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Author Topic: Big Slabs: Sales and handling  (Read 5713 times)

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Offline jemmy

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Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« on: June 23, 2017, 10:44:34 pm »
I have acquired a few special logs that I intend to slab. I have a white oak that is 20ft+ with a 56" diameter at the base and tapers to 40", a red oak that is 16ft+ with a 40" base and hardly tapers, and lastly another piece of white oak that is 12ft long with 56" at the base and tapers to 40"...

 Now I would love to keep all of these slabs true, and not cut them in half. However, I do not know the feasibility of selling 12ft+ slabs. I do not know even the first thing about selling slabs so if someone could bestow some knowledge about moving this many slabs for maximum dollar that would be great. I am not set on it, but I do plan on kiln drying them, but nothing further. Basically if someone could share marketing strategies, price points, how I should handle the logs or any other potential knowledge/perspective that would be a great help.   

 
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Offline ToddsPoint

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2017, 04:27:15 am »
Impressive pic.  You look like you are victorious over that huge log.  Hope you have a wide mill.  Gary
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Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2017, 07:20:42 am »
Nice big logs.  I haven't handled that size of slab as far as length.  Do you plan on cutting them live edge top to bottom with a chainsaw mill or super-slabber (Lucas)?  Knowing your location would help some in giving you advice.  How long ago were the logs cut?  Good luck.
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Offline jemmy

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2017, 07:41:10 am »
The white oaks were cut two years ago, and the red oaks were cut this year. I am planning on using a chainsaw mill to slab them out. I am still looking for a power head that is capable of cutting 60". I am in Toledo, hio.
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Offline paul case

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2017, 09:56:09 am »
Welcome to the FF, jemmy.

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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2017, 10:24:38 am »
I would think if you're going to be handling logs that big you could use a 4 stroke engine as a power source.  Are you planning to build the mill or buy a commercial one?  Who's going to do the kiln drying?

I've seen some 20' slabs that were spruce and used in a massive table at a B&B.  Very limited sales for something that long, unless you get to corporate.  If you cut 2" thick slabs, that white oak can be as much as 800 lbs.  You'll probably cut thicker, as you're going to have to level it out after drying. 

Before I would get very involved in getting into this, I would find someone that is actually doing what you want, and visit their operations.  You'll find out what you're getting into, and how long it will take for a turnaround in your investment. 
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2017, 10:51:04 am »
You do have time.  Mill them and restack them in order to air dry.  You need to create a level, flat base to stack on.  then you want to cover the top with tin.  Then let them air dry for a couple 2-4 years (assuming 2-3 inches thick).  Then if you want to kiln dry them to get the last bit of moisture out you can. 

If you're slabs dried and didn't twist and get all funky but remained fairly flat, you can then go to work with a 4x24 belt sander and smooth them out. 

Then you'll have to market them.  Will you be making them into tables or someone else?  Is your customer the end user or another wood worker who will build the tables?  Then they have to find the end user.  There's a lot of work involved in just making the table top start to finish, but can be profitable if you work efficiently.  It's probably best if you make multiple tables simultaneously.   You'll need a helper too.
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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2017, 02:46:25 pm »
Please update your profile to show your location. that would help a bunch. There's a sawyer just down the road from me that can bandsaw a 53 inch slab. I see snow in your pic, meaning you not close enough to use him..
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Offline Beavertooth

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2017, 06:52:13 pm »
Your oak needs to be kiln dried. If you let it air dry it will dry out to fast and do things that you will not like. Red Oak has to be dried slow and white oak even slower. If you have it kiln dried you can control how fast it dries.
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Offline redbeard

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2017, 12:22:28 am »
Welcome too FF Jemmy
If you can slab them long all the better gives you lots of options for sales.
Consider milling 1/2" thicker than your projected finished thickness. We do alot of 2-1/2" and 3" thick slabbing.
The money slabs are on each side of pith or center of log.  Your live edge is closest to being 90
Some features that are attractive are spike knots or where there was a limb, if you can catch it right it will stay with the slab when it dries.
Sometimes taking less money for them and selling them green is a good way too go, everything is beautiful when you first mill them. But alot happens as it air dries and kiln dries. Keeping them long gives lots of options for customer to pick the best length that they need for there project. Charge accordingly for the lengths left over. 6'- 8' lengths are good sellers also. Coffee tables too dinning room table.
You must have some heavy equipment to get that monster loaded.
Good luck with your slabbing venture.

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Offline jemmy

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2017, 02:17:54 am »
Thank you all for the information. Now I would love to move a lot of slabs quickly because I know they are worth good money even as green. But how do I do so? I have heard of big suppliers that will buy them, but I cant seem to think (or find) any company that would want to buy these. I imagine if you get some really awesome slabs it wouldn't be hard find that right buyer, but I just don't know what mediums I should advertise or go for. Also what should the price of slab that is 20' total in length, 3" thick, with a taper of 56-50 for 16ft then spreads out to 60"+ for about 2ft in length, then finishes with 40" top? I have a lot of footage of how I got this tree loaded, and I didn't use anything besides my trucks, logs, chains, and some red-green/red neck ingenuity. I find all this stuff to be a riot, its tough work but I truly enjoy it, I am very thankful for all of your guys help!

 
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2017, 07:51:40 am »
Often the best way to develop a marketing scheme is to first try to buy the product.  Try Google and whatever sources that a prospective buyer might use to find the item(s).  Watch and see how fast they are selling and for how much. 
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2017, 09:54:04 am »
Yeah, what they are actually selling for, not what crazy price someone is asking and hoping for....
Welcome to the addiction!....
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Offline redbeard

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2017, 11:46:20 am »
Pricing wide slabs has some things too think about.
Value of the wood BF price
Expense of cutting the slab
You need too keep track of your time and efforts from getting the log to display for sale.
Measure the middle of slabs width use that for your BF price.
 Leave the metal hits intact , you would be surprised at how many people that look for that feature.
Have a story for your log, location, age, ect. People like to connect with the tree.
Even if it was saved from the landfill that's a story.
Always get a picture of fresh cut slab you won't see these colors again untill someone finishes it down the road.
Most important have a secure planned out area for storage because every time you handle the monsters there's damage too it either a fork scrape or helping it check more. Pics are your seller.
E bay and Amazon are good outlets to sell and search for prices.
 

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Offline rjwoelk

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2017, 01:29:23 pm »
X2 on the sales story.
Here is a example what worked for my kids early teens.
The puppy's 6 weeks maybe 8, momma done got herself run over on the highway. They took pics wrote up a sob story sold all 5 in one day. $5 each .
All in the story.  :P
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Offline jemmy

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2017, 12:24:46 am »

You must have some heavy equipment to get that monster loaded.
Good luck with your slabbing venture.

I just got done with my video of loading this log onto my trailer! All I used was some dead ash trees for ramps and some trucks hooked up with chains. I hope you guys enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-91l2yEt6GQ&feature=youtu.be
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Offline Classic1

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2017, 06:54:13 am »
If you think your going to kiln dry slabs in a conventional kiln at the same rate as dimensional lumber your going to end up with a pile of unusable lumber. 

You need to oversize slabs at least 3/4" in thickness minimum.  That's if you dry it properly.

People grossly underestimate labor it takes to post process large slabs after milling.  If your not drying in a vacuum kiln, you need to air dry for months before putting into a conventional kiln.

Offline Darrel

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2017, 09:20:35 am »
Welcome to the forum jemmy. Not much help when it comes to marketing, but I wish you luck.
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Offline woodworker9

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2017, 09:34:39 am »
If you think your going to kiln dry slabs in a conventional kiln at the same rate as dimensional lumber your going to end up with a pile of unusable lumber. 

You need to oversize slabs at least 3/4" in thickness minimum.  That's if you dry it properly.

People grossly underestimate labor it takes to post process large slabs after milling.  If your not drying in a vacuum kiln, you need to air dry for months before putting into a conventional kiln.

+1

I have a shed full of 10/4 and 12/4 slabs that have been air drying for 2 years now, and they are NOT even close to ready for being turned into furniture.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2017, 05:51:19 pm »
Truth in all of the above. 
Slabs are heavy, hard to cut, hard to handle, slow to dry, easy to ruin, easy to check, prone to insects, easy to sticker stain, take up lots of room, must be stacked high to prevent cup and warp, generally must be put back on the mill to flatten, take double the effort to plane, and in general a very high load product.  Also, if the bark stays on, they are death to planer blades.

On the other hand, we sell a fair amount of live edge and edged different species of 9/4 and thicker at $$ multiples of standard 4/4.  We just took about 3,200 bdft out of the kiln this weekend and people are already asking to buy them before I've had a chance to let them cool down, almost.

