How to Hire Local Sawmills
By Chase Warner, Wood-Mizer Contributing Author
Looking for sawmills in your area? If you have storm damaged or dying trees on your property, a local sawmill owner can help turn your logs to lumber. No matter where you live in North America, Wood-Mizer portable sawmill owners have been providing valuable services to their local communities for decades. By hiring a local sawmill owner, you are not only keeping your money in the local economy, you will also end up with a specialty wood product that no lumber yard or box store can offer – lumber from your property that is cut to your specifications for whatever woodworking projects you have in mind.
Finding a Local Sawmill
To find local sawmills near you, take advantage of the Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer Network. This free easy-to-use directory allows anyone in the United States and Canada to browse portable sawmills by state, and lists information to find the pre-qualified sawmill service that best fits your needs. Wood-Mizer Pro Sawyer members can offer many services including portable milling, buying logs, selling lumber, kiln drying, large log sawing, and sawmill demonstrations. Wood-Mizer tries to recommend only the best of the best, and we encourage you to give us feedback on your experiences with hiring a sawmill business from our online listing.
Hiring a Sawmill Service
Sawing logs into lumber is one of those skills that can be described as, “Takes an hour to learn, but a lifetime to master.” Here are a few things you should know when you go to get your logs milled by a local sawmill owner:
Do some research
Like in any industry, there are good sawmill businesses and there are ones that don’t have any business being in business! Be sure and get a couple references from the business owner, find out how long he has been sawing, and do a little homework. Wood-Mizer sawmills cut straight, true lumber when they are properly maintained and are using correct blades. If you hear that a sawmiller doesn’t cut straight boards, you may want to try the next sawmill business in the area.
Know a little sawmill lingo
Cants, flitches, kerf, quarter sawn, dimensional lumber, board foot are just a few terms that sawyers use that you’ll want to be familiar with. Be sure and read our Sawmilling and Forestry Glossary to learn more about how portable sawmills work and what the various terms mean.
Find out how the price will be determined
Sawmill businesses typically charge by the board, board foot, or by the hour. When sawing more valuable lumber or when more manual labor is required, sawyers will often charge by the hour. When sawing standard sized lumber and large orders, sawyers often charge by the board or board foot. Prices will vary greatly depending on what is being sawn and what equipment is being used. Keep in mind that higher prices may reflect more efficient production, where lower prices may reflect smaller equipment being used and more time involved to produce the needed lumber.
A terrific service that Wood-Mizer owners can offer is portable sawmill service. Depending on how far you are away, there will be some sort of travel fee.
Many sawmill owners offer a reduction in their charges if you provide a helping hand. Although Wood-Mizer sawmills are able to be completely operated by one person, having another set of hands to stack boards, get logs ready, and other things really helps speed up the overall production. Be sure and supply the sawyer with someone that is not afraid of some good old-fashioned hard work!
Metal in a log can break a blade, or at least dull it enough to prevent further use. Sawyers usually charge a fee for hitting metal. It is primarily your responsibility to check your logs for metal. Be aware that metal hides very easily and that yard trees are notorious for having nails and other metal hidden deep inside the log. Using a metal detector can help you find elusive metal in logs.
What will you do with the lumber?
If you want to use the lumber to make wood furniture, cabinets, millwork or other interior wood projects, it will need to be dried first. The sawyer may offer lumber drying services or you may need to find a place to sticker and stack the lumber to dry yourself. If the sawyer has a lumber drying kiln, he can accomplish this much faster for you, and the lumber value will be greater than if it simply air dries. Download our Introduction to Kiln Drying Guide for more information on drying lumber.
Take advantage of our Pro Sawyer Network to find local sawmills in your area and let us know how your experience went!