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Cabes
Cabes's picture
Portable sawmilling business

Hi, my name is Caleb, I’m interested in buying a Norwood portable mill, mostly for personal use but I’m also wondering if I’ll be able to use the mill to make a side income.

I live in Northern Michigan, I’m worried about the market for portable sawmilling in my area.

what are your thoughts/ experiences with portable sawmilling businesses?

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

There are multiple layers of potential income, once you have a supply of wood.

First, you can sell the wood directly; can you identify a need in your area for rough lumber? I would think that fence and gate material would be an option, as well as deck material for trucks or trailers.

Aside from that, you can possibly sell slabs or seasoned wood to local woodworkers. If you get an LM29, you can cut a slab over 22" wide; that could make counter tops for some users. (most base cabinets are 24" deep, so with a bit of a strip in back, the 22" slab would make a beautiful counter). Keep in mind this would probably be seasoned or kiln dried wood, which would require another step than fence or deck material.

I have a bit of extra wood stocked up, so I'm working with my 15 year old grandson to make wine racks from some scrap pieces to sell at a local furniture shop. If you like woodworking, you can provide yourself a cheap supply of raw material to supply your woodworking.

 

Cabes
Cabes's picture

Thanks,

yes I enjoy woodworking and would definitely use the mill for woodworking supplies!

I have noticed other sawyers in the area but I don’t know what they all do or if they just have a saw for personal use.

so I’d definitely need to do a lot of looking around to see if I can find a niche market or a need in the area.

thanks for your input and advice!

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Here's something I am playing around with.

Using scraps to make smaller items. Here are some wine bottle holders.

 

 

Cabes
Cabes's picture

Interesting!  Thats neat.    I do some woodworking and id love to make some furniture like coffee tables and counter tops etc...

i was given a planer earlier this year, so I’d be able to plane my own boards if desired,

Where do you live? And how successful have you been in your area? What do you do a lot of? 

I live in northern Michigan so there’s plenty of wood around, and there’s seems to be a pretty good amount of sawmills as well, some portable but most are big stationary operations. 

Like I said I want a mill mostly for personal use but I’m just trying to get a better idea of what I can do to make it pay for itself in my area.

Thankyou for your input. 

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

Some people seem to find their niche and develop nice little side careers with wood.  Promoting myself and my woodwork has always seemed too daunting.  So I build things that are needed around the home and give gifts to friends and family   -    and there is worth in that (imagine if you had to buy it all).  You will have access to unique woods and grain patterns, beautiful colors and unusual cut sizes.  The future is open for an artist willing to push into the market.  Trying to compete with conventional manufacturers, some with employees making 50 cents an hour, is a fool's errand.  I like what Garrison is doing  -  items worthy of being sold in specialty shops, like Pier 1, to people with disposable income.  Very nice, looks like some careful bandsaw work on the single.  If that's an eight bottle holder, it doesn't tip over?

Cabes
Cabes's picture

Thank you!

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

So far, I'm still developing some sample pieces for a local furniture shop. They are on the edge of Wine Country here, where numerous wine tours head out to the hills. The dealer identified that having some wine racks that could be fit into a bookcase or other furniture is something he gets asked about, but he doesn't have many sources (he sells local furniture).

So, I have 4 models, my 15 year old grandson is working on his concept. His is a 4 pack carrier with a handle, that can be laid on the side in a bookcase (or on a table). Hopefully next week my grandson's will be done, and we'll take them to see what he likes.

I generally like to avoid the marketing side, so I find an existing partner.'The big one has feet that extend just past the wine swell, so the weight for the bottles is supported. There is also a small foot running behind, so it doesn't tip when empty.

For the finish, I use linseed oil/turpentine, and for color, I add artist oils to tint. This gives a lot of options for small batch colors. Then I cover with spray lacquer or poly.

http://www.winsornewton.com/na/shop/oil-colour/winton-oil-colour

eddiemac
eddiemac's picture

Artist's oils to tint  -  very neat.  I thought you had walnut, looking at the first 8-hole picture.

Bill
Bill's picture

Here's a design for you Roland keeps the corks in wine bottle moist . Made a lot of these to give away just took the pic didn't have a wine bottle handy so use a ? bottle .

Cabes
Cabes's picture

Hhmm, interesting! I live close to some wine and fruit country as well, 

 

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Bill,

Great design! I can see that the balance could hold with both an empty and full bottle, with the right angles. Something to keep the tech types and millenial folks excited. There's a lot of both around here.

 

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

If you need ideas, check out the Pinterest web site.  If you can't find inspiration there, there's no hope for you!  Etsy is another site to check out, too, both for ideas and a way to sell on the internet.  Disks for weddings, ranging in size from coasters to cake platters seem pretty popular.  Cool wine bottle holder, but I can see problems if there are cats in the house!

Bill
Bill's picture

Took me a few tries to get the angle but it will hold no matter how much is is in the bottle empty, full or everything inbetween. I made these and a few other designs over 10 years ago si don't recall the angle .

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

If given a calculator and a couple years, I could possibly remember enough to calculate from the specific gravity, the diameter of the various sections of the bottle, the weight of the glass, and such. Instead, I think trial and error would be much faster. That is what experience teaches you....

I'm very impressed, and I may decide to borrow the idea. If so, I'll call it the Bill Stand.

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

For all of those of us that want bigger logs than our mill can handle, here's a good link:

 

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-paul-bunyan-load-september-1952.html

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Latest news: took 5 variations over to the furniture shop, they were interested in (and kept) all 5. They also mentioned some other options they wish they had, so I'm working on some floor standing  models.

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

They mentioned that the 'distressed look' is popular. They also loved the fact that I could tint to any shade I liked.

DavidM
DavidM's picture

Distressed look is popular right now - a guy I’ve cut cedar and cypress for has his own process where he sand blasts, bleaches then leaves boards in the sun for a while to give it that old distressed look.  He seems to do pretty good selling his stuff. 

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Just for fun, I had a void in one plank I was planning on using for a wine bottle holder. I though I would have fun with it, and I borrowed an idea from a knife makers forum; I used some 5 minute epoxy mixed with a bit of sawdust to fill the hole, then some epoxy with artist oils for color. Still curing, so I don't have the final product yet.

Here's a picture. The wood is cedar, with some marks from stickers and sunburn. I expect sanding to make the wood prettier.

 

Follow-up:

I wasn't impressed with the outcome. When I sanded, it made the finish dull, and the epoxy shrank a bit, so now I have a concave. I'll try and save it by sanding down another 3/32", but I don't know what to do to get the color bright again. Maybe polish? Sanding just leaves wood dust in the face.

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

That's a pretty piece of wood.  I think that if you sand it to 320 grit, then apply lacquer or urethane, then give it a final sanding & polish, it will be smooth as glass.  Might try a small area first, though.

DavidM
DavidM's picture

I was sawing some spalted oak and there was an area that insects had bored out in the middle of the board.  Later a large wood maggot fell out of the board so I picked it up and preserved it in formaldehyde when I got home.  Once board was dry I made a small table with it and put the maggot back in the void and filled it with clear epoxy.  Looked really good until I sanded it, then I couldn’t see inside the epoxy anymore - thought I had ruined it.  But as soon as I put polyurethane over it I could see the insect again.  After a couple of coats of polyurethane I put a final coat of epoxy over it to level the low spot in the void and removed all the bubbles with a propane torch. Turned out really good even though it looked like it was ruined when I sanded it. 

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

Thanks! There's hope yet, I guess.