Getting Rid of Slabs

Slabs from sawmilling operations aren't worth much, but there is a small market for them. August 29, 2006

I live miles back in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the only thing that sees my slab pile are bears, deer, turkeys, customers, and myself. I can't give the slabs away, and have been burning them. I have thought about purchasing a used chipper and processing all the junk and selling the chips. My question is, has anyone done this or is it a bad idea?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
I'd say for a small milling operation it's best to burn your slabs. I checked into the chipping and I'm not sure where the break even point is, but itís somewhere in the millions of board feet a year.

From contributor B:
We live in the Ozarks so this may not be of any use to you. Our hardwood slabs go to charcoal plants and pine slabs to people who grind them for mulch. Neither buyer pays much, but it gets rid of the slabs and pays the trucking and handling. Maybe there is someone in your area who buys slabs to grind into mulch. If not, perhaps you could justify buying one if you processed other producerís slabs.

From the original questioner:
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Your responses gave me another idea. I have two Percheron Draft horses and one Friesian horse. We spend several hundred dollars per year for bedding, which is soft wood and sells for $4.99 per bale. I may be able to sell bedding to local horse owners.

From contributor C:
I have a tree guy who brings me logs and I give him sawn lumber. He is happy to bring his chipper around now and then and grind up my softwood slabs. It is amazing how they are compacted.

From contributor D:
I am new at milling and am surprised at how much slab wood I am generating. So far am mixing it with my firewood. We heat with wood. I am wondering how this much will burn. Anyone have any experience with this?

From the original questioner:
I have an outside Taylor Furnace which I preheat my hotwater and pump hot water through my baseboard heaters. I only use the large slabs and no sawdust. I have never thought beyond briquettes made from sawdust. I do know some kinds of dust such as flour will explode.

From contributor E:
I have been selling hardwood slabs for firewood to residential customers for years. The big selling point is that they are clean, stack tighter and drier than split wood. Also, you can produce about 5 times as much slab per hour as compared to split wood.

From contributor D:
I do a little milling and save some hardwood slabs for firewood but try to burn the rest. I can't give away the pine.