Costs To Consider In Milling Oak


From original questioner:

What is the out-of-pocket cost per board foot to mill and stack red oak & white oak on a Woodmizer LT40 or similar?

How many bf can 3 men produce milling wood in 1 day?

From contributor Ge

Do you want to include amortization, maintenance, blade cost, fuel cost, oil cost, labor cost, insurance, taxes, overhead cost, land cost, log and lumber moving costs, moving sawdust and other debris, and so on?

From contributor Da

What exactly do you mean by "out of pocket"? For me EVERY expense comes out of my pocket! There are too many variables for a reliable answer. Gene has hit most of them. You also need to consider the cost of obtaining the logs and support equipment (skidder, loader, chain saw, etc.) Do you have any information on production numbers? Where are you on the learning curve? Are you loading a trailer, moving the boards, then stacking with stickers?

From contributor Ke

These are back yard trees delivered to our location for free. They are 8 to 13 long on average, and approximately 2 to 3 in diameter. We are cutting boards approximately 8 to 20 inches wide and 5/4 thick. These boards are then stickered and air dried to 1 1/8 inch for wide plank flooring or whatever product we can make from it.

We are trying to see the actual cost of handling, sawing, drying, and death stacking the wood. Can anyone assist in this cost expense?

From contributor Da

Speaking from a sawyer's perspective, you should probably allow for about $.32/ bd ft for the actual sawing,and figure on replacing four band saw blades per thousand bd ft from hitting nails at the cost of $30 each. It will take two people half an hour to stack and sticker 1,000 board feet. You are asking for problems if you try to make flooring out of air dry lumber. Locate a local kiln and find out how much they charge per thousand board feet, and add that to your expenses. To get an idea of how many board feet you will get out of a log, use Woodweb's log volume calculator, and multiply the International 1/4 scale volume by 1.1. As far as the expense of "death stacking", check with your local undertaker :).

From contributor Ge

If you throw all expenses in, including labor, it would be rare to see sawing costs under $.30 per bf. Stacking, including sticker, moving, and labor, would be $.15 per bf. Air drying, including inventory, land, etc. would be around $.40 per bf. Kiln drying after air drying including handling, unstacking (dead stacking) would be around $.40 for you, but if done outside, would be double. Of course, you should add profit too.

A quick look at these figures should tell you that low grade lumber is not profitable to dry...the value added is not as large as the expenses

From contributor To

The best way to obtain these costs is by detailed recordkeeping. Others can give you an estimate of costs but that is based on their experience, wages, equipment, efficiency, etc., not your situation.
Start keeping detailed records of each step in the process. How long does it take to prep these logs, mill them, stack the lumber, etc. divided by the board feet produced? What does your employee's time cost (including benefits, taxes, etc.)? What does it cost to operate your mill? Amortize the cost of the mill and other equipment you are using. Don't forget your facility costs, rent, taxes, utilities, etc. There are costs that can be accounted for on a monthly basis and those that are more appropriately figured on a board foot basis.
Basing your business decisions on someone else's costs of doing business may lead to failure. I suspect that .30 p/bf won't be enough to cover your expenses when you consider everything. That may change if you process enough volume but I doubt that donated yard trees will get you there. There are niche markets where it might work but if you know your actual costs of doing business, you'll feel more confident in the management decisions you'll have to make.
Good luck with your endeavor, the more activity in this area the better. It'll reduce landfill loads and benefit all of us.