Every time a customer comments how expensive they are, I look at them deadpan and say "yep, even at that, it's not hardly worth it for me to fool with...".  ;)


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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2017, 02:45:35 pm »
I thought I'd post a few more specifics, as many of the replies were exactly dead on with what we see, based on our experience using conventional techniques, producing high quality live edge slabs is a profitable but difficult part of our business.  Its far from foolproof, and I have ruined my fair share, and many years ago even threw one whack into the burn pit I was so upset at how they turned out. 

A slabs value will increase the further it gets away the log.  Thick green slabs are not worth much, if any, more than the same piece of 4/4.  The value of a slab is how dry it gets and how defect free it remains.  The crude rule of thumb I use is that the finished defect rate basically squares as the wood gets thicker.  So a 2 inch piece of wood will have 4 times the end product defects as a 1 inch piece.  A 3 inch piece will have 9 times the defects.  This is also based on that a thicker piece of wood will have more internal defects and grain pattern changes so will move more as it dries.  So the only way to see how the slabs behave is to expend the time, space and expense to dry them, and the ones that show the best behavior will look great and be worth more money, considering that the ones that dried poorly will be cracked firewood. 

So we typically air dry most hardwood slabs for at least a year, then we put them in the kiln, finish and then sterilize them.  Then we sometimes have to put them back on the mill to skim them flat again, then we slice and dice out the ugly parts, and finally plane and sell.  Its a lot of work, and so we accordingly charge for it.

The problem with big slabs, and the reason their price goes up as they get closer to an end state, is that most people don't have the time, space or equipment to handle  and process them, so won't buy them until they are processed.  For example, very few furniture makers, let alone individuals, have the ability to plane a 50 inch slab, 20 feet long and make it come out executive table furniture quallity.  So to them, it may be a great piece of wood, but impossible for them to deal with.  So they won't buy it.  If I can't plane and straighten it with my machines to make it look good, how could I expect them?   So there are realistic tooling limits on live edge slab size that to be commercially marketable, except for the folks who take the wood all the way to finished product, who have invested in very specialized tools, and they can make really good money.  Also, most folks only want on live edge on one side of the board, and the other straight lined to go up against a wall, or to join to together more pieces of wood, such as a book match.  Its pretty hard to get a joint quality glue line 20 feet long, much less 8 tor 10 feet. We have invested many dollars to get the equipment required to do this.

The wood must be dried in a manner not to exceed the species maximum drying rate, and for red oak its 3.8% per day, white oak about half that.  I personally like to stay at about 2% per day red oak and about 1% for 4/4 white oak.  For 2 inch wood, half that number and the max rate I would be comfortable with on red oak would be 1% per day.  Unfortunately, outside air in Alabama usually dries the wood faster and it cracks, so techniques must be used to actually slow the air drying process down, which is what a kiln would do.  With a kiln, an acceptable drying rate can be maintained, and with thick wood, it is actually slower than air drying.  Of course, sometimes its faster, depending on species. The trick is to know how to dial in kiln time to maximize output. 

The value of a nearly perfect 60 inch slab is very dependent on the customer, and could be worth a lot of money.  However, retail folks rarely can handle a piece that big.  So you would have to find a specialty market.  Most of the slabs we sell are less than 25 inches wide, very high grade, planed both sides, table quality flat, 3 inches or less thick, and 8 to 12 feet long.  That covers 90% of the retail demand in this area.  We do have occasionally have thicker stuff but it will all have cracks and significant drying defects and typically will requires us to post process them to bring them to a customer's specifications.

There is a lot of information in the Drying and Processing section on this Forum.
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Offline woodworker9

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2017, 11:35:34 am »
Yellowhammer

That is an excellent, well written post, that describes, to a T, exactly what I go through.  I'm a guy who cuts my own, dries my own, and takes it to the finished product....making tables, benches, etc.....

I live 60 miles NW of Chicagoland, and the market for trendy furniture and cabinetry is always high, if you know what you're doing.  Many $2M plus homes around here, and the people who own them seem to always want to keep up with the Jones'es.  The simple fact is that live edge slab and farm tables are all the rage, and the more I can make, the more I can sell. 

There are over 100 post on Craigslist in my area alone trying to sell slabs.  I have taken the time to visit some of these sellers, and most of it is mishandled junk.  They've ignored almost all the important details that you hit on with your excellent post.

We have a lot of guys around here who think that they can take a chainsaw mill to a yard tree, slab it up, and next week sell the slabs for $800 to $1000 apiece.  Reality is dictating that these guys are making a lot of expensive firewood.  I brought my moisture meter, a very good Lignomat, to a guys place who was advertising "dried slabs" about a month ago.  My moisture meter had flickering lights between 18% and 20%.   Dried, huh.........yeah, right!  He asked me to leave.

On the other hand, a local retailer is asking, and getting, $1200 to $2000 apiece for 14/4 (yep....3 1/2" thick) walnut and cherry slabs from 20" to 40" wide.  He's got a sign up in his showroom explaining, with pictures, his new dehumidification kiln.  More than half his slabs had "SOLD" written in lumber crayon on them, with receipts stapled on, waiting for pick up.

I can tell you that for my own little furniture operation here, cutting and moving big, heavy slabs is a ton of extra work for me.  I have help from my 27 year old son some of the time, but most of the time, I'm cutting and moving them by myself.  I have a skidloader for moving logs, and then loading slabs, but it will not fit inside my current drying shed (19' X 25' with a doorway that is too small, with no room to turn the skidloader inside anyway, as it's almost full.)  I use a combination of pallet jack and appliance dolly to move them from the doorway to a sticker-stack.  I've got about 50, or so, 8/4, 10/4 and 12/4 slabs that have been air drying for up to 2 years now, all waiting for me to finish building my solar kiln.   There is a kiln service a couple of hours away, and I may just look into that.  I truly HATE the idea of losing control of the process, because if they ruin all this hard work I've put in to get this far, I think I'd probably lose it......

Anyway, thanks for a great post detailing several of the pitfalls of the slab business.  Bottom line is that I think a person can generate a lot of gross income cutting and selling slabs.  Whether or not that person actually makes any profit will be determined by how quickly they learn the lessons you describe above.
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Offline rjwoelk

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2017, 10:04:01 pm »
If you decide to dry these slabs, you need to dry a lot of wood you can aford to lose first. then i would slab some aford to lose wood and try that out. then when you feel confident go for it. Take a drying course and see if it is someing you want to do . Search for some one with a dryer to do it. See what his sucesss is first.
Just my 2 cents. 8)
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Offline grouch

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2017, 11:17:10 pm »
[snip]

If you're slabs dried and didn't twist and get all funky but remained fairly flat, you can then go to work with a 4x24 belt sander and smooth them out. 

[snip]

Couldn't you do this faster (with less dust!) with a router in a sled and frame?

[Edit to add photos:]

I've only done this on a small scale, but could it be scaled up to the size slabs y'all have been talking about?









Offline Ianab

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2017, 02:45:21 am »
Assume a big slab of wood is going to move somewhat, and for a table or bar top, you want a perfectly flat surface, not a slightly cupped one. Once you get it all smooth and varnished, any cup etc is going to be obvious by looking at reflections of windows etc in the surface.

The router bridge that Grouch shows will work, but it's not really a production tool. But it's cheap and would get you started with some slabs to sell and gauge your market. If you are making furniture, then smoothing down a couple of  table tops is certainly practical.

I use a similar method, with my router mounted on my old mill frame. Router rolls up and down the slab on the mill carriage and I can slide it across the slab each pass. Works well. You don't get a "finished" slab, there will be some "swirly" machine marks, but it's perfectly flat, and ready to start sanding  with maybe an 80 grit?

If you get serious, there is a planer attachment for most swingblade mills. Replace the circle blade with a round cutter head with carbide cutters mounted in it. Ready to go with a ~20 hp router.  ;D
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Offline WDH

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2017, 07:32:22 am »
Most of the slabs we sell are less than 25 inches wide, very high grade, planed both sides, table quality flat, 3 inches or less thick, and 8 to 12 feet long.  That covers 90% of the retail demand in this area.

This is exactly my strategy too.  I like to keep my slabs less than 24" wide, sawn 9/4 which is 2 3/8" thick off the mill, air dry them a minimum of 8 - 9 month, usually longer (I shoot for 20% moisture content or less going into the kiln), kiln dry them to below 10%, sterilize them, flatten them (usually with a skim cut on the sawmill if necessary or with a planer sled), then finish plane them.  I am not interested in fooling with slabs over 24" wide or over 10' long.  Anything larger than that I cannot handle by myself anyway.  My slabs sell extremely well, and I am always short of supply.  I generally price the slabs per bf at 1.5 times the 4/4 bf price for that species.  I have decided to raise the price on my live edge walnut 9/4 slabs and price them closer to 2x 4/4 price.   
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2017, 03:13:11 pm »
I read and enjoy lots of advice posted here on this and other forums but,,,,,


Does anyone feel that the more info floating around promotes more "millers" to get started up with a great money making bizz?

