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Author Topic: How do you make a living.  (Read 4266 times)

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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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How do you make a living.
« on: April 12, 2010, 06:30:24 PM »
How are you guys making a living?
I am retired, 72 years old am and OK with a good retirement Made on my own with a SEP IRA( being self employed)
I realize that sawing is an incurable sickness.
Bibbyman talked about doing stakes and pointing them at a set price. And,
I assume not making too much on the job.
I have a $38,000.00 machine and don't need the income put refuse to take a  terrible licking at sawing.
Granted i don't need the capital, but don't want to work for nothing (see my last post) I took a licking on this.
Perhaps my standard of living is set too high.
I charge $.20 per ft for sawing on custom work,
I appreciate amy and all comments.
Pete



 
LT40SHDD51
Kubota 8540 tractor, Farmi winch
Kubota 900 RTV
Polaris 550 Sportsman ATV
1 Husky 1 gas Echo 1 cordless Echo vintage Homelite super xl12
241 acres of woodland

Offline Bibbyman

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2010, 07:09:30 PM »
How do you define living?  A vacation home at the lake or sea shore? Collecting a mint Corvette for each year of production starting from 53?  Winter long vacation in the tropics? 

Or a modest income that can sustain a quiet lifestyle with few luxuries or extravagant indulgences.  The reward is being your own boss and the feeling that you have control of your life.

We got ahead a little in 07,  held our own in 08,  squeaked by in 09 by really tightening our belts and controlling spending.  2010? So far its been a fizzle.  We get a little spurt of activity now and then that keep us hopeful some business will return.   
Wood-Mizer LT40HDE25 Super 25hp 3ph with Command Control and Accuset.
Sawing since '94

Offline Kcwoodbutcher

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 11:37:40 PM »
Twenty cents a foot seems a little low unless the competition is forcing you there. I charge thirty cents and I'm much lower than most of my competitors.
My job is to do everything nobody else felt like doing today

Offline sgschwend

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 11:52:09 PM »
If custom mean you have a big list of sizes with short or small quantities then I would think you are way too low.

There are many cases here where folks want to purchase a few boards of one size or another and they expect me to shorten a 16' long part to 10' for them.  It is just not worth it.

Offline captain_crunch

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 11:56:34 PM »
Would not trade Bibbymans way of life for 10 of your IRA's Was raised on Ranch where if you did not grow it or trade for it went without. Untll I was 25 we did not even lock door. But with todays NEED for money house ain't safe even with someone in it with scattergun.
M-14 Belsaw circle mill,HD-11 Log Loader,TD-14 Crawler,TD-9 Crawler and Ford 2910 Loader Tractor

Offline logwalker

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2010, 03:43:13 AM »
Well, I am charging $.50 and with the high cost of living around here that doesn't seem like too much. I only try to cut higher value material. I also have a large shop full of woodworking equipment and take in a variety of work. My shop rate is $65/75 depending on what it is and who wants it. I give local woodworkers a discount. I have 45 years of woodworking and expect to be paid for that experience.

I don't understand your question, really. You say you don't need the money but you suggest your standard of living might be too high. What does that mean? There is not any profit in $.20 a foot. Not with a 40k worth of equipment.
Let's all be careful out there tomorrow. Lt40hd, 22' Kenworth Flatbed rollback dump, MM45B Mitsubishi trackhoe, Clark5000lb Forklift, Kubota L2850 tractor

Offline Qweaver

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 07:47:05 AM »
This has been talked about a lot.  The problem for me is that at .50 per BdFt the customer can go to Lowes and buy kiln dried S4S dimensional pine lumber cheaper than I can saw his logs and if I am providing the logs, it gets worse.  At .30 it is better but they are still getting rough sawn wet lumber.  So it is a dilemma.  .50 is a good profit but no good if I don't get any jobs to charge it on.
BTW, don't condemn us that were wise enough to put money away in IRAs so that we could live better in our old age.  I still get up and work every day even tho' I have been retired for 10 years.  To each his own.
So Many Toys...So Little Time  WM LT28 , 15 trailers, Case 450 Dozer, John Deere 110 TLB, Peterson WPF 10",  AIM Grapple, Kubota 2501 :D

