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Would you pay to have someone process your log length firewood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Lifted4x4Astro, Apr 8, 2009.

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  1. Lifted4x4Astro

    Lifted4x4Astro New Member

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    I am seriously considering building a firewood processor that will handle logs up to 20" diameter and any length. My question to you folks is, would there be interest from a homeowner to have someone come in with a smaller sized portable processor to cut and split your truck load of logs for a reasonable price? My thought is to be able to cut any length from say 16" to 30" and split the pieces, have them drop to a conveyor and be piled in 1 or 2 places. I believe I could handle a standard log truck (about 6 cords) in about 5-6 hours pretty realistically. The cost is projected to be around $300 a load to process so the homeowner only has to stack the pile of split firewood. There are many benefits: wood is split to start seasoning much faster than the homeowner can do themselves, the homeowner doesn't need to own and maintain a pricey chainsaw or 2, the homeowner won't need to own and maintain a pricey wood splitter, the homeowner won't have to worry about their physical well-being as in sore backs, shoulders and other injuries that could occur, and the homeowner will get the mess cleaned up that much faster and make the "better half" much happier! The only downside would be it would add some cost to the homeowner's total heating bill. It would still be much cheaper than paying "The Man".

    Thoughts and comments please!

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The local cut/spit/delivered sellers will eat your lunch. Their processors spit out multiple cords an hour and they don't charge that much more than log loads.

    No logs sitting in the yard. Just wood ready to stack and all of them claim some seasoning time before delivery.
  3. Lifted4x4Astro

    Lifted4x4Astro New Member

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    I am not sure about the cost between c/s/d and logs being close. Let's see... I just got done with a truck load of logs at $500 plus about $20 in gas/oil and many hours of time. I got 6 cords out of the load. Add the $300 for the processing and you end up at approximately $133 a cord or $44 per face cord. Around here a green face cord goes for between $50 and $60. So I guess at $300 to process a load there is still a cost savings but it isn't that great. My initial thought was to price the processing at between $200 and $250 a load. That would put the cost per cord at around $120 or under $40 a face cord. Hmmm...might have to think on it. Hate to be working for free but if I paid for the processor and did my own for free... ;-) Plus there is a tax advantage...I now have a small business to write-off expenses.

    Needs more discussion as I am still very early in the designing and pricing phase.
  4. Stevebass4

    Stevebass4 Minister of Fire

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    after doing 7 (3 at my buddy's and 4 at mine) cord these past few days i would say yes BUT all kidding aside this is a hobby for me - ie log lenght to stove and while it may take me time to do the work i don't mind. so i would not - i already have a decent saw, and a huge splitter - the next thing i'll add is a conveyor
  5. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    I'm with Brother Bart on this one. I just priced two full cords of unseasoned hardwood, cut, split and delivered for $150 per cord.

    But, I am going to continue cutting and splitting my own wood because there are so many dead standing hardwoods on my property. There is no need for me to work 24/7 for firewood so I can do it when convenient and I do enjoy this work very much. It keeps my lazy butt off the couch.

    Lots of guys have tried this as a business and like most small business upstarts, some have succeeded. Unfortunately, most have failed. Good luck with whatever decision you make.

    John_M
  6. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Why don't you do the processing at your place. You don't have to move and set up any equipment (time saved) and can have the conveyer drop the splits right into your truck/trailer to take to them. It should be cheaper all the way around. More profit to you.

    Matt
  7. Fi-Q

    Fi-Q Feeling the Heat

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    Well, it all depend on the price. The guys who bought a truck load of non-process wood probabbly did this to save money on buying a load of split seasonend wood. So I guess you have to figure out the number and see if you're a better economical choice. And if you are, then, maybe, it can be your point to sold yourself (Hey folks, just go ahead and buy some non-process wood, I will go by your place and process it, and it will still be lot cheaper than byuing ''Ready to burn wood''.

    And maybe, this is narrowing your potential work. Because I thnik that most of the people that are cutting & grunnging there own wood are the kind of people to process it themselve.

    But mow that I think about it, there is maybe a market for it. When I was a kid, I was out on vacation to some foreign familly. And all there wood was ''cut'' and ready to be split. Then, the next day, a few of there friends show up to help. The hired an old man who show up with is splitter. It was a big home made one. the guys was sitting inside a heated cab on the back of the splitter. The only thing he was doing was operating the thing. And with alle the help, the split one season of wood in about a day.