Its great for the sawmill production bizz and support tools industry but every person that you take their hand and lead step by step now becomes potential competition.


Pretty soon there are thousands of "millers" and way to much product on the market and then WE ALL get a pay cut.

Just my .02


Im not trying to be rude but ya dont see other bizzes teaching the competition how to compete/prosper.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2017, 05:40:59 pm »
I read and enjoy lots of advice posted here on this and other forums but,,,,,
Pretty soon there are thousands of "millers" and way to much product on the market and then WE ALL get a pay cut.
Im not trying to be rude but ya dont see other bizzes teaching the competition how to compete/prosper.

This is a question I've considered for many years and many times.  Its not a theoretical question, it has actually happened to me twice, and in the end, all it did both times was make my business stronger.  So I may have a different opinion than others.  I'm a Pro Sawyer with WoodMizer and give sawmill demos.  I have sold several mills, some in my local area which seems dumb as I also used to custom saw for the public.  Two different people I did a demo for said they wanted to start a business "just like mine."  I smiled and said, sure go ahead, invest many, many hundred grand, start working 12 to 14 hour days, every day, every week, for years, then get ready to move 1.14 million pounds of wood every year, (our 2014 number, we have since grown) and have at it. 

Both businesses failed with the first year.  I asked each of them why, and the answers were basically "its a LOT of work" and "dealing with the public is tougher than it looks."  They both summarized with "You have to be crazy to do this."

I agree, it takes a certain amount of "crazy" to do this, but I have always had a certain amount of "crazy", otherwise known as passion, my whole life. 

There is certainly a possibility that someone else with as much passion and resources as I have will set up shop next door, and try to cut me off.  More power to them, I played competitive sports at the college level, I enjoy a good ball game. 

There are at least two mega mills next to me, each does what I do, more or less, on a much larger scale, a many million dollar level.  One just put in a million square feet of kilns, but their business is just a little different than mine, so no problem.  They were both very reluctant to talk to me in the beginning, but I eventually developed business relationships with both places, and now we are complimentary to each other, not competitive. 

I am always open to answering good questions as they appear on this Forum, they deserve to be answered.  Its no different than somebody asking what kind of lure the fish as biting on, or what I caught last week.  In many ways, fishing is an art, and some things just don't translate.  If they did, we would all be professional fisherman just by reading magazines, watching TV shows, and visiting tournament venues.  It just isn't going to happen.  But that doesn't mean there's no reason not to help someone catch more fish. 

In many ways, it is the same thing in the sawing and drying industry.  Some things just don't translate, and some things comes from years of experience and intuition, and its really impossible to transmit that info, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't help someone mill better wood, or otherwise help them enjoy doing something they like.

That being said, there are some folks on the Forum who have the same type of business I have, and I say more power to them, "good job" because it isn't easy, and I consider them my friends not my competitors, mainly because, as far as I can tell, they are as "crazy" as I am.  I say that as an utmost compliment.
 
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Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2017, 05:43:41 pm »
To quote one of my customers,  "every one else's gig looks great until you try to do it yourself".
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #29 on: July 03, 2017, 05:47:36 pm »
I read and enjoy lots of advice posted here on this and other forums but,,,,,


Does anyone feel that the more info floating around promotes more "millers" to get started up with a great money making bizz?

Its great for the sawmill production bizz and support tools industry but every person that you take their hand and lead step by step now becomes potential competition.


Pretty soon there are thousands of "millers" and way to much product on the market and then WE ALL get a pay cut.

Just my .02


Im not trying to be rude but ya dont see other bizzes teaching the competition how to compete/prosper.

Actually, yes, I do see others teaching their trades to newbies and each other, all over the Internet.

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."
-- Thomas Jefferson

Not everybody is willing to take the time to learn how to saw and process wood and even fewer are willing to do the hard work that it requires. Greed and selfishness are not needed to maintain prices and they don't add a bit of value to the product.

You might want to look up a post or two by Magicman and take note of his "sig".

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #30 on: July 03, 2017, 07:05:40 pm »
I wouldn't be where I'm at today if it weren't for the help of great forum members (not saying that I'm in some special place lol).  It would be wrong in my eyes if I didn't pass on what I've learned.  And I believe that you never stop learning.  But in terms of competition, as mentioned above, it's hard work and not everyone has the willpower/passion to keep going.  Besides with all the free govt handouts nowadays seems as though most people would rather be broke sitting at home than go broke busting their chops running a sawmill lol
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #31 on: July 03, 2017, 07:46:33 pm »
When I first started my contracting business in 1984 no one helped me out I learned by making lots of mistakes and bad choices on some things. I learned things the hard way I have outlasted many that said I couldn't do it .
I have helped many that worked for me start their own business .
Working for your self is not for everyone it's a lot of work. I like to work .
People on this FF have helped me out with my milling endeavor more than they know .
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2017, 08:41:40 pm »
I see things changing here over the last year, and it is concerning to say the least. lots of "competition'. Which way does a smart man go ???

  

 
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2017, 08:55:23 pm »
Another way of looking at it is we are encouraging the small scale timber industry as a whole. Not everyone is going to be relying on the retail sale of wood, or operating a sawmill etc. Land owners want markets for their trees. Loggers and truckers want the work harvesting those trees. Milling, drying, machining, through to making end products, there are lots of niches in the chain.

Now if you try and work in a vacuum keeping your operation "top secret", where to the supply and market end come from? If the whole concept that you can buy locally produced lumber or furniture is unknown to the general public, who's going to buy your product?

From that point of view it's arguably better to encourage the industry as a whole, and then sort out which niche(s) of it you can slot into. Some folks run tree farms, others furniture shops, and all the steps in between.

Other option is to give up and just have everyone buy all their stuff from China...
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #34 on: July 03, 2017, 09:04:11 pm »
 

  I can guarantee the nose on this fish will always point in the right direction to make business decisions.
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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #35 on: July 04, 2017, 08:51:47 am »
Dang! I just was typing a pretty long response here and my computer bailed out on me losing the whole thing tooo frustrating.
This has happened to me several times.
I'll try again when I cool off
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Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #36 on: July 04, 2017, 12:43:32 pm »

 Its no different than somebody asking what kind of lure the fish as biting on, or what I caught last week.  In many ways, fishing is an art, and some things just don't translate.  If they did, we would all be professional fisherman just by reading magazines, watching TV shows, and visiting tournament venues.  It just isn't going to happen.  But that doesn't mean there's no reason not to help someone catch more fish. 

   Even if they cant catch fish, your still rubbing elbows with 5000 people on every lake or river out here.

I get what your all saying, but Ive never seen a successful prospector give advice. 

There used to be a term used before the internet, "Trade secrets".

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #37 on: July 04, 2017, 05:53:32 pm »

   Even if they cant catch fish, your still rubbing elbows with 5000 people on every lake or river out here.

I get what your all saying, but Ive never seen a successful prospector give advice. 

There used to be a term used before the internet, "Trade secrets".

I understand your concerns and your points have validity. However, do to the complexity, labor intensity, risk, and over all investment (financial, emotional, physical, etc) this stuff is not for everyone. As you probably already know this line of work is not for the vast majority of people. However, there is that sliver of people that are crazy, smart, and courageous enough to take on this field of work. I love this stuff so far! This stuff keeps me on my toes and I find the challenge exciting and energizing so I really think this stuff is for me.

Now trade secrets are very important, however, if you could save someone a butt load of money would you not do it? Especially if they are not stepping on your toes? I feel like this business does better when networks are developed. I got to talk with Yellow Hammer for an hour and half and one big thing that I took home was that its beneficial all around when you can make others successful. Also another thing I have realized is that most people have varying opinions and its up to the audience to choose the right path. I have a plan from this thread of what I'm going to do with my slabs, but I could easily go belly up and lose my shirt. That's business, and why its not for everyone.

Side note I picked up a used 090. I am hopeful that this saw will be in decent condition, I will let you guys know when it gets here on the 11th! I will have pics and video as soon as its available.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #38 on: July 04, 2017, 07:17:25 pm »

 Its no different than somebody asking what kind of lure the fish as biting on, or what I caught last week.  In many ways, fishing is an art, and some things just don't translate.  If they did, we would all be professional fisherman just by reading magazines, watching TV shows, and visiting tournament venues.  It just isn't going to happen.  But that doesn't mean there's no reason not to help someone catch more fish. 

