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Author Topic: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?  (Read 1362 times)

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Offline elitts

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What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« on: January 11, 2017, 03:22:59 pm »
My Boy Scout troop is going to build a small storage shed for the church they meet at and I'm going to be responsible for sourcing material. (on the cheap)  One of the church's requirements is that it look decent and not be just a plywood exterior, so I'm thinking: Board & Batten siding with 4/4 green lumber should work just fine.  I'll need about 600-625 BF.  I don't care what kind of wood, and I don't even care if it's mixed varieties as long as it's cheap.  I would buy the lumber for framing too, but my understanding is that usually the big box stores sell it cheaper than anyone else can as a loss leader.

What kind of sawmill would be my best bet for getting lumber of this sort?  Should I be looking at one that cuts for grade and see about picking up their poor quality rejects? (if that's a thing)  Or is there another variety of mill that would be a better bet for my needs.  I'm willing to travel an hour or two for a really fantastic deal, I just don't even know what to ask for and the wholesaling mills that I can find online don't bother with a "retail" sales information page.

The other approach I've considered is seeing if anyone in the troop has some woods we could pull some trees out of and have a portable sawmill come turn it into what we need.

Any other suggestions I've not considered?

Oh.  And the location is Southwest Michigan (Grand Rapids Metro area)

Offline flyboy16101

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 04:20:39 pm »
I would approach any of the small local mills/ lumber yards in your area, tell them what you are doing they would hopefully be able to cut you a deal. I have better luck with small local businesses when it comes to donations/ bargains for church and scouts, then I have bigger companies since it helps them by putting their name out there in the community and it's for a worthy cause.
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Offline TKehl

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 05:01:09 pm »
Ditto on the small mills.  Bet if you call 5-6, you'll find at least one who will do it at cost or less.

We have a troop that camps on our farm once or twice a year.  We don't charge them and they clean up the brush  and downed limbs around the campsite (and leave no trash).  Everyone is happy.
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Offline elitts

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2017, 05:07:01 pm »
I wasn't actually looking for a donation.  The BSA has actually made it kind of difficult for troops to accept donations directly.  Just someplace I can get 6"-10" wide 4/4 boards suitable for "Board & Batten" siding at as cheap a BF price as possible.  The only local mill I use is a hardwood supplier that deals in higher end stuff, and the sales guy just sort of sniffed at me and said "we don't sell that sort of lumber" when I explained what I was looking for.

Offline TKehl

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 05:29:56 pm »
I'd call a few, explain what you are doing with it, and ask for pricing.  If someone says donation, insist on paying something to cover their expense, offer to help offbear, and bring a case of select beverage.  No longer a donation.  Paperwork problem solved.   :D

Worst case, you have pricing from a few mills to pick from. 
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2017, 05:30:33 pm »
Where are you first of all.  That will help us figure out if you're in softwood, hardwood, or mixed area.  Also someone on here might be from your area. 

FYI This last year I've purchased 12 inch wide white pine at .90/foot.  Is that out of your budget range?  The hard part about siding is that if you get rejects or odd donations, you may have to do a lot of ripping to prepare the boards before putting them up.  There's something to be said when the material is ready to go.  Then you'll just have the work to cut it to length and make some bevel cuts and rip cuts to fit the building.

If you were near me, I have some extra stuff I'd part with, not enough to do your shed, but maybe one side.
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2017, 05:31:38 pm »
Oh, can the church take the donation?
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2017, 06:32:07 pm »
Most any mill can cut the material you want.  I worked a medium sized mill, and I cut a lot of grade.  But, we would cut orders out of the lower grade hearts to fill small orders.  We also had softwood logs on hand to cut an order.  Depending on how much you need, it can be cut in short order. 

Small mills also can cut the material, especially if they have the logs on hand. 

Framing material is cheaper at the box stores, but you have to look the lumber over.  You can get full cut lumber from a sawmill, but most often it isn't planed or dried. 

Get a list of mills in your area, and visit or phone them.  Your state forestry department should have a list. 
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Offline elitts

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2017, 06:42:00 pm »
 :-\
I feel silly.  Of course the donation could go to the church...

