Why Do People Buy Sawmills, Circle, Band, or Chainsaw

Whether you are an avid DIY’er, woodworker, hobbyist, or businessman seeing a sawmill operation is quite fascinating.

Bringing in large trees from some remote woods, and making an educated guess as to what is inside the log.

You see, you can buy a sawmill, buy or cut your own logs, and you really do not know what the actual value of the lumber inside the log will be until you slice it.

If you are thinking of starting your own sawmill or lumber mill, it is a good thing you stopped by in our place. Here, we are going to talk about different aspects and factors in owning your own mill.

What is a Sawmill or Lumber Mill?

This is a facility where your local timber woods are processed into lumbers. Currently, you have four common options for a mill such as portable bandsaw, circular sawmills portable, or stationary, large stationary band sawmills and chainsaw mill. Each setup has its respective pros and cons which you need to weigh and evaluate.portable band mill

What are Some Reasons for Owning a Sawmill?

If you are still undecided, here are some of the common reasons why a person wants to own a sawmill.

  1. Access to, or Ownership of timberland. Being able to saw your own timber shortens the time for acquiring lumber from other commercial sources. You would also gain financial knowledge of the operational cost of lumber products. This is critical if you are planning to start a small wood related business.
  2. Freedom to Make Wood Products Anytime. If you have a high inclination towards woodworking, then owning a sawmill will give you sufficient supply of lumber to create any product from timber. This is great if you are also in the furniture business or building cabins.
  3. Good Income Source for Retirement. If you are reaching the age of retirement, having your own sawmill business is a good investment. You can hire one or two workers and pay them by the hour to do the heavy (back breaking) work. All you need to do is manage and market your finish products.
  4. Good Income-Generating Hobby. Being a woodworker is not just about creativity and past time. You can actually earn a decent income from this hobby. If you are tired of your present work, you can quit and focus on this hobby instead.

Likewise, you are the Boss in your own sawmill. You can do whatever you want to maximize income while improving your woodcraft skills.Montgomery FR40 Board Handling

Is it Worth it to Process Your Own Lumber?

Thinking of owning a sawmill seems to be lucrative, but there are tons of things to consider before making it worthwhile. When planning to start a business, think of the core function and how much time, and money are you willing to invest.

Before engaging, there are several questions you need to answer. Here are the three most common questions:

  • How are you going to make your sawmill profitable?
  • How to handle the volume of logs coming to your sawmill facility?
  • Are you aiming for the quality or quantity of product?

The key to any business is the focus, the core (you know the old 80, 20 rule) 80% of your money will come from 20% of your effort. This will be the foundation for making a profitable mill.

As an example, you always know you can sell railroad ties, 20% of your effort to sell them brings 80% of your profit. It could be suring timbers, crane mats, pallet cants, log cabin beams, anything really. This is primarily based on your location and general market of your surrounding area.

Most millers would prefer quality lumber over quantity produced as you have more leverage in selling it at a higher price. But some sawmills are like a Walmart of wood, they are set up for production. They lower their price and create profit in volume.

Here are some critical points to consider before setting up a sawmill:

  • Time and Effort: Sawmills take up much time and effort for setup and maintenance. It all starts with your blades and progresses outward.
  • Quality over Quantity: Prioritize the quality of timber to be processed. Producing high-quality lumber products will help you get a lumber certificate and can be an excellent competitive advantage.
  • Cost-savings: If your primary business is a wood product like forementioned; furniture shop or cabin construction, then putting up your own sawmill will give savings in material expenses. Sawmilling has several work divisions such as Logging, trucking, sawing, drying, storage, and handling. This is where guys often go used equipment to save the greenbacks.

However, you should always make sure to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before making any financial decision.

What are the Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sawmill?

You always have a choice whether to hire someone to custom mill your timberland or purchase a sawmill and be the one in charge. To give you a better insight, here are some of the things you need to consider before buying a sawmill.

  1. Size of Operation: Each mill types has their respective capacities. Ask yourself, these questions:
  • Are you buying a mill just for hobby or for business?
  • How much money are you willing to allocate for the mill?
  • How often do you intend to saw at the mill?
  • How many board feet are you aiming to produce per week or each month?

The operation cost for a sawmill depends on the capacity you want to produce. If you are aiming for a hobby, A suggested choice would be to buy a chainsaw mill, or a portable band saw sawmill for a small business.

