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Author Topic: At what length do you charge?  (Read 6581 times)

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Offline Todd Tittle

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At what length do you charge?
« on: September 10, 2010, 10:54:47 pm »
I saw mostly for myself, but have picked up a few jobs sawing for others.  So far all my customers have had previous experiences of having lumber sawed.  They had the logs stacked nice and neat with easy access for me to get to and from the logs.  All the logs had been cut a few inches longer than what the final product would be.  For example all logs that were to end up at 8' would be 8' 3"or so. I only charged for 8'.  One of my customers belongs to a hunting club and they wanted me to cut for them.   I arrive and find fairly neat piles of logs, but each member had their own stack. Each pile came with a specific list. So far so good. Most of these guys have never had lumber sawed before so this is a new experience for them. Anyway no two logs in a pile are the same length.  One log will be 8' 1" and the next will be 8' 10" and so on.  I don't know what to charge.  I don't mind giving a couple inches away but I don't want to lose 10" on every board.  How do you guys figure out your bill?  Do you charge for every inch of log length or do you have a point where you charge for the next whole foot? 
I was thinking of something like this.  If the log is 8'-8' 3" charge for 8',  8' 4"-8' 9" charge for 8.5' , 8"10"+ charge for 9" or 8'- 8'5" charge for 8' and 8'6-8'11" charge for 8.5'.  What do you guys do?

Todd

Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2010, 10:59:34 pm »
I've always rounded down.  I also saw based on international scale.

Ultimately, you have to do what makes you comfortable, and keeps your customers returning.
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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 11:01:50 pm »
For 8 footers and up you would typically round down to the nearest whole number. If its 8' 10" its an 8 foot log, Logs are, or should be always cut a bit longer then the intended finished length. I knlow of no one that charges by the half foot. For shorter wood, I'd be charging by the houe because its a pain and production will suffer.
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Offline paul case

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2010, 12:35:53 am »
For 8 footers and up you would typically round down to the nearest whole number. If its 8' 10" its an 8 foot log, Logs are, or should be always cut a bit longer then the intended finished length. I knlow of no one that charges by the half foot. For shorter wood, I'd be charging by the houe because its a pain and production will suffer.
i am with jeff on this one except i would charge by the hour instead of the''houe''  .  pc
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Offline backwoods sawyer

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2010, 01:36:22 am »
Your question is a good one and ultimately you will want to charge the way that makes you and the customer happy.
I am with Jeff on this in that I would rather saw up to the next foot so that there is plenty of trim room for defects. When you pull a board out of the dry stack and there is a crack in both ends and poorly placed knot, you can still trim the board down and end up with a usable 8’ board.
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Offline Meadows Miller

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2010, 02:46:03 am »
Gday

Im with everyone else here Mate it don't matter if its an 1" or 10 over the set length id just be charging them for it and remember that takes time to measure everything with me id just measure the first few in a pile and call it that if they are all roughly the same length Mate  ;) ;D  just let them know in the future that you would prefer the logs with the std 4" allowance to make things easier on you Mate  ;) ;D 8)

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Offline Chuck White

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2010, 06:43:12 am »
I guess I'm a little different here.

I tell the customers ahead of time to cut their logs about 3-5 inches longer than what they're looking to get!

This way, they can square up the ends of the boards when they get ready to use them.

I use a contract that specifically says that I will charge to the next foot on any log that is over 6 inches longer than the nominal length.

That is, a log that's 8'6" will be charged as an 8' and a log that's 8'10" will be charged as a 9' log.

Let your charge rate be known by the customer ahead of time.  It makes for a better relationship, and a good relationship will bring "repeat" customers.
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Offline John Bartley

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2010, 07:55:55 am »
By the hour .... it just makes life easier.

