iDRY Vacuum Kilns


Shavings Mills

Started by AdirondackMill, October 17, 2023, 11:03:21 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Anyone running or have experience with shavings mills? We've been having a hard time sourcing logs(Eastern white pine, Upstate NY) and the reason we are being given is that there is no outlet for the pulp. So I'm trying to decide if I can buy the pulp to get the good logs and either chip it all or run it through a shavings mill. I'm good with chips/chippers but I don't know jack about Shavings mills. 
3rd Generation Sawmill in the foothills of the Adirondacks. Making big timber is what I love.

NE Woodburner

Paging @SawyerTed 
If my memory is correct he was involved in an installation a year or more ago that included a shavings mill and may have good info for you. I don't have time to look now, but there is a thread with some pics and maybe a video.


Yes I have first hand experience with running a shavings mill.  @Southside is another Forum member with first hand experience - much more than me. 

If you don't read any further keep this in mind, if it were easy there wouldn't be a shortage of shavings in the market.  

You need to make sure of your market before jumping in the shavings business. 

Chippers and shavings machines live hard lives.  

Here are a few things things we learned.  

There are two manufacturers who build first class machines.   Newman-Whitney out of Greensboro NC and Douglas Machine out of somewhere in eastern South Carolina are two awesome builders.  If I could afford one ($300,000 two years ago) a Newman-Whitney, three head machine with 8-6 or 9' box would be my choice.  A stationary box with the head on s carriage allows for continuous feeding of the mill. 

You want two or more heads with an even number of blades for balance.   You also want the slide out heads to make blade changes faster.   Box length of 8-6 with multiple heads seems to be the most efficient unless you have a merchandising saw system to feed other lengths. 

We used a knuckle boom and bucksaw to cut tree length logs to 8".  

A log deck is a must.  Trying to keep the machine loaded with a wheel loader or skid steer tied up a man.  We were working toward using a knuckle boom/bucksaw to load a log deck.  

Debarking logs would extend blade life.  

Learn to sharpen shavings mill blades and get a sharpener.  Blades would make nice shavings for 16-20 hours.  Then chips would be made when blades got dull. 

Salsco 60" machines seem like they would be awesome but ours never lived up to the production claimed by the manufacturer.  There was too much vibration in the 60" head. Think about a 60" planer head with 5 blades.  Salsco machines would be great for a part time (1-2 days a week operation) or dedicated to on farm production.  

Frankly we made a rookie mistake buying a used Salsco 60" and rebuilding it. We needed to sell 30 or more 53' trailer loads a week to turn a profit and it wasn't much.  

Three phase power is is required if running on electricity.  Diesel powered shavings mills would be very thirsty and not really feasible for a shavings mill greater than 100 cubic yards a day (53' walking floor load).

The market we were aiming for was the commercial poultry farms.   It was a cut throat business.  Transportation became a big issue for us.  

We didn't have a dryer or bagger which is necessary for the retail shavings market.  
Woodmizer LT50, WM BMS 250, WM BMT 250, Kubota MX5100, IH McCormick Farmall 140, Husqvarna 372XP, Husqvarna 455 Rancher


The only way to make money in shavings is if they are a by product of something you have already made money on.  Buying fiber to shave it down is a loosing proposition.  I see you are in NY.  The customer base is the Hudson River Valley down onto Long Island.  Equestrian facilities, they will want dry, bagged, perfect shavings, and they will want them for less than they pay now.  Some will buy year round, but a lot will drop off in the warmer weather.  Then you are competing in the show circuit.  Your competition will be the Canadian planing mills up in Quebec, who are already making $ off their primary product and selling the shavings as a by product.   Then there is the cash flow side of things.  I never had a check bounce when someone came and bought $30 worth of "seconds", loaded them into a rusty pickup for the kids horse, never had a problem.  $5K check to some fancy place full of $75K warm bloods - "Oh my accountant forgot to transfer the money into that account" was always the excuse.  

I had the same experience with the Salsco I had, it wasn't the 60" machine, but same experience.  We had another brand that escapes me at the moment and one I built much like Ted describes.  Owning shavings machines is much like owning a boat, the happiest days are the day you bring it home and the day it leaves.  
Franklin buncher and skidder
JD Processor
Woodmizer LT Super 70 and LT35 sawmill, KD250 kiln, BMS 250 sharpener and setter
Riehl Edger
Woodmaster 725 and 4000 planner and moulder
Enough cows to ensure there is no spare time.
White Oak Meadows

Thank You Sponsors!