what price green timber?

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what price green timber?

Postby steve tomlin » Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:47 pm

What would you pay for a perfect cleaving log?

In some ways, it's just firewood to most folk but, of course, a good log for cleaving into chair parts or lathe blanks is much more than that; straight, clean with appropriate growth rate. There's obviously work involved in selecting out the best pieces to sell for craft which would add a premium and I'd be happy to pay in order to encourage local timber merchants to hold some stock for me.

Anyone got a fair and easy method for pricing?

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Re: what price green timber?

Postby gavin » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:20 pm

steve tomlin wrote:What would you pay for a perfect cleaving log?

In some ways, it's just firewood to most folk but, of course, a good log for cleaving into chair parts or lathe blanks is much more than that; straight, clean with appropriate growth rate. There's obviously work involved in selecting out the best pieces to sell for craft which would add a premium and I'd be happy to pay in order to encourage local timber merchants to hold some stock for me.

Anyone got a fair and easy method for pricing?

steve

Short answer: At least double the rate they expect for firewood. Especially if they will deliver, and will sell you small quantities.

Longer answer:
Starting price for timber will relate to firewood rate - anything from £30 to £80 per tonne. I have found that saying "I'll give you double what you'll get for firewood" usually opens up the vendor's listening just right. So what if you pay over the odds, because your the cost per gram of any finished article is 8 pence per kilo - or worst case 32 pence per kilo if the greenwood you bought was half water and if you had to throw away half the log to get usable, knot-free timber. At a guess a rake head will be less than a kilo, so the raw material cost there is tiny.

I bought 2 tonnes of ash in February 2012 at roadside @ £75 i.e. £150 gross. I selected the trees and they were felled, extracted and cross-cut by his workers. The vendor would sell me no smaller quantity. We guestimated how much weight I had taken. Only after I put my trailer over the weighbridge did I realise I had taken ONE tonne i.e. I short-changed myself. But even so, the rate of retun on the material is excellent.

Really, you are not talking the cost of wood here. You are trading the opportunity cost of your time to select and gather it. I spent at least a day moving that ash from Kirkcudbright to Dalbeattie and putting it into store. So I'd have paid even more money to get that timber delivered from a vendor who knew the spec I wanted.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby robin wood » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:35 pm

yep twice firewood is a fair rate. I used to reckon the wood was worthless and I was paying purely for time but over the last 5 years woodfuel prices have gone potty so we have to pay more. I have always bought most of my timber from one source and paid well over the odds so he is always happy to see me and keeps good stuff over for me. I am a trained saw user and know my trees so I can go to his yard pick out what I want cut and load and just pay him on the way out so it has cost him no time at all. If you need your man to cross cut, select, move, deliver all of those things eat into the time he could be earning and tree surgeons have many overheads so have to charge high hourly rates to get by.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby Robin Fawcett » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:56 pm

For me the answer is - free.
I only once paid for wood and that was for a big Ash log and a lump of Birch from Hatfield Forest.
I get given, offered, find and scrounge more wood than I can use. The downside is I can't specify the type so may end up with a load of Hawthorn, Cherry and Chestnut and I really need Beech, Birch or Sycamore...
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby simon » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:31 pm

My experience is the same as Robin Fawcett. I have bougth green wood twice, both times for a commission, so the cost went into the price.
I have wood from four places on offer once the felling season starts. Weather any actually comes to fruition and what it will be like I do not know. I take what comes and do what I can with it.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby steve tomlin » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:16 am

i get free wood too but it's not actually free since it takes time and fuel to go and get it. Really i'm talking about having the same relationship as Robin W where i can go to a supplier and know he's got the materials i want and will either let me select from it or has already done that selection so there's a pile destined for makers. Up here there are plenty of coppice workers out cutting in the woods and selling firewood; i don't want to be one of them, not because i don't value it but because i want to be a maker (that doesn't stop me going out to the woods when i want). So i'd like to encourage them to see their timber as being potentially more valuable if they sort it for quality and promote it to makers.

Okay, so twice firewood price - that's fine if you're buying a tonne but my car won't take that. Anyone know how that converts to volume; what if i'm buying nice log 8" diameter and 4ft long to make chairs with? do you pay more for different species ie ash over birch?
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby nic » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:52 am

I have been thinking about this recently. Although I can roam and cut wood around the house the last few months of shows around the country has brought it home to me just how poor the wood I have at my disposal is. 8" x 4' is not going to happen however hard I look.
I was going to go to the guy that supplies Our firewood. I wouldn't expect to pay double though as he cuts/ splits and seasons it before delivering it. I used to enjoy splitting firewood but now it is to simliar to work. He gets green Birch/ beech so I should be able to pick out a few nice logs. The Amount I need is small so I to am unsure as to what he will want for it; would be good to have a base line.
On a similar note I used to use recycled tool steel; but the time it took to find it, remove rust/ teeth etc/ straighten and then hope the steel was any good made it actually quite expensive. Mostly I buy it new in bulk now.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby gavin » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:25 pm

steve tomlin wrote:Okay, so twice firewood price - that's fine if you're buying a tonne but my car won't take that. Anyone know how that converts to volume; what if i'm buying nice log 8" diameter and 4ft long to make chairs with? do you pay more for different species ie ash over birch?

