Saw Mill Near Me: Where to Find the Best Lumber

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There are challenges that often come with sourcing quality lumber. Local hardware stores, while convenient, can be limited in their lumber options. Many craftsmen have turned to mills as a preferred alternative for obtaining the finest wood materials.

Yet, the quest for the perfect sawmill nearby isn’t the sole concern. There are several crucial considerations that come into play when seeking the best deals on lumber. In this guide, I’ll be sharing valuable insights to help alleviate any concerns you may have about your lumber shopping experience. 

How to Find a Saw Mill Near You

Google Search

If you’re not quite sure where to kickstart your quest for sawmills, Google is indeed an invaluable resource to initiate your exploration. Incorporate your city or location into the search query when venturing into the online realm of sawmill hunting. 

This simple but effective technique will ensure that the search results are thoughtfully filtered to exclusively display sawmill options situated within your vicinity.

person searching in google

Although this can save you time, Google searches also tend to give outdated results. Remember that not all sawmills have the money and resources to create an up-to-date website.  

Craiglist

Another quick way to buy barn wood or source your sawmill needs is through Craigslist. Since it’s a free listing website, you can easily find various sawmill offerings on the platform. But because anyone can put up an ad, you must stay vigilant to avoid scams. 

Facebook

With billions of monthly active users, Facebook will certainly have sawmill options available for you. It’ll turn up accordingly if you type the correct keyword in the search box. If you want to save time, put your city name next to the sawmill keyword for the best results. 

Sawmill Sizes

Large Commerical Mill

If you bump into large commercial mills during your search, don’t be surprised when you find out that they don’t sell lumber to individuals. 

You have to understand that these establishments run with large-scale operations, so, understandably, they’ll prioritize customers buying truckloads of wood. 

saw mill machine

Small Regional Mill

You may think that small regional mills are also not entertaining small-scale orders, but there are a few that actually allows that. The only difference is you need to fulfill their minimum order requirement. 

Small Family or Portable Saw Mill

If your wood requirement isn’t that massive, sourcing lumber from portable mills is the best idea. They’re the most likely to entertain small orders and have lower service charges. 

Differences in Buying Lumber From a Saw Mill vs. Local Store

Let’s face it. The prices of lumber bought from a sawmill and local store are significantly different from one another since the latter might have a lumber shortage

And while stores like Home Depot do offer perfectly sized and dried wood pieces, the variety they offer is often limited compared to the ones you can source in a sawmill. 

Important Considerations to Know

#1: Board Feet and Other Measurements

First, I highly suggest finding out how much wood you’ll need. Whether you decide to go to a sawmill or a store, you have to know the exact board feet measurement of the wood piece you’re looking for. 

lumber sorted according to species

You can calculate it using the formula Length x Width x Thickness divided by 144. 

#2: Moisture Content of Wood

Acceptable Moisture Level

As you know, wood has natural moisture properties [1]. But if you want to use them in your project, the moisture level must be down to 6 to 8 percent. Anything more than that could lead to the board falling apart in the long run.

How to Measure Moisture Content of Lumber

When you decide to have your wood milled, it’s advisable to have a moisture meter on hand. This invaluable tool can make your woodworking experience much smoother, as it allows you to effortlessly gauge the moisture content of your lumber with a simple click of a button.

How to Dry Lumber

The wood’s drying process starts when you cut it into boards and let the air in. But to get it dried quicker, you must put it in a kiln. However, keep in mind that not all small millers have access to this. 

drying lumber from the mill

#3: Wood Cut

Riftsawn

These boards are cut around 30 to 45-degree angles from the log’s center and are commonly used for making furniture. 

Quartersawn

If you want the 5/4 or 8/4 lumber to dry evenly, you can slice it in quartersawn cuts. Doing this also lessens the chances of warping over time. 

Plainsawn

Plainsawn boards are the easiest and cheapest cuts you can ask from your local millers. It also ensures less wood is wasted during the cutting. 

#4: Milling Process

Surfacing Options

None

Logs that aren’t surfaced are naturally the cheapest ones to get. However, note that you’ll need to trim it yourself to get the desired thickness.

logs carried by a crane

S2S

These board types are surfaced on both sides, so expect consistent thickness and smoothness when it’s milled. 

S3S

Unlike S2S, these boards have one straight corner. So instead of jointers, you can just use table saws to get your desired cuts. 

S4S

Boards milled and prepared in this process are similar to those available in stores. There’s no need to cut this wood or anything before using it, but expect it to be expensive. 

Things to Ask Your Local Saw Mill

man operating a saw mill

What to Prepare Before Your Shopping Trip

Are There Saw Mills That Buys Logs?

Yes, some mills buy logs. However, it still depends on how much 5/4 or 4/4 lumber you have. If you only have one tree, you can’t expect a large sawmill to buy that.

FAQ

Is it cheaper to mill my own lumber?

No, it’s not cheaper to mill your own lumber. Generally speaking, it depends on the kind of lumber you want to purchase and how you want it to be milled. It can cost 5 to 10 percent more than store-bought wood boards. For other store options, check these places where you can buy wood for your project. 

How much is a good saw mill?

A good saw mill can cost between $100 and $300 for typical models. But if you’re looking for a high-end mill, expect it to cost up to $70,000 as these machines include hydraulic loaders and convenient attachments. Prices are also affected if you’re choosing between new and used mills. 

What is the difference between a saw mill and a lumber mill?

There’s no difference between a saw mill and a lumber mill. In fact, these are essentially the same types of machines that cut and process lumber for different project requirements. 

Conclusion

If you’re someone who values the freedom of choice when it comes to wood selection, opting for materials from a local sawmill is the best choice. While it may be argued that purchasing pre-prepared lumber from a store provides convenience, milling your own wood offers a unique set of advantages that extend beyond customization – it presents an invaluable opportunity for growth and enrichment in your journey as a woodworker. 

Embrace this path, and you won’t just build with wood; you’ll build your skills, creativity, and mastery of the craft, one customized piece at a time.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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