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Buying logs and selling firewood

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Polish hammer, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Polish hammer

    Polish hammer ArboristSite Operative

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    What do you guys think is worth it.. buying hardwood logs delivered and unloaded in my wood yard or going out anywhere from .25 miles to 25 miles cutting bucking loading and unloading at my place.. I can get hardwood logs delivered for $110 a log cord anywhere from 3-10 cords at a time.. and I sell hardwood delivered for $225 to me seems likes that’s the way to get ahead of curve and save lots of work.. I have a homemade splitter not a processor any thoughts
     
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  2. sundance

    sundance ArboristSite Operative

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    Only you can solve the equation of: time to fill the truck (round trip), volume in the truck and value of your time. If that equation comes out to more than $110/cord than it makes sense. Make sure you figure out how to factor bucking and stacking from the delivered wood into your equation. If you buck in the woods it's done when it gets home and assumed staged for splitting when off-loaded.

    I don't sell so that's not in my equation. For me, as long as the body holds up I'll collect my own. Gives me something to do and the one time I got behind and bought a truck load I was disappointed in the volume I got. Of course, I'm balancing that against a local supplier that claims $140 a cord. I've never tried them so don't know if the volume and quality works out. Besides, if I bought cut and split why would I need 6 saws and my splitter?
     
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  3. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    To do enough to make a living, you'll need to move volume.

    I'm more or less a 1 man band and do in the 300-400 cord area a year.

    I know of some outfits doing 10x that.
     
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  4. VirginiaIron

    VirginiaIron ArboristSite Operative

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    Make sure you tell the company you want clean wood. I remember a guy got a trailer load dumped and the logs were full of dirt and mud. It seriously hampered his efforts because his chain was always getting dull. To me that is not worth the effort.
     
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  5. sundance

    sundance ArboristSite Operative

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    I'm curious......who's doing 3,000 to 4,000 cords a year. How big is the operation?
     
  6. cantoo

    cantoo Addicted to ArboristSite

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  7. SamT1

    SamT1 ArboristSite Operative

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    Without a processor I can’t imagine having logs hauled in for half the money would even come close to being profitable.
    But I’m the guy that won’t waste time running a splitter either.
     
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  8. SamT1

    SamT1 ArboristSite Operative

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    I used to sell an outfit 3-400 cords a year and I was a pretty insignificant part of the business. Mesquite was not big in Lubbock (Woodyard promoted myths) so they sold mostly oak that came from far enough away they didn’t have to deal with the guys hauling it in selling cheap. They didn’t cut any but sent trucks to guys to fill. No telling what they sold a year though. I had a key, would dump my load every Sunday night and come get a check during the week after class and go again the next week.
     
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  9. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I can't remember any specific names off the top of my head, but I know several outfits running multiple large processors (Cord King 60, Multitech 2040, etc) and having 10+ employees.
     
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  10. cantoo

    cantoo Addicted to ArboristSite

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    There are some really big guys not far from me. No idea of volume but they have several rows of 40' high piles of logs and half a farm long. 2 processors running fairly steady, their own log trucks and do tractor trailer loads to Toronto fairly often.
    This pic here is another place not far away that does a fair bit. You can get an idea of the size by the cars and trucks in the pic.
    20190616_213105.jpg
     
  11. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    That's about how I'm setup. We are on ~3 acres. Have logs decked as high as the log truck can pile.
    Was really tight this fall, brought in around 1200 tons of logs (roughly 500 cords)

    I don't stockpile in piles.
    Has been processor, truck, customer.

    This year trying out drying some in bulk bags, though limited on space to maybe 40 bags.
     
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  12. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    Buying logs definitely has some advantages. One problem with ready cut logs is the waste. Customers here want uniform cut wood with out too many odd sizes included. When I cut my own logs there is very little waste. Getting rid of the odd pile is an issue that always cost me money. So I have to figure about 25% of bought wood is going to cost me money. So for me to buy logs at a $110 is way too exspensive if I only sell for $250 a cord. Thus I would be paying out at least $50 a cord for each cord sold. I most often pick up my own logs and haul to my place as needed. To bring in any profit I can only pay between $25 and $50 a cord. Thanks
     
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  13. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    At worse I might end up with a 2-3" cookie every so often. If I get to the end of a log and have let's say 22", I just make 2 11" pieces vs a 16" and a 5". Now if I only have a little over a 16" piece I'll make a cookie. All depends on how big the log is.

    Been doing it that way for a few years and haven't had any complaints.

