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I own a portable sawmill and used to mill logs from my own property. I had to sell the property and now want to buy logs. I want to know what is a reasonable price to pay for sawing-quality logs, e.g. straight, 12" to 28" diameter, 9' min. length, etc. I am not here asking for specific prices, but about the relative premium/discount I can expect when buying logs compared to say, green or KD rough-sawn lumber.

I ask because the board-foot prices I am getting quoted for logs are higher than buying green rough-sawn wood from a commercial sawmill, or even KD lumber from the local lumber yard! What's going on? In other words, does it only make financial sense to mill your own wood if you are getting the logs from your own land? Are the efficiencies of commercial loggers and sawmills so great that it makes no sense to mill your own? Or am I getting "go away" prices and should continue looking?

For context, I live in New England, I am surrounded by forests, and there is a lot of logging activity in the surrounding 50-mile radius from my shop. I am looking to buy 20-30 logs at a time, or about 3,000 bf.

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    Who have you gotten quotes from?
    – user15487
    Apr 18 at 16:51
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    I got 4 quotes, 2 from tree companies, 2 from grapple-truck operators. I contacted 10 tree care companies, got replies from 2. A local sawmill was not interested in selling me logs or sharing other info. Loggers near my house were not interested. A grapple-truck operator mostly had logs more appropriate for firewood. Mostly people are asking me back "how much are you willing to pay?".
    – Cheery
    Apr 18 at 16:57
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate Eastern White Pine or any other pine species would work for my current project.
    – Cheery
    Apr 18 at 16:58
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    Interesting. I really don’t have any insight, except to say that I think there is some company out there that’ll work with you; the hard part is finding them. Apr 18 at 19:30
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    "there is a lot of logging activity" means that there is a not only a large supply, but, likely a large demand for very high volumes of logs. For you looking to buy 20-30 (maybe 2-3 truck loads at a time), it may not be worth their effort to make special runs your way, so you have to pay more for the privilege.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 19 at 12:40

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My dad and I also have a small portable mill to make our own lumber. And my dad has a bit of forested land, so mostly we cut what we have available.

Dad has had a couple timber sales and just having them set aside logs isn't 'free'.

Now as far as 'buying' from the market. First there should be market prices available for different species of trees. This should be your base number to work from, since obviously no one will sell for less than that, but that is generally the price the loggers are paying to the land owner for the logs. They have all the costs of cutting and hauling the log to market on top of that.

Having said that. There are 2 ways of getting the 'best' deal. The first is getting a 'full' trailer when you order, not 1 log more or less, that is what loggers like dealing with because it's the most efficient for them, if you are not any farther than a mill they'd be selling to, you should get the same price as long as it isn't hard to actually deliver them (you have enough space for the truck to come in, unload and leave easily).

The other way to get a good deal (and usually from smaller logging companies) is when they don't have a full load of something. My dad got a great deal on 20 beautiful butternut logs because that was all the sale produced (of that species) and it wasn't worth it to send to a mill.

So if you are wanting lumber from a common species in your area that is cut in large volumes, either you need your own, pay a premium on top, 'know somebody' or buy it by the trailer load. Picking and choosing only the 'best' logs also comes with a bit of a premium too.

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