" diameter, including some interesting crotches and stump pieces.

Here's my dilema, I plan to sell all of this retail, hopefully to woodworkers and the like but I don't have any idea on pricing, what dimensions would sell best, what to slab vs mill into boards, etc. I've thought about placing ads saying I have wood types xyz for $xx/bf and cut to order, but I don't know if that would be the best or selling it cut and dried would be better. I might even build a solar kiln if dried lumber is really the way to go. Again, I don't know about pricing or whats in demand right now.

Just looking for some input from those who've been there, done that. I'm just a farmer/contractor with a mill and a bunch of "free" logs that I'm trying to turn into some income.  Thanks in advance. 
Wood-Mizer LT15G19

Offline Cedarman

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2016, 06:46:52 AM »
One of the first places people look for things is on the internet.  Talk with Jeff about getting a website up.  There is commodity pricing which is the lowest.  Find a copy of the Hardwood Market Report and you will find commodity pricing there.  Then there is the retail pricing.  It can be all over the place. 
Pretend you are a customer looking for wood and see what it would cost to buy what you might saw.  Check with other sellers in your area, around the state and around the region.
It will take some research to figure pricing.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2016, 07:26:09 AM »
To get feel for selling wood, figuring out what customers want, etc, Craigslist is a good place to get your feet wet.  Most won't pay retail, but they will pay, and you'll start learning your local market, etc. 
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a piece of tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not pieces of trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  Dont burn the cookies.

Offline WDH

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2016, 07:39:41 AM »
Being able to dry wood to furniture specifications changes the game. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5-111, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2016, 10:01:53 AM »
V,

   I'm probably not too far from you. I advertise and sell a little lumber/wood in our local free trader paper. I just advertise the species and the price per bf. When someone calls and asks what sizes I have available I till them any size they want as I cut to order. If necessary I will go cut another tree to fill their order as the only thing I offer is ones I am thinning (Poplar & Spruce) or salvaging (Ash and white pine).

   If I were you I would figure what each species is worth to you and advertise something like:

"Fresh sawed lumber, beams, slams etc. Species1, Species2, Species3 $ _/bf, Species4, species5, Species6 $_/bf, etc." then let the customer tell you what they wanted.

Another option if you want different prices for the same species of logs, based on the quality of each, would be to advertise as "Custom sawed lumber, slabs and beams. Species1 $_ to $_/bf, Species2 $_ to $_/bf, etc." and enter the price range for each type wood/log that you would cut and sell them for.

It would likely be a time consuming process but it is a start. If it looks like the logs are about to go bad make your best guess as to what you could sell and cut them up into that sizes. If long enough the White oak and locust might make good bridge timbers with the white oak side lumber cut into 4/4 for fencing. The locust might could be sawed into poles for pole barns and such if big enough and long enough. The softer/less durable woods would likely be used as barn sheeting. Walnut and cherry I would cut into thicker slabs for woodworker. Stack and sticker straight and keep advertising and store under the best conditions you have available.

You mention building and using a kiln but unless you have an immediate market for it do you have climate controlled storage for it? You might offer the kiln services to your customers for an additional fee and others might want to use it if you have to time and experience to dry it.

Good luck.
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 longtime lurker

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2016, 05:08:58 PM »
I've long said that there are three ways to cut a log: the way with the highest % recovery, the way with the highest $ recovery, and the way we're doing it today because the order book says so. I've never had all three at once.

Saw the logs. Saw them working on the best mix you can of value and recovery, with a little bit of "what you think might sell" in this species. Then take what you've got to market.

If you don't saw log degrade eats your profits.
If you saw the wrong sizes you can take an order and go get some more logs.
If you saw the wrong sizes what you've sawn won't go bad on the shelf, sooner or later it will be the right size for a given job.
So many people make the same mistakes with selling lumber. They assume they got to have the "right" size for an order to get a satisfied customer. But that's only part of it : mostly customers want to know what you can get not just what you have today, and they want advice, and they're happy with a fillet steak if the t-bones are all gone provided you can assure them that fillet will meet their need. It's a lot easier to get an order for 6/4 when the guy can look at the sawn 4/4 and see what he gets for his money rather then look at nothing. Always try and get them into the "store"... To do that requires stock to show... And chances are if your product is good you'll make a sale, and sometimes not what the guy came looking for.

Another common mistake small sawmillers make is thinking logs have value: they do, but only to another sawmiller. Lumber, on the other hand, is a tradable commodity and can be sold, or swapped for beer or something. :D Logs in the yard are important for future business but lumber is an investment in your own business far more so then a pile of rotting logs. I know it's hard when you don't have much clue as to what might sell in a given species, but you need to saw it and see, not wait while degrade slowly removes options from you.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline bkaimwood

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2016, 06:54:20 PM »
Great post, longtime lurker...I know a lot of fellas say don't saw a log unless you have a purpose or a buyer, and I used to be one of them. Waiting for calls, advertising species and pricing, and cut to your specs....second sentence out of the caller's mouth after species, dimensions, and price is "is it dry?". You reply, " no". Next question is "do you have ANYTHING dry?". You will again answer no.in 9 out of 10 cases, this is all the further the call will go, and you will be the guy that sells green wood. Alot of sawyers make good money selling green lumber. I've yet to find an outlet, and I've tried hard. Seems, like most things, to be regional. Gotta get something cut, do something, change something. Doing the same thing will produce the same end result, which is why I'm sure you are reaching out. Great advice, opinions, and input here on the FF!!!
bk

Offline Verticaltrx

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2016, 07:55:53 PM »
Thanks for all the great info, based on yalls input here's what I'm thinking now:

-Saw most of the logs I have into whatever they will best make
-Start placing ads on craigslist and the local trader papers for green rough sawn lumber
-Stack and sticker everything that I can't sell right away and start the air drying process, to be sold eventually when dry



Some of the oak is really nice, I might quarter saw that, the lower grade stuff will be 1x6 fence boards (which I can use a lot of myself). Cherry and Ash will be sawn into 4/4, 6/4 and 8/4 as wide as I can make, maybe a few live edge slabs. Poplar I'll probably mill into 4/4 or 5/4 boards for siding and maybe some as lap siding. Not sure about the red maple?

