Successful Sawmill Operation

A logger considers starting up a sawmill, and gets advice from experienced professionals. June 22, 2005

I've been in the logging business for 15 years, and I'm looking to expand the business. I would like to set up a sawmill to saw the timber I buy, but not on a large scale of 4000-5000 feet a day.

I have about 1.5 million feet bought in red oak, black oak, poplar, and other miscellaneous wood. I would also set up a small kiln 6000-8000 ft. I've been looking at the Baker 3638 with the JD 72 hp engine and the wood mizer lt70 both with edgers. There will be three people working it, and I was wondering - will these sawmills honestly produce these footages in 4/4 daily, and which one is better for my operation?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor F:
I think that you would be hard pressed to saw 5000 board feet a day with either of those mills. With the WM LT300, they say that it will saw 1000 board feet/hour, otherwise look at a circle mill for that kind of production.

From contributor A:
If you take out 7 x 9 ties and have good logs and 3 men who will work with a loader running around, then either mill will do it. You will need racks for slabs, a way to get rid of sawdust, some roller tables, and a log deck would aid a lot. A roof over head and firm footing help as well.

Having said this you will want to only saw the best logs in your operation. Blade maintenance will make or break you.

From contributor D:

I run a woodmizer lt70 with an edger and chopline, conveyors, as well as live lumber decks. I have been doing this for a few years, with 3 people, and we cut mostly 2 inch. An average amount of lumber you will cut is probably in the 2000 board feet range.

From contributor A:
To contributor D: I run a LT 40HD G25 with an edger and one man. We are taking 4/4 off sides and 6 x 8 ties out of 8' oak logs, and can saw 2,000 to 2,500 board feet in 8 hours. While sawing pine into 2x stock, I have hit 3,600 board feet a day with several men helping.

Set-up and blades are a key to production, and this is where most people fail the worst. If the blade is not making sawdust, you are not making money. Look at whatever keeps you from making sawdust. Next look at how fast you are making sawdust. Band mills and blades have a limit to how fast they can cut, but you should be at that limit all the time. Chances are you will have a miss cut because of a hump or dive, and the blade will only get slower. Only sharp, well-set blades will cut at upper limit.