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Author Topic: A few questions about new mill and starting up  (Read 1080 times)

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Offline Redhorseshoe

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A few questions about new mill and starting up
« on: March 14, 2020, 08:00:24 PM »
Hi everyone, this is my first post here and I'm hoping to get a few opinions from all of you.  I'm about ready to order an LT15 with trailer package and am going back and forth over engine options.  It comes standard with a 19 horse motor but I'm considering upgrading to the 25 horse for $800.  Most of my sawing will be pine but I also have a fair amount of juniper available.  For those unfamiliar with juniper, it's harder than pine but nowhere even close to oak.  I'm really thinking the 25 may be overkill but I want to get this thing up and running right the first time around.

Now my next questions have to do with my current log supply.  I currently have at my disposal several hundred (or more) pine logs which have been sourced from an excavation company who just finished a large right of way clearing job.  The majority of which are about 16 diameter with the largest I've measured being about 28 diameter.  Most are 10' - 14' long. Right off the bat I need about 3,000 board feet for myself but after that I would like to start milling as a side business and figure this is a good opportunity to start with.  I can mill the logs on site and while there is no specific deadline to have them gone by, I would like to get through them as quickly as possible and make good on my end of the deal, which is removing the logs.

If you were in my situation, what dimensions of lumber would you start producing in order to 1. use up the available log supply and 2. Build up an inventory of popular lumber sizes which would be more likely to sell easily.  I was thinking about starting with board and batten siding because I know that it's popular but don't know what else would be worthwhile to stockpile.  Also, would you try to just mill everything and turn it all into an inventory of lumber, or would you try and set a fair amount aside to use for custom orders which will hopefully start coming in before too long?

I know there are many variables and unknowns in all of this but am hoping for some general guidance on how to best handle this situation.  I really want to work hard and make good on my end of the bargain and hopefully maintain a good relationship with the suppliers.  Thanks for your help and taking the time to read all of this! 

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2020, 08:45:59 PM »
   Where are you located? Please update your profile to include that info as such info answers a lot of questions or affects any answer we might give.

   Definitely go with the larger engine. Any fuel savings will be negligible compared to performance improvements.

   As to the pine if they were around here they would ruin quickly due to beetles boring big holes in them. You might be able to debark them and extend the life of them. I assume you do not have a pond to store them in. 

   What makes you think there is a market for such lumber in your area? Use such info to estimate what to cut/stock. Lumber takes up a lot of space so be prepared for that. Good luck.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline btulloh

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2020, 08:47:27 PM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum. Lots of knowledge and good people here.

Youll never regret having more HP no matter what youre sawing. Just a matter of budget.

Logs dont get better with age, especially pine. Saw em quick as you can. Siding for b&b is a good seller in most areas. Where are you located?
HM126

Offline GAB

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2020, 08:58:22 PM »
Keep in mind that pine turns blue in the summer heat.  This may reduce its value as not everyone desires denim pine for their projects.  Many commercial sawmills do not accept pine logs part of the year as they can degrade in the heat of the summer and the grubs can cause some of it to become bullet pine.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2020, 09:02:09 PM »
I found out when I buy something bigger than what I really think I need, because I have tried to do my research, a year or so later it is just right because I did not see myself using it the way I thought I would.
Go Big or Go Home.  ;D
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Offline btulloh

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2020, 09:40:56 PM »
How many logs altogether?  Have you got some equipment for moving logs and lumber and hauling?  How about help?  Sounds like a good opportunity but those logs need to be sawed in a reasonable time and then you have to haul and sticker the lumber. In warm weather that stuff needs to be stickered right away. Gotta have your ducks in a row. 

You said you only need 3000 bd ft for yourself.  Thats not a very big building. If it were me, Id scale up my building plans to use up all those logs!  Just sayin.
HM126

Offline Nebraska

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2020, 09:56:18 PM »
Go with the big motor for sure. Good luck with that many logs I'd be tempted to  look for a hydraulic mill. Especially  if you want to saw as a side gig. Or maybe enlist the help of an ex marine from  Oregon to get the pine pile cut before it spoils.. ;)  Welcome to the forum.

Offline bushhog920

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2020, 10:01:02 PM »
1x12's and 1x4's are selling like crazy. Cut a lot of common size boards odd size cuts will sit in your way for years. I won't cut anything bigger than 12" wide unless it's sold before I cut it. Have enough on hand so customers can get enough to finish their project. 

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2020, 10:13:21 PM »
   That's a good point. If I have to cut my logs into stock things like 2X12's (I slightly oversize them) can be resawed into 2X4, 2X6, 2X8, etc. Remember - you can always make them smaller. I save and accumulate down to 1X4 in width then eventually I build another shed or a customer comes by and wants a lot for nailer strips under a metal roof. 
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Redhorseshoe

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2020, 10:23:07 PM »
Thanks for all the replies so far.  That's a really good idea to just mill larger lumber then trim it down as needed.  I do have a backhoe and flatbed trailer to help move logs/lumber around.  I'd love to be able to go all out on a hydraulic mill but financially it isn't feasible right now and even if it were I don't think I could justify the expense just starting out.  The LT 15 is really the upper end of my budget but I want to get as much mill as I can to make things as efficient as possible from the get go.  The 3,000 BF I need right away is just to finish up some horse stalls in our barn and a small fence project for our pig pen. Once those are finished I'll need more for other projects _perhaps lumber drying sheds?- I have in mind but those are the top priorities as of now.

Offline Redhorseshoe

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2020, 10:28:42 PM »
  That's a good point. If I have to cut my logs into stock things like 2X12's (I slightly oversize them) can be resawed into 2X4, 2X6, 2X8, etc. Remember - you can always make them smaller. I save and accumulate down to 1X4 in width then eventually I build another shed or a customer comes by and wants a lot for nailer strips under a metal roof.
When cutting oversized, how much over would you generally go on a 2x12? 

