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how much $ per hour should you be making doing firewood?

sb47

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Nobody around here is making anywhere near that, big, small, doesn't matter.

There's quite a few guys on this site who say they barely come out ahead and I believe them.
Selling cord wood is not very profitable. However it's the small sales where I make the most profit. I sell 50lb bags of bbq wood and I make way more on that then I do selling quantity's. My biggest market is small sales. I call it covenant wood. Many people don't have a place to store a cord of wood or they just want a little wood for a single cook or weekend so they like to buy small quantity's at a time. A 300 dollar cord can turn into 1,200 bucks per cord if bundled or bagged in small quantity's. But there is more labor and cost involved and it takes longer to sell a cord worth.
 
Jere39

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I guess you raise an interesting academic question. FWIW, around here you don't get to build your pricing on a "Cost-Plus" basis. Rather, the market has set the prices. So, at least here you might find it interesting to calculate what you are making per hour; you can't decide what you want to make per hour and then charge accordingly. Anyway, Good luck with your re-entry to the market. I personally am barely covering the costs of my equipment, fuel, chains, lunch, . . . And would hate to figure out what I'm making per hour. I'm happy to be in the woods, and doing something I enjoy.
 
sundance

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part of the problem is my honest and soft heart. I don't like "taking a customer to the cleaners". I have to learn two things. How to say "no" and how to not be "mr. Niceguy"
I have learned how to say "no". I am learning how and when to turn off the emotional dogma and business is business.

When the logging truck could get here with loads of logs, and I had resonably decent help it was easy enough. However, when the adding and subtracting was done, best year was we "made" $250. However, the bills were paid. losing a couple thousand was just plain silly. running equipment into the ground in order to pay the fella's was really stupid. Ruining my attitude did not help matters, that was then. This is now.

No monkeys. And I might try it at $250 a cord.
I have no idea what's involved with your "adding and subtracting" but find it intriguing that you only "made" $250. How'd you eat for the year? A ton of other personal expenses that don't seem to fit with this recounting.

If your legit expenses only left $250 for all your personal expenses and profit then you'd be way ahead with a $10/hr job. First week you're $150 ahead of a years hard work.
 
jrider

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Last year I kept track of all money aside from accounting for depreciation of equipment but mine is fairly minimal anyway. When it was all said and done, profit margin was 62% of all sales.
 
Ted Jenkins

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I work really hard at taking advantage of every would be customer. I charge not less than $40 per hour to handle stack or whatever they need. With a helper I charge between $60 and $80 per hour for handling. As of late I have not been delivering wood because I know if its get cold by December I can charge an extra $200 per cord even though prices are high now. It has been hard to write off customers who cause me any extra time. All customers have to make me the maximum amount of profit possible or they do not get return phone calls. I have a customer list of about 60 to 80 folks that I normally deliver to ever year not including commercial sales like bundled wood or camping wood. I go through my preferred list of customers to remind myself that I do not have friends and I run a business. That formula has the been the only way to make more than minimum wage. Thanks
 
Patrick62

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he he he, once we became a LLC, all the "expenses" were written into the book. Logs, fuel, phone bills, property tax, parts, oil, chains, and paying the fella's who were independant contractors. 1099's that is how $50,000 went thru here. 50% of that was labor. The rest was logs and everything else. Which is just about the best way to do it, not show a huge profit and pay income tax on that! Then a year or two ago, we did a few yard sales in ca$h, which sort of kinda did not exactly get written into the book. Goes into a envelope called laundry money.

