Running a Small-Scale Sawmill Business

How to run a successful small-scale sawmill business, including business advertising tips, selection of saw equipment and protecting your investment.


| November/December 1982



Small-scale sawmill business

It's hard to overlook the fact that—even if you cut the highest-quality lumber and sell it at low prices—you darn well better advertise if you want to get customers.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

A few brief profiles of folks who have been successful in the small-scale sawmill business. 

If you're the type of person who prefers the clean smell of fresh sawdust to the scent of expensive cologne, if you can imagine the beauty of the sudden quiet when a saw is shut down after a long morning's workout, and if you like the idea of pocketing an honest profit as a happy customer drives away with a pickup load of lumber . . . then it might be worth your while to explore the possibility of owning and operating your own family small-scale sawmill business.

Don't be mistaken, though . . . sawyering is not an easy profession to take up. Far from it . . . it demands muscle-straining, back-taxing work! Still, since it does allow you to be your own boss—and to earn as much (or as little) as your energy, ambition, and luck will permit—cutting lumber for a living can sure beat the heck out of working for someone else . . . either in a stuffy factory or an air-conditioned office.

Furthermore, despite the weakness of the economy and the mounting power of the large lumber "factories" (which are causing the demise of small operations everywhere), a few well-organized, intelligently run, independent sawmills are somehow managing to remain financially solvent—and even to thrive—during these difficult times.

But why not learn the facts from "them that's doin' "? Here are a few brief profiles of folks who are now successful small-scale sawyers . . some observations as to why they're making a go of it when others are facing bankruptcy . . . and a number of suggestions as to how, if you've a mind to, you might do the same.

SMALL-SCALE SAWMILLS: HIGH ACHIEVERS

To supplement the income of his working Ohio farm, Ronald H. bought—in 1978—a Mobile Dimension saw that he could hitch to the back of his pickup and haul out into the woods to log and cut boards for his neighbors. He chose the portable outfit, rather than a larger circular saw, because he knew that he'd be cutting only during off farming seasons. Currently, still working only a few months a year with his Mobile saw, Ron is pleased to say that he and his mini-mill can make as much as $200 a day, which is double what he was able to earn when he started out.

ksenia zaharova
8/1/2012 1:50:37 PM

Very detailed and very useful article, a real "how-to" instruction for beginnners. I've been also thinking about starting a small sawmill business (I've changed my mind though, but it's another story) and while surfing the web found one interesting idea for such business - sawmill for sunken logs http://www.lowbudgetprosper.com/2012/08/01/sawmill-business-sunken-treasure/ Never thought of sunken trees as a base for business, but it turns out it is and it brings really high profits.






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