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Author Topic: Finding saw logs... any pointers?  (Read 957 times)

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Offline Cornerstone

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Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« on: May 09, 2022, 12:08:25 AM »
My home built sawmill will be ready to start sawin' real soon. I have my eye on several dead trees on my 19 acres, but I bet most of them are rotted beyond usefulness. I won't want to take out many of my own living big trees, since, well you know why. Where I live in Texas (Dallas/Ft. Worth area) there are not plentiful amounts of big straight tall trees. I'm willing to drive to east Texas, where there are those kinds of trees, buy them and carry them home on the trailer. 

I have heard of a couple of methods to start making contacts for saw logs and figured I'd share them here and ask what you others are doing to source logs.

The first method is to contact all the local tree service companies and spread the word that I will pick up anything decent they were planning on getting rid of, straight from the customers location. The thought is to save them the work and expense of cutting them up and hauling them off.

The second idea is to search Marketplace and Craigslist for free wood, and even post ads that offer to remove select trees at no cost to them, in exchange for keeping the logs. 

Obviously the trees that are from an urban source will be prone to blade destroying nails and such, so I'm hoping to make connections on a more professional level. I'd like to find loggers who would sell to an individual, I may be able to buy upwards of a truckload depending on the cost. This is all new to me if you cant tell by now, so any tips are appreciated! 


I took this picture a few weeks ago when I took a 3 hour trip to east Texas and visited Runquist Sawmill. The owner, Troy, was a super nice guy who sold me a trailer load of mixed varieties. 



Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2022, 06:47:39 AM »
   Congrats on the new mill and good luck. What are you plans for the lumber? Personal use or sale?

   I would be very careful about the "Free Wood" as it is never free. If someone has a woodlot they want cleared it may work but anything close to houses, buildings, utility lines, fences, etc, should be left to the arborists. They are equipped and insured for that kind of work and I'd bet you don't have that kind of liability insurance. For them it is not if they will damage something but how often and how expensive. You are going to find many shysters who have dangerous trees and want to use you to remove them rather than paying arborists. Most have already checked and know what they will have to pay and think they are pulling the wool over an ignorant sawmiller getting him to cut, remove and clean up the area.

   I would contact the Texas Forestry dept for a list a loggers in the area and talk with them. Most probably won't be interested in dealing with a small hobbyist but some may be willing to sell especially if you can pick up at the landing and come with cash in hand and ready to pay decent prices on the spot. There will be a learning curve and you will no doubt pay your dues till you learn more about what to buy and what to avoid.

   Why not continue to buy from the sawmill like you last did?
Howard Green
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2022, 08:53:46 AM »
KY has a Master Logger List which is posted online by county. Google shows me a similar list for Texas. In my area a few loggers do most of the cutting, others have certification and maybe are out of the work now or once did log. Farms and ranches may cut on their own land if legal there? Here, you can abuse your land at will. 
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Offline Cornerstone

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2022, 10:00:56 AM »
  Congrats on the new mill and good luck. What are you plans for the lumber? Personal use or sale?

   I would be very careful about the "Free Wood" as it is never free. If someone has a woodlot they want cleared it may work but anything close to houses, buildings, utility lines, fences, etc, should be left to the arborists. They are equipped and insured for that kind of work and I'd bet you don't have that kind of liability insurance. For them it is not if they will damage something but how often and how expensive. You are going to find many shysters who have dangerous trees and want to use you to remove them rather than paying arborists. Most have already checked and know what they will have to pay and think they are pulling the wool over an ignorant sawmiller getting him to cut, remove and clean up the area.

   I would contact the Texas Forestry dept for a list a loggers in the area and talk with them. Most probably won't be interested in dealing with a small hobbyist but some may be willing to sell especially if you can pick up at the landing and come with cash in hand and ready to pay decent prices on the spot. There will be a learning curve and you will no doubt pay your dues till you learn more about what to buy and what to avoid.

