The information contained in these web pages has not been
verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not
be correct. Use the information from these pages only at your own risk!
Log market prices fluctuate widely and often. The value of timber on your property is
directly related to the difficulty of harvesting it and the distance your property is from
a mill. Timber can be a great long-term investment. As you wait, the wood continues to
grow, and add Volume and Value. Historically there has been a real price increase (over
and above inflation) in timber prices. So a wait and see strategy works well for many
landowners. If you are considering a timber harvest, It is suggest that you:
- Learn more about timber harvesting as it is practiced in your area. Locate information
sources on timber prices, watch how they have moved through time, and be prepared to
conduct a harvest when prices are high. The Cooperative Extension Service is one source of
information - check the government pages in the phone book for the nearest office. A local
Forest Landowners organization (who often sponsor the Tree Farm program) will usually
provide a great deal of price info, local contacts, advice about loggers and such.
- Prepare a Forest Management Plan which specifies YOUR goals for YOUR property. A forest
management plan often begins with a statement of your goals, followed by an INVENTORY.
This expense is crucial - how can you realistically sell something when you don't know the
value or even the quantity on hand? There are cost-share assistance programs available if
you want to go that route. The Forest Stewardship program will cost-share the expense of
preparing a Stewardship Plan.
- Contact a professional forester to help with the details and "ride herd" on
the logger. For recommendations see number 1. A good forester will know the local markets,
loggers and other contractors. Use the forester for inventory expertise, to mark the
timber that YOU want to sell, and put the timber out to bid, usually on a per thousand
board feet harvested basis. Rarely does a lump-sum sale work out for the landowner,
especially in New England where grade and quality are so important to the purchase price.
- Learn more about forest management in general (see the below suggested references).
- WOOD-MIZER [from $6995] "World's Largest Manufacturer of Portable Sawmills"
Wood-Mizer Products, Inc., 8180 West 10th St, Indianapolis, IN 46214-2400. 1-800-553-0219
32-Page full-color catalog $2, 66-minute demonstration video$10.
- Suggestion A: I have used Alaskan Mark III for about 5 years now and it
has many ups and downs. 1. You need a lot of power. I use a Husky 2100 (6 CI) saw and it
must be running well to do a good job. Low power (poor running or too small a head) causes
you to work way too hard. 2. You need gravity working for you, logs should be raised as
dramatically as possible in the back. If the log is laying flat you are
"pushing" the mill and will experience poor cuts and horrendous back aches. 3.
You should be realistic with hardwoods. I use my mill for Douglas Fir, Cedar, Hemlock, and
Grand Fir. These are very soft and it works great (we have sided several buildings and
built many animal sheds with the wood). Hardwoods would have to be low volume to be
practical. 4. You may want a respirator and goggles when running the mill as the sawdust
and two-stroke exhaust gets thick and can really get you sick. I have toyed with the idea
of just extending the expansion chamber straight up about 2 feet (the normal worry about
making a saw too heavy does not apply with the mill). 5. It is a lot of work (personally I
think this is a pro not a con). There are some books on it (Chainsaw Lumbermaking) that
recommend winch and throttle control cables etc to pull the mill through the log but I
view this as needless complexity. If you go that far with a chainsaw lumbermill, you
should just go buy a portable bandsaw mill. 6. The Kerf wastes a lot of wood. Imagine
>3/8 inch for every cut. You get a lot of sawdust for whatever purpose you might have!
7. Use a 0 degree chain. I have used regular bucking chains and it does not leave a smooth
surface. My siding usually looks ready to use after I mill it. None of those
irregularities that a Circular rig leaves (i.e., you don't need to plane it). On the whole
I think they are great. It has saved us substantial dollars on wood. The power head was
250, the Mk III was 136, the bars have been about 40 apiece. We have cut about 10K worth
of Cedar Siding and dimension lumber! Aside from cost, you can mill things that you just
could not find at a lumberyard.
- Suggestion B: One recommendation that I (as a WoodMizer Bandsaw mill
owner) have heard for the chainsaw mills is to use them to cut the logs into cants that
are of handleable sizes then doing the re-sawing (final cutting) on an ordinary bandsaw or
table saw. This is especially recommended for getting lumber out of places such as deep in
your woods where vehicles can't go. This way you save a bit on the kerf and your overall
- Suggestion C: I took this route (use the chainsaw mill to cut the logs
into cants that are of handleable sizes then doing the final cutting on an ordinary
bandsaw or table saw) after the initial experiences with using only the Chainsaw Mill. My
practice has been to slab logs if they are in long sections so they can be carried.
