I have a one man shop here in Connecticut. I'm very close to buying a Lucas sawmill to process wood for my business. My last kitchen project's lumber was over $3,000, so it seems to be a viable alternative to buying and it's a lot of fun, too. I've already gotten offers of beautiful logs from arborists around here, so supply is not a problem.
Are any of you processing your own lumber and is it worth it in the end? I'm trying to find a downside, besides cost, but haven't been able to yet.
My experience has been that anything done outside your core business is a drain on not only time, but its closest relative in business, money. Decide what you want to make money for you. Trying to beat the system often ignores the reality of the situation. How are you going to make money while you are saving money by doing even more work? How are you going to handle the volume of material that comes along with the sawmill enterprise? They make a mess of sawdust, slabs, and low grade material that must find a home. Urban trees can yield wonders, it's true, but very often they don't give up cabinet grade material. You would be much better served to spend the time shopping around for better suppliers of materials in your price range. Think of all the work that has been done to produce the lumber you buy for one large project. Why do you think you can do all that work for less than the businesses that are in business to do those very operations? I once had this fantasy too, and dude, it's just about that... a fantasy. I would much rather raise my prices to cover the costs of high-end materials than try to beat the system... again.
However, there are times that I want a certain wood that is either really expensive or just plain unavailable, and sawing it makes more sense. I just priced Q-sawn white oak at $5.75/BF for 6" wide and smaller. Here's a case where I'm better off to have logs sawn if I need a bunch ( > 1K BDFT ). Another instance: I wanted to make some house doors out of Q-sawn pine. Doors were to finish out at about 1 3/4 thick. Try finding Q-sawn clear pine that thick. If you find it, let me know - I had to have it sawn and dried. What I'm trying to say is that if you're just buying run of the mill wood for your projects, I don't think you'll even come close by sawing it yourself (fun not factored in). However, if you want some specialty wood, there's real opportunity here.
Still - I would highly recommend you go through the process of having someone else saw up some logs, and have someone else dry the wood for you a few times because you'll learn so much if you're there for those processes. I bought a nice circular mill about a year ago, and haven't even set it up yet, because as luck would have it, I've met an excellent band saw mill owner/operator since then. I'll not even think of trying to saw my nice big white oak logs myself on my circular mill until I've spent a whole lot of time learning on poplar and junk pine.