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Thread: Online board foot calculator?

  1. #1
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    Default Online board foot calculator?

    What i'm looking for is something that will let me input the deminsions of a tree I have to cut down to try to find out how many board feet of lumber i could yield from it. The ones i've found mostly are for calculating how much you will have to buy to make a project based on the size inputs you enter.
    FYI- the tree has a straight run of approx. 20 feet tall and a diameter of 7' around.

  2. #2
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  3. #3
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    Thanks Gary...according to that calculator it says i have 8000 board feet in a trunk that is 20' tall by 84" diameter, does that sound right to you? If i was to cut, stack and dry it and sell it at $1.00bft thats $8,000!

  4. #4
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    Jack..
    I used my hand held and get 6500+. This doesnt take into account that most small sawyers dont use computer controlled cutting logistics, or any other mitigating factors like center rot. I have had portable band saw rigs cut standing timber in the past. The usual yield is 15 to 20% under the timber cruisers estimate.

    Another thought... most of the air dried lumber I use is 10+ years drying. And we may still send it to the kiln.
    Gary

  5. #5
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    In 10 years i'll be too old to want to fool with it then! I have a friend who has a big sawmill and last time i visited he had his kiln building shell up so i'll have to call him and see if i can get him to kiln dry it for me.
    I did get different reading from that site from between 6750 and 8000.
    If i could get a reasonable amount for the wood it would help pay for the addition to my shop.

    Any idea what is a reasonable price paid for logs/bft from a sawmill?

  6. #6
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    Jack,

    I might be reading too much into your particular phrasing in the first posting, but does "diameter of 7' around" mean that the log/tree is 7' in circumference or 7' in diameter? If it's circumference, then you'd obviously divide 7' by 3.14.

    If you in fact have a 7' diameter "monster" log, then keep in mind that you'll have fewer options for the number/type of mills that can harvest the lumber for you. Most portable bandsaw mills like the Woodmizer can't handle logs that size (neither the diameter nor the weight). Sawmills like the Lucas mill can be set up around the log (as it's laying on the ground) and it can be harvested in place.

    However, if you've never moved thousands of board feet of green lumber by hand, be prepared for a serious workout. I owned a portable sawmill for over 8 years and harvested thousands of board feet of lumber, but towards the end of that venture, the only logs that I would bother with are high value species like cherry and walnut. When you consider that it takes the same amount of time to cut oak (worth 1 or 2 bucks a board foot) versus cherry/walnut (worth 3 or 4 bucks a board foot), the ROI for the low-value species is pretty dismal.

    And finally, keep in mind that cutting the lumber is only half the battle - few people will buy green lumber and drying it yourself takes either time or money (paying for kiln services or building a kiln yourself). It's important to end coat the boards (preferably the logs before cutting) and to stack/sticker them very soon after cutting. If done improperly, the quality and thus the value of all your efforts can diminish quickly due to degradation and insect infestation.

    I don't want to paint an overly negative picture, but "quick profits from large logs" is a trap that many woodworkers fall into if they haven't attempted the process before. The Woodweb site has an excellent forum on sawing and drying that has been very helpful to me in the past:

    http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/forums/sawdry.pl

    It's moderated by Gene Wengert, who has written books on this topic and often chimes in with answers.

    Hope this info helps.

    John

  7. #7
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    I had about 1500 bf of red oak and what i did to dry it was to sticker stack it on a level flat platform and cover it with a 6 mill black plastic. and leave one end open and i put an attic fan in the other end to pull air thru the wood pile .I let it run day and night for about 5 months and it turned out preety good for the price. Be sure you seal the ends of the boards very good or they will dry too fast , split and you will mave a bunch of warped firewood.

  8. #8
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    Boy John you sure know how to rain on my parade huh? lol.
    I was in fact incorrect in my term of measurement. It is 7'2" in CIRCUMFERENCE. That is taking a measuring tape and wrapping it around just like you would do if you were measuring your waist for a pair of pants.

    Taking that and plugging it in to the calculator gets me far less board feet.
    Cutting this would not be a problem for this friend. He has a full size sawmill a big operation. When i have helped him in the past we have cut bigger logs than this.

    I tried to wrap my arms around it and i have a 6' wingspan and i got about half way around only.

    Believe me i hold no illusions about making a ton of money (well not now since John burst my bubble, lol) and i know how much work it is.

    I just don't want to give valuable wood away or have it taken to the dump.

  9. #9
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    Jack,

    Though it's raining here in Atlanta this morning, I didn't mean to dump cold water on your sawmilling plans.... :-)

    My first reaction when I read about a 7' diameter oak is that they rarely get to that size. Several weeks ago I was called in to consult with a local country club, who was rennovating their facility and removing a pair of huge oak trees that they wanted to potentially salvage. I measured them at 176" in circumference, or 56" in diameter at chest height. Trunks were free of limbs and defects up to 35'. Unfortunately, they were in close proximity to some buildings and in a location that prevented the use of heavy equipment, so there was literally no way to hoist or haul the logs out to be be processed at a mill (short of bringing in a huge construction crane to lift them over the tops of the existing buildings...). In the end, the tree service company hacked the trunks into 3' long sections and was able to drag them out with a Bobcat. It was a shame to see them discarded in that fashion.

    In any event, I also wanted to point out that it's very straightforward to build your own kiln that will dry green 4/4 lumber in about 4 or 5 weeks. It uses a standard consumer-grade dehumidifier in an air-tight, insulated enclosure to quickly remove the moisture from the wood. Since you can control how fast the moisture is pulled from the wood, you get far fewer drying defects than simply trying to air dry it or via use of a solar kiln. Though I sold my sawmill equipment (to buy the Bot!!!), I kept my kiln so that I can still buy green lumber and dry it myself. I also helped David Buchsbaum build one of these kilns and he's dried several loads of thick oak slabs for table tops and similar projects. If interested, let me know and I can email you the description/photos of how to build one.

    Finally, here's a link to a project that I built from some interesting lumber that was cut with my sawmill:

    http://www.logosol.com/_customerserv...ow&id=3527

    Regards.

    John

  10. #10
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    Very cool looking stuff. Many people (not any of us) would look at that pile of wood and think its trash but you turned it into some nice stuff. I grew up with an original Morris Chair in our house. That looks similar to your chair.

    I think i would like you to send me the info on kiln drying because the guy who was going to cut the tree down only offered me $150.00 for a 20' section 84" round and even i know when i'm getting shafted. I can get some single boards 24" to 30" wide out of this.

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