   Even if they cant catch fish, your still rubbing elbows with 5000 people on every lake or river out here.

I get what your all saying, but Ive never seen a successful prospector give advice. 

There used to be a term used before the internet, "Trade secrets".
An interesting analogy between fishing and big slabs, as I fished for a living for years. The first 6 years was horrible but eventually I was able to attract and keep good crew with dollars rolling in.Knowledge was very hard fought and no one was giving anything away. As a wood worker I sell my time and my knowledge. Rob
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Offline Ricker

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2017, 11:21:00 pm »
I try to help people whenever I can, be it work life or personal life. I figure I will need a hand sometime and hopefully it will comeback to me and usually it does. As far as sawing or drying advice I think every new sawyer has benefited from someone explaining at least the basics to them.

Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #40 on: July 05, 2017, 06:25:09 am »
It is a lot of work YH. And most don't want to work that hard.  ;)
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2017, 08:16:54 am »
I have not begun to do any sawing yet. I have still learned a ton from you guys. I thank you all very much for your willingness to teach.

Now I add one more thing that just popped into my head. If it wasn't for all the wonderful ppl on this forum and other places passing on the hard earned knowledge. What would the future look like?

Once again, thank you to everyone that has helped me in my crazy endeavors.
I knew what I thought I meant.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2017, 10:51:17 am »
I find that most of my competition doesn't come from the guy two miles down the dirt road with a newer, fancier LT40.  He has sent me jobs and I've sent him a few.

My competition comes from within. This is hard work on a hot day and I'd like to sit in the shade and sip iced tea. There are lots of things competing for my attention when the only benefit I feel like I'm getting from sawing is the sawdust in my pockets.  I don't see myself breaking even in my niche (western juniper flooring) for another year.  The knowledge is gained from this forum is as valuable as my mill. 

I really don't think that there is much chance of us educating our selves out of a job by Teaching each other the ropes.
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Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #43 on: July 05, 2017, 12:50:32 pm »
My concerns weren't so much for the mobile sawyer or lumber making fellow.

That's hard work that most folks don't have an interest in or give up quickly.


It was more about the folks that watch a few Youtube vids on chainsaw milling, then get a couple free logs and think they are going to get rich selling million dollar slabs on craigslist!

Most are pretty uninformed and think they are going to start turning out a product that sells for more than they invested in tools/time.

Just search "live edge" on craigslist in your local area and see how many have popped up recently.  TONS.

90 percent of them look like alligators chewed the slabs out.    I understand they are not going to compete for the same customer looking for a $1500 conference room table slab, but they are cutting into the 1-300$ market fairly quickly.    Five $300 slabs are easier/faster to sell than that conference table slab but total the same $ numbers.

When a person has 20-40,000$ wrapped up in slab mills, and support equipment its gets kinda frustrating having to compete with folks that are here for the short term with $1000 in a chainsawmill.

3/4 of the folks that are flooding the market with cheap slabs will be on to something different soon.    Attention spans are getting shorter everyday.  But the impact on the market lasts longer because every time one guy bgives up there are two right behind him to buy that old CSM off craigslist and go at it again.

Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #44 on: July 05, 2017, 01:02:14 pm »

Now I add one more thing that just popped into my head. If it wasn't for all the wonderful ppl on this forum and other places passing on the hard earned knowledge. What would the future look like?



In the olden days before the internet you BOUGHT a few books and read them over and over.  You PAID for the priceless knowledge that someone else learned and was willing to pass on/sell to you.

The rest you learned on the job the hard way.   And once you were a master of your trade you didn't just want to hand that info out to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Knowledge is PRICELESS and the only thing that equals it in value is EXPERIENCE.


Why would a man GIVE experience and knowledge away for free after working so hard for it?


Its funny how there are so many threads on here about "paying your dues".  You cant sell a crusty ol worn out mill on this forum without paying the admin, but you can GIVE away priceless INFO all day long for FREE.

Like I said, it doesn't help anyone but the sawmill MFGing and support tool industry.

Anyways,, my rants are over.  You dont have to agree with me, but please take a look at this from different views.

Boeing doesn't give Airbus advice, GM doesn't consult with Ford, and Costco isn't sharing marketing advice with Walmart.

Just my $.02 

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #45 on: July 05, 2017, 01:18:46 pm »
 :)
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #46 on: July 05, 2017, 06:38:03 pm »
Let's shut down The Forestry Forum and weldingweb and garagejournal and wikipedia and the whole Internet; too much "priceless" knowledge leaking out around the world.

Let's return to the Dark Ages where only guild members were allowed to learn the deep, dark secrets of their particular trade.

Let's all emulate GM, Ford, et. al. because it will be a better world when each of us becomes a cold, impersonal, uncaring, unfeeling legal construct whose primary purpose is to extract money from others. After all, if we get good enough at it, we can afford to ignore some of those pesky laws the others come up with; we just pay 'em off.

Let's get everything we can before we become worm food, regardless of who we trample to get it, and leave a legacy of a dark, selfish, ignorant, barbarian world worse than what we inherited.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #47 on: July 05, 2017, 07:40:21 pm »
It is Wednesday and I have had one contractor and one engineer want to work with me for free to learn so far since Sunday. Tomorrow I have an extremely talented young woodworker who sought me out and wants an hour of my time to seek employment as he has already sent his resume. 30 minutes after he leaves, I have an instructor from one of the woodworking colleges coming here. So, it is Wednesday and that is the count so far of people who want to know what the heck I am doing.
Last week; calls from N. CA and emails from Oregon just dying to sell me slabs...yikes.
Grouch has a good idea. No internet, no FF and force people to go out and develop the knowledge on their own. Grouch I don't believe that was your intent but the internet is a place where people fish for guesses and land answers they like. You may quote me on this. The slab business is bulging here on the west coast with green, screwed up garages full of product and I get contacted by several people weekly to help them get unscrewed. Caveat emptor to anyone who wants to start a business of any kind doing anything, unless they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice; divorce, sell everything you own for cash flow, live in your car, [I have typed a profane word that is automatically changed by the forum censored words program I should know better] in a bucket, borrow ungodly amounts of $, travel and work for people for free, work all day, STAY UP ALL NIGHT AND STUDY the subject. Do that for a few years and you may see adequacy. You reap what you sow and be darned happy to have that.
I personally really like the FF and hope to keep contributing.
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Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #48 on: July 05, 2017, 09:04:21 pm »
I sell 2 or 4 a year, maybe, :D :D :D
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Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #49 on: July 05, 2017, 09:30:58 pm »

Let's all emulate GM, Ford, et. al. because it will be a better world when each of us becomes a cold, impersonal, uncaring, unfeeling legal construct whose primary purpose is to extract money from others. After all, if we get good enough at it, we can afford to ignore some of those pesky laws the others come up with; we just pay 'em off.

Let's get everything we can before we become worm food, regardless of who we trample to get it, and leave a legacy of a dark, selfish, ignorant, barbarian world worse than what we inherited.

I don't expect Ford or Gm to GIVE me a truck for free.  If I think they offer a good product for a fair price then I buy their product which is made from their experience/knowledge in the auto industry.

Unfortunately I cant pay my mortgage and insurance with good intentions and free labor.

I expect to get paid for my work/product and have no problem paying others for theirs.   If the product is good and the price is fair then everyone is happy.

What you are referring to sounds an awful lot like socialism.   This country was built and thrives on capitalism.   Its healthy and needed for prosperity.

Offline TKehl

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #50 on: July 05, 2017, 10:39:45 pm »
I'm a fan of capitalism.  I'm not convinced it is the perfect system, but I haven't seen any that function better.  I also emulate the Amish & Mennonites.  They often build synergystic business around each other that frequently help the individuals as well as the group as a whole.  I'll happily hire out or refer work that is better suited for a bandmill.  Hopefully the other guy does as well.  If I'm milling for a welder, guess who gets the first bid when I need something fabbed up.  In the end, we both win.   

The wood industry is a big pie.  I can't (and don't want to) take it all.  A little piece of a big pie is enough for me and I'm happy to share.  I'm happy to offer the limited knowledge I have to get someone started.  I'm also happy to ask prodding questions that make a person consider if the path is really right for them.  This isn't a get rich quick kind of place with tons of trade secrets. 

I'll gladly pay for information.  Sometimes that is in $, sometimes labor, sometimes favors, sometimes other info, and sometimes I get it free with which I try to pay it forward when I can. 

