Frequently Asked Questions

Sawing Questions

Question: How much can you cut in a day? When you do cut?
I usually can cut around 1500 boardfoot/8hr day. The minimum charge is 2 hours. To get an estimate of how much wood you have and how much it will cost check out Sizing your job. This will help to give you a rough estimate of how much wood you'll get from your trees and how long it'll take to mill the logs to lumber.
Question: How much will it cost me to have my log cut up?
Having your logs sawn is very economical; you will get large volume of high quality lumber at a cost far below what you would spend at a retail store. My pricing is available at Pricebook.

The time/cost to saw the logs depends mostly on the log's size and species. As a very rough estimate, a 12" diameter 8 foot long log will take around 25 minutes; an 18" diameter 8' long log will take around 40 minutes to saw; 24" diameter will be at least 1 hour. Again these are only rough estimates; every log is a little different.

Question: What sized logs are good to cut? What is the minimum and maximum dimensions the mill can handle?
In terms of diameter of logs, my mill can handle anything from 6" to 40". The mill is most efficient (you get the most wood for the least money) with logs 15" to 25" in diameter. While I have done sawn many 100s of logs 32" and larger, the process is slow and labor intensive. There is a lot of wood in these logs but it takes a lot of time to get this wood. For smaller diameter logs 6" to 10", I caution you that there is not a lot of wood in those logs. I have cut small logs many times; economically the amount of wood gotten for these small logs may not justify the expense.

In terms of length of logs, my mill can handle anything from 4 to 21 feet in length. Most logs I saw are usually between 6 to 12 feet long. Unless you need very long lumber it usually best to cut a long log into 2 shorter ones before starting the milling process. Doing this will increase the total amount of wood you will receive, reduce the overall cost of milling because shorter logs are easier to work, and will decrease the waste pile.

Question: What species of trees make good lumber?
I specialize primarily in hardwood species. Species that I frequently cut are:
  • Red and White Oak: Great for furniture, flooring, cabinets. If the first log (the one that was closest to the ground) is nicely shaped consider having the log quarter sawn.
  • Black Walnut: Very pretty colors. Black walnut is not pure black; rather is it an amazing mix of colors: chocolates, dark reds, greens, browns -- all topped off with a pure white outside ring (called sap wood). Walnut is a fun wood to work with. Great for mantels.
  • Hard Maple: A classic wood that is incredibly hard and bent/scratch resistant. Much of the maple that grows in Southern Minnesota will have a white colored outside of the logs and a brown colored center (sometimes called "heart stain".) During the summer months it is important to have maple sawn up as soon as possible after cutting it down.
  • Ash: One of my favorite woods to cut. There are a tremendous amount of ash trees in our area. Ash wood is very strong while being lighter and easier to work with than oak. When stained ash looks very similar to white oak.
  • Cherry: Another classic wood. Red-ish in color and medium in hardness, cherry is a great wood for furniture and cabinets. Use for inside applications.
  • Red Elm: Some of the most interesting grain of any tree in the area. It is great for both inside and outside applications. The elms that died from Dutch Elm disease even 30 years ago are frequently still sawable.
  • Hackberry: A relative of elm. Very interesting colors: whites, browns, yellows and sometimes green. Use for inside applications.
Question: I have a tree that needs to be cut down. Can you do it?
No. I am not insured to cut trees down. This is dangerous work that takes specialized equipment and should be left to a professional tree service. All of my work starts once the tree is on the ground. If you want to have lumber made from your tree, contact me before the tree service begins and I can give you lots of advice on how to proceed.
Question: What should I tell the person that cuts my tree down on how best to cut it?
The biggest things to tell him (or if you do it yourself) is to:
  1. Cut the bottom log as close as the ground as possible. In general tree services will cut that first log 2 or 3 ft off of the ground. This is very bad for lumber because it wastes a couple of feet of the best wood in the tree!
  2. Either keep the saw log as one long log and I can size it when I see it or if they want to do the sizing target 6->10ft logs as a ball park.
  3. Tell them to cut above the first crotch of the tree (e.g. leave the crotch attached to the log below it.) Crotch wood an be really beautiful stuff.
  4. Branch wood usually does not make good saw logs because there are internal stresses in the branches from growing at an angle to the ground. If the branch was close to vertical it may be saw-able.
Question: I have logs from an urban tree I would like to have sawn. Other sawmills told me we won't do the job. Why? Will you cut the logs?
The reason why many sawmills stay away from urban logs is because they tend to have lots of nails, screws, etc in them. With large circular sawmills, hitting a nail is very, very dangerous. It can destroy many teeth on the blade that can go flying. It is scary.

I cut urban logs very frequently. My mill is a bandmill. When I hit a foreign object it will likely destroy the band but NOT cause injury. When this occurs the band is changed and cutting resumes; the process takes less than 5 minutes. My prices for replacement for the destroyed band can be found in My Pricebook Page.

Question: I have a log that is X size, how much lumber can I expect to get out of it?
Knowing much much lumber is in a log is not an exact science. The shape and defects in a log can effect the yields dramatically. However if the log is an "average" log there are long established logging scales to help.

An excellent lumber calculator is available at WoodWeb.

When you measure the log go with the width inside the bark at the smaller end and use the Scribner scale. For example using the calculator shows that an 15" diameter log that is 8ft log should yield approximately 70 bdft.

Question: What location should the log be cut at?
My sawmill is portable. I frequently travel up to 100 miles from Mankato MN to cut logs onsite. My mileage charges can be found at: Pricebook. I charge by the round trip mile for travel with the mill and/or trailer.

