Making T&G Hardwood Flooring

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Greetings,
I also have access to some acres of hardwood trees. I have a need for about 22,000 square feet of 5/4" T&G hardwood flooring. How hard would it be for me to convert the hardwood trees into flooring and would I actually save any money? I know that a long time ago they had portable sawmills and so on and so forth but I just know very little about it. I was hoping that someone could point me in the right direction or convince me otherwise. I already know that I might have to wait for the wood to cure and I could certainly wait a year on this project but there may be other considerations that I have not thought of.
Thank you for your time, William Deans
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snipped-for-privacy@wdeans.com wrote:

The milling operation is the least of it. The real question is how much would you potentially save. There's a lot of work in felling, bucking, resawing, kiln drying, and milling. You'll also need a fair bit of storage and work space. Start with some rough numbers and see where it leads you. Include a reasonable labor cost even if you plan on doing it yourself.
R
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RicodJour wrote:

I saw one of these portable mills in a demo at PA Farm Show last year. It was quite versatile but as you say, there is a lot more to it than just cutting the lumber. I would think op's best bet would be to cut a deal with a saw mill for them to harvest the trees and give him part of the lumber in return.
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Call up a sawmill and tell them that you have a bunch of hardwood you wouldn't mind selling. Then tell the estimator that you'd like 22,000 sq. ft. of flooring off the deal.
It's worth a shot. I know a fella who made a small fortune by buying a black walnut grove of about 500 acres as a nut farm, then sold each and every tree off the property as veneer logs, then turned around and sold the land to a developer.
He didn't raise a finger, just saw the benefit of black walnuts where the seller didn't. It wasn't a nut farm, but a tree farm.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

There are people who buy companies, sell off the assets, raid the pension fund and close the company. They make a lot of money, too.
R
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wrote:

IAWTP
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ng_reader wrote:

? http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?s=IAWTP&gwp  :)
R
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RicodJour wrote:

Naw. http://www.acronymfinder.com/af-query.asp?Acronym=iawtp&Find=find&string=exact
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On 20 Nov 2006 07:05:36 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Just look in the yellow pages under "Sawmill."
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The steps are:
Cut trees and drag to saw mill
Cut lumber to rough thickness
Stack and let dry, about 1 year per inch of thickness (or kiln dry)
Joint and plane boards to finished thickness
Cut to width needed
Cut tongue on one edge, cut groove on other edge. Best down with a molder or router table
Think about hte immensity of hte project. If you need 22,000 square feet, you need about 66,000 linear feet of 4" wide boards. If they are all 10' long, that is 6600 pieces of wood to handle. Finished, it is about 27.500 cubic feet., or over 8 full 53' trailers of wood.
This is quite a job for a portable mill, but can be done. You may want to talk to a saw mill that has the proper equipment to do it all. I visited a modern mill last year and it was quite the operation. Hardly anything was touched by hand and the 8 trailer loads is fast work for them, from de-barking, cutting grading, etc. I'm not sure what portion of this you want to do yourself and how much you are considering farming out, but there is a lot of labor here using typical woodworking equipment.
How much space do you have to store the wood? I'm coming up with a solid 8+ trailers of finished product. In raw state it must be stickered for air circulation and you won't be able to stack more than about 6' high as a practical matter. Now you are looking at the space of maybe 16 ore more trailers. If you set up in a shed or garage, all that wood had to be brought in, milled, then carried back out again or take to the job site.
Do you have or have access to any woodworking tools? Router table? I'd buy a set of t & g router bits, set them up in a table, process a couple of store bought boards. Then I'd ask, do I want to do this to 6600 boards?
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I've done exactly what you're thinking of doing. I cut the trees, sawed them into boards, stacked them, air dried them, designed and built a dehumidification kiln, kiln dried the boards, thicknes planed them, T&G the edges and fluted the backs, installed and finished the final product. Soup to nuts.
So I can tell you from experience that it is do-able. But there's a lot of things to learn if you haven't done this stuff before.
If your goal is to do 20,000 board feet, never do it again, AND you want a high quality product, it's probably not worth the investment of time and $.
If you're interested in talking about it some more, send me an email at the address below, replacing "at" and "dot" with the appropriate symbols.
kenkorona at yahoo dot com

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Just Me wrote:

Greetings,
First I want to say that I am very happy to be getting some real input ... but to help me better understand please correct me where I am wrong. The first place is in calculating the size and weight I come up with a much smaller value. I have calculated the finished product as a cube only 12' 3" to a side with a weight of just under 50 tons.
22000        Finished flooring (ft^2) 1        5/4" finished flooring actual thickness (in) 1833.33        Finished flooring (ft^3) 12.24        Cube size (ft to a side) 3.2        Weight of 3/4" thick white oak per ft^2 (source http://www.homerwood.com/HTML/genINFO.html ) 4.27        Weight of 1" thick white oak per ft^2 93866.67    Finished floor weight (lb)
The finished product would fit into two "portable garages" costing only $199 each (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?ItemnumberB211). I know that the flooring must be protected from the rain but I believe it is acceptable to expose flooring to cold or heat before it is installed so long as it is allowed to acclimate before the actual installation? The unfinished flooring stacked for air-drying appears to be an operation which could be accomplished outside (see http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/forestry/g05550.htm ) but if I wanted to enclose it in a proper shed I could do so around $1000 and end up owning the building afterwards. If possible I would like to cure, process, and store the wood on site until it is ready to be picked up by a couple of tractor trailers for transportation to the jobsite. In this fashion I pay the least shipping and storage expenses possible.
I have heard a couple people say that it would cost too much and not knowing how long it would take that might be true from a time perspective but the equipment seems to cost almost nothing. I already have a router, router table, table saw, 5500W generator, trailer, chain saw, plainer, etc. I am only missing the portable saw mill which I believe could be purchased used and then sold the following year for around what I paid for it. I will likely go through some supplies and fuel but I expect the total cost of the entire operation, minus labor, would likely be less than $4400 or $0.20 per ft^2. Is there something I am missing? My labor costs are low, perhaps $7/hr, except for myself. I will probably hire as many unskilled $7/hr workers as I can keep busy during the operation. I would like to have some notion of how long this project is going to take so that I can try to put a price on the labor (and my own time).
Am I way off base here?
Thanks again, William
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Finished flooring (ft^2)

Oops, I was way off on my calculations. I used board feet instead of the cubic feet, or 1/12th of the number.

Lumber is often dried outside. You just have to allow for climate changes that will affect the overall time. Since you ar enot in a hurry, that is not a big factor.

You may want to visit the Woodmizer web page. They list people that own them and do the sawing so you can contact them. That will help you decide if you want to pay someone to come adn do the work, or to buy and sell the machine yourself. Some do it for a cut of the wood so if you have enough to share, the cash outlay is minimized. Worth a couple of phone calls.
My labor costs are low, perhaps $7/hr, except for

Unless you are doing the selecting and cutting, you need at least one person with a little skill. Otherwise, the handling of material is readily done by a couple of high school kids.
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Air drying removes water from within the cells. Kiln drying removes water from within the structure of the cell walls. To avoid shrinking and swelling due to ambient climate changes you must remove the cell wall water. You can air dry it for 10 years and the water remains in the cell wall. Kiln drying provides other benefits like killing insects and setting pitch. I'm sure someone will tell you "I had a floor out of air dried oak and it was fine, blah blah blah..." Do you think the flooring makers kiln dry their product at enormous cost for no reason. Don't even think of using air dried wood for flooring unless you 1) don't mind seeing large gaps between board and seeing boards that are swelled so much they've buckled or 2) have a perfect climate controll system in the house that will contain the flooring (and that includes the climate below the floor).
wrote in message > 22000

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snipped-for-privacy@wdeans.com wrote:

That's based on finished product w/ 100% stacking density, no margin for waste and 1" thickness instead of 1.25" you say you need.
What you really need to look at is the sawn timber as you will need to dry the lumber _before_ milling and as someone else noted, you really must consider drying to somewhere closer to 6-8% MC for flooring in a finished, heated living space rather than simply the 15-20% you will attain by air drying.
To get 5/4 F2S you will need to saw to minimum of 6/4 and really should count on a little over that. Then you need to sticker it when stacking with sufficient room for air movement or drying will be very slow and poor and you'll end up w/ stain and problems from insects and rot so you should conservatively figure 3"/stickered layer. That essentially triples your above estimate of volume. Then, depending on your desired quality of lumber and the quality of the logs, you have the dual factors of how high the yield of product will be from the lumber and the waste from the finished product to laying it. Together these will probably approach 25 to as much as 50%. So, the total would, I expect, approach 4-5 times your estimate, only half as small as the other respondent's calculation.
You then will need a place to store the milled lumber as you fabricate it -- if you're thinking of doing this manually w/ a single-spindle milling operation, then you have the operations of surfacing, edging one side, resawing to width, then milling both edges (tongue and groove). Ideally, you would also want to relieve the back edge to provide only two narrower resting surfaces to make a more solid installation less susceptible to rocking. This comes out to something like 4 + 2 + 2 + 1 = 9 minimum passes over/through a machine for every stick -- that's going to take quite some time. At a minimum, I would think the only practical way for such a volume unless you have a _lot_ of free time and no set schedule would be to by a milling machine to do the T&G milling in a single pass. I also wouldn't expect a portable planer to survive this kind of usage, but that's a guess -- I have an old Rockwell industrial so haven't ever actually used one of them.
Then, depending on where you are, there's the potential problem of what you're going to do with the waste -- although I assume since you have access to the timber you can dispose of the bark and sawdust, that isn't necessarily a given. At least need to think about it.
Look at the USDA web site -- they have a lot of useful information on both air- and kiln- drying lumber. A Google search will also uncover a lot of other sites -- I know Virginia Tech and U of VT both have good forestry product departments w/ lots of info for both commercial and homeowner types...
...