This is/was a part time, home business. I work part time elsewhere. If I had to survive on wood alone, it could be done, but it would be very tight. wrapped and sold 5000 bundles this year, that is where the money is, no doubt about it. It was necessary to caution the yard monkeys to not try and wheedle into "helping" with my bundles I was concerned that all the income from that would vaporize into labor, leaving me trying to run a outfit with no income at all, but plenty of outgo!
 

sb47

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It takes awhile to get started because from tree to seasoned firewood takes time and space to store enough inventory to service your customers.
100 cords takes up a lot of space and to have covered storage for dry wood to stay dry and ready for sales also takes a lot of space. Having to physically touch every piece of wood multiple times takes time witch is money. Moving wood by hand is slow and costly, but so is equipment needed to move and load it in bulk. A good skid steer with the right attachments can be costly but it can save a tremendous amount of work. It would be nice to be able to palatalize inventory and use equipment to move and load bulk amounts of wood. The more you can automate your operation can help make more money, but automation cost money. The old "It takes money, to make money" and if you have enough money, your money can do the work for you and you can stop working.
 
T. Mainus

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Moving wood by hand is slow and costly, but so is equipment needed to move and load it in bulk. A good skid steer with the right attachments can be costly but it can save a tremendous amount of work. It would be nice to be able to palatalize inventory and use equipment to move and load bulk amounts of wood.
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We switched over to the bags a couple of years ago. Once it is split we never touch the wood again. I couldn't imagine hand loading 150 cord of wood.
 

sb47

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KiwiBro

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View attachment 773836 View attachment 773837 View attachment 773838 View attachment 773839 View attachment 773840

We switched over to the bags a couple of years ago. Once it is split we never touch the wood again. I couldn't imagine hand loading 150 cord of wood.
Is that a rotating set of forks to dump the bags? If so, how are they attached to the pallets to stop them going with the load when dumped? The costs of having made those bags but with a flap bottom that flood loads with a quick-release clip is actually more than a bin/pallet rotator. The issue I have is I need to clear over 18' to get over the sides of the bin/tipper trucks I use to move firewood to bulk customers, and the tractor won't do that with a rotator unless I fabricate some extensions.
 
T. Mainus

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That's the way to do it!
Are the bags UV resistant? How well do they hold up after they have been loaded with wood and set outside in the weather?
We have been getting 3 years out of the Woodland Mills bags before they fall apart from the sun. They were also the more expensive bag. The Dino bags are cheaper and so far we have not seen any deterioration from the sun on those bags. I am guessing we will get 3-5 years out of them easy.
 
T. Mainus

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Is that a rotating set of forks to dump the bags? If so, how are they attached to the pallets to stop them going with the load when dumped? The costs of having made those bags but with a flap bottom that flood loads with a quick-release clip is actually more than a bin/pallet rotator. The issue I have is I need to clear over 18' to get over the sides of the bin/tipper trucks I use to move firewood to bulk customers, and the tractor won't do that with a rotator unless I fabricate some extensions.
We originally had purchased the swing from Palax. That just did not work out. The design is not right for the amount of weight you are trying to spin. We went that route originally due to the price of the industrial rotator. If I had it to do it over again we should have just bit the bullet and spent the cash on the rotator first. We had it custom made for us. We just use ratchet straps to attach the bag to the pallet. The bags all have straps on the bottom of the bag to attach the ratchet straps to. Trying to save money up front never works. Our forklift has a telescopic boom that will go to about 14'. You would need a bigger telehandler to load over the side of your trucks. Tractors are for farming, if your going to do any type of volume you need to get the equipment that can handle the amount of weight and abuse that moving firewood causes. A wheel loader or telehandler is perfect for loading and moving logs.
 

sb47

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We originally had purchased the swing from Palax. That just did not work out. The design is not right for the amount of weight you are trying to spin. We went that route originally due to the price of the industrial rotator. If I had it to do it over again we should have just bit the bullet and spent the cash on the rotator first. We had it custom made for us. We just use ratchet straps to attach the bag to the pallet. The bags all have straps on the bottom of the bag to attach the ratchet straps to. Trying to save money up front never works. Our forklift has a telescopic boom that will go to about 14'. You would need a bigger telehandler to load over the side of your trucks. Tractors are for farming, if your going to do any type of volume you need to get the equipment that can handle the amount of weight and abuse that moving firewood causes. A wheel loader or telehandler is perfect for loading and moving logs.