At the moment I don't have much extra space under roof so I'll just stack and sticker outside on level bunks and put some temporary roofs on the stacks. Eventually I hope to get another large pole barn built, some of which can be used for drying and storing lumber.

As to the kiln, I neglected to think about storing the kiln dried lumber. I guess KD lumber needs to be stored in a temperature and humidity controlled room to be properly kept?



Wood-Mizer LT15G19

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2016, 08:36:10 PM »
V,

   In addition to the other sizes listed I'd suggest you saw an assortment of mantels too from various types of woods. I like 4" thick but 3"-6" might also sell. I'd saw them live edge and 8-10 feet long. You can always edge one or both sides at the time of the sale if the customer wants. Its only a couple of cuts and can yield big bucks because they are so hard to find. A little extra length is good because sometimes the customer wants to make the corbels out of the same wood. They do move slower than some other wood but can be very profitable.
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 WDH

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2016, 08:52:15 PM »
Selling green lumber retail is a tough row to hoe (old saying).  Only Wholesalers and Dealers generally buy green hardwood lumber, then they dry it and sell it.  If you are catering to woodworkers and hoping to sell retail, the wood has to be dry or you will most likely not be successful. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5-111, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline cutterboy

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2016, 09:27:27 PM »
Hi Verticaltrx. I saw hardwood and sell it air dried. I've been doing it for 15 years. 90% of my sales are one inch thick boards (4/4) Most of my customers are woodworkers and most furniture is made from 4/4 lumber, so it makes sense. I do saw some  8/4 lumber and some 8/4 live edge slabs. They sell slowly but they do sell. I also stock some 2x2s, 3x3s, and 4x4s which also sell slowly.
  Most of my customers want boards that are 8 feet long or shorter so they can fit them in their pickup or car. And, btw, red maple sells very well. Except for red oak, red maple is my best seller. My customers tell me it is much easier to work with than hard maple and it looks just the same.
  Good luck.....Cutter

Offline Verticaltrx

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2016, 11:01:58 PM »
Few more questions,

-When handling logs/lumber/slabs etc that are to be live edge how do you keep the bark looking nice? My logs get loaded with my skid steer/grapple, into the dump truck, then dumped out at the farm where they are milled and turned using either a cant hook or the grapple, i.e. lots of steps that are hard on the bark.  Just be more careful?

-Pricing, about all I have to go on for green lumber is the price the local mill sells at. They really don't sell anything to the public except 1x6 white oak fence boards which are $0.75/bf and pine or poplar 1" siding which is $0.65/bf. Kiln dried, planed lumber at Lowes or Woodcraft is mostly in the $4.00-$8.00bf range and up, I assume air dried hardwood lumber would be somewhere in between?

-With air dried lumber what steps do I need to take to prevent pests in the lumber like powder post beetles, etc?

Thanks again
Wood-Mizer LT15G19

Offline WDH

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2016, 07:53:33 AM »
I generally expect to lose the bark on live edge slabs.  If the tree is felled during the growing season, the bark will tend to fall off or get loose as the slab dries and shrinks.  If felled in the winter, the bark is generally tight and can stay on the slab. 

Slabs with bark on them are insect magnets.  Spraying the boards with disodium octaborate tetrahydrate, one brand name is called TIMBOR, will protect your lumber from powderpost beetles.  Spray the boards green off the saw. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5-111, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2016, 09:08:48 AM »
V,

   I tell my customers the bark, if not already gone, is going to fall off as the wood dries more. They can try gluing or tacking it back on with finishing nails and such but they are really chasing their tail.
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 WV Sawmiller

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Re: I have the logs, how to sell the lumber?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2016, 01:17:16 PM »
V,

    I missed your pricing comment earlier.

    I sell Poplar, Pine and Ash for $.75. I offer Spruce for $1/bf. I sell a little cherry for $3/bf and walnut for $5/bf. My cherry and walnut are salvaged off dead or dying trees on my property. I don't cut my oaks and healthy cherries and such as they are worth more to me for wildlife trees. If anyone wanted it I'd likely find some maple for $1/bf. Mostly I have poplars that need thinning.

     I have not sold any pine or spruce yet. I would require a 500 bf minimum order before I would cut one of my pine trees. My spruce may be overpriced but I don't know of anybody else around here who has any (Mine is a stand of over-aged planted Christmas trees).

    I just sold a little (~100 bf of ash 2X) to a local guy because I happened to have it available and he was building a woodshed. I threw in a couple of mis-cut or badly bowed 2X4s to help clean up my shed. I always throw in something extra to every customer for good measure.

    You also mentioned building a pole barn. I have a couple threads on my barn I built to store my lumber. It has 3 sections over 18' wide X12' deep with 14 roof of old used tin. Used locust poles off my place and lumber off my place and only have about $500 or less in the shed. No matter how big you make one it won't be big enough. I don't have a tractor or skid steer with forks so can't go vertical. If/When I get one I will be able to double or triple the use I can get out of my shed.

    My business plan is to provide mobile sawing. The lumber sales are just a side line to salvage and use some of my available/excess trees. When a customer comes and buys a slab or a little lumber I give them a card and tell them about my service. Many promise to call back after they check on some trees they have down or in need if thinning. Some will - some won't. Some will pass along my info to others so it is still a good way to help market my services.
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"


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