Initially I would trim these into dimension lumber with the table saw but found this was
too hard on the motor (10' Delta 110volt motor). I eventually purchased a worm drive Skil
that seems to have no problem. The downside is that you need a straight cutting arm to
stay on the snap line. I have produced some extremely nice lumber this way. It also allows
me to stack and store the slabs which gives the flexibility to cut boards for the width
you need when you need them (as opposed to having a pile of 2x6s stockpiled when you need
2x8s). If the sections are under 8 feet you can get by with carrying and storing the
cants. This is especially true with lightweight Cedar that will become siding.
- Suggestion D: I own a 24", 32", and 48" chainsaw mill. I
also own 6 Stihl 090 direct drive power heads, and 3 gear drive 090's. (These motors are
137 cc's.) I would highly recommend using them for rough work, for beams, and for cutting
furniture grade rough planks. (I would argue that the Stihl 090 is the best high-torque,
low rpm, high duty-cycle motors for milling work (engine running at constant speed for
15-20 minutes while making a 24' cut 48" wide.) I do not recommend these mills for
repetitive dimensional lumber as it takes a lot of diligence to make accurate repetitive
cuts. The mills are especially clumsy when working small logs, for example making 1x6
siding. Your time is better spent tracking down some rich hobbyist with an idle bandsaw
mill in their backyard, and spend your energy cutting cants to drag to the mill. It also
helps to have a winch, a chain grinder, an extra cross-cut saw, a peavy and a very strong
back. If your time is worth less than $5 an hour and you like breathing two-stroke fumes
with your face and arms only inches away from a high speed cutting chain, and you do not
mind moving 500lb-4000lb logs, then go have fun!
- Suggestion A1: Burning them is the way I do it - but there is an art to
it. First, with a chain saw (and using the nose of the saw - so be sure you know what you
are doing!) make radial slots about half way up the stump from the outside, to the inside
where they should all meet. For a 2 foot diameter stump about four slots is enough. Then
make a slot vertically downwards from the centre of the stump so it meets with the radial
slots. The idea of this is to give airways in the stump, so that it burns on the inside.
Next you need heaps of wood, at least about four time the volume of the stump. Most of
this should be a foot or so in diameter. Take the longer, smaller diameter pieces (about
half of the stockpile) and build these around the stump - tepee style. Light this fire,
and when it burns down, add the bigger pieces of wood around the stump. Monitor every four
hours or so, and make sure that the bigger pieces of wood are pushed close to the stump.
After a while the stump will start burning inside, but it will still need an extra supply
of wood to sustain it. In my experience, about 24 to 36 hours is required to burn down a
2ft diameter, 3ft high stump. Note that the slots are ESSENTIAL. Just lighting a fire
around a stump just blackens it. Perhaps this method may not be environmentally friendly
but the wood in the stump is pretty useless - full of dirt and sometimes rot. In addition
the wood I use to maintain combustion is from old fallen trees, or other junk wood useless
for anything else.
- Suggestion A2: The burning method I saw used some kind of accelerant
that was poured into a hole drilled in the middle of the stump.
- Suggestion B1: Pulling out with tractor (I sometimes do this if 1: not
many roots 2: not too big 3: ground is damp. It is rarely successful for stumps over 1
foot diameter. Generally all that happens is the chain stretches/breaks or the wheels of
the tractor spin. Of course if the removal is successful the stump still has to be
disposed of - knock off the dirt (back into the hole preferably and then burn (perhaps as
fuel for a bigger stump that is burnt).
- Suggestion B2: Pulling out with draft animals. Some years ago, I was at
a fair where they exhibited a method for pulling them out with a draft animal. First, you
cut the roots that extend out away from the stump. Next, you use a "machine" and
the draft animal. (My description won't do justice, but you'll likely not do this anyway -
I just think it is a neat idea.) The machine is kind of like a set of wagon wheels and a
strong axle. This thing is placed over the stump and a chain is run from the axle down
under the stump. The draft animal then pulls this thing and the rotation of the axle
causes the chain to pull up on the stump. Slow going, but I've been told it works very
- Suggestion C1: Blow up the stumps with dynamite. A 1/4 stick of
dynamite and a long fuse. Park your truck a ways away - my father watched a stump get
launched and land in the bed of the vehicle. Was handy for taking back to cut up for
firewood, but the bed was destroyed.
- Suggestion C2: Blow up the stumps with Tovex. It's more available to
the public anymore than dynamite. It's more stable, and is less messy to use. Several
possibilities. Call your nearest BATF office and ask for the information for a license for
purchasing explosives. These aren't too difficult to get. Buy or build a storage facility.
