Cost advantage of milling own lumber?


Hello All!
I've got an acre of land with a small amount of timber where I plan on doing much construction/woodworking (Log House, shop, wooden boat, various big heavy furniture projects, etc.) over the next 10-15 years.
I want to purchase a small lumber mill and have a couple of loads of logs delivered and craft my own dimensional lumber - I want to start from the bottom! :)
90% of the reasoning is - Cause I want to!
I'm trying to convince myself (with the remaining 10%) that in the long run, it will be cheaper than purchasing all the dimensional lumber that I'll go through in the next 10-15 years.
In the long run, would a guy come out ahead dollar wise by purchasing a small mill, planer, and a couple loads of logs up front? Or should I toss the financial reasoning and just go with the "Because I want to!" reasoning?
Mel
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Because you want to sounds like reason enough to me as long as you have the time and can afford it. Don't have any idea what your hobbies are but you can spend a lot of money playing golf, bowling or stopping at the local bar on your way home from work. If you look at it as a form of relaxation or enjoyment you can not put a monetary value on it. Life is for enjoyment, so if you think you would like to do it then do it. All is not lost if you find you no longer want to mill your own lumber as tools have resale value. Remember you need to have a place to store this milled lumber for a lengthy time to air dry it.

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Not only can it be cost effective but according to one fellow I met it can actually make you money. The thing to remember is drying time. You have at least 1 year after the first cut you make until you have dried lumber. Puff

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Get a little portable set up you can move around or set up a small mill and do custom cutting. There are several companies that sell the machines and can help you get started.
Add to the fun and go look for second hand equipment as well as visiting portable mills.
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MelH wrote:

Mel,
"Because you want to" is the best reason I can think of.
I grew up on a farm. My dad and I cut several truck loads of logs, hauled them to a local mill then helped the old codger who owned the mill saw them into lumber. I was a gangly young farm lad at the time, able to haul hay all day at 100 degrees, but still it was HARD WORK. I enjoyed it tremendously at the time, but 30 years later, I'd have to get in much better shape to attempt it. You may save money on lumber. You may make money milling for others. Either way, I guarantee you'll EARN it.
You don't say where you are, or what you plan to do with the lumber, but here's what happened to me. We're in Mississippi, OK? Relative humidity outdoors seldom drops below 50% for very long. We stacked the lumber outside for two years, then moved it into an open barn for another year or so. Then I made a few small furniture pieces from it. The first winter indoors, the boards shrunk and cracked and did all manner of unpleasant things. I swore off air-dried wood for anything but rough carpentry. If you live in a dryer region, you may have a much better experience.
I love my toys as much as the next guy, even the ones that require sweat and muscle. Just know what you're gettin' into.
"DonkeyHody" "Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." - Thomas Carlyle
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Can you stack some of the wood in your attic, or basement, as an experiment. Give it 10 months outside, 3-4 in the basement (what passes for winter in your area), and check the moisture content. You might be surprised.
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Charles Self wrote:

That was 20 years ago. I'd probably give it a shot if I stumbled on a real good deal on some green lumber. But I'm not on the farm anymore, I've moved to town; and don't have much storage space or access to green lumber. I usually buy just a little extra wood for each project - and it's already taking over my shop.
I'm sure the drying potential in my attic would be very good since it gets so hot up there in the summer. Basements are almost unheard-of here.
It's a good suggestion though. I guess I've been sort of like that cat on the stove lid.
DonkeyHody "We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again---and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." - Mark Twain
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<snip> "Because I want to!"

Veeeery cool, Mel!! Chek into the forums at www.Woodweb.com for more info on home drying pre-treatment and kiln building, sawyering, etc.
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You'll be needing a moisture meter too. This one's from Harbor Freight - there are certainly better ones available! http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber'57
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MelH wrote:

[snip]>
There ya go! Make that 100% and any payback is gravy.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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If you buy a couple loads of logs, your gonna have a helluva time gettin them sawed up b4 they start to dry out or rot. Thats a big bite all at one time. Start out with 10 or 15 good sized logs and you will see how big a mistake 2 truck loads would be. It ain't nearly over when the cuttin is done. You still got to sticker stack and if you are in the south, you probably need to spray your lumber (spechially fresh pine) with a sap stain controll product. Keeps that nasty looking mold off it till it drys. Then theres all them dull blades to resharpen.
Not tryin to scare you off. but it's more work than most folks think.
jack Jack's Sawmill Service
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Thanks for all the great responses! I really appreciate it...
I think I'll look for a used machine - accept the fact that I will never recoup the cost...
...and make big-ass beams and rough-cut 2x6's so I can make the grandkids one hell of a huge, monster fort! (OK - I'll use some for other things too...)
...and if I get any lumber that I can use for myself - sweet! :)
thanks again everyone.
btw - I'm in Montana.
Mel
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It can be extremely cost effective and you can make decent cash afterwards.
You can build your house frame from green lumber as long as you don't try to cover it for a year. The lumber will shrink and tighten up. The next season you can roof it cover your walls etc.
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Hello Mel, A few years ago I considered the same Idea. What I found out was that I would have been spending more time processing lumber than actually building things. Processing lumber is a job in itself. I finally decided that I enjoyed building projects more than processing lumber.
Call any of the companies that sells portable mills and give them your zip code. They can tell you all of the portable mills that are in your area. I have 5 within 30 minutes of where I live.. I network with these guys and get all the lumber I need. They always seem to have more wood than a market to sell it to so the price is always flexable.
Instead of spending the money on a mill I bought tools for my shop. Besides building projects I do some millwork - planing, cutting and wide belt sanding for others. My tools have all paid for themselves. You can do both but you will spend half the time processing lumber when you could have been building something . Your choice. You can see a sample of the work my wife and I do at: www.distinctive-woodcraft.com Richard
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I bought a used woodmizer this past spring. I cut and sawed enough timber off my own land to build a 20'x40' building to house the saw and store wood for drying and a 24'x30' extension on another existing building. I am mainly using poplar for framing and siding. Not only is it substantially cheaper but I am able to cut exactly what I want to use. We are going to build a timber frame (not log cabin) cabin next summer if I can get enough good weather to saw the rest of the lumber.. BTW, I've found that different types of timber have very different drying times. The poplar that I sawed in July was very dry by the time I used it for building in late Sept. while the oak was not dry at all. Go for it. It's fun!

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MelH wrote:

I wanted a place to park my boat
http://www.mts.net/~lmlod/Sailboat3.jpg
So I built this.
http://www.mts.net/~lmlod/Cabinfront6.jpg
Then I wanted to get a jointer and a planer.
Had to finish the inside of the place, so I went out and bought about 5000 ft of sawmill lumber.
What else could I do but go out and buy the tools, and wouldn't you know it, I had to get a new router and table as well (darn).
I could have come up with a financially sound reason to get what I wanted, but I didn't want to. :) :) :)
Never was much good at counting beans anyway.
Mel the sawyer, the boat builder, the furniture guy.
Sounds OK to me. :) :)
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On 12/13/2005 8:56 AM MelH mumbled something about the following:

The latter. You won't come out ahead unless you mill a LOT of lumber.
--
Odinn
RCOS #7 SENS BS ???
  Click to see the full signature.
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