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Forum topic by Bazyliszek posted 08-02-2020 11:27 PM 413 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bazyliszek

25 posts in 53 days


08-02-2020 11:27 PM

I’m looking into the possibility of milling my own lumber.

Looking at local classifieds and seeing who has free felled trees to mill.

Is this viable? I’m not looking to make money, just save money. It costs ~$60 for an 8’ piece of black walnut here in NY.

Thanks!


8 replies so far

View KYtoolsmith's profile

KYtoolsmith

173 posts in 708 days


#1 posted 08-03-2020 02:12 AM

I’m just into my second year of milling my own lumber. I figured that since I have several acres of prime old growth hardwoods, I could saw my own lumber. After considerable research, I bought and set up a stationary band saw mill. I’ve learned that the mill is only half the battle. It starts with felling a tree, then you need to handle logs… Carrying (not dragging) logs to the mill, lifting logs, rotating the log for optimum cutting. This requires other machinery… A tractor with forklift and log carrying capability was my answer. Then there’s the problem of what to do with all that fresh cut green heavy lumber… Build drying racks! Lots of them! And then make covers for the racks to keep the rain and sun off your hard won lumber… Now you need to stack all that lumber with stickers between layers… Making it level and even to ensure you lumber stays flat while drying… Then there is the waiting for the air drying stage to complete… Now, build a kiln to finish the lumber drying process… All this requires moving lots of lumber… Sawing your own lumber is a very time and labor intensive hobby. I now know why quality lumber is expensive! Check out
https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?board=7.0

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed milling lumber… I have more than I can ever use… Just realize that its not just cutting a log into flat pieces… There is a lot to learn, and a lot of work to get quality lumber that you will really be able to use.
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

View Bazyliszek's profile

Bazyliszek

25 posts in 53 days


#2 posted 08-03-2020 02:23 AM



I m just into my second year of milling my own lumber. I figured that since I have several acres of prime old growth hardwoods, I could saw my own lumber. After considerable research, I bought and set up a stationary band saw mill. I ve learned that the mill is only half the battle. It starts with felling a tree, then you need to handle logs… Carrying (not dragging) logs to the mill, lifting logs, rotating the log for optimum cutting. This requires other machinery… A tractor with forklift and log carrying capability was my answer. Then there s the problem of what to do with all that fresh cut green heavy lumber… Build drying racks! Lots of them! And then make covers for the racks to keep the rain and sun off your hard won lumber… Now you need to stack all that lumber with stickers between layers… Making it level and even to ensure you lumber stays flat while drying… Then there is the waiting for the air drying stage to complete… Now, build a kiln to finish the lumber drying process… All this requires moving lots of lumber… Sawing your own lumber is a very time and labor intensive hobby. I now know why quality lumber is expensive! Check out
https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?board=7.0

Don t get me wrong, I ve enjoyed milling lumber… I have more than I can ever use… Just realize that its not just cutting a log into flat pieces… There is a lot to learn, and a lot of work to get quality lumber that you will really be able to use.
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

- KYtoolsmith

I would love to be able to cut some quartersawn maple, walnut, spruce, and other tone woods for instrument making.

I have a 13” resaw 14” bandsaw to resaw thin sheets from a milled piece.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3589 posts in 2342 days


#3 posted 08-03-2020 03:01 AM

Depends on your scale?

You can occasionally find a free tree of some random useless species that can be milled with an Alaskan mill (chain saw and guide). Good lumber of value always finds buyers.

IME – Most tree service companies sell their usable lumber to which ever urban saw mill that will pay most, usually asking $1-4 bdft depending on species. You will often find a large amount of competition. Will require you to own or lease heavy equipment to pick and haul your own logs, with zero assistance from where ever they end up after felling (like bobcat, or tractor, and large trailer). Also have to be on call during the day to get them out of way quickly when they need cleared. The won’t let you mill them at customer site, then haul away as they have to clean up the mess. If you pay top dollar, then some will deliver; but expect to pay more bdft over cost of wood for the time consuming service.

Often find home owners that offer trees for sale, but usually want you to remove the entire tree, limbs, brush, and haul away all waste. Be surprised how much is costs to shred brush, haul it to dump, and pay tonnage rates at landfill. That is why tree service companies charge more if land owner wants to keep the wood. IMHO – Unless the tree is free, your time is worth nothing; rarely is it cheaper to mill a few logs compared to buying direct from a saw mill.

Urban milling has high risk for damaged equipment due metal inside trees, which makes it cost more. Trees are used to hold signs, plant hangers, or used as target practice; all of which ruins your cutting tool.

Not sure if you have looked around web? Lots of information on this topic can be found on sites of saw mill mfg. Look for WoodMizer, Timberking, Woodland, Norwood, etc. You can also find a few forums that discuss urban milling as part professional forestry management and harvesting. Let us not forget the USDA Forestry Product Laboratory too.

Bottom line: DIY milling can work, but it takes a persistent strong effort, with a bunch of expensive tools, plus a lot of space to process and store the lumber.

PS – $8 bdft for walnut is retail price. You can pay less if you go direct to saw mill, and buy couple hundred bdft (which is what milling a tree generates). I find full units of #1 walnut lumber shorts for $4 max, if I look around in Midwest mills. #3 common (rustic) is easy find at retail price of $4, and is about $2.50 wholesale. IMHO, very few are persistent enough to find inexpensive lumber, especially if they only consider retail sources.

Haven’t milled any trees in over 20 years, as it is a young man’s game; so YMMV

Best Luck.