We can have capitalism and still mostly get along and help each other out. 
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Offline red

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #51 on: July 06, 2017, 05:40:23 am »
I thought most of the Wood business was run by Gentleman .  Naturally there are a few bad apples .
We have a lot of good boys and girls in harms way
lets all support them and their familys.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #52 on: July 06, 2017, 08:13:51 am »
Jemmy, I want to welcome you to the Forestry Forum. As the founder, i certainly disagree with the notion that sharing information about the trades we have passion for somehow weakens you.  Bull puckey!  It makes you stronger. When you have quality people doing quality work making quality products, the demand for all only goes up. 

I was one of those guys that was thrown into a job as a circle sawyer with no one to mentor me. I eventually figured it out, but craved knowledge abut what I was doing. I eventually found books, and a saw doctor named Willard Lafave, who would answer anything I asked. I wanted to be good at what I did. No, not just good, I wanted to be great. My Boss never gave me adulation past a raise now and then and a job for 25 years. Years went by and then I started getti g phone calls at night. Turns out, my Boss had been telling people that he felt he had the best sawyer in the state. the word spread and other young sawyers were calling me for help. I never hesitated in answering the questions they had. I never once felt that I would somehow be lessened by giving of myself.  I can't imagine feeling any other way. what a selfish way to live that would be.

Jemmy, take from this topic the fact that there are people in this world that help for one reason. Because they can. The Forestry Forum is full of this kind of people. We welcome you.
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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #53 on: July 06, 2017, 08:29:29 am »
I have 3 dozen cherry and a few maple slabs 2 3 thick 8 10 long on which I am going to get wealthy.
They are from blow downs from my woods.
As regards helping the competition, My neighbor saws portable and a little stationary for a living.
I am a somewhat high functioning hobby guy.
I refer calls for custom sawing to him, last night was the most recent.
I dont know if my knowledge is worth sharing but I do answer  questions and share experience when I can.
there are several Amish mills not very far away, but I still manage to market my more expensive product without too much trouble.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #54 on: July 06, 2017, 08:58:52 am »
I decided a couple of weeks ago i was no longer going to post about selling slabs.
When i do its the only time i sense some negativity from some members on the forum.
Every mills markets are different .
Every person i have asked a question on the forum has been great to me.
I bug Peter a lot and we live not far from each other and i share info with other mill in my area on FB
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Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #55 on: July 06, 2017, 12:34:59 pm »
Ya, your a bug. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
Hi Bruno,  smiley_wavy
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Offline losttheplot

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #56 on: July 06, 2017, 01:31:00 pm »
It is Wednesday and I have had one contractor and one engineer want to work with me for free to learn so far since Sunday. Tomorrow I have an extremely talented young woodworker who sought me out and wants an hour of my time to seek employment as he has already sent his resume. 30 minutes after he leaves, I have an instructor from one of the woodworking colleges coming here. So, it is Wednesday and that is the count so far of people who want to know what the heck I am doing.


Perhaps its time to start offering classes for money.
Capitalize on the opportunity............... :) :) :)
 
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #57 on: July 06, 2017, 02:00:18 pm »
Peter
I'm the heavy weight of bugs :)
But getting smaller by the months :)
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Offline paul case

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #58 on: July 06, 2017, 03:10:55 pm »
Jemmy, I want to welcome you to the Forestry Forum. As the founder, i certainly disagree with the notion that sharing information about the trades we have passion for somehow weakens you.  Bull puckey!  It makes you stronger. When you have quality people doing quality work making quality products, the demand for all only goes up. 

I never hesitated in answering the questions they had. I never once felt that I would somehow be lessened by giving of myself.  I can't imagine feeling any other way. what a selfish way to live that would be.

Jemmy, take from this topic the fact that there are people in this world that help for one reason. Because they can. The Forestry Forum is full of this kind of people. We welcome you.

Bull Puckey indeed. If it weren't for this forum I doubt I would be sawing today.
Well said Boss.

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Offline Darrel

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #59 on: July 06, 2017, 05:42:56 pm »
As I see it, the big boys, Sierra Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, and others that supply dimensional lumber nation and world wide, are the only ones that have anything to loose secondary to the proliferation of knowledge and the thriving of untold thousands of little one and two man operations.

For the most part what comes off our mills, be it slabs, grade lumber, dimensional lumber for framing or whatever it may be, is of much higher quality than anything the big boys produce.

If we continue to pool our knowledge and skills, if we are willing to combine that knowledge and skills with hard work and good old fashioned elbow grease, we can give them a run for their money. They (the big boys) have spent billions of $$$$$$$ tooling their operations for high volume output of a product that is only marketable to the masses because there is nothin better available.  They do not have the capability of producing a product of a quality that you and I produce on a daily basis. 

So is it time for us to also pool our marketing?  I don't know. Maybe it is for some and not others. Who cares if some joker tries to sell slabs with a 25% moisture content as dry, he will shortly mend his ways or be gone.

Ok, I'll step down from my soap box.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #60 on: July 06, 2017, 07:21:56 pm »
I'm a believer in "commercial in confidence ".

A lot of my knowledge/experience i share freely. I think it's important to do so: I'd rather help than hinder people, and if i know something that works/ doesn't work  then im happy to share it.

But that doesn't mean i share everything. Some things i share selectively: how i manage collapse prone species is an in house thing that I've paid much to master, so i pitand choose who gets the benefit of that. Consider it like a patent: i put time and money in and need to see a return for that and giving it away to my competitors would make that difficult. But if i know ya and like ya i can bend the rules.

Truth is most people are lazy. Between us all here you could learn enough to run a mill successfully but it still won't replace sweat in growing a business. So i dont feel that sharing 99% of what i know will benifit more than 1% of the people who read it anyway.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #61 on: July 06, 2017, 09:00:57 pm »
And than there people who are looking for a certain answer,be it right or wrong. They have no inclination to listen to you,but they have to ask anyways. I get them in my hardware store. Yes,their way may work,but they have to ask me what I would do and than try to change it the way would do it.  ::)  I just sell them what they want,they are happy and I am too because I am selling them something to keep me in a job.   ;D
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #62 on: July 06, 2017, 11:26:20 pm »
I don't expect Ford or Gm to GIVE me a truck for free.  If I think they offer a good product for a fair price then I buy their product which is made from their experience/knowledge in the auto industry.

That's the first I've heard of anyone suggesting Ford or GM giving you a truck for free. Your straw man won't stand on its own.

I haven't considered their products to be good or fairly priced for a long time, but I don't see how your opinion or mine on that matter has anything to do with the discussion of whether or not to share knowledge.

Quote
Unfortunately I cant pay my mortgage and insurance with good intentions and free labor.

Another straw man, no more strongly constructed than the former:

Good intentions don't get logs to the mill, sawn to a useful shape, dried without unacceptable defects, processed into a product someone is willing to swap money for, nor do they locate those who want such a product and are willing to pay for it.

Free labor usually involves a person or person who cares about someone enough to give up some of their life time -- the one and only thing each of us truly owns -- to help out.

These have little to do with passing on information to someone seeking it.

Quote
I expect to get paid for my work/product and have no problem paying others for theirs.   If the product is good and the price is fair then everyone is happy.

Sounds reasonable to me.

Quote
What you are referring to sounds an awful lot like socialism.   This country was built and thrives on capitalism.   Its healthy and needed for prosperity.

That smells a bit like red baiting. (Young folks may want to look that up; old folks may remember living through it).

Pure capitalism is vicious and ruthless. This country has always been a socio-economic mutt -- a mixture of whatever seems to work best for the times and people. It thrives on being a mutt.

A "company" is a company of people acting together for their own self-interest. They give up personal time and resources, sometimes even to the point of sacrificing health and family, to improve the survivability and productivity of that group. (Heavens! Sounds like that evil socialism thing I've heard about!) Naturally, each member hopes to gain from their sacrifices. Each hopes the pie gets bigger so their own slice gets bigger. The pie can't grow if too many members of the company try to grab as much as they can before the others get it.

I'm going to put in a personal anectdote that I think is relevant to the discussion.

When I was a teenager in high school, I worked part time at a service station that many people considered "boot camp for workers". The man who owned it had started with a $300 loan and a borrowed dump truck. He and a friend (darned free labor socialist commies!) hauled dirt and filled in a hole between a creek and a long curve in highway 61 and built a gas station on it and in it. The basement contained a recap shop. ('Way back then, it was still legal to recap passenger car tires).

His advertising budget wouldn't cover most people's lunch money, then or now. Yet, he had customers so loyal that there were many who would only get new tires from him, even those who had to come from as far away as California. His was one of the first cap shops east of the Mississippi to be capable of recapping radials and the then-new 60 series and 50 series tires. He had a warehouse that was mostly filled with "carcasses" -- used tires ready for recapping. (He assigned me the job of organizing that thing. It was dirty, hot work, but the best payoff to me was the fact that they were still using my system many years later when it shut down). The man would share anything he knew with anyone who would (respectfully) listen.