There is several things to consider when deciding whether to have your logs sawn on site or transported to my location. If you intend to air dry the lumber at your place and don't mind the process of sawing lumber at your location, then onsite sawing is usually the best/easiest solution. If you want your wood kiln dried, it is then usually easier to transport the logs to me for processing. I have a trailer I can transport logs with. Mileage charges apply.

Question: How you I dry the wood once it's cut?
When thinking about cutting you should also consider how to dry the wood. In general there are 2 ways: air drying and kiln drying. If you have the space & time air drying works well. For 1" thick boards it will take 6 or 9 months to air dry the wood before it is usable. If you need the wood sooner than that or are thinking about thicker pieces, kiln drying the wood is something to consider. My kiln can handle up to 2000 boardfeet/load. The smallest run size is 250 boardfeet. In general loads through my kiln take about 1 week.

Kiln Drying Questions

Question: What is the capacity of the kiln?
My kiln can handle up to approx 2000 boardfeet of 4/4" material. It can also handle thicker stock material; I frequently do 8/4" and 10/4" material. The chamber of the kiln is 25' in length and 30" width. Long/wide boards up to those dimensions can be dried. The kiln has a series of heating blankets; for a drying load 1 through 6 blankets can be used. The blanket must be filled before the drying can begin. The smallest load (1 blanket) is 250 bdft of 4/4" material.
Question: How fast does your kiln dry the wood?
Different woods dry at different rates; a typical load in the kiln will take 7-10 days. The kiln can dry freshly cut material but I strongly recommend first air drying the wood for at least a few weeks to remove some of the free moisture. This is easier on the wood and will improve the yield through the kiln. Check out our air drying page for more info on air drying.
Question: Can you dry really wide, long or thick material?
Yes! I have successfully dried extreme sized material in the past. I always caution the customer that extreme size material is risky; it can "move" (e.g. cup, bend, twist, crack) during the drying process. For extreme size material or material with exotic grain patterns, I strongly recommend slowly air drying the wood first to remove some of the free moisture in the wood before putting it into the kiln. This will improve the likelihood that it will dry correctly. Even doing this is not a guarantee; drying extreme sized wood is difficult and risky.
Question: In the pricebook it says "there are additional handling charges" for extremely thick or heavy pieces. Why? What are these charges?
The reason for the extra charges is that I have to hand load the pieces into and out of the kiln; lifting this extreme wood is not easy. Also in an attempt to keep these really large/heavy pieces flat/true I will usually dry the piece in stages with 2 or more times through the kiln.

Planing/Molding Questions

Question: What kinds and sizes of millwork can you make? Can you make flooring? Paneling? Siding?
We can do a huge variety of profiles through our planer/molder. Most often we do V-groove paneling and tongue and groove flooring but other moldings are also very possible. The variety of planer and molding profiles we can produce using the PH260 is AMAZING! The PH260 can produce up to 10" wide material and down to 1/4" thickness. If we already have the knife profile for your pattern there are no knife charges; if we do not, we charge only our purchase price for your knives.
Question: What steps are involved in making the millwork?
In general there are 3 steps needed to turn a log into millwork: sawing, drying, final milling. We can do any or all of these steps at your choice. The pricing is ala carte for each step and can be found in My Pricebook Page. A detailed description of each step can be found at our What To Expect page.
Question: How long does the process take?
Please call to get information on current availability and scheduling information. The time to complete a project varies based on what the project is and the total volume needed. We do a lot of hardwood floors and paneling, typically in the 100->1000 sqft range. If we are doing the full process (sawing, drying, molding), a job like that will typically take: 1 day or less to cut, 1 week/10 days in the kiln -- based on availability, 1-2 days for molding work. These time assume the availability of the sawmill, kiln, etc.
Question: I have some logs or boards. How much will it cost to turn that into flooring/paneling/siding/etc?
We do custom jobs for people with logs and/or already cut boards frequently. Our pricing is "a la carte"; we only charge for the work you need done based on the pricing found in our Pricebook. As a very rough ballpark if we do the full process starting from log form (sawing, drying, molding) the cost will be around $2->$2.25/sqft for typical molding profiles.
Question: How much product should I order to cover X square feet of flooring or paneling?
We recommend you order 10% or 15% more material than area you are trying to cover to account for waste during install. For example if you are covering 100 sqft of wall with V-Groove paneling, it is a good idea to order approx 110->120 sqft of material.
Question: I have X square feet of boards. How many square of flooring/paneling will that cover?
With each step of the operation the volume of material is reduced as the wood is worked. We work with this material on a daily basis and do everything we can to reduce waste. Based on that experience, when you order we may recommend options to you that will improve the yields based on the raw material you have. A typical, safe estimate is that you need 50-75% more material at the start of the process than you need for your finished project. For example you will need approx 150-175 sqft of rough-sawn, green (not kiln dired) boards, to yield 100 sqft of finished flooring or paneling.

Services We Provide

We are a "full service" shop and can do all of the steps to turn your logs into lumber and beyond.
  • Sawing
    Start the process with custom sawing.
  • Kiln Drying
    Next the wood needs to be dried.
  • Pricebook
    The pricing is ala carte. We do as much or as little as you want.
  • Hardwood Sales
    We mostly work in oak, walnut, ash, and maple.
  • Live Edge Slabs
    Live edge slabs make beautiful surfaces of all kinds.

Our Work

Advanced Vacuum Kiln Drying Of Lumber
Bandsaw Sawmill Gets The Most From Your Logs
Sustainably Harvested  Live Edged Wood Slab
We produce a variety of Millwork