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thinning: logs to the mill - or bring in a portable ??

Larry Stamm larryst at vis.bc.ca
Mon Aug 10 01:40:35 EST 1998

On 9 Aug 1998 00:44:01 GMT, kmorrisd at aol.com (KMorrisD) wrote:

>norm at pdx.wantweb.net wrote
>>My question is this: Rather than occasionally send a truck load to the mill,
>>is it economically feasible to have our local portable mill guy (bandsaw
>>type) cut up the logs right here and then sell the lumber via retail (perhaps
>>thru the thrifty ads)? The port. mill guy says he will produce considerably
>>more board feet than I will receive from the scaling process. And he can help
>>sell it.  ??
>I seem to be getting more and more requests for this type of information from
>landowners.  I tend to tell them about what Joe said.  But I wonder if that's
>good advice for retired people or semi-unemployed people.  
>Have any foresters or landowners out there actually done business plans for
>this type of operation--with costs and returns compared to competitive bid
>sales?  Or do you have data from actual experience?
>Karl Davies  
Having owned a portable sawmill business for ten years, my feeling is that it
can be quite profitable for the landowner if there is a ready market locally for
rough lumber.  This usually means the area has to be in a farming/ranching
community.  If the lumber can be sold rough, with minimal trimming, directly to
a customer who is prepared to haul it away from the sawing location then there
is a dollar to be made.  If a substantial proportion of the lumber has to be
either dried, planed, precision end-trimmed, or delivered to a distant market,
then the operation becomes problematic.

I custom sawed (with a circular saw) for ten years in a ranching area, and my
customers often had their lumber sold before the trees were felled.  My lumber
yields were usually 20% greater than the expected yields from a spaghetti
factory.  Band saws are capable of greater efficiencies, but slower.  Most of my
customers did the logging themselves, with farm machinery.  There are a number
of types of small logging equipment (mostly Scandinavian) that are designed to
fit onto farm tractors that are quite capable of handling the small logs from a
thinning operation.  Land owners with the time and energy to learn the skills
are capable of doing a very good job of logging their own land.

Having said that, I sold the logs off my own land to a mill because I recieved
more money for the logs than from the lumber I could have gotten from them.
This is generally true for timber off of private lands now in BC.


Larry Stamm
larryst at vis.bc.ca

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