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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2010, 01:37:24 pm »
I'm with you Chuck if they cut that log over 5 inches longer than needed, they are taking advantage of you....I have cut logs myself...no need to miss it over that much unless you are planning to use it...So they should pay for the pleasure...Tim
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2010, 02:13:51 pm »
I doubt most who give odd sized logs are trying to take advantage.  I too vote for rounding down to the nearest foot.  8'1 to 8'11 is 8'.   It's easier and has generosity built in.    I would rather not look like a sawyer who measures (length) to the inch.  If you're really getting most of them near to but not quite at the higher foot then just call some of those the higher foot.  If customer calls you on it then he's given himself away and you can just say "it's fair because..."  More important is how width and thickness are reckoned. Don't round down to the nearest foot there  8) 8) 8) Tell or type up a "measuring rules" sheet and hand it out in advance with whatever you want on it. I think as long as you communicate it in advance and are consistent between customers.  All that being said I almost always charge hourly and my bf charging has been when working alone on large multiple day jobs.
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Offline Todd Tittle

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2010, 04:39:57 pm »
Thanks guys.  Since I am new at this I wanted a second opinion on how to handle this. I will round down and charge accordingly. You guys are right about talking to the customer first.  I will size down this time, but will talk the  customers about it.  I am having a hard time sawing 11 inches of every board for free.  I will chalk it up as learning experience. As far as charging by the hour, I have a Norwood Lumbermate 2000.  I don't think it would be fair to charge by the hour with an all manual mill, unless it was a unique item.

Todd

Offline John Bartley

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2010, 05:37:13 pm »
As far as charging by the hour, I have a Norwood Lumbermate 2000.  I don't think it would be fair to charge by the hour with an all manual mill, unless it was a unique item.

Todd

I was in business for a long time .... quite successfully I might add. One thing I rarely saw, in all my years of customer service, whether as an employee, or as a self employed person was a customer who cared about being fair to the person they were hiring. The customer invariably looks for the most return for the least money. It only took a very short time for me to realise that "fair is as fair does", and that I could always depend on the customer to tell me when they thought I was overcharging (even when it was obvious that I wasn't). I also have a manual mill. I charge by the hour. I give nothing away. I depend on the customer to be an adult and decide for themselves what is fair. I have no intention of financing any persons retirement except my own. You'll have to decide for yourself whose retirement you're financing....

That's my $0.02

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Offline paul case

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2010, 05:52:02 pm »
i too have a all manual mill.
i have found out  that ''fair'' is where they show pigs. pc
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Offline red oaks lumber

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2010, 07:04:21 pm »
8'11" is 8'  9'1" is 9' so on. if you were buying logs that were 8'11" would you pay for the full lenght or pay for 8' ? you would pay for 8'. fair is fair but, right is also right.
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Offline Chuck White

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2010, 07:35:37 pm »
That's why it's in my contract.

The customer knows ahead of time that he will be charged to the next foot for anything over 6 inches longer than nominal length.

As long as both parties know ahead of time, and they both sign the contract, there won't be any problem.
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Offline Todd Tittle

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2010, 09:03:42 pm »
John and Paul I didn't mean to imply that people who have manual mills should not charge by the hour.  It's just that for me at my pace and skill level I don't feel comfortable charging by the hour. I have about 60 hours on my 3 year old mill.  When I have a few hundred hours under my belt and get better/faster at knowing what a log will give me and what it won't, I might change my mind about hourly rates.




Todd

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2010, 11:09:03 pm »
I doubt most who give odd sized logs are trying to take advantage.

I have bought many 18 ft logs from loggers ....do you know how long they were...most would be 18 ft. 2 in...they knew what they were selling...people bringing me logs are probably at least nearly as smart...jmo...Tim
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Offline captain_crunch

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2010, 12:39:11 am »
Out west Mills will not buy a log unless it has 8-10 in trim on log rough lumber requires 1-2 in trim. so a 8ft 15/16". log is an 8 ft log.
So buck em before sawing em or shut up >:( >:(
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Offline bandmiller2

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2010, 08:12:19 am »
Mayby I'am an old softie but I always give a bakers dozen.When I'am in a cut a couple of inches mean nothing.If you order 28 2x4's and the log has 30 or 32 I just throw them in rather than finding a pile to stickem. Frank C.
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Offline nas

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2010, 11:14:18 am »
I always round down to the nearest foot.  Sometimes giving something for free is the most profitable thing you can do.  I have a regular customer who I give a bottle of maple syrup once in a while, and on Friday he called for a quote on some 2x6 W oak.  I told him $1.30/BF and he said "I think I can do better than that for you".  Later he sent me a PO at $1.50/BF 8).  That pays for the maple syrup a few times over :D ;D.