Offline Cedarman

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 08:35:07 AM »
My IRA is my 260 acre farm with mostly trees growing nicely , a big whole grinding operation in Ok and our nice cedar mill in In.  Plan is to be completely out of debt by the time I'm 65.  (2 1/2 years).  Don't plan on quiting, just do things a little different. #1 son runs Oklahoma, training #2 son to take over sawmill completely.  He has been at it just about a full year and things are going just fine.   #2 daughter is being trained to take care of me and Jane in old age. (We'll see how well that goes)  So I do have plans.  #1 daughter takes care of website when I want it redone. (That website makes it possible to keep the sawmill running at the max.)   So the whole family participates.  Makes for interesting times. :D :D
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Magicman

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 08:54:37 AM »
That is a "moving target" question and there is no "one size fits all" answer.  I've been "retired" over 15 years and have been sawing over 8 years.  When I bought my mill, I took no income from it for 2 years.  It was then paid for.  Everything above expenses are now profit.

Sure, I have an IRA and some CD's.  If you don't have some.....you had better be buying some, no matter what your income level is.  That, or making definite plans for the future.  No one will take care of your future but you.  Saving is paying yourself.

Saw prices in Mississippi range from .16 to .30 per bf.  My price is in the midpoint.  Qweaver makes a good point about overpricing compared with "store bought" lumber.  You just have to be sensible and also produce a quality product.

My hourly rate is determined by just taking an average day's sawing, say 1500 bf. "times" my saw price "divided" by 8.  This is easily justified and explained to the customer, and I'm comfortable with it.

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

Offline Brad_S.

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2010, 09:11:29 AM »
Pete,
Don't try and compete price-wise with the Mennonites around Penn Yan and the Finger Lakes, they work WAY too cheap. IMO, since you don't really need the income, price what you need to get and offer your services on a take it or leave it basis.
Few, if any, of the Mennonites know how or care to grade saw, so that is a value added service. Leave the dimensional stuff to them or Home Depot. Concentrate on high value sawing. 
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." J. Lennon

Offline Larry

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 09:26:12 AM »
When I first got my mill I thought about the question a lot.  Two choices...saw a lot of lumber for little money or saw not much lumber for a lot of money.  In the end the income would be the same.

So...with a manual mill the choice was easy.  I dont saw much lumber for a lot of money...meaning my rate is higher than most.

Seems like most times there is more money in making product than custom sawing anyhow.
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

We need to insure our customers understand the importance of our craft.

Offline Qweaver

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 09:58:13 AM »
My latest project is a good example.  I sawed about 1100 BdFt of 1" poplar last summer to cover my two 32' x 16'ceiling sections.  The actual amount used is 920 bdFt but there are drops to consider.  To buy the same amount of planed and dried poplar from the box store would have cost around $5000 and I would still have to T&G it.  I wish I had kept a record of the time it took to make the paneling so that I could see what I would have to charge to make a reasonable profit.  I am just happy to trade my labor and machining costs for that amount.  The same applies  to the 1088' quarter round moulding that I'm going to make.  $700 to buy it. Less than a days work and machine costs if I make it.  But what would I have to charge?  And I can't make it look quite as good as store bought.  I'm running a 1.625" wide board thru the spindle moulder twice and then ripping to get 3/4".  Maybe not the best way but it works for me.  I'll keep track of labor on this one.
So Many Toys...So Little Time  WM LT28 , 15 trailers, Case 450 Dozer, John Deere 110 TLB, Peterson WPF 10",  AIM Grapple, Kubota 2501 :D

Offline logwalker

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 08:10:46 PM »
I will qualify my last post by saying that my wife and I live on an island and everything here is more expensive. So my rate is in line with the other sawyers here. What I do is concentrate on timber and specialty cuts that are not available at the local lumber yard. My latest order is for a Free of Heart timber frame package. That will go out for about $2.00 a foot.

