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Author Topic: Urban Lumber  (Read 5200 times)

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Offline IcePick

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Re: Urban Lumber
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2014, 04:59:30 pm »
Ever since I got into logging part-time, my boss from the tree service I work at has implemented quite the urban lumber program.  We hire a guy who works for We-Energies that has a bandsaw to mill our logs. I believe he charges 25 cents a bdft. 

We have stacks of dimensional lumber and some pretty cool slabs that have been built into shelves, mantles, tables...

At our office, which is a side by side building, we have even opened up an urban wood lab that is open to the public to see our stuff.  I believe my boss is turning it into a type of co-op for local wood artisans to display their stuff as well.

As far as firewood, we still have our customers, and we will continue our large operation of firewood sales, and we have customers who order mulch every year, so we will continue to tub grind the crap into mulch.

It's nice not to turn EVERYTHING into firewood or chips though.
Trying to support myself and a family working with trees since 1998.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Urban Lumber
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2014, 07:43:17 am »
A little late to the discussion, but I'll give you my experience with urban logs.  I did consulting for an outfit that was going to convert urban logs to lumber.  Their problems came from a total lack of knowledge of mills, logs, and product.  Their process was going to be to take urban logs for free.  The alternative was that most of these logs were going to the dump.  Tipping fees are very high, so the savings were put into the arborist's pocket.  The practice quickly filled the yard with logs of poor quality and form.  It was explained to me that you couldn't charge for logs, as then you were classified as a dump.  More red tape. 

The biggest problem was tramp metal.  All logs were scanned, but the problem persisted.  It destroyed saws.  The second problem was log size.  Most of the suppliers didn't have equipment big enough to pick up logs of any length.  They ended up with a bunch of logs under 8'.  That ends up costing more to produce.

That's not to say that there isn't a way of using urban logs.  You just have to be a little smarter on how to do it.  You might have to charge a handling or processing fee.  Note:  it's not a tipping fee.  You should also limit who you get logs from.  A reliable source of logs will take care of a lot of problem like length and metal. 

You need to have some really good markets for the products.  You'll need several markets.  Some logs are best being made into either mulch or firewood.  You have to keep them out of your lumber supply.  Some logs aren't suited for grade lumber.  Mill those into industrial quality.  Sometimes the rapid growth of urban trees takes away from the appearance of the lumber.

Markets are out there in the urban areas.  The bigger the city, the more the opportunity.  Prices are pretty decent, but so are expenses.  Good labor is hard to find, expensive and has to be trained.  Rent or ownership of land is very high.   Equipment must be compact, productive and versatile.  It also has to be big enough to handle heavy weights, as many logs are big and heavy.  There is good opportunity in secondary processing. 

One of the problems that developed is there is a large east coast mulch maker that has their eye on urban logs in big city areas.  They don't like competition, and they have deep pockets.  They're starting to do urban logging.  I was working with another guy last year on developing a working relationship involving milling the good logs, and letting them have the waste and logs that wouldn't make lumber.  They liked the idea, but didn't like to share. 

I think there is good opportunity for urban lumber, but it has to be approached from a different aspect.  The video is going for a high end market aspect.  Not every stick is usable for lumber, and not every piece of lumber is usable as flooring, tables or the like.  It's a nice idea to plant in someone's head, but far from reality. 
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Carson-saws

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Re: Urban Lumber
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2016, 09:59:49 pm »
Ron Wenrich....interesting perspective.
Let the Forest be salvation long before it needs to be