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Offline StephenRice

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2010, 03:54:48 pm »
Mayby I'am an old softie but I always give a bakers dozen.When I'am in a cut a couple of inches mean nothing.If you order 28 2x4's and the log has 30 or 32 I just throw them in rather than finding a pile to stickem. Frank C.

I agree with nas and bandmiller and most of the others on here.  I learned the benefit of a baker's dozen when I was a young kid about 10 years old selling night crawlers in Lakeview, MI.  I always took the utmost care to provide the best quality night crawlers to my customers, making sure that they were healthy and not stressed.  Undersized night crawlers were always thrown in for free and I always made sure that there were 13-15 night crawlers in a dozen pack.  And, they were the healthiest around.  The fishermen that came to buy my night crawlers really appreciated it and told me how my night crawlers would be healthy and strong in a refrigerator after six months where the store bought ones were dead and smelling in a few days.  So, they always came back for more.  My reputation spread until I had fishermen from out of state driving many miles out of their way to come get their bait from me when they were traveling north on fishing trips.

The few extra night crawlers and work that I gave away never hurt my bottom line.  In fact, my reputation grew so that I even sold those night crawlers after I was married with children, once paying all the bills for three months and buying the kids all new bikes just from my small income selling the night crawlers I could pick out of my backyard at night.

Your reputation is everything in business.  One pleased customer will often bring you up to 10 new customers, but an unhappy one can lose you 100.  Take the little bit of time to go the extra mile and provide the "Wow!" affect and you will never go wrong.  There is nothing wrong with talking to the customer about the logs to request them to cut them or trim them to the right length, but remember that a little extra effort on your part can go a long way and is rarely a wasted effort.
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Offline Mark Webb

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2010, 04:27:56 pm »
I like others, if the log is 8'11" I still charge for 8'.
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Offline John Bartley

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2010, 04:57:30 pm »
There seems to be a misunderstanding in business between the definitions of "quality" (as it applies to products and service) and "fairness" (as it applies to pricing). Quality is the responsibility of the seller. Fairness is the responsibility of both the seller and the buyer. Far too many sellers don't understand that when you have a superior product or a superior level of quality in your service, you deserve a superior price. Todd certainly qualified his original post by commenting on his lack of experience and need to acquire more skill at his craft. Knowing that deficiency and compensating the customer for it is certainly fair. Giving products or service away for no reason is not. Far too many items and services are purchased and sold in North America based only on price. Quality, and an accompanying price seems to be falling by the wayside. I refuse to participate in that lessening of our standards.

YMMV

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Offline Tom

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2010, 05:00:49 pm »
Smile, round down and they'll come back.  It behooves you to educate them too.  It's not just 11 inches over the size log you are charging them, it's 11 inches per board.  You blade must pass through every inch in that log to get them what they want.  That eleven inches equates to another 10 or 12 feet.

Most, I've found, aren't trying to cheat.  They just don't understand your side of the project. 

I based my business on giving things away.  No, not to my detriment, but I learned quickly not to chastise a customer and make him mad.  I wanted everyone to believe that they got the best of the deal.  I still felt that it was in my best interest to explain my position.  In fairness, most all who called me back were concerned about my financial well-being.  They kept shoving good food in my mouth too. 

When I retired, a forced thing, I found that I was part of their family.  It's been four years now since I began winding down and two years of abstinance.  I still get phone calls from people wanting me to saw.  I like to think it was because I did a good job the last time.  The fact is that they were treated fairly and I went out of my way to be a good neighbor.  Sawing an eight-foot-eleven inch log over an eight-foot-three inch log never cost me a bean from my plate.  The time I spent educating them, hugging their kids, making slabs usable and putting usable product on their "super slab" pile for free, rather than discarding it, fed me a lot of steaks.

I have had customers take advantage of me. Usually it was other sawyers who hired me to cut what they didn't want to cut themselves.  One from an old sawmill family wanted me to cut his 4/4 material, one and 3/8 inches thick and charge for a 4/4.  He also cursed his hired help tried yelling at me a time or two.  I finished the job, as I said I would, but I used my hole card.  I never went back.   He's never been able to find another sawyer since.  Funny how that works.  A bad reputation will kill a business.  There was a saying that was popular when I was coming up, "one awe S* wipes out all of your attaboys."  The sawing/logging community is a lot smaller than most would believe.  Word gets out pretty quickly.

