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lumber

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15609
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Lots of farmers have a little sawmill to provide income over the winter.  Or ... perhaps more accurately ... to provide work over the winter that might not pay for a year or two.  After all, the dry wood pays a lot better than the green wood.  And wood typically doesn't dry well in the winter.  And with the price of wood changing so much, it can often be wise to wait a year or two or three to sell the wood. 


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Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I like that analysis.

If the goal is providing productive work through the winter, and drying is a big delay in income, I wonder if plywood (and other laminated products) might be more appropriate.

I understand a well-made maple skateboard deck is worth quite a bit, for example. And modernist furniture could bring in real revenue, too, with the right contact in a nearby city.

A quick system of producing plywood takes a lot of engineering and capital, but if the roller is merely heavy, rather than stiff and solidly-mounted, one can sacrifice throughput but have a simpler, cheaper, more-robust system.

I could also imagine a relatively simple machine for cutting a log into veneer.

There are some excellent botanical adhesives out there, too. Laha tree and Japanese sumac come to mind offhand, but I'm sure there are others.


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15609
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I met a fella with a sawmill and a HUGE barn.  He started off milling a few trees and selling the wood, but then he started to discover that there was big demand for some of his cuts of wood.  He then adjusted his prices based on supply and demand and also used the mighty power of patience.    Now he's getting something like 10 times more for some cuts of wood.  And he has a sharp eye out for certain things in wood that some of his customers really want.


Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Nice!

It really does sound like a good business to be in.

I wonder if the capital outlay for a veneer-based business would be lower, though, and/or if it would allow you to have fewer competitors.
Lf London


Joined: Dec 18, 2009
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Home made protective wood finish:

I experimented with this formula for a stiff hand rub protective furniture polish. The ingredients are:
1)
pine sap, collected dried chunks from a cut on a southern yellow pine tree or any other conifer
2)
beeswax
3)
maybe some candle wax or canning paraffin
4)
boiled linseed oil
5)
rendered animal fat (lard)
6)
maybe a little turpentine

for a variation maybe add a little real spar varnish (not poly varnish) - need to try this sometime for tool handles

mix, heat & melt, filter through T shiirt cloth and pour into a jar
It will harden tacky stiff
Scoop some out and attempt to spread it on a board; use a hair dryer focused on the application spot to make it easier to spread the handrub; after you have finished coating your wood focus the hair dryer on the area to melt the handrub (still tacky); you will see it melt and disappear into the wood with no residue left on the surface - take a cloth and polish the wood surface.

That's about it.

Lawrence London
Venaura Farm
Chapel Hill NC
http://venaurafarm.blogspot.com
venaurafarm@bellsouth.net

December 19, 2009


Lawrence London
Venaura Farm
http://venaurafarm.blogspot.com
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Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 973
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
One thing that is very good is to learn to use the trees on your property that a logger wouldn't touch. They make very good flooring, etc and you improve your wood lot. It doesn't take a lot of investment to process this wood. A good portable bandsaw, a table saw, a joiner, a planer and a shaper and you are in business, or just a molder with table saw. Lots of this stuff you can get used.

Cut the wood and store it in a barn for a year or so, then start using up inventory. The nice thing is done this way, it is sustainable, and your woodlot gets better and better.


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I just bought a Granberg Short Sawmill for my 20" chainsaw.

A have about 5kbf of spalted alder on the ground that I intend to get slabbed up this february, if all goes well.

I figure it like this:

alder firewood here goes for about $150 a cord; a cord of firewood is roughly 1250bf of wood due to air gaps, etc; so that is about $600 for the pile, and about a week of work, then the cost of gas, etc. Maybe $450 total for firewood from 5kbf.

as spalted alder i can pull about $3/bf from the alder- considering 25% "waste" (a cord of scraps for my woodstove) I end up with about 3750bf- times that by $4/bf - and Im sitting pretty at  $15k- a 20x markup for roughly triple the amount of work.

at least according to the math I learned in 4th grade...