   Why not continue to buy from the sawmill like you last did?
Thanks for your response! Yes... Thankfully, I can smell a bad deal a mile away most of the time, and you are correct, no liability insurance for that kind of work. I don't mind going back to buy from Troy, I'm just trying to find something perhaps a bit closer than a 6 hour round trip. Plus, I would expect him to make money selling them to me, since he had to take time and use his guys and equipment. If I can manage to buy direct from the guys who cut them down or haul them to the mills, I was hoping to pay less. This brings up a whole nuther question for a guy like me getting started. How much should I expect to pay for a quality log? Maybe you can give some guidance on that?  
I want to use the wood for both purposes. I need wood for several rental cabins I would like to build on my land to generate a retirement income. I also have several folks wanting me to be able to provide slabs and dimensional lumber as well. One of the first things to build will be a solar kiln.
Thanks again, I value your opinion.
Brian
Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
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Offline Cornerstone

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2022, 10:02:43 AM »
KY has a Master Logger List which is posted online by county. Google shows me a similar list for Texas. In my area a few loggers do most of the cutting, others have certification and maybe are out of the work now or once did log. Farms and ranches may cut on their own land if legal there? Here, you can abuse your land at will.
Thank you as well, I'll look into this right now.
Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
Ephesians 3: 17-21

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2022, 11:01:03 AM »
Look for a local independent logger who will treat you right.  Be careful, as some will bring in logs they can't sell anywhere else.  Be specific in the kind of logs you want.  The other mill may be willing to help you with pricing, since they are so far away.

I have worked with a mill that was dependent on urban logs that were "free".  You'll get logs that are too big to haul, too short to be useful, poor species selection, and assorted junk on the inside.  There were a few guys that would bring in good logs.  I'd say about 10-20% were good sawlogs. 
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2022, 11:29:45 AM »
The problem with tree services is that YOU are not reliable.  If they are doing a job tomorrow, they cannot count on you being available.  They make their money on tree work, not on logs, so they just need to get rid of the wood.  If that means cutting it up in 4-5 foot lengths that their grapple can handle, then that's what they'll do.  

When I started I tried contacting tree services, and that is exactly what I found out.  I can't come out to every job and remove the wood and they need to get done so they can move to the next job.  

Where it does work with tree services is when you have a location they can dump at.  In that case it's more difficult for them to keep longer lengths due to  grapple limitations. I ended up working with a firewood guy who had relationships with tree services who could dump at his place.  He did manage to get some of them to leave longer logs especially if they were good quality.  He would sell those to me and make more than firewood price without having to make firewood.

Being able to pick up logs yourself is a good thing.  That entails having more than just a trailer though.  you need a way to load them, as many time a property owner has no way to do it and the tree guys are done already.  Matt Cremona's log arch trailer looks like a great method.       
I would like to have one.  You don't need another piece of equipment in that case.  Otherwise you'd need to bring a skid steer or a rough terrain forklift with you on the trailer, and once loaded with logs, you'd have to go back for your machine.
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2022, 11:31:08 AM »
How much should I expect to pay for a quality log? Maybe you can give some guidance on that?
Everything is bigger in Texas so my prices might not compare.  It will depend on the species and size.  From one logger with a self-loader, I paid $350/1000.  IIRC, that was $1,750 for the truckload of Ponderosa.  Turned out more wood than scaled (5,000 bdft scale, ~5,400+ cut) so I think I figured it was around $325/1000.

Then I had this second guy selling cedar.  Scaled out at 4,700 bdft.  Had a LOT of metal in them and was charged somewhere around $3,800.  Won't be using him ever again.
John Sawicky

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Offline Cornerstone

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2022, 01:50:02 PM »

*Where it does work with tree services is when you have a location they can dump at. 


*Matt Cremona's log arch trailer looks like a great method.
* I'll be sure to mention that when I do make contact with them. I do have a place for them to dump and run so that may really help. 
* That same design log arch is also on my to do list. I like Matt and his channel for sure. He seems like he'd be a good friend to have.
Thank you Brad, I appreciate it.
Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
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Offline Cornerstone

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2022, 02:10:22 PM »

From one logger with a self-loader, I paid $350/1000.  IIRC, that was $1,750 for the truckload of Ponderosa.  Turned out more wood than scaled (5,000 bdft scale, ~5,400+ cut) so I think I figured it was around $325/1000.

