How To Start A Firewood Business

How to start a firewood business. If you live anywhere with access to both rural and urban areas, you can create your own home business. Includes buying mill slabs, drying wood, cutting firewood and finding buyers.

| September/October 1985

How to start a firewood business. Enterprising business folks with access to rural and urban areas need only a little hard work to set up your own $10-an-hour enterprise. 

Wood's wood, no matter how you slice it.
— John Vivian

Anyone whose residence is within an easy commute of an area where the growl of chain saws is more common than the rumble of traffic, and near a medium to large city, likely can develop a profitable little fuelwood sales business . . . without owning a private woodlot, a large truck with a log boom, tree skidders, several chain saws, a log splitter, or most any of the other expensive tools normally associated with firewood harvesting and selling.

Do you know how to start a firewood business? By purchasing large quantities of slabs from sawmills, then cutting them into stove-sized lengths and selling them to urban and suburbanites for less than they'd have to pay for standard cordwood (and for a whole lot less than the costly "atmosphere fire" bundles sold in most large cities).

Mill slabs (also called mill ends or mill-end slabs, depending on where you live) are the one- to six-inch-thick slices of outer wood and bark that are sawn off in order to square a log before it can be sliced into boards. Since slabs accumulate quickly but have no real commercial value, most mills are happy to sell them on the cheap. Some sawyers even give slabs away when the scraps begin to clutter the mill yard.

Near my home in the Massachusetts Berkshires, a strapped bundle containing from half to three-quarters of a cord of slabs goes for $10. A logging-truck load that cuts up into about eight cords sells (delivered and stacked in your yard) for $110. And with cut, split, and aged log-style cordwood selling in nearby cities and towns for up to $100 per cord, there's a lot of income potential in each cord of those budget-priced slabs.

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