Offline btulloh

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2020, 11:06:44 PM »
Sawing 1x and 2x wide as possible is a good suggestion. Keep in mind that a 16 log (small end) will give you a 10x10 cant, so you wont be able to get 12 wide, but the same logic applies. 

The question about oversize is a bit more complex. Youre basically allowing for another kerf or two for ripping down to width, generally 1/8 kerf. You also need to allow for shrinkage during drying on both width and thickness. More shrink on the width than the thickness. That is if youre wanting to end up with framing lumber that matches store bought, which I think is a good idea. There are some good threads on here that discuss that in detail.

Sounds like you better order that LT15 Monday morning!
HM126

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2020, 11:21:09 PM »
   IRT your question about how much I oversize I generally add about 1/4" to my 2X12's. Not enough it is going to be too much of a problem if I use full size, spot on if I cut into 2X4s and just a fudge bigger if 2X8 or 2X6's. I don't do a lot of it and usually I'll end up using on my own rough stock projects which are never precision woodworking. Depending on how long the dry they will certainly shrink. I've had my 12" stock shrink to 11-1/4 in some cases. Use your own judgement, experience and best estimate on how much it will shrink.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Online Southside

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2020, 11:27:30 PM »
For $800 go with the larger engine.  Torque is king in this game, with wider cuts you will see a difference in both performance and quality having the additional ponies behind you.  Central OR - so do you have Ponderosa or Lodepole? I would say saw them the largest dimensional size you can get and have good, grade lumber.  So a 2x6 that is clear is a better choice than a 2x10 full of knots.  If you leave an extra 1/8" thickness in some then you can re-saw them to a full 1" should you need that in the future.  Trying to guess what folks might want is a hard guess.  I would focus on quality over size, using full dimension sizes as a guide, and go from there.  

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Offline Brucer

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2020, 01:26:51 AM »
Low HP will limit your cutting speed, especially in the larger diameters. I'd go for the higher one -- it isn't overkill.

I used to saw timbers to order. There was no way to anticipate what the customers would want. About 1/3 of the wood from a log was side lumber. I sawed nearly all of it to 7/8" (1" minus the kerf). There was no way I could compete against commercial mills for 2x4 and 2x6 -- couldn't even get close to their prices. On the other hand, my 7/8 x 4", 6", 8" was cheaper than commercial 1x lumber (which is dressed to 3/4" anyway). I had no end of customers for the rough sawn 1x -- fences, siding, flooring :o, you name it.

I also had a few customers wanting 2x10 and 2x12, but quite a few building inspectors insisted it be graded and stamped. I couldn't afford that. I did find a surprising demand for rough-sawn 2x8 for non-structural purposes.

Check out what local wood sells for, then decide what dimensions you can afford to saw.

I never, ever tried to compete on price. I focused on making a quality product and looked for the niches I could fill.
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Offline Redhorseshoe

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2020, 01:15:29 PM »
Just wanted to say thanks for all the help so far.  I haven't taken time to log on here for a little while but did end up ordering my mill.  I went with the LT15 with trailer package.  I took your advice and did cough up the extra $800 for the 25HP motor and also added the power feed option.  It's supposed to arrive at Woodmizer Oregon in late April or early May.  I have some more questions I'll be asking but will make a separate thread for them.   

Offline RichTired

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2020, 04:18:49 PM »
Redhorseshoe you won't be disappointed. 
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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2020, 06:54:30 PM »
I have some more questions I'll be asking but will make a separate thread for them.
I would suggest that you keep related startup questions here because we are already following your progress here.   :)
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Offline Redhorseshoe

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2020, 12:29:07 AM »
Well it's been a minute since I added to this topic but it's time I start 'er up again.  Quick update, I picked up my mill about 6 weeks ago and had to let it sit for a few weeks until I had time to put it together. Finally I got it done in about 3 nights after work.  There were a few kinks I had to work out with the first couple logs but since then it's been pretty smooth sailing. A few things I've already learned, I'm glad I assembled the mill myself and have gone through the whole alignment procedure a couple times.  Doing this really gave me a bunch of confidence up front just knowing how everything works and how to make adjustments etc. etc.  I'm also 100% convinced that the engine upgrade and power feed were worth every penny.

With all that said, I do have some questions now.  I've been hauling logs home for a few days and most are around 17' long.  I've been trimming them down to more common lengths, 10, 12, etc. just based on how the log looks.  If one end has a bunch of knots, I trim that end.  If one end has a big flare or wane, I trim that.   First question, what do you all do with short pieces like say 5 feet long and 16" diameter?  I'm getting quite the stack of them and don't really have a plan for them.  For the most part there's still good lumber in them and I hate to see it go to waste.

Next question.  I have one log, 21" big end, 17" small end, 17 feet long.  I can't lift it with the tractor.  It's a nice looking stick with no knots (or at least very few) or defects that I can see.  What length would you trim this thing too?  I think I could pick it up at 12' but then I have a 5' chunk left over.  If I cut it in half, I could get 8' lumber out of both pieces but right now I need more 10 and 12 foot stuff for my own projects.  I just hate to waste any of this thing.

Thanks for the help again and here's a few pics for fun.  BTW the log in front of the tractor is the one is question.

 

 

 

 


Offline WDH

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Re: A few questions about new mill and starting up
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2020, 07:25:04 AM »
I cut timbers like 4x4 and 6x6 from those shorter logs.  They always come in handy.  Or cut pallet runners from them as you will need pallets to stack your lumber on to dry. That way you can move the lumber stacks around with the tractor and be able to stack one stack on top of the other. 
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