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Author Topic: firewood processing  (Read 2692 times)

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Offline beerguy

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firewood processing
« on: November 23, 2004, 10:48:10 AM »
I saw an ad yesterday that has me going. A company that wants firewood processors to come pick up a tree companys wood. How many of you folks do firewood processing to augment your milling? I would love to jump in and get a trailer with a boom and a firewood splitting machine, but my wife won't let me spend that much. Is there a market for all of that firewood? I wouldn't want to retail it, seems too labor intensive to sell it by the cord. But it sure would be a good way to get first crack at sawlogs...Anyone do this??

Offline Brad_S.

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2004, 03:48:26 PM »
I don't do fire wood, but I have friends who do and they sell all they produce and wish they had more. They figure as soon as the real cold settles in and people start getting their utility bills, the phones will ring non-stop.
Always seemed like an even harder way to make a buck than sawmilling to me, even with a processor..
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Offline DonE911

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2004, 05:28:51 PM »
I don't do firewood either, and wont pretend to know what you guys/girls in northern climate do for warmth. I burn lots wood  in my smoker, so I'll pretend to be an expert. ( holiday inn express last night ?? ) I'm moving to a colder ( not way up north ) climate very soon so maybe I'll get to be an expert.

Anyway, I have a highschool friend that lives in Michigan that I had not seen or heard from in many years...  he showed up at my door about 6 months ago... was visiting a family member who had terminal cancer.  I hadn't thought about him for a long time, but would not have been surprised if he was a migrant worker, bussboy, ditchdigger or anything but a business man. Nothing wrong with those lines of work, I'm not turning my nose up at anyone.   Anyway he is a nice enough guy, but not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Turns out he is in the firewood business, says completely by accident....  was unemployeed and winter came along, and he was cold...  anyway got some free wood ( tree's ) from his neighbor ( tree doctor of sorts I think ). was cutting it with his $89 chainsaw and a borrowed power splitter along side the road.. someone stopped and bought a pickup full because they saw him splitting it on the roadside and they needed wood right then. He tells me that the people in the burbs don't like to deal with thier own wood other than to throw it on the fire.  In the fall and winter he sells all he can get his hands on. He says that most people will pay extra if you just split it up for them. I have no idea if he puts it up ina drying shed or what. I assume he does now, but not that first wintert.

That wouldn't work down here in FL, but he had some snow, wood, a cheap chainsaw and borrowed a splitter.  Worked out great for him... he's still unemployed, until time to cut firewood, but this is by his choice. He has his own splitter now.  He and his wife do all the cutting and splitting. The neighbor drops off the tree's.

I don't see any reason not to try it at least on a small scale, just to see how it goes. Maybe a personal splitter and a chainsaw would be your equipment cost.  I know that the single fire stacks of wood at the grovery store or campground are pretty pricey if you can get in on one of those deals.

Offline ohsoloco

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2004, 05:51:55 PM »
I get all of my sawlogs from a tree service.  I like to pick up some oak firewood from them when I can, but I just can't justify all the gas and whatnot for a pickup load of wood.  If they weren't so DanG expensive, I would consider getting one of those dump trailers so I could just drop it off at the jobsite, and they could load the firewood for me  ;)  There is a guy that picks up a lot of their oak firewood, and the guy driving the dump said he takes it to Philly to sell...still don't know how he could make money taking firewood 3 1/2 hours one way  :-/  

I don't know how you'd be picking up the wood.  Log form would be nice b/c you could cut it to your own specs.  The firewood I get from the tree service cuts it up into billets...you'd think that would be nice, but it's actually a pain (like when they cut a NICE red oak log at 7' 10"  >:( ) because none of the billets are consistent.  They range from 24" all the way down to 10"   :(  And loading them...3ft. diameter billets  ???  I'd like to get a dump truck and get some of this wood, but there's just too much inconsistency, and a bunch of short crotches and stuff.  'course, I split all of my firewood with a maul and wedges if I need 'em  ;)

Offline Ianab

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2004, 11:38:51 PM »
One of the forum members TomFromStLouis has set up a business collecting logs from tree services. Some I guess are firewood, some he saws and most are sold to other sawmills. He has splashed out big on a self-loading log truck rig. I guess he has to get in there and get the logs off the ground asap without damaging anything etc.
There will be problems in doing this of course... but if you can get something for free, then sell it for $$, it has potential.
The question is... will it turn a profit?

