Lumber Drying Costs

The price of kiln-drying services varies by location. Here, pros discuss the factors that contribute to the cost. August 23, 2005

I am wondering how much it costs to dry your own wood. I am sickened by the cost disparity between green and kiln dried lumber from the mill. I'm paying between $300-500 per mbf. What would my cost per thousand be with my own kiln? Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
The cost varies with species, thickness, moisture content, and a lot of variables. But generally if you are drying lumber using your own equipment, the amortization of the investment, energy, insurance, labor, etc is about $75-150 per mbf.

From contributor J:
I just had roughly 2000 board feet of red oak dried in a Nile l200 unit and the cost for electricity was $92.00. He charged .30 cents a board foot. The wood was air dried to around 14 to 16% before it went in.

From contributor R:
So the electricity was $92 and he charged you $600?

From contributor J:
You got that right. That's the going rate though, if not a little higher. This was also done when the outside temps were below zero for the most part. It probably would have been less if it wasn't so cold outside.

From contributor E:
Don't forget to add in the cost of the first 12 charges of lumber that you ruin due to stain, drying too fast, poor stickering, etc.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I would add in spending 3 days at Memphis to take the drying class they offer. You should not lose any lumber to poor practices (reference to Contributor E's comment) after attending this class.

From contributor K:
I have been charging .02 per board foot per day. I'll stop drying when the customer says stop or run to the requested moisture content. I also charge a fee for loading and unloading but the electric rates continue to climb.

From contributor B:
Loading and unloading takes time which equals money. A substantial out-lay up front was required to build the kiln that needs to amortized. Stickers are a surprising expense. Support equipment is needed to move lumber stacks around. There is insurance and taxes on the property, upkeep on the kiln, etc. My point is that there is more cost involved than just the $92 for electricity. Yes, the guy made a profit, but you're brushing over a lot or other expenses he incurred.

From contributor M:
I charge .20 a board foot for drying, .20 for planing, and .15-.17 for sawing.

From contributor O:
We currently dry on average 500 mbf per month and the charges vary with the amount of energy required, species, moisture content, and the length of time in the kiln. Consider the cost of unloading, stacking, drying, unstacking, and packaging not to mention grading and sorting if called for, etc. 16/4 mahogany does cost more to dry than 4/4 poplar. Our custom drying charges start around 125/1000 and go up from there.