Pricing for Selling Nutwood Lumber From Your Sawmill Business

If you run a small sawmill business there can be good money to be made in selling nutwood lumber from your nut orchard.
By John T. Burgoyne
December 2000/January 2001
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A prime nutwood sawlog with a diameter of 2 feet or 3 feet at the base of the trunk will sell for $1,000 or more.

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Learn about sawmill pricing when selling nutwood lumber from your nut orchard. 

With a good-sized nut orchard, you might find yourself running a small nutwood sawmill and plank-drying but in a decade or two when you will be selling your nutwood lumber. A prime nutwood sawlog with a diameter of 2 feet or 3 feet at the base of the trunk will sell for $1,000 or more, up to five figures for veneer logs of black walnut and a few others. High-quality black walnut wood is increasingly rare and is therefore valuable.

"At the wholesale level, in 1974, in northwest Ohio, $35,000 was paid for a 37 foot-diameter black walnut tree. In 1985, the Exotic Veneer Company of Borden, Indiana, paid $90,000 for a single veneer log," reports a seller of newly-bred, improved walnut cultivars (American Forestry Technology, Inc., West Lafayette, Indiana). Less perfect logs can be cut, sectioned and kiln-dried, then planed smooth into hardwood furniture lumber that commonly retails for up to $10 dollars a foot. As you've discovered if you've worked with wood in the past, the dimensions of hardwood boards are not uniform, as are 2 by 4 by 8s and other familiar dimension lumber cut from fast-growing, uniformly-shaped softwoods like the Douglas fir used in building construction. These days, with diminishing supplies of hardwood trees, the dimensions of hardwood boards vary widely. Commercial and hobby furnituremakers must not only trim hardwood boards to length and width; they must also plane them according to clients' desired thickness.

Among nutwoods, black walnut is the priciest, but the best baseball bats, ax and garden-tool handles are made from hickory. Pecan and butternut are prime veneers for kitchen cabinets, and lumber from modern blight-resistant chestnuts will easily find a market in antique building restoration and reproductions of rustic-type Colonial furniture.

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