Joe
Let's all be careful out there tomorrow. Lt40hd, 22' Kenworth Flatbed rollback dump, MM45B Mitsubishi trackhoe, Clark5000lb Forklift, Kubota L2850 tractor

Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 08:28:06 PM »
Bibbyman,
I think my living goals are modest with vacationing in the Adirondacks and driving 6 and 8 year old  cars with our one indulgence being a 1950 nicely tricked out GMC pickup which is my wife's. I did however when I was 21 have a 59 vette.
Capn crunch, We live in a rural area of NY and we didn't lock our doors until 1988. ( after someone went thru a window and stole a small amount of stuff.)
They could have walked thru the unlocked door.
My friend chuck white, in the north country of NYS charges .15 per ft and says that the competition causes this,
.20 I can make a small profit.
Brad, I agree that the mennonites charge a ridiculously low price and I suspect the quality reflects this price.
Cedarman as a supplement  to my modest investments ( I ain't wealthy) i have 157 acres of woodland.
Here in NYS the cost of living is very high and the taxes are if not the highest, then very near that in the country.
I could move, but I would be single again as the grandkids are all here.
Wish I could respond to all posts but  I am getting sleepy.
Thanks to all for the responses and varied opinions
Pete

LT40SHDD51
Kubota 8540 tractor, Farmi winch
Kubota 900 RTV
Polaris 550 Sportsman ATV
1 Husky 1 gas Echo 1 cordless Echo vintage Homelite super xl12
241 acres of woodland

Offline Cedarman

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2010, 09:28:40 PM »
I have 1/2 my land in classified forest.  It's assessed value for tax purposes is $1.00 per acre. Saves me a bundle.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2010, 05:42:11 PM »
Here in NYS we have a tax program that gives an 80% reduction in taxes, but you have to return 6% of the gross value of any forest products sold as payment in lieu of taxes.
Two of my parcels are in this program 110 acres.
Saves me about 1,000 per year  in taxes.
Pete
LT40SHDD51
Kubota 8540 tractor, Farmi winch
Kubota 900 RTV
Polaris 550 Sportsman ATV
1 Husky 1 gas Echo 1 cordless Echo vintage Homelite super xl12
241 acres of woodland

Offline Brucer

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2010, 02:11:02 AM »
I don't try to compete with the box stores.

I charge more than my competition.

I offer my customers things they don't get from my competition (accuracy, consistency, on-time delivery).

When customers don't like my price or my delivery date, I send them to my competition -- most of them come back to me the next time ;D.
Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions.
"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers."

Offline r.man

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2010, 08:30:11 AM »
Pete, congratulations on a successful  retirement, it sounds like you are enjoying yourself. I'm not making my living with sawing but I think my comments apply to all jobs. Charge a higher rate than average and do good work. It sounds like you care so market your attitude and ability. You don't need a lot of work but I think you will be pleasantly surprised. People will pay for quality and service and if they don't want to then you don't want them for customers anyway.
Life is too short or my list is too long, not sure which. Dec 2014

Offline campy

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Re: How do you make a living.
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2010, 07:14:39 PM »
There are a lot of folks who call me that want something for nothing.
They are bottom feeders.

About half of the callers get sticker shock when I say the cost is $75/hour for custom cutting plus $25 for metal strikes.

The other half have the money and like the fact that there is a skilled sawyer in control of the situation.   I have worked for some of the wealthiest people in Nashville, TN. 

So maybe I cherry pick as they say.

But the fact is we lost our home equity and much of our stock portfolios in one month when the bankers imploded the economy.  The currency is not safe. CD's, IRAs and bonds are not safe.  There is a staggering amount of corruption in these markets.    The US Dollar could and is devaluation via inflation.   Social security is a joke. 

A good way to deal with these risks is to have latent income producing ability.  That means keep the operation in tip top shape and run it at a very comfortable capacity.  For me that is about 1 day a week.   Give top quality service, build relationships, be very honest and expect to be paid well.

Cutting costs is very important.  We plant a garden, got chickens and throttled back on unneeded expenses.  We told the kids that they are grownups and are expected to work and take care of their own needs.  If they ask for money I offer them work at a fair wage. 





 


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