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100 cord by Christmas (?)

Motorsen

Motorsen

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Making firewood is quite labour intesive no matter how effective you are and how many smart ways you invent to work. It's all about gettin your head down and into it. If you and me and alot of other guys here were real smart we would do something else to save or in your case make money. Imagine specializing in just anything else with the same eagerness and drive. We would be well off sitting in a lounge smoking cigars. Now we knock about in freezing weather processing firewood and try to please jerks. Why?? We love it. We love the satisfaction after work done. The beer after job done. The saws, the woods, the old tractor and the man factor. Right or ...?
Just my little emotional rant. May not apply to anyone else.
Sometimes I just get these thoughts after working 8 hours flat out just to realize that I've not really accomplished anything else than making the radiator on the tractor leak. Arrgh. And yet the next day I look forward to go at it again. I might have issues!

Motorsen
 
lknchoppers

lknchoppers

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It takes time to load the log deck. Time to cut and stage a half cord. What that is real world is rolling a log to the front of the deck. Then it to has to be pulled pushed to the end stop with a peavy, to index it with the cut markings on the table. Once cut, the six pieces are staged on the trailer/bench, which holds one half cord. Splitting takes fifteen to twenty minutes per 1/4 cord, which is what the PackFix holds. The next part takes up to ten minutes, and that is leveling the top of the PackFix drum. Wrapping takes ten minutes. The process is once leveled, the drum turntable rotates the drum under the mast tripod. It is connected to the top of the full drum and the netting is tied off to the pallet. Two and a half wraps, stop and staple the netting to the pallet. Continue wrapping and lifting the drum. Cut netting and tie off end. PackFix engine is still running. Start forklift and remove pallet from turntable. Get off lift, load new pallet, lower drum, turn off engine. Get on lift and stage full pallet. Load log deck on the way back (every two pallets). Stage lift at PackFix turn table. Split another quarter cord. Repeat leveling PackFix... Cut logs on deck and stage another half cord of rounds.
The PackFix is not fast with a one man crew. But...I do not have to stack!!! The wood is easily moved with equipment. It seems to be seasoning great. No mold...that I can tell. However only have of the fifty cords is covered.
I will still be unloading by hand next summer.
A processor would speed things up and is on my mind, as is a larger truck to carry the forklift for deliveries. In the back of my mind is selling the TW-6 to do one or the other. No sure which would be the first choice, which would save the most work. Deliveries have always taken me too long. Processor log decks are too small. ????

My question is, how much money do you have into a half cord of wood and how much can you get for it?
 
Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

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I'm not making money doing fifty cord.
A lot of people don't talk money, keeping it tight to the chest, big secrete and all. The break down is like this.
$2,100. for 20 cord truck load.
Cut/split/stacked is 15 to 16 cord. I stacked about ten truckloads before getting the PackFix, so I'm solid on this number.
Math: $2,100/15 = $140./cord /16 = $131.25
Sell for $225. plus delivery
(1) cord four man hours; $85.00 total per cord
Then there is cost of equipment.

I bought tree service wood cheaper but had much more work in it, and a lot more junk wood to deal with. That was the motivation to get the TW-6 w/log lift. Did not pan out well and a lot tied up in the splitter. Not every choice works out, but you keep going. I'm retired. I'm not making a living at this.

Edit: I would love to have a metal shop like some of these guys...
 
ChoppyChoppy

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Loving the real-world, no BS 4 hrs per cord figure, thanks. This is where too many people get way too hung up on splitter stroke times, tonnage, etc. I mean, who gives a rat's if a home-built hydraulic takes 30 seconds per stroke, if you don't have any resplits, or you haven't got anything to deal with the logs or lifting rounds onto the splitter or it takes forever to load the truck for deliveries, etc, etc. The whole system is key and only ever as good as the weakest link.

This is where I am keen to see if you end up with a processor, and how much time in the real world, it takes out of the log to cord of firewood figure. I keep coming back to the Japa435 if you are buying-in logs and have some sort of control over the size of them, because your splits seem small (by what I have seen in USA anyway) and clean.
The Jappa's are too small for processing most wood.

