Sawmillers Working with Tree Services

      Small sawmill operators discuss the ins and outs of obtaining logs from tree services. August 31, 2005

I have an opportunity to pick up a few logs per month curbside from a local tree service. This would save the tree service guy the hauling and landfill expense. So far I've picked up 3 nice poplar logs without any issue. I'd like to make the deal fair without being greedy. What type of arrangements are other sawyers making with tree services for urban logs? Also, any gotcha's other than the embedded nails, bolts, wire?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
I get many logs from tree services. They all have a market for their logs around here, either for firewood or to other sawyers. It is not a strong market, so most are willing to deal. I have contacted them all and only deal with the ones that are willing to do it my way. I pay fairly after I saw and see what I really get (bft and quality). I have been lucky in the nail department - they all have money invested in their equipment, so they understand trash wrecks yours. But you still get surprises.

Another source is the local street departments - get to know the city and township guys. They remove trees on city property. If there are excavation contractors around, give them a call. None of these ideas may work in your area, but where I live it is all farmland dotted with small towns - not many forests here on the prairie. There are 100 times as many trees per acre in and around towns than the flat farm ground surrounding them. I have to work with what I can get.

The firewood and mulch business in the Chicago subs has become so big that I can't get a log for a reasonable price anymore! My new landlord is in the tree service and mulch business and splits or grinds everything. It's making me sick! I'd be happy to run my chain mill through a couple of lagbolts in a log if I could just get one for a fair price. I am now trying to sell the mills.

I work in the tree care industry. Getting rid of debris is typically a big concern. Messing around with sawlogs isn't worth the money most of the time, unless the company is set up to work with many big logs. Smaller companies generally will give the logs away.

When I ran my company I would expect a few bucks from a "wood monger" if I used my equipment to load the logs onto their vehicle. Getting rid of the logs saved me lots of money.

If you can work out a profit sharing system, that is great for the tree company. Since the tree company bid the job to include paying to move the logs, you're saving them money.
Turning trees into lumber is always the best. I have lots of nice lumber waiting for projects ;)

I charge between $150-300 per dumpster when I pick up urban trees. Dumpsters are 16 feet long. Sometimes, if the trees are really good, I might not charge a thing for the box service. It seems that with the dumpsters, I get a few good logs and more than enough firewood.

One thing to be aware of is that some counties have tree diseases that won't allow you to transport diseased or susceptible trees out of the "zone." There are a couple of crews with which an icechest of cold ones will get you a nice load of logs.

Around these parts you have to pay something to get rid of the logs. One place makes lumber with a Wood-Mizer and grinds the waste. He charges about $50 per truckload or 26 cubic yard dumpster. Some of our landfills charge between $27 and $58 per ton. So my dumpsters help save them some money.

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