Log Weight and Log-Moving Equipment

Practical advice on guessing the weight of logs, and tips on equipment choices for log handling. July 28, 2006

Does anyone have experience roughly calculating the weight of logs by species, thickness, length, and when cut? I need to determine what kind of loader to buy for my new work: sawmilling.

For example, does anyone have an experienced guess concerning how much a green Douglas fir, 27 inches thick and 20 feet long would weigh... or a 23 foot green big leaf maple, 33 inches thick?

What is the ideal machine to pick up logs and lumber in varying terrain (level, not level, packed gravel, wet grass) and why? I've been told that these logs weigh 1,000 pounds and I've been told they weigh 6,000 pounds. I know, the best way to make sure is to put them on a scale, but I don't have the equipment to get them to a scale, yet. That's why I'm asking these questions. Everything depends on how much these logs weigh, and the so-called experts I've talked to are thousands of pounds apart in their estimates.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor I:
There is an online calculator here:
Log Weight Calculator

Just plug in the numbers and species (or closest match). A large wheeled loader with forks and a grapple seem to be a popular choice for handling logs around the mill. Can handle a variety of terrain and surfaces and are common enough to pick up secondhand and get parts for.

From contributor T:
Here's another discussion:

How to Move Logs

From contributor A:
I operate the largest portable sawmill company in the state of WA. I use a 4,000 pound forklift in the field and at home. I just got through moving logs about the size you're talking about. I can tell you that a 32" fir log 22' long weighs close to 3,500 pounds. It has about 500 board feet of lumber in it. It also depends when the tree was cut down and how much sap is in it.

From contributor B:
I run the smallest sawmill operation and tree farm in Washington State, so I cut the logs at issue routinely. A common-as-mud, used, full-size backhoe like a Case 580 or a John Deere 300-series can be had reasonably and will handle 6000lb logs. Forks on the front bucket and a hydraulic thumb on the rear bucket are the ticket.

From contributor J:
I could not afford all those things. I bought an old ugly 2.5 ton winch truck and a utility pole trailer for 2500.00. That is what I use.

From contributor H:
Wow! I have used the online calculator mentioned in this thread as well as two other ones routinely. Almost all of the wood that I cut on my fully hydraulic Timberking B-20 is Western Doug fir. I usually find that the calculators and the reality are sometimes pretty far apart. I almost always find that the fresh cut logs weigh 20 to 30% more. Last week was a perfect example. My mill and my backhoe together could not lift a 32" X 21' fresh cut Doug fir. To resolve a bet with the customer, he loaded the log onto a dump truck and had the log weighed by a certified scale. The log weighed 6200 pounds and was literally oozing water and sap. As far as moving these things, I have learned that every day will be different. Be prepared with a 12 volt winch and a couple of snatch blocks no matter which way you go.