Mini-Scragg Mill Productivity

      A long, detailed discussion of what a small scragg mill can produce under various conditions, and whether it can make money for the owner. July 3, 2008

How many 4''X6'' cants can a Morton Mini-Scragg cut a day, on average?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor S:
I think the question is: "How many can *you* do in a day?" If you have a good crew to run it, you could probably run one a minute or faster. But how are you going to keep up with all the slabs, lumber and sawdust piling up? That crew is going to have to work pretty hard, and the work will soon become tedious. But if you have the right logs, labor, and market, it could be a moneymaker.

From contributor G:
With a Crowe Small Log Scragg, I have cut 200 cants (6 x 6 x 50) in one day. One man operation. Add in the 3 sided cants that's about 3000 bf per day. I know one mill that runs a TL of 6 x 6 x 8' a day with a three man crew with a Crowe SLS.

From contributor S:
How do you run the scragg with no help? Do you have some kind of return setup on it? Also, is the Crowe scragg company still in biz?

From the original questioner:
I was just thinking of getting a scragg to use from the logs left in the woods that are under 12'' and selling the cants to the pallet company about 30 miles away, who pay $320 a 1000'. I think I might be able to get a log trailer load for about $900 a load. Is it possible to make a profit with those numbers? Looks slim I think. Or maybe working on a percent with the logger might be a better option?

From contributor G:
You have at least one log on the feed chain at all times and most of the time you have two. Set the feed speed at about 20'/min and you have to walk about 4 steps from infeed to outfeed. The chain has push lugs about every 10' so you saw a cant/min. Set log #1 on feed chain and then when the lug gets to it, set log #2. Walk 4 steps, pull the slabs off, then the log #1 (I lay the log on a set of rollers so I do not have to carry it back). By this time log #2 has just got to the blades. Put log #1 back on the infeed and offbear log #2. You will miss one lug out of 4 to 6. And yes, the Crowe SLS is still being built.

From the original questioner:
480 min in an 8 hour day, so you would think 1 person could do 100 cants a day at 1 pass per min = 200 mins a day cutting time out off a 480 min day.

I guess even at 50 6'x6''s of 12'' or less on small logs isn't too bad for 1 man.

From contributor S:
Contributor G, sounds like you have a system that works good for you. Does cutting 200 6x6x 50" cants in a day include cutting the logs to length, banding and moving the cants, cleaning up the sawdust slabs, etc.? Can that saw cut 8' logs? Do you run the slabs through a resaw to get more boards?

To the original questioner: paying $900 for a trailer load of low grade logs and trying to make money depends on what he's putting in. What's the minimum diameter, what length, are they all straight and not rotten, etc.? If he wants to do business, ask him to lay out a trailer load, scale them on a Scribner scale, and look for crooked or rotten logs. You'll then get a feel for what kind of margin you can get out of that load and how many loads a week you'll need to run to pay your bills. Don't forget you'll have a lot of slabs and sawdust to deal with.

From contributor G:
Contributor S, you buy the logs cut at 50" to 52". When they unload you sort the logs by dim. You have slabs that you toss, some you put back for resaw, and some are 3 sided and ready for a bandsaw. It's faster to wait until you have 2 or more hours of slabs to resaw, then you speed the feed up. It will saw up to 8' long, but the log must be under 10" dim and straight. The 200/day is doing it all, with pre-cut logs.

To the original questioner: feed at 20'/min with lugs at 10' and you saw a log/min. You will saw for 4 hours and do the rest of the work for 4 hours.

From contributor A:
This is me running my Morgan Mini-Scragg after I just got it. With two men tailing and one on the tractor bringing up logs we can make about 800 to 1,000 bdft an hour with little (6 to 8 inch) 52 inch logs. Solo I can shuck about 40 logs an hour or about 200 bdft. Mine is a 50hp 460V model with a 12 ft log deck. Figure sawing cost is about $0.12 bdft.

From contributor S:
How do you figure $.12/bd/ft for sawing costs? Pallet cants bring about $.34-.37 in this area, and you have to pay for trucking, so if the logs cost $.175-.20 a bd/ft and you are figuring $.12 for sawing, it seems like there isn't any profit in it. Does the $.12 a ft. for sawing include a profit?

From the original questioner:
You haven't figured in the overrun. An 8'' log 4' long in log scale is 4 board feet and when you cut into a 6''x6'' it turns into 12 board feet. Not too many things that you can get more out then you put in! Nice setup, contributor A.