Part of the education I used when discussing the length of boards (logs) was that hardwoods aren't necessarily sold on two foot centers like construction wood.  Most customers have no idea.   They are looking at getting the length board out of a log that they can use for their project and that should be your primary concern as a sawyer too.  It's difficult for anybody to be angry with a smile.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2010, 06:00:36 pm »
My rules are general rather than being hard fast.  Less than 8' is sawed as 8' or by the hour.  Above 8' is rounded to the nearest even number.  In other words, I don't measure inches.  If it is 9' or less, it is an 8.  If it is over 9', it is a 10, etc.

Really guys, measure it all up, and you will be talking about probably less than 10 bucks.

This really is never an issue, because I'll give rather than take anytime.  I do make it a point to be sure that the customer knows that I am giving.  That is what makes repeat customers.
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Offline gunman63

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2010, 06:09:25 pm »
now granted this would take a little time, but very little i think, if theres a few logs over length, wouldnt take the sawyer long to cut a cookie off the long ones, if of course the guy that bucked them just figured close enough to 8'6". mite save u time in the long run.

Offline Magicman

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2010, 06:14:16 pm »
Yup, with come customers, squaring up is necessary, and I always leave them at least 6" over.
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Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2010, 08:58:00 pm »
boards stack better if the logs are all cut to the same length, it keeps the ends properly stickered.



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Offline Chuck White

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #28 on: September 13, 2010, 11:40:24 am »
I've had a customer or two that had logs "obviously" over-length.

When I mentioned it to him, he said to just "go ahead and buck them off to about 3-4 inches above nominal length if you want to".

Then I got to thinking on it a little and realized that I can zip right through that last 10 inches or so quicker than I can measure and cut each of the logs.
I did include the issue of overlength in my sawing contract shortly after that!
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Offline Cedarman

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2010, 07:55:20 am »
If a customer asks for 8' 9" lumber because that is what he needs, what would you charge if they are his logs?  If you are asked to sell 8'9" lumber from your logs , what would you charge?
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Online Jeff

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #30 on: September 14, 2010, 08:34:00 am »
I'd be charging him for nine footers, because to get a 8' 9" product he would need to start with at least 9 foot logs. The customer would need to know that going in. If he gave me ten foot logs to get his 8' 9" logs he would be charged for 10 foot.
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Offline Chuck White

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2010, 08:38:06 am »

Yup!  Round to the nearest whole foot.  ;)
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #32 on: September 14, 2010, 08:59:20 am »
Lengths for sawing charges and wood sales wouldn't have to be handled the same, no?  Seems to me lengths for wood sales would fall more under whatever regional or association rules are practiced whereas sawing charges are more what policy the sawyer wants to have in place.
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Offline paul case

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #33 on: September 14, 2010, 09:03:19 am »
at my mill 8' 9'' is a 9' charge if it has to be end trimmed. pc
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Offline red oaks lumber

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #34 on: September 14, 2010, 05:46:00 pm »
so we no longer measure by the boardfoot, now its the boardinch?
 judging by how some of you responded to this topic i can say  some would not be very good customers to deal with.if being the sawyer and wanting to charge for 8'10" log. put the shoe on the other foot, would you want to be charged for that?
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Offline Bodger

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2010, 05:58:34 pm »
I always under count the pile anyway...that way if the customer counts he is happy or if there is some wain on the ends of a few boards he can't quibble.  If he does fuss and demand a recount then I will count them all.  Over 90% of my customers are repeats and have become friendly.  When I first started out I had rules like a pharisee but over time I've softened quite a bit and found I am none the poorer.  I live in a poor rural area and can make more in a day than most hour workers make in a week so it's hard for me to gripe.  You don't want to be like the guy who could put a walnut in his mouth and a nickel in his hand and if you tired to get the nickel he cracked the walnut.
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Offline gunman63

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2010, 07:49:34 pm »
 I thought at the begining it started out as a guy sawing logs a  few were over length,and how to charge for the  over length few,  not buying a 8'9" board. Me, if im buying a 8'9" board,  im buying a 10 footer. almost sounds like we are talking about both in the same thread.