You guys talked that the Blockbuster was too small, the 15-20 doing 18", the 18-20 doing 22" wood,.. the Japa is nearly 1/2 the capacity.
 
cantoo

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Valleywood, Sandhill posted some pictures of his wood loads. Looks like 75% or more would fit in a Japa with a bar cutter. The one I bought used has a 22 or 24" blade so it would cut close to a 12" log. I pile my logs by size while I unload them because it saves me time later when I'm splitting them.
Sandhill, I've spent lots of time reading your threads and you have the same issue I used to have, too much handling. I've tried to stream line my process as much as I can and I still have lots I can do yet. Cost isn't quite as much of a problem as finding the time is. I have most of the stuff I need, I just can't find (or don't want to) the time to do it. My plan is to load the rounds with my tractor loader onto a wagon frame that has the conveyor rollers on it to roll the rounds onto the splitter table. This saves me lifting the rounds by hand (up to 26" ash) or using a slow log lift. I already just let the splits fall off the conveyor and don't stack anything I sell. I hand load it onto the conveyor that drops it into my dump trailer. We dump and never stack at customers place. I'm considering putting up a fabric style building to drop my 16" splits into but not sure it is worth the money invested but then I would be able to sell wood all winter long when not many other sellers have dry wood. Around $5000 for a 30Wx40Lx15' high with me doing the work. Building would have removable sides so no extra handling but still have decent drying ability.
I have my OWB wood about as efficient as I need it to be. 32" long rounds, split with my 4 way splitter and stacked in 4x4' crates that I move with my tractor.
 

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muddstopper

muddstopper

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I guess one reason I dont get into the firewood business is because I doubt anybody hates handleing wood more than me. The market is certainly here for a wood business. People pay all kinds of prices for little pickup loads of green fresh cut and split wood. Those selling firewood dont believe in tieing up their money long enough for the wood to dry. Someone selling quality prepared firewood around here could get rich, as Long as they can produce a quality product and deliver the wood when its needed. It would take the proper equipment and a major investment up front.

With that said, I have looked at every kind, brand, type of wood processing equipment there is on the internet. I have yet to see anything I think I would like to use for a firewood business. The closest thing I think would fit my wants would be a full blown processor, and I dont like any of the normally seen processors. It seems all of them take to much support equipment to keep them working. What is normally sold, usually are very limited to the size of wood they can process. I like the Packfix that Sandhill uses to catch his splits. I would want a very large shed to stack the packfix packaged wood under. I would want a truck with a knuckle boom loader with pallet forks instead of a grapple, to load and unload those pallets for delivery. I would want the bed of that truck to be a dump. If I was putting up a wood lot, I would probably want a set of scales, buy my firewood by weight and sell it that way, no overages or underages that way. Those log trucks loads that aint what they are supposed to be will be told on when they cross the scales and you pay for what you get, not what they say they have. No shortage on the selling side either, sell it by the lb and show them a weight ticket. Mixed wood produces the same btu's per lb as a lb of premium hardwoods. Your selling heat and btu's, wood is just the means to get there. At anyrate, my goal would be to reduce the amount of manual labor as much as possible, and increase production with the least number of personal and you can increase profit with a smaller amount of product.
 
Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

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I appreciate all the comments. I like the splitting mode of the Jappa 435. It is like a box wedge with auto return, and no resplitting necessary. It is limited in dia. of logs however.
Seasoning wood is costly, in time, in space, in added fuel and equipment maintenance.
To cover it, as in weather protection, is more added time and expense. Covering it with a building is not cost effect. It would mean double stacking and double stacking means added time to level the bottom pallets. A lot of time actually to get it right. Too much time even without a building. I'm no longer going to do it as long as I have room not to. But I know I can if need be in the future.

Seasoned wood. Everyone expects it. No one selling actually does it. Half the customers don't care. The ones that do care price compare you against sellers that cut/split/deliver.

Current problems to work on:
Producing more.
Improving delivery.
Money flow for logs and improvements.
 
Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

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muddstopper: I love to think outside the box also, but I need to keep one foot in it. Buying and selling by weight. I hear some large pulp mills do that, and many truckers have scales on their trucks to maximize loads and reduce fines. I could set up and weigh the pallets. It can be done with a forklift mounted scale or a separate scale. It would add a measure of consistency per pallet I guess, but pricing would be by the cord. I built the firewood racks in 3/4 cord size. The reason being my forklift can not handle a full cord at full extension and I could not stack that high, being limited to a 4' x 4' footprint with that amount of weight. I also maximized the build materials, where 1/2 cord racks would have created a lot of wasted material. The odd size caused a bit of confusion, and repeat explanations with customers. Did not matter that they could see the full measure of wood stacked. It wasn't what they expected. It wasn't what they were use to. People wanted a cord of wood. The flip side is I can tell my supplier I'll pay by weight, but he may not sell it that way. Then there is differences in moisture content that can be all over the place. More confusion.
The knuckle boom loader may not be what you think. It means a big truck, parked close to where it needs unloaded. Not what you want on peoples paved driveways. Then there is overhead clearance, trees and wires, being the biggies. Used drywall trucks are available, you can look them up under 'vocational trucks'.
I think the piggy back lift is a good option for me and the customer. Perhaps carry a pallet jack to place pallets in a garage if needed. It still posses property damage issues to sprinkler systems, septic tanks, wires, pavement, etc.
No perfect world.
-A small processor is a consideration. One cord per hour even, is a huge improvement over one quarter cord per hour. Pretty big bang for the buck. However, I don't have the money for it, and logs too. ($140./cord X 100 = output) ($85./cord = input) I also think production would be half of that due to resplitting, or 1/2 cord per hour. (I'm doing 1/4 cord/hr now)
-The PackFix is not fast with a one man crew, but it does save me literally tones of work per cord. Which is also a big bang for the buck. I'm also making payments on it, which is what it is.
-Hand work...
Fork logs onto deck with lift.
Move logs by hand, and peavy, prior to cutting.
Move rounds by hand to staging table. (I could skip the stagging table but then the splitter and conveyor would be running while cutting a log into rounds.)
Move rounds by hand to splitter.
Handle rounds at splitter, resplitting (SSHD)
Level splits on top of PackFix drum by hand before wrapping.

To increase profit maybe I should think about bundles and do what I'm doing now for seasoning before bundling.
 
ChoppyChoppy

ChoppyChoppy

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4 hrs for a cord of wood? Ouch.

For sure it'd speed up with a processor and reduce the labor by a huge amount. The hardest work I do is stack the wood in the trucks, and normally the hired hand does it.

Best I've done is 6 cords in a day with 1 guy stacking, 1 guy loading logs/stacking and me running the processor.

Typically I deliver 5-10 cords a week, though the last few weeks havent been as productive. The hard working Hired hand got hurt so he's been out. The other one we have, we keep him just hauling in firewood for the shop stove and shoveling sawdust, he's about worthless (he's working off a debt, so can't even fire him)

It's been -10* several days and I've been spending most days running skidder out on a job we are doing. Property owner wants to fence the ~120 acres starting next week so we are putting in a 30ft wide path around the perimeter. Will log the rest at a bit slower pace, I have about 250 cords of logs stockpiled at the shop still.

Hopefully more output too once I put 2 more f450 dump trucks in service, some of the holdup is having the truck loaded and waiting for a customer to be home.
 
muddstopper

muddstopper

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Sandhill, I might be thinking out of the box, and my box might have a big hole in it. Since I dont even try to sell any wood, I am sure there are some logistics I am not considering. Buying logs by weight is not so far out of the box, at least not here. If you cut timber here, you sell it by weight, thats how all the yards buy it. So it wouldnt be that big a jump to expect a timber hauler to sell me wood by weight and throwing a few extra pennies on the ton would insure a steady supply. Paying for a large quantity of wood up front would pose a problem for just about anybody. Selling firewood by weight might be a hard barrier to crack since folks are used to the rick, facecord, cord methods of buying wood. Some folks would never see the value of paying for weight rather than scaled amount of wood. Those that do would beat your doors down. Over time others would come on board.