From contributor R:
Good point, contributor S. In my view, unless you have extremely cheap logs or the ability to saw a large volume, pallet cants are a loser all around. They are a great, valuable byproduct of grade sawing, and a good outlet for otherwise useless lumber, but it is sure a tough product to really make money on. I guess the one saving grace is there is almost always a strong demand, and they don't require much sales and marketing effort.

To the original questioner: You won't buy these low grade logs on a stick scale... You'll pay on weight, probably around #10-12,000 or more/mbdft. If you run the slabs on a resaw to recover a few boards, and are very careful, you may see a slight overrun... but nothing like you mentioned above.

From the original questioner:
I knew that. I'm not even sure I can buy any logs by the ton with the fuel prices as high as they are. I know how had it is to make any money in logging and sawing and that's the reason I sold everything a while back, even though I was getting by.

The only reason I started thinking of a Mini-Scragg was a friend who logs has been getting lots of calls of people wanting to sell timber to him, but when he gets out there to look at the timber, they're not worth cutting because of size. One guy just last week said he could cut what he wanted off his 60 acres and he'd sell all the timber for $3000, but most of the woods wasn't saw logs.

I was thinking that maybe with a Mini-Scragg I would be able to make a market for those small trees and make some money for him and me too. All he's mostly been doing is buying walnut and cherry. His uncle has a circle mill that he sells the low grade logs to, which he cuts up into cants.

From contributor S:
In order to figure out the profitability, you have to nail down a log price... by the ton, by the load, whatever. However you pay, if the price comes out to more than $175-$200 a thousand bd/ft of lumber, you won't make enough money. I've run the numbers on scragg mills a bunch of different ways and I always come back to all the waste. If you can run the slabs into a hog and sell mulch, your profitability is improved. But how does a cash-starved small operation afford to buy, maintain, and operate a hog and a big wheel loader to move the mulch? You can spend more for a hog and loader than all my sawmill stuff together is worth.

From the original questioner:
About the only numbers I know is, the log truck gets 5 MPG and the skidders use about 2 gallons an hour. The loader might use a gallon an hour. The logs would be the logs cut from the saw logs of the tree that are left in the woods to rot away. The thing I don't know is how much work it would take to skid and load. Might be too much work to get out of the woods, and that's the reason they are left in the woods. Cutting a walnut saw log and selling it for a few thousand dollars makes it seem like a waste of time messing with pallet cants, for some.

From contributor A:
I had just the scragg mill hooked up to power for two weeks all by itself before the edger and LT70 went in. I knew how much we had sawn and how many hours on it. I factored in blade, electric, labor, tractor time and fuel as well as machine cost. It came out to about $0.12 a bdft. This was running 4 ft logs that for the most part were 6 to 8 inches dib with a few larger and smaller. I get $560 mbdft for cedar 4 1/4 cants delivered 40 miles away and get $8.00 ton for slabs. I buy cedar for $75 a ton for whole trees with 6 inch tops and these 4ft logs are the ends of logs after we buck out orders for longer and larger stuff. We also buy small logs by the cedar scale and pay $350 mbdft for them. So at $0.35 for the log and $0.12 sawing cost and $150 hauling of 3 mbdft of cants, I have $1,560.00 in the load and will get $1,680.00 for it as well as 2.5 tons of slabs which they will pick up when I have a TT load.

I buy pine and oak the same way and cut the little ends that come from every load into 4x4's to stack on and sell some to trucking companies for blocking. I do not make money, but recover what would be wasted in a useful way. Now you must remember that we go through a TT load (30 tons) of logs a day here and produce quite a few little logs. On pine we also chuck small 8 ft logs through, then put them on the LT40 and make 2x4's out of them.

Contributor S was right in pointing out that you can not make much money doing this just for the pallet market. Contributor R was correct in pointing out that you will buy these logs by the weight. It would kill you to have to buy many of these logs by bucking them off and scaling every single one. It takes 200 logs an hour to run full tilt. But if you have bought products and need a way to get rid of them this is a good way. You could, with a resaw and mini scragg and a good supply of junk, make it work. But it will take just making a few cents per bdft profit, so you will have $100,000 tied up and looking for a few pennies. Many have gone into producing pallet stock to just go under. Lots of equipment for sale.

From contributor E:
Hey, don't mess with contributor A. He knows his business inside and out. Notice it took him six days to reply - he is not sitting around doing nothing. Keep up the good work!

From the original questioner
I now scrap the Mini-Scragg mill idea and leave the wood in the woods to rot.

From contributor G:
You can buy a SLS for about $8000, run it off a tractor pto, and made some money. Now at $100,000? No way.

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