Offline Magicman

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #37 on: September 14, 2010, 10:26:10 pm »
Well it's easy to get yourself all tangled up in "what if" scenarios.  That's a never ending argument without an ending.  Every situation has it's own answer, and we each have to answer to the customer when unusual circumstances arise.  It's not about either the customer or sawyer taking advantage of the other.

Any unusual situations can be talked out with the customer before the job begins.  If you discover unusual lengths in the whack, then is the time for a question to the customer.  I had an instance a couple of months ago.  When questioned the customer responded, "aw, I just forgot to take my ruler that day and guessed at them".  He was building a house.  He didn't want odd length framing lumber.
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Offline backwoods sawyer

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2010, 12:06:41 am »
When I am building with my own rough sawn wood, I like to have more then just a few inches of trim. Knots and end checking can be cut out of some boards that are foot or so longer then needed. I encourage my customers to leave plenty of trim on there logs and do not charge extra. I also like to do a sight evaluation before bringing the mill in, this gives me time to talk over with the customer what he is doing as well as the whole process. Then when I bring the mill in we are ready to get down to the business of milling the logs and there is no confusions.
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Offline ely

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2010, 09:49:53 am »
i used to figured each board and write down the board footage so i would have an accurate bill to show the customer. i got to notice it took alot of my time and the customer just looked dumbfounded at times.

then i started to just sticker all the lumber then if it was 8ft lumber i would make them 4 ft wide stacks. i would count the layers and figure 32 bdft per layer.  i call it averaging, anyway if i had one layer that was a ten footer i would just call them 8 ft also. all the customers liked the way i figured because it was in there favor . alot of them will give me a 20 dollar tip after they write the check. some even will round up the bill from 175 bucks to make it an even 200.


Offline Meadows Miller

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #40 on: September 15, 2010, 10:29:24 am »
Gday

BWoods im the same its always better to be a foot over than a couple of inches short Mate  :o   ;) :D :D  ;D 8)

Elly I use Tally sheets all the time on custom orders and larger milling jobs  it gives the customer something that they know exactly what they have to work with on  bigger orders i scan a copy and staple it to the invoice it pays to have a backup esp if your sending custom sawn stuff into large yards with upto 20to3 mmbft in stock at any one time like i have in the past  Mate  ;)

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Offline LorenB

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #41 on: September 15, 2010, 11:11:05 pm »
John and Paul I didn't mean to imply that people who have manual mills should not charge by the hour.  It's just that for me at my pace and skill level I don't feel comfortable charging by the hour. I have about 60 hours on my 3 year old mill.  When I have a few hundred hours under my belt and get better/faster at knowing what a log will give me and what it won't, I might change my mind about hourly rates.




Todd

Todd,

Everyone starts out a novice.  After I got my first saw the word got around even before I started to advertise and I got a call out of the blue for a big job.  A man was having his own trees cut and needed someone to mill them into lumber for the barn that was to be built. 

I didn’t realize when I looked at the house-sized pile of 16-20 foot logs, most of which were about 20-30" in diameter, how long it would take me to cut them.  As it turned out, it took months, in my off days (I still had my day job back then). 

I explained to the potential customer that I was new at this and therefore would probably be slow and would make a few mistakes.  I said that as an adjustment for my inexperience, I would charge half my “normal” rate.  He accepted. 

By the time that job was done, I had 200 hours on the brand new saw and a lot more experience.  The customer got a very good deal on his lumber, I got some training, the sawmill got broken in, I paid for several boxes of bands, and still had a little spending money. 

As long as you and your customer both understand that you might not be as fast or as good as a more experienced sawyer and you charge accordingly, you should be fine charging by the hour. 

Good luck,
– Loren
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Offline paul case

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #42 on: September 15, 2010, 11:19:37 pm »
that is correct, my $40/hour dont sound too expansive when compared to the nearest hydraulic mill that charges $85/ hour.  pc
life is too short to be too serious. (some idiot)
2013 LT40SHE25 and Riehl edger,  WM 94 LT40 hd E15. Cut my sawing ''teeth'' on an EZ Boardwalk
sawing oak.hickory,ERC,walnut and almost anything else that shows up.
Don't get phylosophical with me. you will loose me for sure.
pc

Offline Todd Tittle

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Re: At what length do you charge?
« Reply #43 on: September 18, 2010, 10:58:06 am »
Thanks again guys.  I greatly appreciate everybody's insight on this topic.

Todd