The ATF has a publication that describes all the rules and regulations for explosives (on
the Federal level), including storage, documentation, and use. Also remember that
transportation of explosives falls under the DOT, not the ATF.
Anyway, with such a license, one can purchase explosives from any manufacturer. Second
possibility, and is becoming increasingly more difficult to do, is find an explosives
distributor and buy a small quantity off them. You'll have to fill out the day-use license
form, and must use the explosives that day. Again, transport falls under the guise of the
DOT. Typically Tovex comes in 1lb sticks, and though not ideal for stumps, will work fine.
Around here, Tovex is about $3 a stick, and caps are $3.50 if bought in single use
quantities. It's a lot cheaper if bought in bulk. Anyway, find someone, preferably someone
who is a certified blaster, to show you how to use them. It's pretty easy, and fairly safe
as long as you have some basic idea of what you are doing. An alternative is blasting
powder, which can be obtained easily and without the need to fill out a form if bought in
small quantities. In some ways blasting powder is better because it has more heaving power
(tovex is more "brisiant", it has more shattering power). Anyway, just using
explosives isn't a panacea, you still have to dig under the stump, quite a job unto
itself, place the charge, stem it (filling the dirt back in and making sure you're not
just going to blow the dirt plug back out. It generally takes about 2 hours of work per
stump. Which is much better than the 6-10 hours it takes to dig and chop all the roots.
One advantage of using higher brisiance explosives is you don't have to be as careful
about stemming the charge.
- Suggestion D: Use a block and tackle and small tractor. Use 5/8"
cable and a set of double blocks. This is a slow method, but has the advantage of usually
leaving the dirt off of the roots, unlike a dozer. Done properly, this can get you down to
- Suggestion A: I've cleared about two acres of blackberries, cleared a 7
acre pasture, and built a mountain bike trail of about two miles with a "DR Field and
Brush Mower". I used a sickle bar mower first, but it shook too much. I didn't want
to buy one because it would shake itself apart. The "DR"is like a
self-propelled, walk-behind Bush Hog. I've mowed hills that are almost too tough to walk.
The DR will pull you up and cut a swathe as it does. It'll cut through trees up to about
2" in diameter. I cleared my trail today with it. It's a good machine. Check it out.
DR Field and Brush Mower, Country Home Products, Ferry Road, Box 89, Charlotte, VT 05445
1-800-376-9637 FAX: 802-425-3791
- Suggestion B: I use an old Gravely Model L tractor with a 30"
bushhog type mower deck. I have blackberries, wild grapes, multi-flora rose and
miscellaneous weeds. It goes right thru them. In case you are not familiar with the type,
it is a two wheel walk-behind, with a single cylinder engine, and a transmission that
gives you two speeds forward and reverse. The tractor will accommodate about 20 different
tools, including several mowers, a rotary plow, a roto-tiller, a cultivator, circular saw,
(horizontal or vertical), snow blower, chainsaw, pusher blade, a sulky (to convert it to a
rider for large lawns), and others.
- Silver Maple: 20 million BTU per cord
- Red Oak: 30 million BTU per cord
- White Oak: 32 million BTU per cord
- Ponderosa Pine: 20 million BTU per cord
Efficiency will depend on the moisture content and your stove.
- Coal stoves can be used to burn wood, but wood stoves cannot be used to burn coal. The
reason is that coal burns much hotter than wood and the grates are different. Also, if the
coal stove is small, you will spend much of your time feeding wood into it. Wood burns
much to fast in small amounts.
- Suggestion A: Madrone burns very hot and very clean with little soot.
The smoke is pleasantly fragrant in a not overwhelming way. The wood is very hard and is
hard to split by hand. The grain is not normally straight.
- Communicating for Agriculture is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the needs of
America's farmers and ranchers. They can be contacted at: http://www.cainc.org
- Fazio, James R. The woodland steward : a practical guide to the management of small
private forests / James R. Fazio ; illustration & design, Kristin R. Aufdenberg.
Moscow, Idaho : Woodland Press, c1985.
- The Woodland workbook / Oregon State University Extension Service. [Corvallis, Or.] :
The Service, - Series title: Extension circular / Oregon State University Extension
Service. Though some of the articles (it is a collection of Extension Leaflets) are
specific to Oregon, many of the planning, economics and timber harvesting pamphlets are
general and apply most places. Send for a free catalog Publications Orders Agricultural
Communications Oregon State University Administrative Services A422 Corvallis, OR
97331-2119. Phone: 503/737-2513 FAX: 503/737-0817
This page was last updated on
November 16, 2002