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smithbr's picture
Pricing a job - sanity check

For all you Canadian sawyers,

I'm looking for sanity-check pricing on cutting white spruce beams and lumber.  I've got a request to produce material for a shed next spring, and they're looking for about 1500 bf of spruce lumber and beams. They are supplying the logs, green.  I've indicated that they will pay extra, $10/log, if I deem it necessary to clean dirt off the logs; as they will skid and haul when there's still snow in the bush, yard the logs at their end until April, then bring them to me, they should be clean.  They will pre-stage the logs in front of my saw, at my direction, help load as needed, and they carry away all cut lumber, etc. to load on their trailer.  They haul and pile the slabs as I wish, within reason.  Helping carry anything is at my discretion.  Normal blade dulling is my problem, but if we hit something, they pay $35 for a new blade (some coverage there for changeout time, as well).  The trees are not 'yard logs', so I'm not too worried. All cutting is to true dimensions (i.e. a 2x 4 is 2"x4", so there's no quibbling about, "well, that's only 1.75" thick so you can't charge me for 2"), and they're aware of shrinkage as the wood dries.

Separately, they want 600 bf of 1" white pine planking, random width, for sheathing; lengths will be varied, as the back wall will all be 8', but the ends will run from 8' to 12'. 

I'm thinking 40 cents a board foot works out about right; The spruce will come out to between $550 and $600, and the white pine about $240.  If they're slow clearing, etc, they waste my time; on the other hand, if I have a breakdown, or other saw issues, they're paying their helpers to sit on their butts while I work on the saw, so we're both taking minor risks.

Sum total, around $800 to me, for what I expect will be about three 8 hour days of sawing, barring complications.  Comes out to between $30 and $40 an hour.

Does this seem reasonable?  Or should I go for 45, or even 50 cents /bf ?


Fred K
Fred K's picture

Hi Blair,

I'm on the south west coast of B.C.

I charge $ 60.00 an hour to cut customer's logs,they bring them to me, I help off load the clocks ticking.

From there I do the rest myself ( they can help if they want and to save some time, mostly off loading )

I load the logs with my excavator with hydraulic thumb

Also I charge $ 40.00 per blade if I hit nails or metal.

​ Also I have a fairly high pressure water hose handy for dirty logs, all on the clock.

fred k

smithbr's picture


I'm retired, and I'm not the fastest on my feet any more.  If I price by the hour, I'll be run off my feet.  Day three might not happen.  Also, I have no heavy equipment for loading/offloading, so I'm at their mercy.  Fortunately, I set my  yard up so that a large stack of logs can be staged in front of my mill, and all I need is a few 20' sleepers to roll the logs across the yard to the mill. 

So that's why I price by the bf.

Thanks for the input, though.  I may push my price up a bit, even if I have to ease off on it in the end; it'll give me wiggle room.



r.garrison1's picture

Is your mill stationary? If so, you may set up some off-loading assistance.

Maybe a roller about 5' or so past the end of the mill, and load directly onto the trailer? If you need to get around the mill, the roller is easy to move. 

Here's a quick example.


Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

Charging by the hour does offer the advantage of encouraging the customer to help off bear, and have equipment in place to load the logs on the mill on mobile jobs.  It has nothing to do with how fast I move.  I have timed myself, and found that $60/hr (U.S.) is about $.38 per board ft.  If they help, it gets the cost down.  At $1.00/minute the customer has the incentive to reduce my workload, and that doesn't hurt my feelings a bit!  Yes, there are cheaper sawyers out there, but good service and quality lumber keep me pretty busy.

Good judgement comes from experience... experience comes from bad judgement.

smithbr's picture

All good points.  Thanks, guys.  I'll think about it.


In Frozen central Ontario

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