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dlabrie
dlabrie's picture
Red Oak- slow going

I was cutting some Red Oak for a neighbor and found it was very hard going. I was using the Norwood 1¼” x 144” x 7/8” Goldline Premium Sawmill Band Blades. I had to go slowly and if I didn’t really slow down at a knot, the blade would rise or dip. The four logs were clean and about 10’ X 14-18” in diameter. After three logs I put on a new blade thinking it must be dull, but there was no difference. Now, it takes me a while to manually cut logs as it is, but it took me a total of 11 hours to cut up these 4 logs into 340BF of 4 and 6” boards. I charged .25/bf and after subtracting $15 for gas and sharpening, I cleared about $6.36/hour. Normally I cut White Pine for myself and It goes much faster. I am finding that when someone wants something cut it is usually a hardwood like Oak, Maple or Birch. Would ¾” pitch blades make a difference? Also, should I be charging more?

Here is a picture of the Oak

 

Thanks,

David

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

That's really beautiful red oak.  Oak is one of the hardest woods to cut, and especially so when it is dry.  Still, your times seem excessive compared to my experience, and ordinarily I don't have too much problem with oak knots unless they're really dense.  Cutting into 4-6" boards would decrease your cut rate.  But how big is your engine and is it running at or near its advertised high speed? You might want to check to see if the throttle is to the max.  Going to 3/4 blades probably won't speed up your cuts (maybe smoother and slower).  Thirty cents per board foot would not be out of line.

dlabrie
dlabrie's picture

My LM29 has the  13hp (390cc) Honda OHV recoil-start engine. I did check to see if it was opperating wide open and it was. I don't have a tach so I really couldn't tell engine speed.

The guy came today to pick up his wood and gave me $100, which is just shy of .30/BF. I was happy with thatsmiley

Bill
Bill's picture

That's beatiful wood Dave next time charge $1 a board ft. 

dlabrie
dlabrie's picture

At a dollar / bf I sure wouldn't be cutting much woodcheeky

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

This situation illustrates why some of us should not charge by the hour.  

dlabrie
dlabrie's picture

Exactly right, I don't charge by the hour because I am too much of a novice and know I am too slow smiley

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

Everybody says the 13HP Honda is a great engine, but it will be slow in hardwoods.  I barely get by sometimes with my 15HP Kohler.

Bill
Bill's picture

I have a 20hp and the only time I find a difference is in large logs. You can't force the saw threw hard dry wood , hardwoods cut just as easy as soft woods I find when their green.

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

Oak is a whole lot easier to saw when green but, even so, never reaches the cut-like-butter experience I'm so fond of with red cedar (my only native softwood).

Bill
Bill's picture

I don't think it's likely these saws will cut any more than 600 bf in a day so that would only give you $180 in soft wood with good going. I don't think 30 cents a bf is enough for hard woods. There are a lot of variables when going by the bf size of logs size of boards being produced 6x6's are a lot faster than 1x4's. The mill has to make money for expenses then you have to make a wage.

wayne busse
wayne busse's picture

My problem is that everyone that wants to have logs sawed, wants to do shares  and I already have more logs of my own than I have time to saw. What I need is the $ 50.00 / hr jobs that pay now and not two years down the road if I can sell it.

Bill
Bill's picture

I'm with you on that one Wayne I don't need 1/2 of any one elses logs. 

Cntrydad
Cntrydad's picture

Somestime cutting on shares works out - A friend brought over 5 buttternut logs.  I cut 4 for him and kept one for myself.  I took most of a day to cut his logs.  I cut mine later and sold a couple of nice slabs for $350 and I still have a few nice boards left.  I thought it was a pretty good return on the effort.   I'm sure that most of the time it doesn't work out that well, however.

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

I've cut on shares a lot.  I've twice received walnut for cutting lesser species.  

Bill
Bill's picture

Around here they bring you a bunch of 5' long crap wood that I'd use for fire wood and rxpect me to cut it and would get up set if you wanted 1/2 of it. If some one was to bring me a nice maple or black walnut that would be a different story.

scottie44
scottie44's picture

I have been doing a combination of jobs.  $45/Hr if paid.  I don't like the BF charge as it is hard to get good money in difficult logs.  By the Hr if they help and are a helper it is a win win.

