Yield from Small Logs

Rough rules of thumb for estimating the expected yield from sawing small logs. March 14, 2006

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I thought that some of you might be interested in the yield that can be achieved from small logs. These data are not for an operation using a small band saw. You should probably add 6 to 8% for thin bands.
A 6" diameter log yields 34% lumber, 25% sawdust, and 41% slabs.
A 10" diameter yields 53%, 21%, and 26% respectively.
A 14" diameter yields 60%, 20% and 20% respectively.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
What length log are these estimates based on? Is this one inch lumber or two inch? Also, you can get a six by eight tie out of a ten inch top. It would be interesting to know the figures then.

From contributor B:
I think he means this as a general rule. I notice more work and more slabs the smaller the logs gets.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I believe that these are based on 10' or 12', but I would have to look it up. It was 4/4. Certainly a tie will help yields, but to get a good tie out of a 10 diameter log is tough. The most common size is 7 x 9 and it would take a perfectly straight log at a bit over 11" to get a 7 x 9. For a 6 x 8, it would exactly come out of a 10" log if straight and round, not oval.

From contributor A:
I think were allowed a bit more wane on our ties in Western Canada but 10" is about the limit. I run a Lucas and do cut small wood from time to time but it just kills my production and recovery. It is good to see some hard numbers.

From contributor C:
I run a small bandsaw mill business, custom sawing and cutting and sawing from my tree farm. I cut small diameter logs of white pine and other softwoods. I saw top and bottom to make a 4 inch cant. These are great around the mill for piling lumber or log storage. If the log is a good one it will make 4 x 4 that can be sold. These small diameter logs are cut to length in the woods at 8' 5". When I saw, I figure that to get the width I want. The rule of thumb is 3 inches over on the small end of log. In other words, if I want a 6 inch width, the log has to be 9 inches on small end. This helps with the wane problem. The sawyer that taught me used to say the log will only make what it will make its up to you to figure out to get the most yield and grade.