About 6 months ago, my brother-in-law, who had retired and moved back home, called and said, “Guess what? I just purchased a one man saw mill on Craig’s List for a song, you need to see this.“
He said he had always wanted one to play with and use more as a hobby than anything else. He ask if I would help him move it to the farm, and help in setting it up, repairing or replacing parts, and cut a few trees in order to learn how to operate it. I couldn’t wait to see it.
The picture is the finished project, set up, and ready to go. Note the wheels have been removed in our set up.
I was hooked. Neither of us had any experience in operating a one-man saw mill. Fortunately he had been studying the manual, looking at YouTube videos, and talking to the customer service rep at the manufacturer. I was mostly the helper.
As we were setting up the mill and cutting trees for practice, we talked about how we might recoup some cost with “our” new hobby.
Here are a few facts and figures:
- Cost: including repairs and transportation- Less than $3,500. This particular mill (WoodMizer) had been used very little and was in excellent condition. We have found similar mills selling for more than twice that amount, when you can find them. New Wood-Mizer mill that replaced the model you see pictured is around $11,500. That is the basic cost, not including transportation. Granted, the mill my brother-in-law bought was an older model, and the newer ones come with some features that his doesn’t have.
- Production: This mill is capable of producing approximately 500 to 600 board feet per hour. I need to add some qualifiers to this statement. The key words are: “Is capable”. After all, I don’t expect we could last very long at that rate. A more sensible rate might be 200 bf/hr. It would also depend on the dimensions of lumber you are cutting. It is much easier to cut 4”x4”, or 6”x6” timber than a bunch of 2”x4”, s. plus the board feet add up much quicker with large dimension lumber.
- Pricing: In our area it ranges between $150-$250 per thousand board feet, depending on dimensions, quantity, and whether the logs are delivered to the mill or we pick them up.
- Demand: The demand seems to be consistent to strong. As we were in the process of setting up the mill, we had several people ask us if we were ready to accept orders. One person even wanted several thousand board feet processed. Unfortunately, we were not ready, and winter has put a halt to much logging and milling in this area; mostly due to prolonged days of rain and cold weather.
- Rate of return: Thinking reasonably, we could expect to gross approximately $300-$500 per week. That would be working approximately 4-5 hours a day, 3-4 days per week. That depends on several things, some of which are: Demand, breakdowns, weather, and yes even our stamina, sawmilling is very labor intensive and hard physical work.
- Added value: There are some additional values associated with sawmilling. Items you can sell or barter are: the slabs and excess pieces for firewood and the accumulated sawdust for mulch.
Here is a link to a Wood-Mizer video showing the operation of a band-saw mill.
I will try and keep you updated on our new venture. Just to get you thinking, have you ever considered that the following could be extra money makers:
- House sitting for people going on vacations
- taking care of pets
- breeding dogs, cats or other animals
- teaching various folk-art crafts such as knitting, metal working or hand forging, and pottery making
- teaching firearms training and safety
- free-lance writing or photo journalism
- taking care of the elderly
- teach people a musical instrument skill you may have
- gather and sell firewood
- training people how to care for and ride horses.
You can see this list could be expanded to whatever your imagination may conjure up. If you are having trouble thinking of something, look in the classified section of your paper under services needed, Also, Craigslist is a good place to look.