 

I also have had some shares jobs.  Got a cherry job upcoming where I get 1/2 of what is cut.

 

Either way I am not getting cash rich, but love running the saw and consider that the real payment!!

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

$45 an hour sounds reasonable.

One thing I used to do as a finish carpenter was charge $25 an hour for me, and $25 an hour for the tools. If anyone had a question, I explained that the cost of purchasing and maintaining the tools was worth it.  

I did that to keep anyone from saying '$50 an hour? I don't make that much; why should I pay you that much?

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

For your mill, $40 to $45 per hour would be reasonable.  After a while, you'll get to where you can estimate the time and bid on a job based on the logs.  I charge $60 for my MX34.  Sometimes that comes out over $0.60 per board foot.  I compare a sawmill to running a backhoe.  You don't pay a backhoe operator by the number of cubic feet of dirt moved, you either pay by the hour or by the job.  Bigger machines get more per hour.  I NEVER adjust my price to what others are charging.  I just finished a job where I had to haul two big oak logs thirty miles (separate trip for each log), and quarter them before I could get them on the sawmill.  In the end, the customer paid $0.85 per board foot and was thrilled to have lumber cut from these logs (a total of just over 1,000 bd ft from the two logs).  No one else she contacted would even look at the logs when she told them how big they were.

The time it took does sound somewhat excessive, though.  One other thing to consider is blade tension.  I crank it down pretty tight for the hard woods, and it helps hold it straight.  How hard do you have to push the mill to cut the oak logs?  I agree with Eddiemac.  The 3/4" pitch blade would be a step in the wrong direction.

dlabrie
dlabrie's picture

I had to push pretty hard and go slowly. I was cutting a 12.5" cant in half and the blade dipped in the middle at a knot I didn't see. Luckily It didn't dip enough for me to lose the 6" board width. Maybe I should have cranked the blade more. I usually get it tight and back off 1/2 a turn. Also, I had leftover windshield washer fluid in the lube container and it stained some of the wood. When I realized that was happening, I shut the lube off.

 

Right now I am cutting some White Birch cookies for a former student to use as centerpieces at her upcoming wedding. I am happy that I can do it for her.smiley

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

Something isn't right if you have to push the sawmill that hard for a 12.5" wide cut.  Do you have sap build-up on the blade?  How is the very first cut with a new blade?  Is it hard to push the mill down the track if you're not cutting wood (this could indicate a problem with the track itself).  Cookies for weddings are always good.  Just clamp them down so they don't spin on you!

dlabrie
dlabrie's picture

No, no sap. When I put on a new blade it was still a good push; no difference at all. . The carriage runs fine on the track and doesn't have a problem with Pine.

APCJV
APCJV's picture

Just my two cents..after assembly and start up of my new LM29, I realized  that the throttle cable was not maxing out the engine. The cable attachment at the Honda 13 hp was also hindering the engine. Once removed and operated throttle manually, it was cutting like a dream. Same scenario as yours, got into a dry ash, and seemed very doggy and shook the mill something fierce. Once throttle problem was resolved, it smoothed out. Hope this helps. 

dlabrie
dlabrie's picture

I had the same problem with my cable and was able to adjust it. I think I am at full throtle, but I never tried it manually. I'll check that out. Thanks. Does anyone know what the RPMs should be?

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

When I set my LM29 up, if I did it the easy way the book mentioned, it seemed to be slightly above 1/2 throttle; barely 1500 RPM, by ear.

I adjusted the catch that holds the cable; moved it back a bit. Now it runs about 80% max; so far, power isn't a problem, and it seems to have adequate torque.

I have the 14 HP Kohler.

When I adjusted it, I strapped the handle down,  loosened the cable catch, and manually pushed the throttle with my finger. When the engine started getting a bit deeper voice, and sounded like it had good power, I set the cable there. When the handle is relaxed, it's a bit of a higher idle, but the clutch kicks in, so I guess it works.

I think the throw on the handle could be a bit longer, but I have it working OK for me.

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