We all know that local hardware stores offer limited lumber options. Because of this, sourcing wood from places like mills became a popular alternative among woodworkers.
However, locating a saw mill near me or you aren’t the only issue at hand. There are also considerations you must follow to get the best deals. Here are tips from our professional woodworkers to ease your shopping worries.
How to Find a Saw Mill Near You
If you have no idea where to begin looking, Google is a great place to start. When doing internet searches for sawmills, our resident woodworkers highly recommend including your city in the search box. Doing this will filter results that are not located in your area.
Although this can save you time, Google searches also tend to give outdated results.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.
Another quick way to 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.
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.
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.
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. 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, we 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.
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 . 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 get your wood milled, we suggest bringing a moisture meter. These tools are often handy, so you just need to click a button to check the lumber’s moisture level.
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.
#3: Wood Cut
These boards are cut around 30 to 45-degree angles from the log’s center and are commonly used for making furniture.
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 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
Logs that aren’t surfaced are naturally the cheapest ones to get. However, we’d like to note that you’ll need to trim it yourself to get the desired thickness.
These board types are surfaced on both sides, so expect consistent thickness and smoothness when it’s milled.
Unlike S2S, these boards have one straight corner. So instead of jointers, you can just use table saws to get your desired cuts.
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
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.
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.
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.
If you’re not the type who likes being limited with wood choices, buying from any saw mill near you is a decision you won’t regret. While some may say that buying prepped lumber from a store offers more convenience, we assure you that milling your material entails customization perks and a learning opportunity as a woodworker.
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