Alright, I'll just chalk up the guy at the first mill i went to as unusually unpleasant, and try some of the others in the surrounding area.  Are most of the wholesale and pallet stock mills willing to do SOME retail stuff?  Or should I stick to the ones that specifically offer retail sales as an option.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2017, 06:45:08 pm »
   Yes, where are you located. I'd think some eagle scout candidate should jump on this and coordinate a tree service donating the logs, maybe someone transporting them to a staging area for sawing, a local portable sawmiller coming to cut the lumber, and troop members helping with the off-bearing and clean up as a training session about where lumber comes from. I'd be surprised if this would not satisfy some sort of badge requirement. If the eagle scout candidate wanted to do so he could coordinate the rest of the build project too.

   Ron was appropriately succinct - this is the most basic type of lumber and I can't imagine a mill that could not saw it.
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Offline esteadle

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2017, 07:15:01 pm »
Woodweb.com has a sawmill gallery where sawmill owners can register their products and services that they provide to customers. I checked and I found 5 listings for Michigan (where your profile says you are from). 3 of these have working websites:

Link is here: http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/galleries/sawmill.cgi?&SORT_BY_ASC_LOCATION=1&PAGE=2


I don't know how close any of these are to Grand Rapids, but probably worth some time and a call?

Best of luck,
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Offline jmouton

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2017, 07:19:29 pm »
we are located down near detroit metro airport , if you wanted to drive down here i am sure we could figure something out for you , for the wood you want ,   pm me if you want

   

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Offline samandothers

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2017, 08:09:13 pm »
   I'd think some eagle scout candidate should jump on this

I was thinking the same thing!

Offline elitts

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2017, 08:21:58 pm »
Sorry, I didn't realize until you guys asked that my location wasn't in the profile.

I'm in Grand Rapids, MI (Southwest-ish Michigan)

Offline paul case

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2017, 10:11:55 pm »
If you was near me and doing this project I would fix you up. Surely there is someone near you that will step up and help you get the materials. Good luck.

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Offline nomad

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2017, 04:24:23 am »
     Near the top of this page is an "extras" button.  In it's drop down list is a "finda-data-base." 
That will list many sawyers in Michigan and would be a good place to start.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2017, 07:40:03 am »
Also the "Member Map" will find those that have taken the time to pin their location.
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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2017, 08:25:38 am »
Every scout troop should have a sawyer or wood source in the wings. When I grew up it was Mr Sears mill that kept us in project wood, its my turn. Nothing wrong with making up a bill, I see two envelopes on the desk. Hate it when I lose a bill.

Offline Engineer

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2017, 08:42:10 am »
I want to add to this discussion that Home Depot, at least in my experience, will often support non-profits with donations of either materials or gift cards to purchase materials.  I would suggest you approach the manager of any local HD and explain your project, they may surprise you with their willingness to donate.

Offline elitts

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Re: What kind of sawmill should I be approaching?
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2017, 03:30:08 pm »
   Yes, where are you located. I'd think some eagle scout candidate should jump on this and coordinate a tree service donating the logs, maybe someone transporting them to a staging area for sawing, a local portable sawmiller coming to cut the lumber, and troop members helping with the off-bearing and clean up as a training session about where lumber comes from. I'd be surprised if this would not satisfy some sort of badge requirement. If the eagle scout candidate wanted to do so he could coordinate the rest of the build project too.

   Ron was appropriately succinct - this is the most basic type of lumber and I can't imagine a mill that could not saw it.

That's actually a pretty interesting idea.  In this particular case, it wouldn't work for my troop as an Eagle Scout Project, because you are not allowed to do a project that benefits either the Boy Scouts, or your chartering organization.(which is the church in this case)

However, the idea of a project that involved a period of log collection, milling and then the donation of the milled lumber to an organization like Habitat for Humanity appeals to me.  I'm taking a training class in being an Eagle Scout project coach later this month.  I'll have to ask about something like that to see how we could work it.

Actually using Eagle Projects to build stuff can be difficult for my troop because you have to toe the line on the "Guide for safe scouting" pretty closely.  Ironically enough, while Boy Scouts are permitted to use any size axe to cut and split wood, or manual saws, they aren't allowed to us ANY power tools until at least 14, and most of them require boys to be 16; and my troop is full of young'uns.  I suspect the laws that the guidelines were based on were thinking of power tools like band saws and table saws, but the way it's frequently applied in today's world, they throw cordless drills, jigsaws, and even electric screwdrivers into the same category.