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Thread: Buying Lumber from Sawmill?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Porter,TX
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    Buying Lumber from Sawmill?

    Where Iíll be moving to one day there are several saw mills. Some are just individuals with a saw mill while others employ several people. One that I was looking at is saying Bandsaw cut, which guessing is on little rough side from 1/4ís to 6x6ís Anyway with prices going up at big box stores the prices at saw mills is looking better. Since the wood is either not dry or just air dry Iím wondering if it be hit/ miss if they stay straight. Is this the case with buying from small saw mill?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
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    11,649
    I used to buy from sawmills until I got my own Woodmizer bandsaw mill.

    Wood will generally be green unless you find one who air or kiln dries. Kiln drying will add to the cost.
    You can dry it yourself but there is a learning curve to dry without significant warping, powder post beetle infection, cracking/checking, and fungal stain. However, itís not difficult. You do have to have enough space outdoors to stack and sticker the boards. Most wood will air dry straight if done correctly. (Some is incredibly difficult to keep straight, depending on the log and how itís cut - Persimmon comes to mind.) Some boards may take a year or more to dry, depending.

    Since trees often have defects so you might find defects in some lumber.

    Small operators will sometimes saw logs you supply for a big savings. Hauling and handling can be an effort and there is some risk (you never know whatís inside a log) but the savings can make it worth while. You can sometimes get species you canít buy as lumber!
    I sometimes saw for others but I work on ďsharesĒ instead of charging.

    Lumber from a sawmill will be rough cut and may be in different widths and lengths than generally offered by large lumber suppliers. 1Ē boards will be close to 1Ē thick.

    You can get ďlive edgeĒ slabs and custom sizes from some saywers. You may need a good planer and jointer depending on the use.

    Questions: Where will you be moving to? What kind of things will you use the wood for? What quantities do you anticipate?

    JKJ

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
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    8,116
    There are several bandsaw mill operators near me, including me. Bandsaw lumber is as smooth as any rough lumber you might buy but it's definitely not the same as the S4S you get at the big box stores - nor is the price. Some small operators, including me, also have drying kilns, and I would search those out wherever you are moving too. The added cost is minimal and well worth it because whatever degrade might happen already has so what you see is what you get.

    John

  4. #4
    I bought a lot of walnut and cherry that was air dried from mills with great success. I also bought green walnut and cherry quite a few times and stickered and dried it with good results. One time I bought some white oak in VA that was air dried at the mill and it had powder post beetles and live grubs in it. I would look for a mill that can kiln dry to kill any insect infestation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
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    6,920
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Citerone View Post
    I bought a lot of walnut and cherry that was air dried from mills with great success. I also bought green walnut and cherry quite a few times and stickered and dried it with good results. One time I bought some white oak in VA that was air dried at the mill and it had powder post beetles and live grubs in it. I would look for a mill that can kiln dry to kill any insect infestation.
    Lacking a kiln, maybe spray with something like BORA-CARE to control bugs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Eastern TN
    Posts
    241
    I have bought lumber from two different mills in different areas of the country with mixed results. In both cases the mill also kiln dried their stock. The one in New England only got my business once as the material had been case hardened. by improper drying. Every single piece of material was unusable after attempting to cut it to size. I'm now in the southeast and there is a very small mill just a few miles from me that mills and dries his wood. Everything I have purchased from him has. been exceptional in quality. He has limited stock and limited species as he just works locally. You just have to take your chances.

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