How To Buy Lumber From A Saw Mill

Exactly How To Buy Lumber From A Saw Mill And Save Money

When you first began woodworking, your more than likely source for timber was your regional large box shop. It’s conveniently accessible and also every little thing is organized as well as laid out in front of you to evaluate. The other advantage is that everything is already cut to dimension and also completely dry. Consequently, you can start using it as soon as you get it home.
2 of the large negatives to purchasing from a huge box shop is restricted option and price. Usually, (at least in my case) the large box shops have very couple of options to pick from when it pertains to types of timbers. In my area, the only lumber choices available are want, cedar, oak and also poplar. If you are lucky, you may reside in a city that has huge box stores that specialized in hardwood lumbers. These shops generally use countless choices when it pertains to various varieties.
Though it might not appear negative, the expense of lumber in big box stores is VERY costly. You don’t understand it due to the fact that you don’t have anything to contrast it to. Buying your lumber directly from a sawmill can be significantly much less, though there might be additional preparation required before it can be utilized as we will see listed below. Buying from a mill may appear overwhelming in the beginning. Nevertheless, every experience I’ve ever before had with a mill has actually been positive. I commonly learn something new on each visit simply as a whole conversation with the workers. If you can overcome the very first time jitters of this buying approach, I think you’ll come to like the choices and also benefits related to direct purchases!

Sawmill Sizes

The primary step to buying lumber from a sawmill is locating a mill that will certainly market to the public. Your geographical area will play a role in the level difficulty of discovering a regional mill. The mills that you stumble upon will typically come under one of 3 groups: big commercial procedures, tiny local mills as well as little family members run mills.

The large industrial mills usually will not market to people. These are big range procedures that concentrate on offering tractor trailer tons of lumber over something a single buyer might require.

In my point of view, the little regional mills are the very best degree to purchase from. There is a possibility you may face the same problem as the huge operations who will not market to an individual. Nonetheless, don’t let this prevent you as these mills likely have a kiln which will certainly be a significant convenience for you. When you call, be planned for them to ask how much lumber you are intending to acquire. They may have a minimal order quality (MOQ). If their MOQ is greater than the quantity you need, consider locating an additional woodworker in your area that is interested in splitting an order with you in order to fulfill their purchasing need.

The tiny family or mobile mills are the tiniest and also more than likely mills going to offer to an individual. If you check out among them, it’s likely you will be asked to find to their home or farm to view their lumber. Most of these operations have a tiny mobile sawmill that cuts the logs right into slabs. These mills will certainly supply less add-on solutions, such as a kiln or aircraft and surfacing, than the bigger operations. These procedures will most likely be the least expensive of your alternatives.

Exactly how to discover a mill?

The most usual means to find a mid-size mill is doing a routine Google search. I will typically search the name of the neighborhood city and also words sawmill or wood lumber. Do not be shocked if the sawmill’s page is dated and even non-existent once you click the web address. It is very rare that I find a website for a mill that has pertinent and present info. Sometimes, it’s packed with damaged links and also if I’m fortunate a telephone number. Do not allow a bad web page hinder you from calling them though. Most of the small procedures just do not have the sources to develop expensive websites.

To locate a mobile mill, I have the most good luck looking on Craigslist and in some cases Facebook. Normally, doing a look for “sawmill” or “rough cut lumber” will certainly show up a couple of leads. One thing I have discovered is that these mills don’t have a constant schedule for posting advertisements. I would suggest entering the practice of searching for a mill every couple of weeks even if you aren’t in need of purchasing lumber at that extremely minute. In some cities, Craigslist ads end after 7 days. Most mills do not repost every 7 days, so there are times you might look as well as locate no leads for a couple months. It’s finest to go ahead and save some get in touches with when you discover them. Otherwise, Murphy’s law will hit and also there will certainly be no listings when you need a supply.

Topics to Understand

Purchasing lumber from a saw mill will certainly be different than what you are accustomed to when mosting likely to your local hardware store. I’ll experience the distinctions below so you understand specifically what to expect.