He showed me his books one day after I, a smartaleck teenager, proposed a way to make more money from the gas pumps -- charge just a little more than it takes to get to the next cheaper station. The electric bill alone was a eye-popper. Naturally, most of that electricity was used by the cap shop. He anticipated me recognizing that and said, "You take away the recapping and those pumps still barely pay for the gasoline they pump, the electricity they take and the maintenance of the tanks in the ground. They are there as a service to my customers. I don't pay you; they do. You treat customers the way you want to be treated and you'll be ahead of at least half the businesses out there."

I learned what business is from that man, as did many others. He showed me the numbers that proved that sole proprietorship company had to come up with about $2 for every $1 that came to me and that was before considering making any profit that could be applied toward the future. He didn't rely on secrets. He relied on making sure customers wanted to come back and spend their hard-earned money on his service. He wasn't the cheapest, but you could count on being treated right and the job being done right.

We are social animals. Even a near-hermit like me has to admit to the built-in drive to interact with members of my own species. Any company that doesn't include socialism within it is doomed. The members have to recognize that the company cannot survive if all or many of its members act as parasites.

My oldest brother was a union steward (ICCW) and later elected as the local's president for an unprecedented number of times. During his first term, the recession of the early '80s caused layoffs and shutdowns at many of that corporation's plants around the world. His plant got some new management who seemed to think the best way to run the factory was to emulate the old cotton plantations: Threaten the workers to get more out of them for management's enrichment. Contract negotiations broke down, of course. He convinced the union members to not strike, but continue working without a contract. International HQ sent a team to investigate why, since that was one of only a few plants operating at full production and profitability, yet the union workers had no contract. When that team left, so did that new management gang.

After he retired, that style of management came back. Members came to him complaining about their new president caving to management. He said, "It's your union. Fix it." But he couldn't stay away; he had to go have a talk with that new president. When asked why he caved to every demand of management, the guy said, "Well, it's their company." I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see the explosion. "That's MY G.D. company! Mine and all my buddies, union and management, built it in spite of the bad a-holes, union and management, just like you! OUR company bought me two houses and put my kids through college. WE worked our tails off to make it the best in the industry. WE never aimed for the median like you dumb 8!@#%^&* are doing; we aimed for perfection no matter the o.t. and head-busting. WE took care of each other and knew our jobs, union and management, so WE could all have a good living! You're acting like an ignorant minimum wage burger flipper who still doesn't know what a company is and you'll get just what you aim for."

Enough socialism within capitalism? You get the idea yet that ideological purity is as much a myth as the utopia depicted in Marx's Communist Manifesto?

If you are some mutant super genius, you have no reason to fear us peons gaining knowledge because you'll always be ahead of us.

If you are just another human being type person like the rest of us, it's futile to think you can (a.) discover and (b.) keep to yourself some treasured secret of how to cut, process and market chunks of trees that no one of the rest of us can ever discover and share.

Nothing I've ever done was accomplished without at least a basis in what I've been taught by others. I don't feel threatened by sharing what I've learned with others.


Offline Ianab

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #63 on: July 07, 2017, 06:03:35 am »
Not singling anyone out, but the political and philosophical tangent the thread has taken off on might be better continued in the restricted topics section?

Also just wanted to throw it out there that the Forum itself, and most of the Internet runs on "Open Source" software. That's basically  the computer equivalent of "Free Beer". People and companies develop and support this software for their own reasons, sometime altruistic, sometimes for profit, sometimes just to "stick it to the competition".  Like why hasn't Microsoft's phone operating system taken off? Because Google developed an arguably better Linux based system, Andriod, and basically gave it away for free. You can bet they did this for commercial reasons to prevent Microsoft getting a foot in the search engine door. It worked as 90% of Smartphones now run Android.

Open Source Capitalism maybe?

As for the Forum software, they would rather give away a million copies of their software, and have 0.5% send in a $50 donation, or sell 100 copies for $100 each. They also offer paid technical support, which is charging for specific time and technical knowledge (and fair enough)
 
Next, GM possibly isn't a very good example of successful Capitalism. Didn't they go bankrupt a few years back, and only survived because the US Govt bailed them out with a loan? Seems a rather Socialist way to run things. It made sense at the time, because otherwise you might now be driving Hyundai F150s.

I can see the point in not giving away some sensitive commercial information. Specific processes, customer lists etc. But most of the information exchanged on the forum is "Common Knowledge", at least to those that have studied the subject. Dr Gene has written books and papers, that you can download for free, funded by Govt grants (sort of Socialist?). If you have a specific question, he will endeavour to help. If it's 5 mins to type up an explanation, he's happy to do this. If you want him to actually turn up in person and run a class on drying wood, or sort out specific issues with your kiln process, then he's going to charge you for his time (and again that's fair enough).

And the "slice of the pie" analogy that was brought up earlier. If you can help make the pie bigger and better, then even if your slice % doesn't increase the slice itself is bigger and better. The industry as a whole, with the associated suppliers and markets is stronger. Who is going to manage land for timber, and harvest it, if there isn't a range of mills to market it to. I see this in some of the posts here. People have cedar trees that are a pest, and they want them gone. Someone else is looking for cedar wood, because they have a market for the legendary $300 cedar coffee tables.

Maybe those 2 people need to get together?  Sharing that sort of information helps all involved.   

Lastly small mill operators aren't really competing against each other. Their main competition is the large and foreign  companies, big box stores etc. Maybe 98% of wood is processed by them. 2 % by small operators? So if we can get that % to 3, by helping each other provide a quality service, we all win.

From a distance I see the US timber market as rather disorganised and fragmented. Few people seem to want to work together to improve it. Asian markets are crying out for logs, and locally we are shipping them boat loads. We have trees, China has smartphones and TVs. Lets do a deal....  Locally a small logging operation can get in on that sort of thing, because the info is shared. Log buyers for the export companies will publish their log specs and prices. Same with local mill. The logger will then have that in his notebook, and know that Mill A is paying a premium for clear butt logs. The second log will make spec for an export saw log. Log three will go to a local mill that does a lot of "farm" grade lumber and 4 will be posts or firewood. Because the info is out there, he can maximise the profit, to himself and the landowner.

Because the information is shared.
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Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #64 on: July 07, 2017, 01:26:56 pm »
First off,

My thoughts were on THE SLAB market, not milling lumber, milling for others, building furniture, tables etc.

Helping someone figure out how to file a chain, change a blade, set lead, repair an engine, saw for quality, etc is a place to help out and they will either get it or they wont.

But my area has became FLOODED with slabs for sale.  The prices have gone down.  I don't give slab selling advice.     Its pretty hard to worry about a guy with a $500 mill tapping into your LUMBER bizz.   But when you have 50-100K invested in inventory and equipment for cutting slabs and then dozens of new guys pop up with a $500-1000 chainsaw mill and some free logs he will run the market into the ground and its frustrating.

The hypocrisy is strong here.  I came here with an opinion DEFENDING my trade, product and money making skills that I support my family with and am labeled a money hungry, selfish, capitalist, greedy devil.

Now go back and reread the OP first question.   He asked how to get the MOST MONEY and HOW.


I do not know even the first thing about selling slabs so if someone could bestow some knowledge about moving this many slabs for maximum dollar that would be great.


You can either choose to see the point Im making and ponder it or ignore it.

AGAIN,  Im not talking about mobile milling or the lumber bizz.  Both are hard work for little gains.  Most folks dont make it long or have an ipact on local markets.

The thrill of "getting paid" from slabs off of  "free logs" is a new trend and it WILL affect you soon if you sell slabs near any metro area.

Online tule peak timber

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #65 on: July 07, 2017, 01:54:41 pm »
Prices here for a quality  SINGLE large log that I buy to slab has gone from a low of 5000$ to 60000$ in the last few years. Lots of slabs for sale in my area even at that. I posted a weather vane earlier to indicate which way to go business wise. Rob
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #66 on: July 07, 2017, 03:16:23 pm »
Chop Shop, knock off the attitude, or take a vacation.
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Offline jemmy

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #67 on: July 07, 2017, 05:23:17 pm »
Well this thread got out of hand quickly... Soooooo lets address some things.

1) Chop Shop your points have some amount of validity to them, however, if you would like to speak about hypocrisy lets address the fact that you are posting about not sharing things to a website that is designed to spread knowledge. So you don't want to share certain things, that's fine, but who are you to decide what is shared and what is not?  I think that is primary problem that people have with your rhetoric. Its not that you are necessarily wrong with your core points, its the medium and manner in which you presented yourself.
 