But as Dad used to say: Never give up! Even a blind squirrel finds nut a forest eventually! :)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Bazyliszek's profile

Bazyliszek

25 posts in 53 days


#4 posted 08-03-2020 02:50 PM



Depends on your scale?

You can occasionally find a free tree of some random useless species that can be milled with an Alaskan mill (chain saw and guide). Good lumber of value always finds buyers.

IME – Most tree service companies sell their usable lumber to which ever urban saw mill that will pay most, usually asking $1-4 bdft depending on species. You will often find a large amount of competition. Will require you to own or lease heavy equipment to pick and haul your own logs, with zero assistance from where ever they end up after felling (like bobcat, or tractor, and large trailer). Also have to be on call during the day to get them out of way quickly when they need cleared. The won t let you mill them at customer site, then haul away as they have to clean up the mess. If you pay top dollar, then some will deliver; but expect to pay more bdft over cost of wood for the time consuming service.

Often find home owners that offer trees for sale, but usually want you to remove the entire tree, limbs, brush, and haul away all waste. Be surprised how much is costs to shred brush, haul it to dump, and pay tonnage rates at landfill. That is why tree service companies charge more if land owner wants to keep the wood. IMHO – Unless the tree is free, your time is worth nothing; rarely is it cheaper to mill a few logs compared to buying direct from a saw mill.

Urban milling has high risk for damaged equipment due metal inside trees, which makes it cost more. Trees are used to hold signs, plant hangers, or used as target practice; all of which ruins your cutting tool.

Not sure if you have looked around web? Lots of information on this topic can be found on sites of saw mill mfg. Look for WoodMizer, Timberking, Woodland, Norwood, etc. You can also find a few forums that discuss urban milling as part professional forestry management and harvesting. Let us not forget the USDA Forestry Product Laboratory too.

Bottom line: DIY milling can work, but it takes a persistent strong effort, with a bunch of expensive tools, plus a lot of space to process and store the lumber.

PS – $8 bdft for walnut is retail price. You can pay less if you go direct to saw mill, and buy couple hundred bdft (which is what milling a tree generates). I find full units of #1 walnut lumber shorts for $4 max, if I look around in Midwest mills. #3 common (rustic) is easy find at retail price of $4, and is about $2.50 wholesale. IMHO, very few are persistent enough to find inexpensive lumber, especially if they only consider retail sources.

Haven t milled any trees in over 20 years, as it is a young man s game; so YMMV

Best Luck.

But as Dad used to say: Never give up! Even a blind squirrel finds nut a forest eventually! :)

- CaptainKlutz

I didnt think about the owners not wanting to mill on site. Or, going to a sawmill for lumber.

I think I would enjoy the process, but the competition from people with portable saw mills would seem like a problem.

For tools, I was thinking like $200-$300 for used chainsaw and $100-$150 for second hand chainsaw mill.

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

9047 posts in 2998 days


#5 posted 08-03-2020 03:24 PM

A $300 used chainsaw isn’t going to cut it (pun intended) unless you find a crazy good deal on a pretty old saw that needs work. You need ~80-90cc minimum to sling a long enough bar, with a ripping chain to make it worthwhile. Factor in losing about 2-3” of bar length off the tip, and another 1-2” off at the power head due to the attachment of the chainsaw mill. I’d want at least a 36” bar at least in my neck of the woods.

I’ve got a MS290 which is 56cc and wouldn’t want to mill anything larger than about 15-16” diameter with that. That’s not really going to give you much usable lumber from that small of a tree.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Fresch's profile

Fresch

500 posts in 2769 days


#6 posted 08-03-2020 04:00 PM

I use a https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/EA7900PRZ 28” bar skip chain, have cut butternut, maple, pine, slow and you loose 3/8+ per cut.
You could go to Home Depot buy a used 6400 and put 7900 parts in it, same parts other than jug/ piston. Could buy a chicom saw. https://opeforum.com/forums/chainsaws.33/ Good info here.

View Bazyliszek's profile

Bazyliszek

25 posts in 53 days


#7 posted 08-03-2020 05:23 PM



I use a https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/EA7900PRZ 28” bar skip chain, have cut butternut, maple, pine, slow and you loose 3/8+ per cut.
You could go to Home Depot buy a used 6400 and put 7900 parts in it, same parts other than jug/ piston. Could buy a chicom saw. https://opeforum.com/forums/chainsaws.33/ Good info here.

- Fresch

I cannot access your makita link.

View jmartel's profile

jmartel

9047 posts in 2998 days


#8 posted 08-03-2020 06:15 PM

I use a https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/EA7900PRZ 28” bar skip chain, have cut butternut, maple, pine, slow and you loose 3/8+ per cut.
You could go to Home Depot buy a used 6400 and put 7900 parts in it, same parts other than jug/ piston. Could buy a chicom saw. https://opeforum.com/forums/chainsaws.33/ Good info here.

- Fresch

I cannot access your makita link.

- Bazyliszek

It’s a 79cc Makita Powerhead for a chainsaw. ~$820ish online nowadays.

You can get a chinese knockoff saw for about $400 including shipping, but then you still have to buy the bar and chain.

https://www.farmertec.com/105cc-Holzfforma%C2%AE-Blue-Thunder-G070-Gasoline-Chain-Saw-Power-Head-Only-Without-Guide-Bar-and-Saw-Chain-All-Parts-Are-Compatible-With-070-090-MAGNUM-Chainsaw-p435087.html

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

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