1) Board Feet

Before calling a mill, it’s best to obtain a basic idea for how much wood you are looking to buy. Sawmills gauge lumber amount in “board feet.” One more way of checking out it, it the quantity amount of timber that you are acquiring. It might seem difficult, yet it’s okay. So when you call, be sure to tell them the quantity of wood that you want as well as ensure you claim “board feet” so there’s no confusion.
Board feet (BF) is computed utilizing the following formula thinking all numbers are in inches: (LENGTH x WIDTH x THICKNESS)/ 144
For that reason, the board feet of a 2 × 4 that’s 8 feet long would certainly be the following: 2 x 4 x 96/ 144 = 5.33 board feet
Consequently, if you call a mill and they inform you that their walnut rates is $2 a BF, the 2x4x8 in our example would set you back around $10.66. Lumber costs will certainly vary by species of timber. Some mills will also vary their prices based on the trouble to get the size you are wanting. For example, if you are looking for a really large board, or extremely thick, expect to pay a somewhat greater amount since its a much less common size.

TIP! I ‘d suggest ordering about 10% more than what you believe you will require. Purchasing from a mill will lead to even more waste, but it’s still less costly than the shop!!
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2) Measurements

One small distinction that you require to be familiar with before going to a milling is centered around exactly how they gauge board density. Thickness is specified as a fraction of fourths. As an example, allow’s assume you are looking for lumber that is 2 inches thick. A mill will specify the density as 8/4 (noticable EIGHT FOURTHS). When you dived 8 by 4 you obtain a response of 2, which is both inches that we started with.
One last example would be if you desired a 1.5 ″ board. This board would certainly be called a 6/4 (SIX FOURTHS).
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3) Moisture Content

When you come to the mill, you will likely observe immediately that their wood is stack with stripes of wood in between each board. This is often described a “stickered” wood. The factor the mills do this is to help the boards completely dry quicker and uniformly.
When a tree is at first cut down, it has a really high quantity of water contained within the trunk. It’s not unusual for a pine log to have a dampness web content (MC) of 100% when it’s initially reduced. A 100% MC indicates that fifty percent of the weight of the log comes from water as well as the other half is the timber itself. When the mill begins cutting the log into boards, more of the wood is exposed to the bordering air permitting it to completely dry quicker. This is why the mills sticker label their lumber to enable air to move freely in between the boards.
Moisture Impact On Wood

It’s important to ensure that the wetness material of your lumber is at the appropriate levels before using it in a project. The goal is to get the timber to the point where the timber no more expands or diminishes based on the bordering moisture in the air. This is referred to it’s stability dampness content (EMC).

The dampness content of timber is influenced by the relative moisture of the setting that it is in. Therefore, if you live in a location that is humid, the wood will tackle some of the water in the air which consequently causes it to expand. Likewise, if the moisture degrees decrease, the wood will shed several of the moisture it contains, therefore causing the timber to shrink.

This can create significant troubles using wood prior to it has dried out to the proper levels. As an example, a few years back, I built a walnut table top. The wood had actually dried for some time, however still wasn’t where it needed to be. Being impatient, I ignored it and also informed myself it was “close enough.” The problem really did not appear promptly. Nonetheless, after concerning 6 months, I started to see that the boards had started ahead apart in sections. I’ve placed the task off, but the repair work that are needed will certainly take quite a bit of time. Something that might have been stayed clear of had I stayed patient.

I extremely advise that you take a wetness meter with you when you see a sawmill. Wetness meters are really simple to operate. As a matter of fact, the majority of simply require that you press a solitary button for a reading. Directly, I actually like the General Tools MMD7MP design that you can discover here. It’s an excellent newbie model. If you would such as a deep understanding of wetness meters as well as how they function, you can look into my write-up right here.

What Moisture Content is Acceptable?

The acceptable wetness content levels vary based on your job. Generally, for a woodworker, you will certainly intend to get your MC down to around 6– 8% prior to utilizing it. This will certainly differ a little depending on your location. For a (totally free) thorough clinical explanation of exactly how moisture web content takes place, take a look at: Wood Handbook, Wood as an Engineering Material. If you aren’t interested in the whole 500 web page short article, at least have a look at table 4-2 on web page 83. This table offers you a general concept of what the moisture content must be for your location based on present temperature level and moisture.
How Can I Dry My Lumber?
Kiln

The most convenient method to have your wood dried out is to buy it after it has actually been sent out with a kiln. This is why I stated above that it’s best to purchase from a local saw mill. The mid sized mills are more probable to have access to a kiln. As a result of room and also costs, most of the little portable mills just have the capacity to use the air drying out technique. It is likely that the mill will certainly charge you a higher rate per BF for kiln dried wood, but it is well worth the additional fee.

