Price Vs. Time Quartering white Oak

October 30, 2005

Question
I paid $675 to have two 9' x 18" logs quartersawn Ė which was about 450 bd ft white oak.
I was told that it took 11 man hours to complete the job, including pick up and delivery. Does that seem a little out of line?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
It depends on several factors. How far did the sawyer travel for pickup and delivery? What was he using for a mill - chainsaw mill, bandsaw, swingblade, or manual turning? There are many variables. If he is the only sawyer in town, he might have a monopoly on the pricing. I charge by the hour on some jobs, just because the conditions arenít conducive to fast milling. I'm sure someone will have more input as to your dollars spent. Did the wood come out nice? Can you get the same thing at a local lumber provider at the same cost?



From contributor B:
I would agree that the pick up and delivery would be a variable, but the type of mill used and turning methods, etc., shouldn't matter. Just because the sawyer has limited equipment, the customer should not have to pay more than the going rate. The logs you had were on the small side for quartersawing - 20" is usually considered the lower limit. On a hydraulic mill, it would have taken an hour and a half, tops, and maybe two or three times that on a manual mill. Regardless, the price would be the same. The hydraulic mill would bill out more per hour to cover his increased equipment costs but since he spends less time doing the job, it would all even out in the end as far as bd ft price. How far/long was the pick up and delivery? Did the sawyer itemize the bill so you know how much was for transport and how much was for sawing? To answer your question - at face value, yes, $1.50 per bd ft for pickup, sawing and delivery seems high if the pick up and delivery was fairly local.


From contributor C:
$.35 bd ft is the going rate for flat sawing around here. Anything special, such as quartersawing really small logs, is $40 hr. If he charged you $61.36 hr (the way my calculator figured it) that was a little high. The delivery time is the easy part. If I could make $60 bucks an hour driving logs around I would rather do that then flip them. Did he say he hit any nails? I charge $20 per blade ruined, but I am not going to just keep hitting them. If I get a few, then the log gets rolled off the mill. $1.50 bd ft is not too far from the selling price of green quartersawn white oak around here.



From contributor D:
I wish I could figure out how to get 450 bd ft of even flat sawn lumber out of two nine foot long, 18" diameter logs.


From contributor E:
I wish I made that kind of money for sawing 2 little logs. Even on my LT30 manual, I'd only take 2 hours to saw the logs you describe, even doing 4/4. Next time, (if there is one) go watch him and see what he was doing with the rest of the time.


From contributor F:
How thick did you have him saw? If he sawed 4/4 or thicker there is no way he could get that kind of overrun. If he sawed 1/2" it becomes a bit more realistic. I guess you need to ask how long it took to saw and how long it took to haul.


From contributor G:
For this particular job, 11 hours seems like a lot. This guy has equipment, labor, maybe insurance, etc. We would all like to get paid that well all the time, but don't. 450 bd ft sounds like a lot from those two logs, as does 11 hours, but the hourly rate doesn't, to me. I would like to see it broken down better - time spent picking up and delivering.


From the original questioner:
He was local bandsaw miller and it was a nice job, but I have a hard time figuring so many hours. He did say that he chain sawed quartered the log up and hand flipped the quarters after each cut. He said it was $65.00 per hour for 10 hours plus $25 for an extra blade.


From contributor C:
I don't like the sound of it. Try to find real sawyer. 18" is almost on the small side to quarter saw to start, then to go at it with a chainsaw? Did he have a saw mill or did he saw it on a shop type upright bandsaw? If I took my time quarter sawing, those logs would have been 1 hour each ($80- $100 total). I have an all manual mill and am not the cheapest around. I only get work because the other guys are usually several weeks behind and some people are in a hurry or just like dealing with me better.


From contributor H:
I think it was a fair price. You sent off 250 bd ft of logs and get 450 bd ft of quartersawn lumber and that is a good deal for the price. If it is all good lumber and you can use it then it was a good deal. But to be fair, I could have sawn the logs in less than 2 hours, even with a break in there to admire my work. My mill is one of the best made but even "Wanda" can not produce 450 bd ft from 250 bd ft of logs.