Ian
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Murf

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2004, 08:25:19 AM »
I make a lot of firewood every year with trees we have to take down anyways as part of the process of building golf courses.

There are two main problems with the firewood business.

First, to do proper job of it you need to have well seasoned wood, that means processing wood and waiting to get your money back at least one full year (if not two) before you sell it.

Secondly, most sources of 'free wood' aren't really free. Especially bigger companies, it's waste to them and that's how they look at it. Just like the dumpster behind the office, they don't want to deal with 10 guys who sometimes show up, sometimes not. We have had lots of people approach us to take away trees over the years, most got thanked and hung up on. The trees are scrap, they get treated like it, they are muddy, driven over and pushed down into the goo, gravel, nails and who knows what stuck in them. Very hard on equipment, and customers dont want muddy firewood.

They also usually say "Take it all, or don't bother showing up." and if you don't ahve the time, money and resources to deal with a volume of wood on a constant basis, they don't want to deal with you.

I started processing 'waste wood' two years ago and selling it to a GP OSB board plant near here, it pays better than firewood in the long run. It requires a six figure start-up budget though.
If you're going to break a law..... make sure it's Murphy's Law.

Offline rebocardo

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2004, 05:20:37 PM »
I get paid for cutting down the trees, which have to be disposed of anyways, so selling it for firewood is just extra money, plus, now I turn some of it into lumber.

Last year I sold out my firewood and people were buying even the green sweetgum, I live in GA.

When I lived in MA a few years ago, there was a place off RT 95 N near Beverly MA that had firewood stacked as high as a three story house. Literally.

If you live anywhere it gets to 32 degrees, I think there is money to be made. The thing is to get paid for cutting it up so selling it is all bonus.

As someone mentioned, people do not want to split it, they like it stove size, I will not do log sized chunks (anything over 6" wide or 14 inches long) without a contract because noone wants it. People like the kindling size too. I think selling it green around here is not a big deal because people have gas starters in the fireplaces.

Offline TomFromStLouis

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2004, 04:52:06 PM »
Quote
One of the forum members TomFromStLouis has set up a business collecting logs from tree services. Some I guess are firewood, some he saws and most are sold to other sawmills. He has splashed out big on a self-loading log truck rig. I guess he has to get in there and get the logs off the ground asap without damaging anything etc.
There will be problems in doing this of course... but if you can get something for free, then sell it for $$, it has potential.
The question is... will it turn a profit?

Ian


We don't sell firewood. We sell logs. In trimming the logs we pick up to make them logs a mill will buy, we sometimes have chunk wood left over. We give it away to anyone willing to pick it up along with slabs from small amounts we have sawn for us. Fact is we are generating this "firewood" waste faster than we can give it away (without much effort that is).

One of our tree service suppliers has a small firewood business. His conclusion is that every time he touches it, he loses money. Instead he decided to pay to dispose of the logs (until we came along).

Now maybe the economics work if you have a scale that justifies one of those big machines, but around here at least even a tree guy getting oak for free cannot justify firewood as a business. And by the way, this guy is quite successful at his tree care - we aren't talking about faulty management here. Urban/suburban markets want it delivered and stacked and that truck and guy alone probably cost more than the cord is worth. Sure, someone around here drops off plastic wrapped bundles that retail for $5 outside a grocery, but I doubt they are getting rich.

I would be extremely careful about investing serious money into a firewood "business". The perfect business model takes very little capital and labor, and as far as I can tell, firewood chews up both.

Offline MP_Wall

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2004, 05:36:07 PM »
I don't saw or mill or even pretend to, do love the site for its information though. I live in northern Illinois and in our subdivision of 300+ homes we ran a firewood group order last year. We ended up with an order of over 60 face cords of firewood. Prices were 55 and 65 for mixed and oak firewood, delivered and stacked where you chose to have it stacked. A lot of the landscapers do firewood, some process themselves and some buy semi loads to resell. Prices are higher this year at 60 and 70 a face.  MP Wall

Offline ohsoloco

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Re: firewood processing
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2004, 05:52:37 PM »
Tom, put a price tag on your "firewood waste" and they'll be lined up to take it away  ;)  That's my experience with my slabs, anyway.


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