Then I had this second guy selling cedar.  Scaled out at 4,700 bdft.  Had a LOT of metal in them and was charged somewhere around $3,800.  Won't be using him ever again.
Man I've got a lot to learn. 

First question... when you say the logger had a self loader, do you mean there was a way for him to unload the logs built into his truck? 

Second, you say $1750. for a truckload of Ponderosa. What size logs and truck would that be? I'm pretty much clueless on the whole boardfoot measuring system. Let's say you have a 24" diameter (on the small end) Ponderosa that measures out to 16 ft. long. How many bdft should a guy estimate from that log? Do the loggers usually have the same size trailers?  How many bdft would you estimate are in the 8 logs in the first picture in this thread? 

I gave $340. for my 16' utility trailer loaded with several species of hard and soft woods, which seemed like a reasonable deal to me. Most of them were under 8 ft. long though. I'm really looking forward to making my first cuts, but I need to make a few minor adjustments in the blade guides first.
Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
Ephesians 3: 17-21

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2022, 02:47:14 PM »
   Are you familiar with log rules? If not you need to look them up. They are a tool to estimate the amount of lumber you will be able to get from a log.

   I use the International 1/4" rule as my best estimate of lumber I will get from a log. Most lumberyards buy logs on the Doyle rule which tends to under estimate yield for more profit to them. 

   I keep a copy of the Int'l 1/4" log rule on the back of my business cards for convenience for me and my customers. 
Howard Green
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2022, 03:55:15 PM »
First question... when you say the logger had a self loader, do you mean there was a way for him to unload the logs built into his truck? Second, you say $1750. for a truckload of Ponderosa. What size logs and truck would that be?

Yes, the truck has a loading arm/grapple right behind his cab.  This was the first load of 33' logs from one guy.  These were a little pricey and skinny.  I think these were around 3,500-3,800 bdft.


 

And then he puts is tag trailer up on the bunks!

 This was the good wood I was talking about.  These are in the 30-38" diameter logs.  Yes, there is room for another log up there but then he would be overweight.

This load was four at 33' and two at 16.5'.

   Go use the "red toolbox" at the bottom of the left side.  You'll find a calculator in there for both how many bdft in a log as well as the weight.
John Sawicky

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SkyTrak 9038, Ford 545D FEL, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/32" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline beenthere

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2022, 05:06:25 PM »
Man I've got a lot to learn.
 ..........
Second, you say $1750. for a truckload of Ponderosa. What size logs and truck would that be? I'm pretty much clueless on the whole boardfoot measuring system. Let's say you have a 24" diameter (on the small end) Ponderosa that measures out to 16 ft. long. How many bdft should a guy estimate from that log? Do the loggers usually have the same size trailers?  How many bdft would you estimate are in the 8 logs in the first picture in this thread?

................
Cornerstone
Look at this Forums tool box in the left column under the list of sponsors. In that red tool box you will find a lot of valuable information.
Foremost is the board foot calculator that you just put in the diameter of the small end, and the length, and read off the volume of that log in board feet.
Board foot (1" x 12" x 12" ) is the standard measurement for lumber.
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Offline Cornerstone

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2022, 08:30:36 PM »
Thank you all for showing me the toolbox. It's going to be my homework to learn the basics of wood economics. I've been in the retail furniture business for myself since 94', so I understand profit margins on something that has already been manufactured... really not much to that. I've had as many as 12 employees at a time over the years working in 3 retail stores. From that experience I learned it's not how much money flows through your hands, it's how much stays in the pocket. Bigger isn't always more profitable if ya know what I mean. I'm down to one store and 4 employees these days and basically don't have to work there if I don't want to, which translates into me showing up randomly. Sometimes 5 times a week, sometimes once in 5 weeks. 

As far as selling any wood that I mill I'm sure I'll have to get a few hundred hours of sawing under the belt to see what the margins can be and still be competitive. I've got enough projects of my own to keep me busy and learning the ropes until I'm at the stage of being confident enough to offer milling services.

Thank you guys for the help. I hope to return the favor someday.
Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2022, 06:04:31 AM »
   Further to the Board Ft, remember it is a cubic inch measurement of 144 cubic inches. 