The mention of using a big truck and knuckle boom isnt the problem you think it is. For one thing, the knuckle boom only needs to be big enough to handle one pallet of splits, and it doesnt have to have 20ft of reach. All it needs to reach is long enough to get the back pallets on the rear of the truck and set those pallets beside the truck. Any of the foldup booms that sit behind the cab of a truck would probably work and they dont pose a height problem when working under power lines. Mount one behind the cab of a 1 ton truck that can haul 4-6 pallets at a time and deliver your wood. Pallets can be weighed as they are loaded by carrying them across the scales with a forklift. Just staple a weight ticket to each individual pallet. For someone wanting a truck load of wood, just weigh the truck after its loaded. For someone driving on the yard wanting their own wood, just weigh their truck before and after its loaded and use a fel to load.

Once wood is on the yard it does bring up some expensive problems. You have to have a loader to unload the trucks, since most loggers around here use big trailers and haul tree lengths, and you have to handle those tree lengths for processing. For a stationary processor, you can build conveyors to handle long trees, or you can buck the trees with a chainsaw to sizes your processor could handle, or you could set up a buck saw. Then you still have the problem of what to do with the splits. Could just let them pile up and worry about packaging when your not processing. Probably need a fel to load on a conveyor to feed the packfix. I would consider some sort of automation for the packfix so your not constantly having to get on and off the loader. And nothing wrong with stacking the pallets out in the weather to season, but I would still want a large shed to store dry wood under. Everything I have mentioned would cost a considerable amount of upfront investment, and I'm sure I hav'nt thought of everything. Not something I would be willing to do, but how I would want to do it if firewood was my business. Any amount of hand work would need to be minimized. You can pull levers and push buttons all day long, but picking up and carrying splits by hand will get old in a hurry.

I know a old guy, in his 70's, that processes wood year round. He uses a circle saw cord king. He does buy all his wood by weight. he uses a large knuckle boom to unload the trucks and load his processor. He runs the wood thru the processor and he has two smaller splitters at the end of his processor wedge, one each side of conveyor. two people pick the large splits off the conveyor and resplit them with the small splitters and throw the splits back on the conveyor. He uses large metal baskets to catch the splits as they fall off the conveyor. Those baskets he hauls down to a kiln, where they are dried. He then has bundle machines he bundles all the wood and packs in those large cardboard pallet boxes. He loads those boxes of packaged wood on tractor trailers and ships them all over the country. He also does local sells, specializing in 4ft fireplace wood. He has a special built processor that will do 4 way splits on 4 ft rounds. (builtrite I think) He does sort his truck loads to get the right size wood for the 4ft processor. He will also let you back your truck, or use his 1 ton dump, up under the conveyor and buy wood that way. All wood comes in and out over those scales. I am not sure how many people he employ's, I have only seen him, his resplitter operators, and a equipment operator, so I am guessing 4 or 5 people on the payroll. I have never asked him how much wood he sells but it would have to be 1000 cords or more a year. He has offered to sell me his business, but we have never talked about how much. Its 100 miles from where I live and I aint interested in driving that far everyday, or running a firewood business.
 
Dogsout

Dogsout

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Seasoned wood. Everyone expects it. No one selling actually does it. Half the customers don't care. The ones that do care price compare you against sellers that cut/split/deliver.
I think you would get some disagreement from some of the board members here on the above bold statement.
 
Tenderfoot

Tenderfoot

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I think you would get some disagreement from some of the board members here on the above bold statement.
Folks where I am expect it, but when they get it they are shocked. Its not abnormal for folks around here to say 'no seasoned wood after X date' unless they are selling $300 face cords.
Sandhill, I might be thinking out of the box, and my box might have a big hole in it. Since I dont even try to sell any wood, I am sure there are some logistics I am not considering. Buying logs by weight is not so far out of the box, at least not here. If you cut timber here, you sell it by weight, thats how all the yards buy it. So it wouldnt be that big a jump to expect a timber hauler to sell me wood by weight and throwing a few extra pennies on the ton would insure a steady supply. Paying for a large quantity of wood up front would pose a problem for just about anybody. Selling firewood by weight might be a hard barrier to crack since folks are used to the rick, facecord, cord methods of buying wood. Some folks would never see the value of paying for weight rather than scaled amount of wood. Those that do would beat your doors down. Over time others would come on board.