  1. Tool to Use: You have four main options for this: circular sawmill, Large stationary band mill, portable band sawmill, and chainsaw sawmill.

Circular Sawmill: This is a great simple setup for higher production capabilities. They can be in manual, or automated design. Also, the market has many used and new manufactures available for all kinds of sizes and options to assist in sawing.

  • Saw is more stable in production cuts.
  • Saw repairs are less expensive over large bands
  • High production capable
  • Large market of new and used equipment
  • Saw kerf is thick compared to a band
  • Set up is complicated compared to a portable band mill

Large Stationary Band Mill: This is suitable for higher production and higher log yield capabilities. Usually running 4” and wider blades on high strain head-rigs. The initial investment can be much more significant for a high production band, but you gain a board on average every 4 boards over a circle mill.

  • Thin kerf, Higher yield from the log
  • High production capable
  • The initial investment is great
  • Blade maintenance expense can be great, equipment needed

Portable Bandsaw: This machine has a long saw blade with a continuous sawtooth stretched between two wheels. It can be set up to be mobile, or set up stationary.

  • can handle large logs
  • less wood waste due to its narrow kerf
  • more efficient than circ saws and chainsaws
  • Production is limited compared to a circle mill
  • not capable of doing intricate cuts like table saws
  • Heavy and needs to be hauled by a pickup truck

Chainsaw: Powerful mechanical cutting tool which can be fueled by gasoline, electricity or battery-operated.

  • Comparable power with a band saw
  • Portable and easy to use
  • easily affordable over a portable band saw
  • Most mobile and versatile.
  • More wood waste due to wider kerf
  • Needs more arm strength for better control and maneuver
  • Need to be more cautious when using this tool
  • Production is limited

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting your own sawmill entails numerous questions as there are many things to look into. Below are some of the most common questions answered by other millers about these topics a few years ago.

Also, these prices other than being a few years ago, are a relative average. Your local area may differ significantly based on your local economy.

What is the average rate for a sawmill worker?

The lowest pay a sawmill worker can get is around $8.91 per hour. Meanwhile, the average hourly rate is about $12.40, and the highest rate he could get for those with vast experience and skills is $19.30.

How much does sawmill lumber cost?

There are different variables affecting lumber costs such as tree species, size, and quality. To give you an insight into the calculation, let us have red oak grade lumber. The average price for this lumber type is around $800 per thousand board feet (bf).

Estimated cost breakdown:
  • $100 – harvesting cost per thousand bf
  • $100 – trucking cost per thousand bf
  • $250 – per thousand bf

The overall cost of any lumber can be divided into a fixed and variable cost. Below is segregation for the two types of cost:

  • Fixed Cost: wages and salaries, utilities, general and administrative expenses
  • Variable Cost: sawmill operating cost, labor, drying, logistics, maintenance cost, raw material cost, storage and inventory cost.

How much money do loggers make?

Their salaries depend on their work specialization.
  • For Fellers who cut down trees with the use of mobile felling equipment and chainsaws. Their average hourly rate is $20.49 or $42,620 every year.
  • Operators of tree harvesters and log transporters. Their average hourly rate is $16.40 or $34,100 every year.
  • Inspectors for grading logs. Their average hourly rate is $16.11.
  • General rank and file employee for sawmills. They earn around $16.23 per hour.

How much does timber cost?

For a particular situation, a stand of mix hardwoods contains 6,000 board feet or 6 MBF per acre. The average stumpage cost is around $300 per MBF or $1,800 per acre.

How much are trees worth?

The approximate total volume of an average tree is 225 board feet. The average value of this tree is $195 or $866 per thousand board feet.

Meanwhile, a grade 3 14-inch Red Oak would cost around $12 or $265 per thousand board feet.

How do you price lumber?

There are three ways to price your lumber: by piece, by linear inch, or based on the square foot. For instance, lumber is sold by the linear inch at $0.20 per linear inch. A 12 feet lumber would cost around 12 ft x 12 inches x $0.20 equals $28.80.

The same concept applies to the two remaining methods. The difference lies on the bases of the price whether it is per piece or per board feet.

Wrap Up

Now, we are at the last portion of your journey towards why people buy a sawmill. Rather it is investing in your own sawmill, or just going to Lowes or Home Depot, well that is up to you.

Hopefully, you have learned a few things and given these insights you have more of an understanding of owning a sawmill.

After all that is said, most older saw-millers will just tell you they have sawdust in their blood, and that is why they own a sawmill.


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