That's going to depend a whole lot on what you have in the way of equipment both for the logging, handling the logs to the sawmill (or vice versa w/ a portable), handling the sawn lumber (remember green lumber may be 30-50% denser than the dried so depending on what you used as your weight above, you might be handling much heavier stuff than you calculated). I think unless you have some sizable equipment, the time and effort will turn out to be quite onerous, but I have no idea of what you own or intend to rent or contract out, of course.
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dpb wrote: ...

...
That, obviously, was intended to be US Forest Service, not Dept of Agriculture...
...

I've been thinking of this a little more -- for a rough way to get a handle on what you're talking about (again, not knowing the type of equipment you're envisioning) consider the following--
You're talking of 22,000 ft^2 which as noted is going to require something otoo 25-30% that much additional material to be processed to get the finished product. Just considering the planing operation, if you saw and thickness 8" wide boards on average, that will be something like 22,000 * 12/8 * 1.33 --> 43,890 linear feet of material. Surface planing that, assuming 27 fpm not accounting for material handling would be 43,890 / 27 / 60 --> 27 hrs per pass and you would likely need a minimum of 4 passes (two per side) to get final thickness so that would be a couple of weeks' effort full-time w/o any overhead. That's just one operation, so you probably have a minimum of 3-4 months' labor at a dedicated rate with adequate equipment and material handling. As a weekend or evening project w/ small shop equipment and no good material handling, 5 - 10X that would be my guess...
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dpb wrote:

Greetings,
It looks like I need to investigate kiln drying more and then come back and respond to these posts. I wanted to do so and then respond tonight because otherwise I fear that the thread may lose its momentum but I simply am not going to have the time tonight. I did want everyone to know that I am reading and soaking in every word and that it has already been very insightful and helpful. I don't think that I am going to get away with this as easily as I had hoped time-wise but so far it still looks like a major cost savings. I also want to look into equipment which will help me to finish the flooring with fewer steps and evaluate if the cost is justified. Then I need to produce an estimate of how long it is going to take to finish the wood "consecutive sentence" style as "dpb" began to expand upon with the planing and then from that create a "concurrent sentence" estimate showing how many men I will need and the total calendar duration and cost of the project.
Thank you for your time, William Deans
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snipped-for-privacy@wdeans.com wrote:

...
You've still given very little information on where you are, what size of logs you have to start with, etc., etc., etc., ... All that would have major bearing on whether there are local mills that would be suitable for hire, yields expected to be obtainable from the logs, again, etc., etc., etc., ...
But, for an individual considering such a project, I recommend looking at the 718 planer/molder from Woodmaster. It has the facilities to do the T&G moulding plus back relief, planing and has a rip-saw attachment as well. Rigged out, it would probably run about $4000-$5000, but they have "deals" pretty frequently that are quite substantial. See
http://www.woodmastertools.com/s/specs.cfm
and poke around their site at length.
You might also DAGS on Google groups for a thread in alt.woodworking within the last month or so where there was a discussion of the options for planer/moulders that had some good feedback.
The cost of labor saved for the amount of material you're talking about would, in my estimation, make up the equipment outlay cost several times over. Again, however, you've provided no information on what you think you're saving.
One thing I've wondered about from the beginning, though -- why 5/4? 3/4 flooring is pretty standard and is durable enough for your (and your grandchildrens' grandchildrens' lifetimes), so why use so much quality material unnecessarily?
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dpb wrote: ...

...
Man, everywhere I point you, I make a blunder--the group would be rec.woodworking, not alt
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dpb wrote:

Greetings,
I took a look at http://www.woodmastertools.com/s/specs.cfm and they are on sale now. The sale prices are much lower than 5K and I now believe that I cannot afford not to purchase such a machine. Thank you very much.
As to my location. I am currently in Eastern PA and the oak is in Eastern NC on some family land.
The flooring needs to be 5/4" because it is going directly over joists without underlayment. I am planning on building a large stone home here in PA in a couple years that the flooring will be going into.
Hope this helps, William
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