From contributor G:
Maybe we work too cheaply for the investment required. If you do it for a hobby, or for your own use mostly with occasional custom work for cash, $40.00 hr is o.k. But, for a full time operation where you have to figure taxes, medical insurance, equipment, etc. $61.00 hr. is a lot more realistic. I never tried to figure out what it costs to cut 1000 bd ft. For me, it's part time, it's good extra money, and I fill a need for the guy with 2 logs or 2 dozen. Itís kind of like selling firewood Ė if you charge a millionaire $120.00 for a good full cord, he thinks youíre shafting him. When you add up the costs and labor in a cord of wood, you work for peanuts. Also, it depends on what part of the country you live in.


From contributor C:
Maybe I came across wrong. If I could saw for $60 hour I would, $100 would be better. But I would not get one customer - they ask over the phone what I charge. The guy down the road who has been doing it for 25 years only charges $.33 bd ft. Some people will take work to him to save the 2 pennies. You are kind of flirting with the truth so I will just come right out and say it. I did not get into sawing to get rich - in fact I quit a good paying job as a union plumbing foreman to start my own business. Then I closed that relatively successful business to get into sawmilling and woodworking. I do this because I love going to work everyday. I am stationary, so logs get brought to me, and my hours worked are hours paid (not like being a contractor and spending 1/2 day in the truck, giving free estimates, running material, checking on the men etc). If I am flat sawing big logs I can make $70-$80 hour at $.35 bd ft. It all evens out sawing, plus I sell a little lumber. There is plenty of money to be made without charging $60 hr. to fetch logs, then take all day to do two hours work.


From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
For 9' x 18" diameter logs, you would be lucky to get 100 BF of quartersawn from each log. Perhaps you are measuring the logs and giving us the radius and not diameter.


From the original questioner:
I am sorry for the confusion. It was only a little over 200 bd ft on this set of logs. I did not let the sawyer do any more after the bill. I am not familiar with lumber making or the math involved. But it still bothers me to pay almost $3.00 a bd ft to cut and stack it.


From contributor B:
That makes it worse! $1.50 a board foot was cheating you. $3.00 is robbing you!


From contributor I:
When the sawyer came to pick up the logs were they still standing? Thatís ludicrous. The nail in the coffin is the blade charge on top of the $600+bill for 200 bd ft of lumber.
Did this take place in CT?


From the original questioner:
No, he's in Indiana and this is the first time we used him. The other one we used had us transport but were 2/3 cheaper. This was all 5/4 quartersawn and a nice clean even cutting job, unlike previous sawyer that was lazy on sharpening blades.


From contributor J:
And 5/4 too! The more you say the worse it gets. When I get treated like that I say I used their services twice- the first and last times.


From contributor K:
Just to give you an idea on price. A guy from Cincinnati had his tree trimmer bring me a 30" cherry from his yard. I milled to 4/4 and some 5/4, and then kiln dried the 700 bd ft. I charged $40 per hour for milling. His bill will be under $600. I think I need to raise my prices in a hurry! I just got back from Fincastle, Ohio, where I milled 2000 bd ft of mixed hardwoods for $500.


From contributor H:
You may be amazed at the number of gloves I wear out just brushing off the sawdust so I can look at the lumber underneath. Millions of bd ft sawn and I still see pretty boards every day.


Click here for full size image



From the original questioner:
I thought I would check out all this fuss about bd ft and find what we really had in this stack. Using the Wood Doctorís calculator we come up with 638 bd ft of 5/4, so at $675 that comes out to $1.06 per bd ft. As I said earlier, it was a local pickup and delivery and the job was cut clean no wavy cuts. Is this fair or are we still too high?


From contributor K:
With the transportation and the good job quartersawing, I would say you got your moneys worth and it is a good value for the quartersawn material. Like the other posters pointed out, if you get a guy with a backhoe or another valuable piece of equipment, youíll find things get expensive in a hurry.


From contributor B:
Two 9' X 18" logs - if we're still talking about these two logs and these two only, it would be physically impossible to get that kind of board footage.


From the original questioner:
The log was 18' long and over 24" on the wide side and 18" plus on the small side. What we got is 638 bd ft.


From contributor I:
If the log was a perfect 24" diameter for 18' of length the logs volume would be = 678 bd ft. Thatís (pi*12^2*18*12)/144 ) or (tree volume/volume of 1 bd ft). The fact that you have 600+ bd ft could mean maybe he threw in some other boards to bring up your board feet tally or the tree is bigger than you thought.