2) My overhead is quite more significant than just a 500-1000 chainsaw mill. My 090 was a grand alone. Then lets add in my bobcat, front end loader, circular sawmill, 2 trailers, truck, logs, tools to maintain and fix, and the property where I store my logs and inventory. So I'm not just some hack that's halfway invested into this. (Oh I also didn't even add in how much its going to cost me to dry everything, that'll come later in this post)

3) I own a circular saw mill as well and I desire to do a lot of milling with it. I have a lot of other questions pertaining to that!

4) The cost of drying them properly is ridiculously high. I plan on vacuum kiln drying them ($1.5/bdft) and they only deal with full truck loads. So I am going to have to sink 14 grand into drying my slabs, and I am going to be risking nearly my entire slab stock. Don't forget about transporting that much as well! That'll be expensive because I will have to make multiple trips across Ohio with a truck and a fully load triple axel.

5) I am looking to get as much money for them as possible, but I would like to be fair. I don't think its unreasonable to ask what's the best means in which to sell my slabs. I don't want to rip anyone off and I also don't want to lose my shirt.

6) I agree that the slab market COULD POTENTIALLY become over saturated and the margins shrink. However, I don't see that happening to the point where there is no money to be made. If you are being beat then you'll have to adjust and learn from those who are winning. And I feel like this place can help give that edge if ever needed. (now that's irony)

7) My full plan of production in terms of what I am going to do with my slabs:

- Cut them up.
- Let them air dry down to 30%. I just got off the phone with the vacuum kiln people and they said to let oak get down to 30-25% before vac drying.
- Send them to kiln.
- Offer for sale and make some wedding gifts.

If anyone sees anything wrong, or knows of any smaller scale vacuum kilns near NW Ohio please let me know. And lastly does anyone know if surface checking on a slab is a problem, or causes devaluation of any sort?
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #68 on: July 07, 2017, 06:22:20 pm »
I have some big logs in for custom sawing, and I was thinking about getting a big bar and alaskan mill attachment for my 660 because the customer wants slabs.  I'm looking at how I can do it the cheapliest, because it seems like a come and go type thing.


If you have over a hundred grand in equipment for doing large slabs, then you should be able to blow the hackjob guys outta the water, no?  If you can't then sell your big boy equipment and get into a chainsaw mill and get rid of all that overhead if it isn't doing you any good.
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Offline grouch

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #69 on: July 07, 2017, 11:26:42 pm »
Quote
7) My full plan of production in terms of what I am going to do with my slabs:

- Cut them up.
- Let them air dry down to 30%. I just got off the phone with the vacuum kiln people and they said to let oak get down to 30-25% before vac drying.
- Send them to kiln.
- Offer for sale and make some wedding gifts.

If anyone sees anything wrong, or knows of any smaller scale vacuum kilns near NW Ohio please let me know. And lastly does anyone know if surface checking on a slab is a problem, or causes devaluation of any sort?

I seem to recall some of the experts earlier in the thread suggesting that air drying leads to defects in certain species, because it dries too fast.

You might want to review the thread from before it derailed.

I apologize for my (too large) part in that derailing, but can't resist posting a link to a comment by OlJarHead today that seems tailor made for the off-topic part of the discussion here.

Offline jemmy

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #70 on: July 08, 2017, 01:01:05 am »
Grouch, I thought that drying them with in a conventional kiln would do that? And from the people that I have talked with there has been one constant and that is the best way to dry thick slabs is to vacuum kiln them. I'm going to air dry them to 25-30% then send them to the vacuum kiln so that it minimizes the potential for imperfection. And a new development (after talking with another vacuum kiln owner/operator) said that he cuts red oak and gets it into the vac kiln the same day. Now, is there anything wrong with this intel? I've heard two separate things both from reputable operators, and I'm confused as to what which was one is correct. Also, is there much demand for red/white oak live edge? After our discussion one of the vac kiln owners said that he practically never gets orders for either species. I figured oak would be one of the most sought after things you could produce. Is that assumption wrong? Another question, if I am going to be vac drying them, should I cut them thinner then 3" or should I keep that thickness?
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #71 on: July 08, 2017, 02:18:31 am »
Air drying outside might have a lot to do with where you live.
There has to be a big difference between the north and south
and even the east and west. It's going to be different for everyone.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #72 on: July 08, 2017, 07:14:12 am »
For me, oak moves the slowest.  Many people consider it too common and average.  My best sellers are stained soft maple, better yet, stained, ambrosia maple, and black walnut.  Odd and different stuff like persimmon might move a little slow, but the value is very high.  I do well with figured pecan (lots of dark brown heartwood).  The slabs do best then there is character with a beautiful, convoluted live edge.  3" thick is a bit too thick for me, but have some in that thickness would be good. 
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #73 on: July 08, 2017, 07:39:44 am »
Specie demands vary from area to area.  I can't speak too much about the slab market or the specialty market.  I do know that in my 45 years in the business that red oak went from being considered junk to being king and now its okay.  I also remember talking to guys who considered hard maple as junk when the market was low.  It all depends where you are in the cycle.

It's a generational thing.  This is about a 30 yr cycle and runs from open grained species (like oak and ash), to the closed grain species (like birch and maple).  I've come to the speculative conclusion that people tend to like the things their grandparents had vs things their parents had. 

I also would go to places like Lowe's or Home Depot and see what type of cabinets they had on display.  A number of years ago, they started to put maple, hickory and the like in the high traffic areas.  That told me that the marketplace was changing.   Oak was on its way down the list, and maple was coming up. 

The problems I see with the slab market is that you are producing on speculation.  I sawed in a commercial mill for 35 yrs, and we rarely sawed on speculation.  Slabs are a market that you produce today for a market a couple of years down the line.  Will oak be outdated by that time?  Will conference tables be wanted or needed?  Its a high end market.  You need to do market research with some high end users.  Architects and custom furniture producers would probably be a good place to research.  Walnut and cherry seem to be in demand in all cycles. 

I can't help too much on drying.  If you're getting 2 different methods, it could be that they're both right. Did any of them make a guarantee on the outcome of your product?  It would be a shame to waste time and effort and have someone else ruin it for you.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #74 on: July 08, 2017, 08:11:49 am »
Check out my reply #21.
An ability of a wood species to dry without drying defects is based upon its maximum allowable moisture removal rate.  These are published values of the percent that a species can lose per day per thickness without incurring drying defects.  As the thickness increases, the max allowable drying rate goes down, generally in significant multiples.  For example 2 inch thick wood can only tolerate 1/2 the maximum allowable moisture loss per day.  Three inch thick, even less. 

The drying capacity of any environment, be it outside air or in a kiln, is published in tables, such as an EMC (Equilibrium Moisture Content) table which uses the air temperature and the relative humidity (or wet bulb/dry bulb) to calculate the amount of moisture being carried in the air, and tells where the wood will eventually come to equilibrium.

So then you compare the MC (Moisture Content) of the wood, and the EMC (Equilibrium Moisture Content) of the air, and if the difference (Depression) is too much for the wood to tolerate based on the thickness and species, the wood will dry too fast and it will crack.

This is how kiln schedules are developed and used, and the problem in air drying comes when the ambient air has such a low EMC that is will over dry that particular species and thickness of wood causing cracks.  This will change from season to season and place to place.  Again, lots of tables in published papers, including the EMC values and maps for seasonal locations in the United States.

In Alabama, its almost impossible to successfully air dry thick red oak outside without cracking.  As a matter of fact, the rate at which 4/4 oak dries is right at its max allowable rate limit.  For other species, its no problem, such as poplar and pine, where I routinely air dry 3 inch thick with no problem.  So its very species and thickness specific. 

Cutting thick slabs or oak and air drying down to 25%  in Alabama is a bad move, as it will be ruined by the time it gets there.  Better to cut it an immediately put it in a kiln, whether vacuum or conventional, to develop an atmosphere where it will dry correctly.  That is the advice that the vacuum kiln operator is telling you, and that is what I would expect to be correct in your local environmental conditions. 

Even the seemingly simple act of transporting the wet wood to the kiln can cause it to dry too fast and crack, for example a long drive in a open truck bed will move too much air over the wood, especially if it is already stickered, and cause almost immediate damage in oak, but would fine for a less sensitive wood, as defined in the Max Allowable Moisture Loss tables.

There are techniques to actually slow the air drying process down, from simple burlap to products such as generic "Shade Dry" cloth.  However, these technique are very species dependent, and what works for one species will ruin another.
 