A kiln functions similar to a stove. The lumber is packed into a big chamber and also secured closed. Depending on the kiln, various techniques are after that used to send out warm via the chamber. Kiln drying out makes it much easier to control the dampness material levels during the drying out procedure. An additional benefit is that the kiln technique is outstanding at eliminating any pests that might be living within the wood.
The amount of time lumber need to continue to be in a kiln can vary significantly based upon the species of wood. According to this Wikipedia short article, “Modern high-temperature, high-air-velocity standard kilns can normally completely dry 1-inch-thick (25 mm) environment-friendly lumber in 10 hours down to a dampness material of 18%. Nonetheless, 1-inch-thick environment-friendly Red Oak calls for regarding 28 days to dry to a dampness material of 8%.”.

There are plans online for developing your very own kiln in your home. Much of these plans entail using solar energy as their key method for heating their makeshift chambers. I’ve never ever tried doing the approach myself, however it’s something I ‘d agree to attempt if I didn’t live in a community.

Air Dry.

If the saw mill you buy from does not have a kiln and making your very own kiln isn’t a choice, there is one added choice. You can create a configuration similar to the mill and also sticker your own boards so they can dry out on their own. The negative side to this option is that it is a slow-moving procedure. The general rule for air drying is that it takes 1 year to air completely dry 1 per inch of lumber thickness. So to put it simply, if you have a board that is 2 ″ thick, it might take up to 2 years for it to dry entirely.
Just How to Measure Moisture Content.
Thankfully, there are dampness meters on the marketplace that make it very easy to determine the MC of your timber. You can pick up a fundamental version for as low as $20. Simply make certain the meter you obtain its for wood as there are similar meters made that only measure dirt. These meters take their reading by sending small electrical currents with the timber. The quicker the present flows to the next sensing unit, the much more water that is included within the timber.
There are 2 various types of meters offered– pin as well as pinless versions. Pin variations have 2 needles that stand out of the system. You take a dimension of the timber by pressing these pins slightly right into your wood. The pinless variation, just as the description states, comes without pins. For these devices, you merely lay them in addition to the wood as well as they are able to take their measurements. Similar to anything, there is argument in between the two sides as to which is better. Directly, I prefer the pinless version because I feel it’s less complicated to take a dimension.
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4) Wood Cuts.

The next location that you should know with when buying from a mill is the different cuts that are made to a log. You won’t need to be familiar with this topic when you are seeking your mill, however it is great to have a company understanding before really checking out the mill, specifically if you are allowed to choose your lumber.
Some mills will certainly allow you to browse their stacks of wood and you have the ability to decide on which boards you want to acquire. Various other mills will call for that contact your order and when you arrive, you are offered a pile of pre-selected boards. Either approach will certainly work. However, if you are searching for a specific grain coating or pattern then its finest to go the route of selecting your own pieces.
By Jhbdel from Wikimedia Commons.

When a mill gets a log in they have three basic approaches to cut it. These cuts are referred to as: Riftsawn, Quartersawn and also Plainsawn. If you could cut the exact same log with each of these various techniques, you would obtain an unique difference in appearance as well as percent of usable product from each. The picture to the left demonstrates how each are reduced from a log. Listed below I will.
go into more information on the difference of each cut as well as exactly how it impacts you.

Riftsawn– This cut is specified as a cut that takes place between a 30 and also 45 degree angle to the facility of the log. These cuts will have really constant grain as well as pattern attributes. This kind of cut is best by those making furniture. These cuts are most poplar on table legs where the maker wishes a coordinating surface across all items. You can see from the photo below that all 4 boards have grain features that match throughout.
Image by Roberto Cipriano.

Quartersawn– Quartersawn cuts are made by splitting the log in to quarters to carry out the cuts. The benefit to these cuts are that they are much less likely to warp with time. They are additionally more likely to dry as well as reduce uniformly thus making them more powerful, especially in the case of red oak. Famous furniture manufacturer Gustav Stickley, as soon as stated of the quartersawn technique “( it) provides quartersawn oak structurally stronger, also finer in grain, and, as shown before, much less liable to warp and also check than when sawn in differently.”.