   Calculate bf of a board as thickness (Inches) X width (Inches) X length (Ft) divided by 12 so the 1"X12"X1' board is a board foot but so is a 2"X6"X1' or a 1"X4"X3' or a 1"X6"X2'.

   My customers want to know so to help them visualize I tell them a 5'X10' trailer stacked tight to a height of 20" is 1,000 bf or a pretty tightly stacked pick up load of 8' lumber is about 500 bf.

   Another handy tidbit is a good straight log will square up approximately 2/3 the diameter of the small end so a 12" small end log (Inside bark measurement) will make a beam 8" square which would also make about 8 - 1X8s or 4-2X8s. You will usually salvage a little more off the sides but this is handy if they need a beam of a certain size.
Howard Green
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2022, 08:16:03 AM »
Tree service logs are almost never the right logs for traditional lumber making. Besides metal most are open grown and felled wrong as in cut to the notch and all split inside the butt where the good wood is. They will in many cases be bucked wrong with the sweep in the middle of the log. In pine the tapered top log cut long but not long enough to get 2 8 footers and so on. I saw this kind of stuff because I can't get logger cut, woods grown anymore. What you don't really want is tree service wood brought right from the job unless you have a lot of room for waste or a big fire pit. Much of what comes here has been picked from there yard and trimmed up. I trim it better and metal detect. 

Offline Cornerstone

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2022, 12:02:35 AM »
Took a stroll through Lowes today to see what the price pr. bdft was for red oak. With the help of the toolbox, I figured they are getting over $15. a bdft. I did the math on a smaller board and it was the same price pr. bdft. From my first purchase of logs, I've got 1 pretty nice red oak log to play with and the log bdft calculator indicated it would have 243 bdft. on the international 1/4" scale. A quick multiplication would value this log at over $3600. if it were sitting on the shelf for sale at Lowes. Now, I realize that's far from accurate considering a ton of things I don't know yet, some of which are kiln dried vs. rough cut and wet, waste, shrinkage, etc. It is definitely intriguing to learn what the actual profit margins are for a small hobby sawyer outfit. Are there any good threads on small scale profitability that anyone can point to for my reading entertainment?



 

 
Case 580SK backhoe, New Holland L228 skid steer, Kubota 900rtv, Home made band mill in the works, 1968 Chevy C50 Dump Truck, 1972 C10, 2000 Silverado 1500HD, all sorts of motorcycles.
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Offline rusticretreater

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2022, 02:33:31 AM »
Not only kiln dried, but also planed and edged, then shipped.  And prices are always regional.

As for threads, the search engine is your friend.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2022, 06:36:28 AM »
This should be figured on the dimension scale.  It ends up being a 1x12x6, which has 6 bf, and a price of $10.49/bf.  That is what you would be cutting in order to end up with a board like that.  And, you should be cutting it a bit over 1" to get down to the 3/4" dressed size, especially on a 12" wide board.  The other thing to look at is whether it is glued up stock. 

I've looked at boards at Lowe's and others, and they're selling a bunch of nice looking 1 Common boards.  The good grade has been picked out.  They're also selling retail vs wholesale.  And, they are storing the inventory waiting for someone who needs just a board or 2. 

Be real careful looking at prices in retail outlets.  They're not a true reflection of markets.  If prices were that real, everyone would be charging it. I always ask myself if I would pay that price for it. 
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Offline kantuckid

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Re: Finding saw logs... any pointers?
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2022, 08:19:14 AM »
Box store buyers are not who a small-scale producer/seller will sell to. Those somewhat potential customers are also not the typical person buying from CL or FB ads either. 
I've offered free carving wood and other wood such as turning shorts, pen blank materials, etc., to people when in a woodworking store and never gave away anything as a result. Some people simply want box store convenience and will not drive to source wood. 
Local sawmills having a helpful mentality will provide you with logger's names who have logs they might not be buying or buying reluctantly.
 Loggers may sell to you based on your haul distance alone than to their regular markets, given the cost of diesel right now.
 An 18-wheeler can cost $thousands$ to fill up today! ::)
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