Value-Added Product Opportunities for Sawmill Operations

      Forum technical advisor Steve Brakovitch kicks off a discussion of value-added products that sawmillers can produce using their lumber products or even their incidental waste. May 13, 2005

I have really been focusing hard on incremental income from waste products and it seems to be successful. Bookmatching knife scales, pistol grips and beefy pen blanks seem to sell well for me on ebay and elsewhere. The log furniture avenue from the off fall slabs of walnut cedar and cherry are selling briskly and I am currently building inventory for a few fall festivals to sell not only the furniture, but cedar scent blocks, drawer liners from scrap 1/2 ERC, bird boxes, bat houses and cutting boards from scrap walnut cherry and dogwood.

Forum Responses
(Value Added Wood Processing Forum)
From Steve Bratkovich, technical advisor, Value Added Wood Processing Forum:
Sounds like you've developed a lot of good value-added products from your waste pile. Any advice to others on selling on eBay or at festivals?

From contributor B:
I have a friend who sawmills and fronts some of his wood to a carpenter buddy who builds small children's play houses, lawn mower storage sheds, etc. They split the money when the sheds sell. One shed was put out near the main highway with a big for sale sign on it with a phone number and they had nine inquiries within 24 hours.

From Steve Bratkovich, technical advisor, Value Added Wood Processing Forum:
Speaking of storage sheds, I know a fellow in southern California who makes rustic storage sheds from urban trees, 8 x 12' or so in size. He sells them delivered for $4500 and up. They've been good sellers for him, and all made from city trees that used to be taken to the landfill.

From contributor C:
We at LaMont Brothers are one of the grinding contractors with the Michigan Department of Agriculture emerald ash borer response project. We are recovering all of the ash logs as well as all other species from the urban forest in Southeast Michigan. We have a Wood-Mizer LT70 and are producing cross ties, lumber for furniture framing, and pallet lumber. I am continuing to research new products to produce out of this resource. We currently have two marshalling yards in Southeast Michigan where we receive this material at no cost to the local tree services. What cannot be recovered is ground into wood chip and is used as fuel to generate electricity. We hope to divert some of this material and produce colored mulch. I could use any suggestions you might have as to other value-added products we might be able to produce in order to increase our ability to reduce the volume of material that goes to the grinder. We would like to turn as much of this wood fiber into value-added products as possible.

From Steve Bratkovich, technical advisor, Value Added Wood Processing Forum:
Have you explored the market for survey stakes? I know a fellow in North Carolina (he runs a landfill) who makes stakes from various low-grade species and sells them to surveyors.

From contributor C:
Yes, we have looked into the survey stake market. We have a line on two pointers that are for sale and I have begun to contact local engineering firms to promote sales. Any other advice you might have to offer would be greatly appreciated.

From Steve Bratkovich, technical advisor, Value Added Wood Processing Forum:
Have you looked into the rustic storage shed market? The fellow I know in CA has done quite well with them. The key is to meet any local building codes so you would want to check this out. The trick is that they are built green from rough sawn lumber so no planing, drying, etc. is involved. This makes them truly rustic but does limit some applications for their use.

From contributor C:
Thanks for the information about the rustic sheds. This is something we had not given thought to. After some talk around the idea we have decided to draw up some plans for a couple of designs and build them here at our location and offer them as kits. We realize enough traffic that they will be seen and word will travel. This area is experiencing a building boom currently and there will be a shed behind every new home so the market has great potential. Once again thanks - if you think of anything additional we are always looking for new ideas and markets.

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