The mention of using a big truck and knuckle boom isnt the problem you think it is. For one thing, the knuckle boom only needs to be big enough to handle one pallet of splits, and it doesnt have to have 20ft of reach. All it needs to reach is long enough to get the back pallets on the rear of the truck and set those pallets beside the truck. Any of the foldup booms that sit behind the cab of a truck would probably work and they dont pose a height problem when working under power lines. Mount one behind the cab of a 1 ton truck that can haul 4-6 pallets at a time and deliver your wood. Pallets can be weighed as they are loaded by carrying them across the scales with a forklift. Just staple a weight ticket to each individual pallet. For someone wanting a truck load of wood, just weigh the truck after its loaded. For someone driving on the yard wanting their own wood, just weigh their truck before and after its loaded and use a fel to load.

Once wood is on the yard it does bring up some expensive problems. You have to have a loader to unload the trucks, since most loggers around here use big trailers and haul tree lengths, and you have to handle those tree lengths for processing. For a stationary processor, you can build conveyors to handle long trees, or you can buck the trees with a chainsaw to sizes your processor could handle, or you could set up a buck saw. Then you still have the problem of what to do with the splits. Could just let them pile up and worry about packaging when your not processing. Probably need a fel to load on a conveyor to feed the packfix. I would consider some sort of automation for the packfix so your not constantly having to get on and off the loader. And nothing wrong with stacking the pallets out in the weather to season, but I would still want a large shed to store dry wood under. Everything I have mentioned would cost a considerable amount of upfront investment, and I'm sure I hav'nt thought of everything. Not something I would be willing to do, but how I would want to do it if firewood was my business. Any amount of hand work would need to be minimized. You can pull levers and push buttons all day long, but picking up and carrying splits by hand will get old in a hurry.

I know a old guy, in his 70's, that processes wood year round. He uses a circle saw cord king. He does buy all his wood by weight. he uses a large knuckle boom to unload the trucks and load his processor. He runs the wood thru the processor and he has two smaller splitters at the end of his processor wedge, one each side of conveyor. two people pick the large splits off the conveyor and resplit them with the small splitters and throw the splits back on the conveyor. He uses large metal baskets to catch the splits as they fall off the conveyor. Those baskets he hauls down to a kiln, where they are dried. He then has bundle machines he bundles all the wood and packs in those large cardboard pallet boxes. He loads those boxes of packaged wood on tractor trailers and ships them all over the country. He also does local sells, specializing in 4ft fireplace wood. He has a special built processor that will do 4 way splits on 4 ft rounds. (builtrite I think) He does sort his truck loads to get the right size wood for the 4ft processor. He will also let you back your truck, or use his 1 ton dump, up under the conveyor and buy wood that way. All wood comes in and out over those scales. I am not sure how many people he employ's, I have only seen him, his resplitter operators, and a equipment operator, so I am guessing 4 or 5 people on the payroll. I have never asked him how much wood he sells but it would have to be 1000 cords or more a year. He has offered to sell me his business, but we have never talked about how much. Its 100 miles from where I live and I aint interested in driving that far everyday, or running a firewood business.
Do you have any more information on that fellow? He sounds like he knows his wood and may be worth emulating if he has been at it for so long with a degree of success.
 
ChoppyChoppy

ChoppyChoppy

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I don't know of any outfit that sells truly season wood in large amounts. I move about 500 cords a year, that's with 1 part time worker.
 
Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

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I sold wood this summer to a guy who checked the end of a few splits with a moisture meter. 13% reading.
I told him I was surprise to hear such a low reading going by feel/weight.
I delivered a cord and a half.
He had a small electric splitter so we split a piece and retested.
13% @end; 18% 3" in.; 21% @ 6" in; 28% in the middle @ 8" in.
Cut/split/stacked/covered. Oak after ten months. IMG_3520.jpg IMG_4119.jpg
The second picture was taken yesterday and is a place ten to twelve miles from me. The pile was twice as big, half again as high. He splits into a telehandler bucket and piles. This past spring there was no pile, so he has been busy. I do not know him, what he sells or his pricing. He gets tree service wood, uses a home made splitter with four-way and with large tables around it to hold several big rounds, and splits into the bucket. I knocked on his door but no one around. Way less equipment costs, probably way less log costs (if any) than me. Way more profitable I suspect too...
Edit: There was a dually and dump trailer there that I suspect he used for deliveries.
 
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