Even though air drying sounds simple, air and kiln drying thick wood is very involved to achieve consistent success, and there is a lot more to it than what I've said.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #75 on: July 08, 2017, 08:27:41 am »
Has anyone put 8/4 white oak straight from the saw into their DH kiln? Say about 400 ft load. How long did it take? I'm looking into my book Nyle sent me and see where it says db 90 wb 86. I don't have any just trying to understand the setting.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #76 on: July 08, 2017, 08:50:30 am »
I'm no expert by any means but a few ideas come to me when I think about marketing wood. First off, because it's a product with individual character people want to see, touch, and feel it in person. That makes selling it a local endeavor or you're going to have to take your 1000 lb slab and truck it to a flea market somewhere people want natural wood. People with deep pockets are always looking for something to impress their neighbor so I think big city areas are good for high end product. If you don't want to risk much then you're probably willing to settle for less reward, meaning that you could advertise on craigslist outside of your area the fact that you have these big logs and will mill them for a price and then you let the next guy worry about whether they warp, crack, split etc.
I personally believe that if there was a big demand for slabs of wood the mills would be producing and selling them at Home Depot. Obviously , it's a small niche market. You could speculate and produce a finished product but when you're all done you will have only a limited number and then be saddled with the task of marketing them. Not only that but warehousing you're product cost money.
If you are reasonable and get those huge dollar signs out of your eyes I think producing less expensive rustic furniture for a local market might be the way to go. Just think about whether you would buy it yourself before you go producing a 500 lb picnic table.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #77 on: July 08, 2017, 11:35:58 pm »
Grouch, I thought that drying them with in a conventional kiln would do that? And from the people that I have talked with there has been one constant and that is the best way to dry thick slabs is to vacuum kiln them. I'm going to air dry them to 25-30% then send them to the vacuum kiln so that it minimizes the potential for imperfection. And a new development (after talking with another vacuum kiln owner/operator) said that he cuts red oak and gets it into the vac kiln the same day. Now, is there anything wrong with this intel? I've heard two separate things both from reputable operators, and I'm confused as to what which was one is correct. Also, is there much demand for red/white oak live edge? After our discussion one of the vac kiln owners said that he practically never gets orders for either species. I figured oak would be one of the most sought after things you could produce. Is that assumption wrong? Another question, if I am going to be vac drying them, should I cut them thinner then 3" or should I keep that thickness?

You're asking the wrong person. :) See YellowHammer's replies, for example.

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #78 on: July 09, 2017, 07:25:32 am »
Surely a vacuum kiln will do the best job, but they are too expensive to operate on a small scale. 
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #79 on: July 09, 2017, 01:59:32 pm »
Just a rough calculation on the weight would be in the 32000 lb after slabing. 37000 lbs in the raw.  just a close figure. As a long haul driver, find a trucking company, it is a light load. may be cheeper than hauling several loads yourself.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #80 on: July 09, 2017, 11:42:04 pm »
Has anyone put 8/4 white oak straight from the saw into their DH kiln? Say about 400 ft load. How long did it take? I'm looking into my book Nyle sent me and see where it says db 90 wb 86. I don't have any just trying to understand the setting.

No, I have never done it, as it would be painfully slow and inefficient.  For example, generally, 4/4 upland white oak has a maximum drying rate of about 2.5% per day.  If it's 8/4, the max rate would be cut in half, and I generally like to use 1% per day as my target for white oak, anyway.  So a green tree may have at least 50% or 60% Moisture Content.  So right off the bat, it would take about 2 months, at 1% per day, including sterilization and equalization.  Which means under optimum conditions, the kiln is tied up for 2 months.  Now consider the accuracy required to meet that schedule...if the moisture removal rate is misjudged, miscalculated or mismeasured by even a half a percent, the drying time could extend to 4 months of kiln occupancy time, which would be unacceptable to most people. Of course, if it's in error in the other direction, it's a dead load of wood. 

Consider that I try to get a load out every 7-9 days as I try to minimize kiln occupancy time for the finishing and sterilization stage.  So putting green wood, especially white oak, directly in the kiln would cost many lost loads. 

As far as the Nyle settings, they are very conservative and sometime not realistic.  They want the dry bulb at 90 which would be nearly impossible to hit and hold in the the south in the summer, where we routinely exceed that outside air temperature, so venting hot air won't work, as the air coming in is already hotter than what the schedule calls for.  So the kiln schedule is a basic suggestion, and I always figure I will make measurement and suitable adjustments after the first 24 hour cycle after I've measured my moisture loss. 
 
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #81 on: July 10, 2017, 05:04:16 am »
So in your answer on about putting thick oak straight to the kiln is only red oak?
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #82 on: July 10, 2017, 06:28:02 am »
I've never dried wood but from a common sense perspective it would seem to make sense that a wood which is permeable like red oak would dry more easily than a impermeable like white oak.

So in your answer on about putting thick oak straight to the kiln is only red oak?

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #83 on: July 10, 2017, 07:24:55 am »
While still a difficult to dry species, red oak is not as difficult to dry as white oak (one of the most difficult).  Still, I would not put a green load of any kind of 8/4 oak in my kiln because of the very slow and long drying time, tying up the kiln for a couple of months like Yellowhammer points out.  If it is air dried to 20% of less, you can dry it in 1/5 the time, and the wood is not worth enough to me to give up 5 kiln loads for 1 kiln load of oak. 
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #84 on: July 10, 2017, 11:28:38 am »
I went to a hardwood dimension plant where they had predryers.  Basically it was a shed open on one side with fans pushing air through the lumber.  Most of their lumber was red oak, cherry and maple, at that time. 

I also wonder about getting surface checks in white oak.  I had some that we put on sticks and the buyer was reluctant to buy it because it got surface checks.  It was in the spring, and we had some pretty good breezes and low humidity.  He explained the surface checks came from drying the skin too quick and sometimes they don't seal back up during the kiln process.  Would you have that problem going from green straight into a kiln?
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #85 on: July 10, 2017, 11:55:42 am »
I've read a lot about treating wood with antifreeze. The author of a study claimed that he treated the wobbley legs of a chair and they firmed up. He claimed that it would get rid of checks in wood. Maybe everyone doesn't want antifreeze in their wood but it would be nice to simply treat the green wood, stabilize it , and make it ready to use. The author claimed that the color change was not noticeable . Today antifreeze comes in orange as well.

I went to a hardwood dimension plant where they had predryers.  Basically it was a shed open on one side with fans pushing air through the lumber.  Most of their lumber was red oak, cherry and maple, at that time. 

I also wonder about getting surface checks in white oak.  I had some that we put on sticks and the buyer was reluctant to buy it because it got surface checks.  It was in the spring, and we had some pretty good breezes and low humidity.  He explained the surface checks came from drying the skin too quick and sometimes they don't seal back up during the kiln process.  Would you have that problem going from green straight into a kiln?

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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #86 on: July 10, 2017, 01:18:14 pm »
While still a difficult to dry species, red oak is not as difficult to dry as white oak (one of the most difficult).  Still, I would not put a green load of any kind of 8/4 oak in my kiln because of the very slow and long drying time, tying up the kiln for a couple of months like Yellowhammer points out.  If it is air dried to 20% of less, you can dry it in 1/5 the time, and the wood is not worth enough to me to give up 5 kiln loads for 1 kiln load of oak.
That's what I was thinking but looking at Robert's post #74 threw me off. I guess this should be under the drying topic.
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #87 on: July 10, 2017, 11:45:26 pm »
Red oak can tolerate 3.8% at 4/4, half that at 8/4, which is still very slow.  More forgiving than white oak, but generally will still check if thick wood is milled in the summer. I will mill most of my oaks from Thanksgivng to Christmas to get best quality of wood and minimum kiln time.  Slow drying conditions when the wood needs it, slightly faster when the wood can tolerate it.     

Here's why, starting about page six. 
http://sbisrvntweb.uqac.ca/archivage/030108539.pdf
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Re: Big Slabs: Sales and handling
« Reply #88 on: July 11, 2017, 02:15:04 pm »
When I have dried 8/4 QSWO or QSRO from green in my Nyle, it was a 3-1/2 month kiln run.  I can only do it in the winter because I'm unable to keep the temps low enough to start the load during the summer time.

It was only successful after I added a misting system into the kiln.  During the first few weeks I have to add moisture in to keep the RH% higher than with 4/4; otherwise it will surface check.

Rather than assuming a 50% reduction as thickness is increased, I have had better success reducing the drying rate by 60% per additional inch of thickness over 4/4.  Thus, starting with 3.8% for 4/4, the drying rate for 8/4 is 1.5%, and for 12/4 is .6%.  Since 8/4 QSWO is milled green at around 2-3/8", my targeted maximum daily drying rate is about 1%.

Having said all of that, the only kiln that I'll load with green 8/4 oak is a solar kiln during the fall, winter or early spring.  I have had some excellent success with that.
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