    Usually bring in logs in ~40-50ft lengths, but I cut them in 1/2 to load the processor. Makes it easier to handle.

    Being your own log supplier means a better profit on the firewood... maybe.
    Do you have the $$ to get setup with a feller buncher, skidder, delimber, and log truck and a low boy (or pay to have the iron hauled around).

    Very easy to burn through a million or two getting setup with newer logging equipment.

    $110 cost with selling at $250 isn't too bad.
     
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  14. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    People here will not look at 16'' wood unless it is half price. 18'' or 24'' and that is it. Most wood goes to tourists and much of it is bundled. Not much logging going on here. When logging occurs it is about salvage. Wow with a cost of $110 and selling for $250 at a lost of $50 or $75 a cord how does one break even. Thanks
     
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  15. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Most of the wood I sell is 16", it's a common size that most stoves can fit and keeps the pieces at a manageable size.
    Once in a while do 18" and shorter stuff like 12-14" for small stoves.

    If you buy the supplies for $110, have ~$40 into producing it (labor and fuel) and sell for $250, that's a profit of ~$100 a cord.

    Do that 20-25 cords a week and that's ~100k a year.

    No doubt about it, it's not a get rich quick thing, but there's tons of other businesses that aren't either.
     
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  16. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    Now you guys are getting somewhere. What is the true cost per cord? This'll be very interesting. Every time I've looked into crossing the divide between small and big volume production, the revenue doesn't seem enough given the costs involved. everyone has different costs, but there has to be some sort of general consensus on such things? A generally accepted range.

    $40 / cord for fuel and labour.
    What about all the other costs? I now it's difficult sometimes to aportion them if the business does other things in addition to firewood production and retailing, but a rough stab at it would still be interesting.
     
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  17. woodchuckcanuck

    woodchuckcanuck ArboristSite Operative

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    I pay $110 a cord of logs. I figure about $30 for the machinery. Sell a loose cord for $250 and that includes delivery to local area ($25 value in fuel and time). So what's left? $85 to cover 6 hrs labour for the wife and I (3 hrs, 2 people). $14 an hour. Definitely not getting rich. But when there's no job available, you do what you got to do.

    20190527-firewood-12-inch-gina.jpg

    But, I want to throw something else at you to think about. Do you sell a cord that represents a cord of logs that are delivered cut and split? Or are you delivering a cord of cut and split firewood? There's a big difference. We recently finished the calculations on 32 cords of random length logs we got last Christmas. From it we got 23.75 cords of split and stacked firewood.

    20190610-firewood-field.jpg

    Another 1.75 cords of low grade firewood (rotten centres split away and separated from the quality firewood).

    20190507-firewood-campfirewood-2.jpg


    There's also a cord of ends (two bins, 1/2 cord each).

    20190610-firewood-ends-half-cord-crate.jpg

    All total, we only achieved 26 cords. So in reality, for that particular batch of logs, the material cost for each cord of split firewood was $135, not $110. So take away $25 from that $85 and we're left with $60 profit to cover 6 hours wages.
     
  18. woodchuckcanuck

    woodchuckcanuck ArboristSite Operative

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    But to answer the OP question, for our little start up operation, buying logs is the only way. I'd rather spend my time splitting and delivering, rather than hauling logs. If I went out to harvest myself I'd still have to pay a stump fee of $25 to $35 per cord to a landowner. So $75-$85 left in the $110 cost comparison to allocate to getting the logs, physical labour, driving to and from the location. Some landowners offer road side pickup for $75. So your left with $35 to contribute to your time and expense to drive to and from to pick up a cord of logs which is about all my 1 ton dump truck can haul given the GVWR. Could hire out a 8 or 16 cord truck hauler but they want $30-35 per cord, so its break even. Might as well just buy from a log broke and have it delivered..
     
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  19. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    How much per cord is depreciation on the gear (in other words, what's left to cover the cost of a new splitter or chainsaw when, as they all do, your ones die a natural death or are sold off), then how much per cord for financing or lease of the land, time spent on the phone lining up deliveries, making advertisements, the vehicles to deliver, maintenance on anything mechanical, etc. It all adds up. Some are sunk costs incurred whether or not you are trying to do firewood, but there are many costs that creep into it that go unrecognised. It really eats into the profit or what's left to cover labour.
     
  20. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    It really depends how quickly you can cut a cord of wood and get it home. Working a log pile on flat/solid ground is quick work, doing the actual logging, not so much. Also how much $ do you need to tie up into extra equipment if you are doing the logging and hauling it home.
     
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