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I live in MN. and have a woodmizer and have been asked to cut up 20 walnut logs. I do not want to work by the hour. What is a reasonable rate per board foot to charge. This is the first time I have been asked to custom saw.
.30 a bf if you do all the work, .25 if they offload
I charge .50 cents per bd ft. Size of logs is very important. With a bunch of 12 inch dia logs you will spend much more time handling loading, turning than you will sawing. Also what you are sawing from the logs is important too. I sawed twice for a landowner who paid by the hour instead of bd ft because we were sawing 6x6 posts from small logs. 1 cut from each face and we were done. Also make sure you expect to be compensated for objects in his logs which may cause blade damage.
What about using log scale and then using a $ per BF log scale? Because small logs take more work per BF, it is not wise to use the log scale. Plus, Schribner and Doyle underestimates the yield for smaller logs (under 20"), which means less money for the actual BF sawn when you are custom sawing.
Charging by the BF actually produced means you get a good return for large logs, but the harder work for small logs gives you a smaller return for your effort. So, maybe have two rates--one that is a little higher for logs under 14" and one for logs over 14".
Now, because walnut is so valuable, does it make sense to charge a little bit more per BF than if you were sawing soft maple? It does not cost you more to saw different species, but why should the log owner make a lot of money while you are just sneaking by?
How about making a deal where every fourth log is yours and you set the fourth log aside and saw what you can get after the customer leaves? Or maybe every fourth piece of lumber is yours when you saw all the logs?
Or maybe just give an estimate for doing the entire job, get paid in cash, and then do the best you can? This is how many trades work in the U.S. today...a quote for the entire job.
Bruce, Gene has the best idea but you have to refine it more. If you go with Steve, line the logs up a half mile down the road, make sure they are the widest that can fit through the throat of the saw. Rons service might make some people hesitant due to ether high cost per BF or labor. You have to get your labor costs paid or ? You know. Try marrying the labor and BF cost. $5/hr and 27¢BF under 14"x8', add 3¢ each 2". Example: 30¢BF 16"x8'. 14"x16', add 50¢hr. labor each 1/2log. Example: 14"x16' price 27¢BF and $6/hr labor. Just example numbers, I wouldn't know what would work in your area. This way neither party gets the short end of the stick. Ha ha just had to put that in there.
The first thing to consider is what it costs you to operate your mill. If you don't know then everything is just a guess.
Ken is on the right track. I charge hourly if less than 10" diameter or 6' long, otherwise by the BF. 4/4 is .50, 8/4 is .40 etc. (details on my website) - all species.
Pay yourself a living wage. If you compete on price and your competition paid off their mill 20 years ago, uses family help, and thinks, "we don't need no stinkin' insurance"; you'll go broke.
Some of your competition may not pay taxes or Social Security on their earnings, so they can charge less. So, to convince a potential customer of your value, you want to exude quality. One way is to make sure your operation is neat and not trash covered. If you have a phone, make sure that the message exudes quality and professionalism; also return calls ASAP. Another is to have a brochure and business cards that exude quality and value. A nice sign could be helpful. You might even consider a name for your operation that implies quality. You might also want to have an LLC to show professionalism and also to possibly protect your home and other similar assets.