Plainsawn– This is the simplest cuts for the mill to make, for that reason these cuts are additionally the most affordable if you are taking logs to a mill and also having them cut. These cuts likewise generate the least quantity of waste since the mill is using the whole log as well as not fretting about grain patterns. As you can also see in the picture below, the grain patterns are a lot more irregular.
Timber Knot Grain Wood Texture Wood Grain Texture.
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5) Milling Process.

The last part that we require to cover is the milling process for your lumber. Milling is the procedure of transforming a cut item of a log into a straight and also convenient board. When a mill cuts the first log making use of any one of the three approaches we explained above, they generally make use of a band saw. Given that they are cutting an imperfect rounded log the cuts with the band saw are not mosting likely to be completely straight and identical.

Some mills won’t supply any type of extra services after the log is cut. Others might give services that include planing and/or including a straight side. It’s crucial to recognize what you are reaching guarantee you have the correct tools at home. The mid-sized mills are more likely to supply appearing services than the little portable mills. If you elect to have them surface the boards for you, expect to pay 50 cents or so even more per board foot. I extremely suggest paying the extra cost. It will certainly save you time later on. Even if you pay an added buck or more per BF to have the mill kiln dry and surface area your boards, it will certainly still be more affordable than what you can get in the stores unless you are getting a varieties that is tough to locate.

Emerging Options.
Wood surfacing from a mill is described a S2S, S3S or S4S. This stands for “Surfaced # Sides.” As an example a S3S stands for “Surfaced 3 Sides.” I’ll go into more detail listed below on the significance of this terms.

None– This is the most usual choice readily available. It’s the most inexpensive, but it will certainly need the most work as soon as you get it house. When you get an item of wood that hasn’t been emerged in all, you are obtaining a board that’s only been cut from a log. It might even have a “real-time side” indicating you can see specifically where the bark was peeled off of the tree.

In order to appropriately prepare timber that the mill hasn’t emerged, you will require a jointer, planer and also table saw. The first thing that you need to do is obtain a straight edge for your board. This is achieved by utilizing a jointer. If you want even more information on what a jointer does, check out this short article that I wrote. You will have to run the edge of your board over your jointer numerous times. Each time it will remove a tiny layer of timber. After enough passes, you should have a straight side to start functioning from.

After you have a straight edge, you now have the capability to run it with your table saw. Simply position the flat edge against your table saw fence and also rip the board to your wanted size. The last step is to run your board via your thickness planer. The objective right here is to trim away small amounts from the faces of your boards up until you reach your preferred thickness.

POINTER! If you require to purchase a planer as well as jointer however just have the allocate one, you have alternatives! I suggest getting a density planer. For your jointer– take a look at hand tools. Hand planers have actually been used for hundreds of years. You can grab previously owned ones on eBay.

S2S– This kind of board indicates that the wood has 2 sides emerged. These boards will certainly have been planed for that reason the densities should correspond throughout the board and both faces need to be smooth. These boards will NOT have a straight side. Consequently, prior to using them, you will certainly need to run them over a jointer or utilize a hand aircraft in order to get a straight line to reduce to size.

S3S– Boards in this classification have actually been planed like the S2S boards, yet they do have ONE straight side. This will allow you to avoid having to make use of a jointer. You’ll simply require a table saw in order to cut your boards to your desired size. When possible, I would certainly advise having your boards finished S3S at the very minimal. This will save you time once you obtain them home.

S4S– If you’ve only used equipment stores to source your lumber, after that you are currently accustomed to boards that have been prepared using this technique. These boards will be straight on all 4 sides with parallel straight sides. There must be no prep needed before beginning your project. This will be the most pricey choice, yet I advise it if you can discover it.
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Below is a wrap-up of a few of the questions you should ask when calling about to mills. I’ve likewise consisted of a few things to require to the mill when you see.
Inquiries to Ask.

1. Do you offer to the general public?
2. Do you have a minimal order amount? If so, what is it?
3. Do you have kiln dried out lumber available?
4. Can I look through the wood or do I require to order ahead?
5. What grade lumber is offered and their prices?
6. Relying on whether you have a jointer and planer– Do you provide S4S lumber?

Things To Take The Mill.
– Pencil.
– Tape Measure.
– Moisture Reader– Again I advise the MMD7NP, which is right here.
– Phone with Board Foot Cost Calculator app.
– Gloves.
– Rope and bands to tie down the wood.

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