I plan on cutting 6" beams at 8.5' length; The beams I let dry till next winter, and then run them through my 3/4 bandsaw- which has a much smaller kerf- on a 14" log ill get 12 1x6 planks at 8', or whatever- 2x6, 4x4, etc- for furniture grade wood and interior brightwork. no big outlays for investments, just finding a few high end cabinet shops that want spalted alder at lower prices (5% will do it) than the current market- which puts me, conservatively, in the 10k/month income range.

for 1.5 months....

I have acres of this Alder, but havent started felling and yarding much yet as its all small. I have started prunning for CVG and selecting for mushroom logs... and planting the successional overstory with cedar, true fir, and doug fir. IM also growing hardwoods- maple, walnut, apple, cherry- for furniture production... at some point. Ive been planting them for 4 years, and wont get to them for 20 or so I think...

ive also got a few fir and cedar that will come down in 2-3 years,a s well as a bunch of wild cherry. I plan on using them onsite for building a yurt platform, and other site construction- thus saving several thousand dollars. the cherry will make excellent furniture wood, mostly 4x4 and 6x6. Ill dry it before I saw it, just like the alder.

I like this racket. 

Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2472
Location: FL
    
  79
Lumber is a value added product.  Harvesting your trees wisely and sustainably will improve the value of the remaining trees.  Trees taken down provide lumber and firewood.

Firewood stacked and seasoned can offer a windbreak, a shelter for livestock, and a marketable products in a year.

Lumber production is a little more involved than just slicing up a tree.  Drying the wood, while not complicated, will want some study to understand the process before diving in.  A greenhouse fits in with small scale lumber production by serving as a drying kiln during the heat of summer.  Too hot for plants, just right for lumber.

Lumber mills and portable sawmills can be expensive.  I looked at one for $5k but could not justify the expense.  Maybe one day.  If the lumber is valuable, hiring a portable sawmill to come in and do the cutting can prove to be the way to get started.

A drying kiln is needed for specialty lumber production.  Getting the boards down to 5% moisture is the task at hand.  While using the scraps and limbs can serve as fuel for process heat, solar thermal has been used with excellent results.  Although it is often slower, you dont have to feed a furnace.  There is a fellow locally with a 10k BF lumber kiln, run on natural gas.  His kiln is never empty.  I've used his wood before.  In the early days he ran the temps too high, some of his stuff was case hardened, hurt his reputation.  The stuff was impossible to work with.  If you don't have a kiln or the experience to operate one effectively, there are small independent kilns around who will dry the lumber for a fee.

There is demand for specialty lumber, and the stuff pulls a nice price, but the quality of the product is critical.  If you have the trees, you can hire out the cutting, milling and drying.  All you need after that is a place to store the finished boards. 

I've worked with all sorts of lumber.  Pine, red and white oak, and poplar are common in the big box stores, but if you want the neat stuff, you have to do some hunting.  There are specialty lumber dealers here and there, but they are few and far between.  You want bird's eye maple?  You'll be paying 3-5 times as much as red oak.  Teak?  If you can find it you'll be paying 20 bucks a board foot at least.

Just about any tree can be turned into lumber.  Some species are good for woodwork, some are good for building, some are good for fenceposts, some are good for firewood.  Larch is common in the northeast and is outstanding as a fence post-really holds up to the weather and soil moisture.  Its workability is similar to pine but the stiff is all splinters.  Skip it for furniture.  Cypress is easy to look at as a wall covering, inside or out, but the holes all through it makes it difficult to use for small woodworking pieces.  Every species has a use.

I had a fellow come to me with lumber from his land.  Someone did the cutting and drying for him, left him with top quality lumber for less than the price of pine.  I took his 8/4 magnolia, turned it into a butcher block counter top 1 3/4" thick for a kitchen island.  It was a spectacular piece not soon to be duplicated.  Another guy brought over some lumber made from a 6' high tree stump.  It was pecan that had been rotting away for several years.  Some of the wood was no good but I was able to salvage enough to make a 10-legged table.  Ips beetles had laid larvae in the wood which left hundred of tiny pin holes throughout.  It added an excellent touch of character to the finished table.  Finding lumber like this is not something you can do at a lumber yard.  They bring in the trees, process them, move them out the door.  If you want the unique lumber, you have to make it or hunt, hunt, hunt.