Have you thought about setting the bag on a pallet and use plane pallet forks to load a truck or trailer and get a deposit on the pallet and bag so they bring it back or add the price of the bag to the price of the amount they hold? Also how much does each bag hold? Thanks
 

sb47

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View attachment 773836 View attachment 773837 View attachment 773838 View attachment 773839 View attachment 773840

We switched over to the bags a couple of years ago. Once it is split we never touch the wood again. I couldn't imagine hand loading 150 cord of wood.

Strait logs, a skid loader to move them with. A possessor with conveyor and bagging your wood in what looks like about 1/2 cord bags is a slick operation you got going there. Depending on the type of processor you can make firewood and not even actually touch the wood with your hands. All you need now is a big building so you can work year round out of the weather. Automation Nice!
 
4seasons

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You are getting some good informed responses here. But the general consensus is that it varies. The old saying is that if you want a million dollar firewood business, start with two million dollars.
Honestly I don't know anyone that can make a living from fire around here. There are plenty of kids cleaning up dad's farm and selling the wood to buy gas so that no one wants to pay a premium price for good wood. The few dollars that I have made over the years have been on ambience burning customers that use less than a cord a year in their fireplace.
I do know of a couple of bigger operations that sell firewood on the side. They are land clearing and logging companies that sell the scraps on the side to keep their employees busy when they can't get into the woods due to weather.
The way I would approach it would be from a customer service aspect. Most logging companies leave a mess at the landowner's place. So when buying standing timber mention a no stick left behind service. Then after paying less for the timber than everyone else, you clean up the tops, dead standing, and unsellable trees as well. Sell the good logs as your main business. Process firewood as a side job when the skidder isn't dragging. You can even chip the rot and twigs into mulch that you can sell after a few years of seasoning. Now I don't have any hard numbers as it would all be market based, but you could conceivably pay less for the timber, pay you employees less per hour because you guarantee work doesn't stop during bad weather, still get a premium price on the good stuff, and turn a small profit in the junk every one else leaves in the woods.
 
sirbuildalot

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The guys I know that sell wood, usually do it as a sidebar to a tree service business. Keeps their guys busy, and gets rid of the wood they get paid to remove. Doubt you'll make much more than $10-$15/hour if you have to buy the wood before processing it, and are using a splitter, one vehicle, and with minimal helpers.

As others have said, I think to really have a shot at making any money, you'd have to go big. Start by cutting a deal with a tree guy who doesn't sell firewood to get a huge cost break on logs and acquire a large processor like a Cord King with a conveyor, with at least a couple dump trucks with drivers to deliver.
 
Ted Jenkins

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It takes awhile to get started because from tree to seasoned firewood takes time and space to store enough inventory to service your customers.
100 cords takes up a lot of space and to have covered storage for dry wood to stay dry and ready for sales also takes a lot of space. Having to physically touch every piece of wood multiple times takes time witch is money. Moving wood by hand is slow and costly, but so is equipment needed to move and load it in bulk. A good skid steer with the right attachments can be costly but it can save a tremendous amount of work. It would be nice to be able to palatalize inventory and use equipment to move and load bulk amounts of wood. The more you can automate your operation can help make more money, but automation cost money. The old "It takes money, to make money" and if you have enough money, your money can do the work for you and you can stop working.
Yes you are correct about many aspect of this business. Equipment and space in many cases is the key. I have been in California for over 40 years and I am starting to see a reasonable amount of profit available with prices doubling in the last few years. It will not be long before bulk wood is well over a $1000 a cord. Bundles is and has been an important part of many operations to be able to survive. We have a unique situation here where most people do not maintain generators. We have had at least 50 power outages this year when it has not been cold. Electricity goes out heat goes off. Most generators can operate a few days then issues arise. When cold weather persists people will pay any price like last spring when a 1/4 cord brought $400 with out hesitation. There is a lot to be said for being at the right place at the right time. Thanks
 
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