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Thread: Portable Saw Mill Rates

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Fort Wayne, In

    Portable Saw Mill Rates

    Anyone have an idea as to what one should pay to have some trees sawn by a portable saw mill operator? I have some maple, cherry and walnut tress being cut down today and was discussing this subject with the tree guys and they thought I would be paying about 35 cents per b.f. Is this reasonable or excessive?

  2. #2

    We charge 40 cents/bf if sawing at our shop and $60/hour if sawing at their site. At their site, with good clean logs that usually works out to 25 to 35 cents/bf.

    We charge "more" at our place because we have to deal with the waste.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Conway, Arkansas
    Well....the way I see it? Maple, Walnut and Cherry for $0.35 per board foot. I'll take it!!!!!
    Thanks & Happy Wood Chips,
    Dennis -
    Get the Benefits of Being an SMC Contributor..!
    ....DEBT is nothing more than yesterday's spending taken from tomorrow's income.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Otsego, MN
    I recently did call WoodMizer and got a couple of names from them, and then found that in Wisconsin the state has a database of all "primary forest product companies" - which of course includes sawmills both stationary and portable.

    I was looking for doing work in south central Wisconsin. Of the 3 that I talked to that were willing to saw where I wanted, I got the following.

    1) $45/hr or $150/thousand bd ft. Hourly rate used if doing "non-standard" work - which I take to be anything that isn't 4/4 plain sawn. Didn't ask about hitting iron.

    2) $250/thousand bd ft w/ $25 setup and $25/blade that hits iron. "more" for quarternsawn material - but didn't give price.

    3a) $60/hr - but for a circular saw mill so I need to deliver logs. Circular saw goes much faster through wood that band saw mill.

    3b) Same gentleman as 3a told me he works with someone that does have a portable mill and thought he charged $35/hr. This is second hand so I don't know how much weight to give it.

    So - there is a range of prices, and not all directly comparable. I'll hopefully get some logs ready this winter (Jan??) and find out how well one of them works out after that.

    One of the biggest issues for doing comparisons is that comparing rates per thousand and hourly is very hard. Even hourly rates between different mills is quite variable depending on how many board feet per hour they can cut. From the operators point of view they also have a hard time doing the pricing because cutting quartersawn is much slower than cutting plain sawn. Of course there is also that cutting 8/4 or thicker will also be quicker than 4/4. What kind of equipment does the sawer have/use? Different mills can go through logs at different rates. Having to turn the logs/cants by hand can slow you down. Loading the logs - by hand, by winch by hydraulic lifts, by skid-loader? Does he have a separate edger, use the mill to do the edging, or not do any edging? Does he provide a second person to help offload the saw, or do you need to provide 1-2 extra sets of hands?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Example of Sawyer Contract

    Here is an example of a contract for one of the sawyers in OH. Most sawyers that quote per bf assume you will help, otherwise they charge by the hour. One link I ran across is as follows with parts of the contract quoted below:

    1.Sawyer agrees to cut Customer’s logs at Customer’s site for $30.00 per hundred board foot of lumber cut. Charges are based on actual lumber cut rather than scaled volume. A board foot of lumber is defined as 12” x 12” x 1”. Anything cut less than 1” thick will be counted as 1”. There is a $200.00 minimum charge. If there are many small, short or otherwise time consuming logs, Sawyer may (at sawyers discretion) charge $50.00 per hour for sawing instead of the board foot charge.
    2. In addition to above, Customer shall pay Sawyer $1.00/mile ($25.00 minimum) for delivery and location set-up of sawmill. Also, if Sawyer is required to re-locate sawmill on site, there shall be an additional charge of $25.00 per move. In the event a saw blade is broken or damaged by foreign matter (nail, rock, metal, etc.) in Customer’s log, there is a charge of $25.00 per damaged blade.

    3. Customer agrees to provide manpower to assist in loading and unloading logs and lumber. All logs shall be stacked in location of mill so that there can be continuous loading of mill by rolling logs up to the mill without moving mill. Lumber shall be stacked at mill location to allow continuous cutting operation.

    4.Other charges: Cutting logs over 30” diameter so they will fit on saw- $50 / hr. Cleaning logs of frozen mud - $50 / hr. any work other than milling logs - $50

    Hope this helps...seems to be typical of sawyers in my area. I talked to a few about a nice blk walnut tree ready for milling.
    Last edited by Dick Strauss; 09-06-2005 at 5:18 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    "My guy" charges (charged...) $50/hr plus 1/2" hour travel time. $25 for any blade that met metal in the wood. $10/hr if he has to bring his own helper. (Only one needed...he runs a SuperHydro that lifts the logs) That was in 2000. He may charge a little more now, but probably not a lot more.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Hurricane WV
    I charge $250 per thousand unless it some special cut like quartersaw or large flitches which require a lot more handling. I don't currently charge a travel or setup fee if they have more than 1,000 feet. I usally won't move mill for less than a thousand. For the guy that gave the price of 150 per thousand , I don't see how he can be making any money. My mill is power feed and raise but does not have hydraulics and i can generally hit the 1,000-1,200 bd ft mark per day. Hope this helps.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Otsego, MN
    I agree - the $150/thousand seemed very "reasonable" to me.
    I believe (my memory may be wrong here - I didn't write it down) that this gentleman has a WoodMizer LT40 or LT40-Super. The WoodMizer website says up to 550 bd-ft/hour for the Super. That means about $75/hour if he has really good cutting. Or do the math the other way around - to match his $45/hour he is cutting about 300 bd-ft/hour.

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