If you don't have the standing timber to make your own lumber, there are plenty of sources.  Tree companies take down trees from people's yards, haul them off.  They sell the trunks to lumberyards and the hobby/small scale lumber makers.  Another sources is people who are clearing land for homesites-private owners and developers.  Some will pay you to take down the trees, but you usually have to take all of them in an area.  If you want only some specific trees, you may have to pay for them, but you get what you want.

This one has all sorts of potential.  The woods around here are crawling with guys who do some occasional woodwork.  There are some top notch woodworkers out there, as well as some cabinet shops.  There is a strong market but you gotta have a good product.




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Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
If you're using a chainsaw to mill, you might also look at winnowing your sawdust and selling the larger shavings as animal bedding, assuming you use a non-toxic bar oil like canola.

It seems to go for about $1 per cubic foot, and probably has more air in it than cordwood.
Matthew Fallon


Joined: Jan 07, 2010
Posts: 307
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
    
    1
oooh, my favorite topic!

i got into woodworking through first playing and then making native american style bamboo flutes (hence the nick) then wood flutes. which snowballed into scrolling,woodturning and organic/rustic furniture  etc etc etc... i get trees from homeowners and local tree companies ,some will even pay me to take it or pay to drop it right in the driveway.as in long island they must shred it first then pay to dump at sanitation dept. i only wish i had land to really store lots of these free logs, one goal of mine is to buy a portable bandmill so i could mill enough to sell to other local WW'ers.but renting a lot here is really,really,pricey...and i've no place to store a bandmill right now..

anyhow,  i mill it with an alaskan chainsaw-mill attachment on a hefty chainsaw(95cc husqvarna 395xp).with the 42"bar on, it'll cut up to a 36" wide slab.instant doors/table-tops CSM's ave lots of advantages over bandmills (the obvious cons are way more manual work and bigger kerf) they can go where BM's cant,can cut realllly wide slabs if wanted (even 50"+)and are way cheaper to get into.

there are some really cool solar-kiln designs out there, i've stashed away quite a few videos and pdfs of some solar and dehumidifier kilns.
heres one vid, many more on the tube.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTsDhCrE56U

here are 3 very good forums with logging/milling sub-forums
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/

http://www.arboristsite.com/

http://www.forestryforum.com/index.php

besides milling and drying, learn up on how to stack and sticker your pile for drying.
also wanna invest in a metal detector if you're gonna touch yard/street trees....



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Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2472
Location: FL
    
  79
ya...metal detector is a fine thing.  I've destroyed many planer blades just because someone hung a yard sale or no trespassing sign on a tree with a nail many years before. 

---

If you have access to sheltered storage as well as cash laying about and nothing to do with it, you can get started in a specialty lumber business.  You have to do the legwork of finding the lumber, hauling it back to the shed, sorting it, grade it, advertise and move the product out the door. 

There are deals to be found.  Surplus lumber from retail closeouts, stock held by contractors, and the small volumes produced by small lumbermilling operations such as tribalwind's.  You may be sitting on the product for a considerable time, so the investment should not be something you depend on to pay your bills.

The market is out there as well.  There are WW's out there who produce outstanding pieces.  Cabinets and case pieces are big users but don't forget the smaller users -WW's who make flutes, pens, artistic pieces, and crafts.  Some of that rare lumber makes for a distinctive workpiece.

A few pieces of equipment can expand your abilities.  A cargo trailer for hauling and delivery (think delivery fees).  A planer gives you the ability to surface the lumber, not every cottage industry woodworker has a planer.  A table saw and  radial arm saw gets you straightlined, s4s and stock sold by the foot. 

I've got fairly extensive notes on a specialty lumber business.  It fits in with a farm operation as a means of supplementing/diversifying income, plus woodworking gives me something to do in the cold season. 