    What my uncle did (And what we're almost ready to do) is he built a good transportable log splitter on a nice trailer. Than, he's renting it through the year to people he know & trust. That maybe 8 to 20 people a year. But he figure out that the splitters pay for itself in 2 year, and he's got the splitter for almost 15 years now. (We figure it's around 1000$ to build a nice splitter on wheel, street legal with a 2 stage pump and a honda motor)
  8. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    There was a guy at the NE Logger show this weekend that does onsite processing custom work. Your market may be the farmer with a 100+ acres of woods. He has an advantage with his tractor for winching and skidding but come processing time he needs to plow his fields. I think you are better off with a processor-like well built splitter with an 8+ way wedge on it and a couple of nice chainsaws. They transport easier and you don't need to be able to pick up logs.

    BTW, if you build such a splitter, I live a half hour away and would rent it from you in a heartbeat.
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I would highly doubt you could make it pay. Seems like anyone who is into burning wood also has a chain saw and once they start the cutting, most find it really isn't all that bad. If they already paid money to have logs delivered, then have to pay someone else to buck it and split it, then the next thing would probably be hiring neighbor kids to stack it. All in all, it would be too much money out to make any savings in heat. However, I suppose in certain areas you might get some business but around where we live I would highly doubt it.
  10. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Agreed. The primary motivating factor in getting log length delivered is to save money. Sure some do it for the exercise, hobby, whatever...but for most of us the idea is to build sweat equity and minimize cash expenses.

    You're mixing and matching cord and face cord here and its confusing the hell out of me. A face cord is not a fixed measurement at all and I think its skewing your calculations. Use regular cords and see if the math works out.
  11. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I tried this years ago . My dad wood deliver the log loads and I wood offer to process it. Didn't go over to well because like most others have said, guys who buy log loads are looking to save money by doing it themselves.
    There usually isn't enough room to set up a processor near the pile.
    Lawns and drives get torn up when loading deck.
    Homeowner is usually in your face while processing ,slowing you down asking a million ?????????'s. Had one guy trying to unjam wood behind 8 way (no reason for this as the ram does the unjamming). Lucky he has a hand left.

    $300 a day isn't enough for a processor, loader and truck to get it all there.
    Good luck if you decide to try it.
  12. Lifted4x4Astro

    Lifted4x4Astro New Member

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    Lots of great comments, THANKS!

    The more I think about it, most people around here who buy logs, are probably figuring it is a fair amount cheaper than buying c/s/d and to add the cost of processing would bring it close to c/s/d prices. Around here I see prices of $150 to $195 a cord, some add delivery charges. If I charge $250 a load to process that puts the cost at around $125 a cord. So on 6 cord the savings would only be $150 over c/s/d at the low end of the scale. Probably not worth it as a business.

    I am not looking to make this a career as I have a great paying job. I would like to make a few bucks and pay for the processor, get my own wood done for "free" and enjoy the tax benefits of a small business. But to take money from the coffers to build this processor and hopefully pay for itself, really doesn't make sense at this point.

    I had thought about buying wood and processing and selling it myself...now I need to add a dump trailer, large storage area with truck access, sit on the wood until fall...etc. Too much work for me I think! LOL
  13. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Now, that is an understatement...those guys earn their money. What does this commercial duty splitter you are building look like?
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Wood I pay to have it processed?

    No. Your price would put you at the same price as simply buying C/S/D wood.

    I buy the log loads at just under 100$ per cord. Real cords, not unicorn cords. I can buy C/S/D at just under 150$ per cord and I need 5 cords per year. So the 250$ is our margin here and it would be a wash to have the wood guy bring the C/S/D to my house in one shot without dealing with your processor's mess, the property damage, the noise and disruption of the processor, and also having to supervise. I never allow unsupervised workers onto the property. All of that is just a pain in my butt compared to having the truck bring me firewood instead of logs.

    If it takes you all day to hitch up, come to my house, set up, do the work, clean up, drive home, unhitch, all for 250$ you are only paying yourself 30$ per hour. This per hour rate is reduced by the cost of your commercial insurance since your regular auto insurance will not cover you while driving for business, your CDL, your fuel cost for splitter and truck, your maintenance and repair of the splitter, your advertising, etc.

    I say it won't work. You are better off processing the wood at home and selling the C/S/D wood as a hobby. By doing that you will likely get a cut rate on the logs, you'll get to skip the cost of moving your equipment around, and you will be able to do the processing work on your schedule. Neighbors might not like it though.
  15. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    No.
  16. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Another vote for "Probably wouldn't fly" -- folks around here who get tree length wood delivered pretty much are doing it to save money and typically they have the time, saw and ax/maul/splitter to do the work themselves.
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I'm with the nay sayers. Buy or scrounge your roundwood logs and get into the C/S/D business. People that don't want to buck and split their own wood don't want the pile of logs and the mess from processing in their yard either.
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