Used Sawmills For Sale By Owners - Landlords cut trees from their property for many reasons. This often occurs as part of a regularly planned timber harvest such as a thinning or final harvest. But there are times when old trees in a small area need to be cut down to improve forest health or management. In these cases, it can be difficult to harvest the wood and sell it for profit. Instead, trees in the forest may rot or be piled up and burned. There is a need for a better alternative to help landowners make use of this valuable resource.
Portable sawmills can be brought to the site where trees are harvested, eliminating the need to transport logs. (Image credit: Becky Barlow)
Used Sawmills For Sale By Owners
Portable sawmills can provide this option. A portable sawmill was first used in the late 19th century to bring the mill closer to a timber harvesting site. These "one-man farm sawmills" were probably powered by either water or steam and could be dismantled by a small work crew and moved to the next location. Today, portable sawmills are truly portable and can be easily carried on trailers that can be towed behind pickup trucks. Modern models vary from small manual grinders that cost only a few thousand dollars to fully hydraulic grinders that cost more than $20,000. Portable sawmills are currently popular because they can process wood into lumber, which can then be used for the use of specialty wood products and other hobbies of their owners. However, these mills also have the ability to process timber owned by small private forest landowners that might otherwise go unused, providing alternative income opportunities to landowners and entrepreneurs and filling the space that large operations would take. cannot fill.
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Economic constraints in traditional logging operations may make harvesting in small areas unaffordable. Small forest landlords often have small plots that are not economical for large logging operations to harvest. So if small owners are able to harvest their own wood, they may be forced to accept a lower price for it. Portable sawmills allow the processing of individual trees and wood from smaller areas that may not be economically practical to transport to a larger processing facility. Not only are portable sawmill operators profitable on a small scale, but they can also use trees damaged by storms or insects, making them a valuable management tool in the forest as well as the residential community. For hobbyists and entrepreneurs, individual landlords and communities, they enable maximum returns on a valuable wood product that might otherwise be lost.
In 2010, a survey of portable sawmill owners and operators was conducted by the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University. In this publication, we'll shed light on some of the findings of this survey, including why people invest in portable sawmills, potential returns and costs, sources of wood, and typical sawmill products.
A major advantage of operating a portable sawmill is moving the wood rather than the entire log. (image credit: John Gilbert)
Most people first invest in a portable sawmill as a hobby to complete a project such as a barn or outbuilding around their home or farm. However, after their initial sawmill purchase, about half of the owners found that they were able to earn some part-time or full-time income from their operations.
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Portable sawmills are particularly attractive micro-enterprises for small farms that may already have supporting equipment and easily accessible trees. Farmers can produce lumber for their own use and sell the surplus or offer custom cutting to neighbors. A low initial investment coupled with the potential to maximize wood yield makes this type of timber harvesting attractive from many perspectives.
One of the most profitable uses of a portable sawmill is in the manufacture of specialty products. Some owners have had success creating unusually shaped spaces for woodworkers. In the Southeast, owners produce coarse wood from specific tree species such as oak, pine, maple, cherry, walnut and cedar that are often sought after by furniture makers. These are two examples of high quality products that are often not available in the market.
Another important reason to buy a sawmill is conservation. Portable sawmill owners can reduce waste by using trees that have been cleared for construction or have been damaged by insects or storms. Many owners rely solely on saved trees to run their mills. In residential neighborhoods, homeowners are often willing to pay to remove a fallen tree, earning them income before the trees can be cut down. Sometimes, homeowners want to process and buy wood from garden trees, which have a certain sentimental value. This service requires a high price due to the unique skills and equipment required.
In terms of income generation, nearly half of the portable sawmill operators surveyed reported that less than 25% of their household income comes from products manufactured in a sawmill. Another 10% earned 26 to 100% of their income at a sawmill. The remaining 40% of owners said they were not making any money from portable sawmills. However, many of these owners have made some money from the sawmill, considering it a hobby rather than a part of their household income. As a rule, operators charge per board foot or per hour. Most portable sawmill owners found an average cost of $0.15 or less per foot of board to process the wood and charged their customers an average of $0.20 to $0.30 per foot of board. The hourly rate averages $55/hour. Prices vary depending on tree species, location and other factors. Customers are typically charged an average of $0.02 to $0.40 per foot more for hardwood.
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It is important to remember that high quality wood and unique products bring a premium. Mobile sawmills generate higher returns when the product meets the needs of a niche market rather than competing in a larger commercial market. The production of lumber for a niche market may require a specific species of wood, not a species like Lobby Pine, which is readily available at retail stores.
A third of the sawmill owners surveyed said they never determine the expenses for operating their sawmill, leaving them unsure whether they are profitable or what they can do to become profitable. Proper bookkeeping, which includes budgeting for expenses and keeping accurate records, is an essential part of running a successful small business and should be part of any business plan, no matter how small the operation. Be sure to check out the additional resources at the end of this publication to learn more about starting and running a small business.
A high percentage of owners reported receiving income after purchasing the mill as a hobby. This results in lower initial investment and operating costs and the potential for higher returns. The initial investment in a portable sawmill can range from less than $1,000 (typically a used or small unit) to $35,000 (typically a large commercial unit). Table 1 shows the average purchase price of portable sawmills reported by major brands.
About 75% of portable sawmill owners buy new mills. Most owners buy new because of the high resale value of used mills and the improved technology in new mills that minimizes waste. Some mills were bought jointly by two people or as part of a company, but most sawmills were owned by individuals. A cooperative, although rare in the southern United States, is another sawmill ownership structure in which several people share the risks and profits of the operation. Co-operative owners can be both mill operators and land owners who can provide timber to feed the mill in exchange for timber or income.
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In the southern United States, the life of a sawmill is typically 10 years. The "average" annual cost, defined here as the respondents' interquartile range (25-75th percentile), is shown in Table 2. Reported expenses included things like repairs, fuel, transportation, insurance and labor. The total cost averaged about $3,500.
Table 2. Details of the annual cost of operating a portable sawmill as reported by respondents in the 2010 National Survey of Portable Sawmill Owners.
Some additional equipment is required to support the operation of a portable sawmill, whether for a hobby or a business. Chainsaws, pickup trucks and tractors are the most commonly used machines in a sawmill. ATVs are sometimes used as a smaller, less expensive alternative to tractors. Some operators may also use mules or horses to move logs to a central location, particularly on sites where minimal disruption is a priority. Hollow arches, sling cones, motorized winches, grapple loaders, and trailers can also be used to maneuver logs. Some portable sawmill operators may also use skidders and backhoes with tree cutting attachments. However, these require a lot of capital investment as compared to other instruments.
Drying and storage facilities are also essential. Reclaimed wood must be dried before use. The wood is usually dried in an open or sheltered area. However, very few Southern owners reported investing in the construction of a kiln, solar power, or otherwise. When all costs are considered, operating costs per foot of board range from $0.01 to $0.50 and average around $0.15. About 50% of owners process between 1,000 and 20,000 board feet per year, while about 17% process more than 100,000 board feet. Research has shown that the optimum production scale for an average sawmill, with maximum profits without cost overruns, is approximately 75,000 board feet.
Buyer's Guide To Portable Sawmills
While some portable sawmills are purchased by landowners to use the lumber they already have, about 16% reported that they did not own any land and would purchase logs on someone else's land to provide lumber, salvage, or Depends on harvesting. Many portable sawmill owners obtain wood both on their own and someone else's. 60% of owners harvest crops on adjacent land and 80% were willing to travel up to 10 miles (10 mi) for timber.
The most common source of timber is the thinning of forests. thinning
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