Levi Maxwell


Joined: Jul 21, 2009
Posts: 64
Location: San Francisco
  I met a very much older cousin for the first time when I went to Louisiana this past summer; he has alot of business right now since all of money to rebuild NO and the surrounding areas are trickling in and towns are being revitalized finally.

Anyway he told me he gets paid to go to a piece of land and saw everything, then he charges for the wood to be removed, he then mills the wood with one of those attachments and sales to the construction companies in the same area. Apparently alot of times its the same people who tell him to cut the trees buy the finished product. 

  Something I wouldn't mind doing during the off seasons


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Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Portable mills are definetly something I'd like to get into in the future. My girlfriend works at a horse stable nearby owned by a guy who sells them but his range in the thousands of dollars. I don't know when I'll get that kind of scratch.


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Zone 5a in Central Ontario, Canada
                                


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 148
Grizzly.com sells a lot of machines and PARTS. I think an enterprising fellow could build a horizontal bandsaw piecemeal for way less than retail. If it's just for your own use, it might not have to be so portable.
Matthew Fallon


Joined: Jan 07, 2010
Posts: 307
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
    
    1
Bandsaw mills are great. so longs the logs are accessible and you have eqpt to move logs with..i imagine its usually a 2+man operation if you gotta move big logs around. thats the nice things with CSM's.you just cut it where it lay...

Travis wrote:
Portable mills are definetly something I'd like to get into in the future. My girlfriend works at a horse stable nearby owned by a guy who sells them but his range in the thousands of dollars. I don't know when I'll get that kind of scratch.

Travis, heres the Alaskan Mill you asked about in the other (firewood) thread.
http://www.baileysonline.com/itemdetail.asp?item=46778&productid=46778&channelid=FROOG
i dont use the fancy rail setup as in the video.  a 2x10 works fine for me.(i havent had any really bowed trunks though)
heres another type i use as well. saw runs vertically along a 2x4 .so once you make the 1st cut you cant square the sides accurately with this
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=41085
it works like this one.. http://www.baileysonline.com/itemdetail.asp?item=46555&catID=

heres a couple pieces i milled with a friend.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Thanks for the links. I'll show this to my partners and see what they think. Sounds a lot better than the firewood idea...
Matthew Fallon


Joined: Jan 07, 2010
Posts: 307
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
    
    1
you're welcome,
yes way better than firewood idea,
lumber looks better as than ash
here in LI ive been able to sell those pieces at $150 each. delivered.
this was a tree dumped at friends for firewood use,by a tree service.
friend had more than needed so we milled it. i'm in the middle of milling a large oak,and have a tulip tree waiting for me too,but its freezing out now so waiting for a warm spell.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
I'll obviously have to find a market before I get into this. Since the wood I have is somewhat young ash, poplar, cedar, scotts pine, and white birch, that to me says lower grade stuff. Any suggestions on what type of business I should approach? Self employed carpenters, cabinet makers?

This place is not too far away http://www.monaghanlumber.com/products
Maybe they are too big for my britches though
Matthew Fallon


Joined: Jan 07, 2010
Posts: 307
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
    
    1
hmmm, yea does seem like low grade softer woods. not great firewood anyway.
forget about selling to lumber places,they deal in big bulk. your best bet is in custom specialty milling i think,for  local craftsmen etc.

another possibility(something i've thought of doing ,still may someday) ,invest $ in a molding planer, and make custom flooring and crown/base moldings with your wood to sell. an 18" woodmaster is about $1,500 now on sale. it can rip,drum sand,plane ,and mold profiles...i've heard many good things about this american-made machine

http://www.youtube.com/user/woodmastertools
http://www.woodmastertools.com/s/index.cfm
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
And I think I have a suitable building to dry the wood in. I'll have to get readings on temp and humidity but I think it'll work. Near the house there is an unheated workshed that is approximately 40' X 40', with high ceilings and steel cable rafters. I could see this working out.
 
 
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