Even if your car won't take a tonne, you should just buy what you can carry or use.

Either:
Convert to volume by specific gravity comparison. Searches for specific gravity will lead you to charts such asthese. Make your own assumptions about how much water you are buying, but since any wood you buy will float, it is going to be less than 1 kg per liter of volume. So if you bought nice log 8" diameter and 4ft long to make chairs with that's 39.5 liters. Assume you buy ash, then that weighs 670 kg / cubic meter from the table I refer to above i.e. each liter of wood weighs 670 gram. You can persuade the vendor you don't want to buy water ,and you just want to pay for the wood. So your 39.5 liter log will weigh approx 26 kg dry. Since ash commands a premium in the firewood market, you might be charged @ £80/ tonne worst case for it. Or @ £30 best case, since he won't be delivering it. Your putative price range for the log you describe is therefor from £3.07 to £1.15. Now for the firewood merchant to deal with your enquiry he's going to spend at least 10 minutes for which he'd reasonably expect £5 if he values his time at £30 per hour. If you don't give him at least £5 for the wood and the time you take ( and you could take 2 such logs!) , you'll wear out your welcome.

or
Consider the value you'll get from that log and the time you could spend sourcing it yourself, I'd say you should be happy to pay up to £20 or £30 for it. If you did pay that sort of money, you can rely on it he'll look out decent timber for you and be happy to see you on the odd occasions you come by.

Another calculation: take a spring balance. Weigh a sample piece. Immerse the sample piece of wood in a bucket on some tray to measure liquid displaced to measure sample volume. Providing you selected a dry sample piece of a light species e.g ash not beech, you'll have stacked the odds in your favour.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby nic » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:22 pm

gavin wrote: Now for the firewood merchant to deal with your enquiry he's going to spend at least 10 minutes for which he'd reasonably expect £5 if he values his time at £30 per hour. If you don't give him at least £5 for the wood and the time you take ( and you could take 2 such logs!) , you'll wear out your welcome.



I think this a salient point; unless you are buying a lot then you cost him more in time than in wood. It is for this reason that I keep the door of my workshop locked; chattering customers that want to reminisce about the blacksmiths of bygone days have cost me a lot over the years.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby nic » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:25 pm

I can't edit my posts any more how long has that been going on?

Wanted to add that a £1-3 price range for a 8"x 4' log is also pretty useful.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:12 pm

steve tomlin wrote:Okay, so twice firewood price - that's fine if you're buying a tonne but my car won't take that. Anyone know how that converts to volume; what if i'm buying nice log 8" diameter and 4ft long to make chairs with? do you pay more for different species ie ash over birch?


an 8" log 4 ft long would cut and split to fill 2 net bags of firewood sold at approx £4 each
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby robin wood » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:38 pm

for small quantities I would agree you are primarily paying for time. I feel it is silly to offer anything less than £20 however little I take, I want them to be happy when I come back. small car boot load £20, decent estate with seats down £30-£40 I don't pay extra for wood I like to them it is all the same. Straight ash they will expect a premium because processing as firewood takes seconds and it is sold as premium fuel.
I used to do the free wood thing when I started but I wasted so much time. Members of the public and most foresters have no idea what a straight clean tree looks like and they can rarely give any meaningful description of the size. Then after telling me how they don't want anything for it just as I am loading up they ask if I could maybe make them a bowl from it. So a piece of timber that would have cost me less than £10 as part of a load form my tree surgeon has now cost me a round trip and they want a bowl I could sell for £50.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:27 pm

Pointless and inane but......I did a quick bit if maths and worked out I had over 3000 spoons on the trailer after a morning thinning through a block of birch, oak and rowan the other day.

Or 4 "loads" of cut and split firewood. Done right from felling, extracting and processing firewooding is not hard work and brings a good income.

However, selling unprocessed wood to a maker for a similar sum of money would bring more satisfaction and save me diesel and backache
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby simon » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:46 am

When all said and done, the cost of the wood if it is bought is probably going to be a small part of the cost of the finished product.
I take Robin Wood's point that free wood is not free. I now accept only very local offers.
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Re: what price green timber?

Postby Richie » Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:09 pm

I work in trees. I produce firewood, I chip brash.
The best thing I do with the trees I have to fell or prune is to sell them to greenwood workers.

Two weeks ago, I sold, for the second time a load of straight, stump re-growth sycamore to a woodwork teacher in Bristol who is has all his pupils to make bowls, stools and chairs using hand tools, pole lathes and shavehorses. Both times he took away Sycamore, Ash, Elm, Cherry, Holly and Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia).
I sold several planks and table and chair blanks of Elm I have in my stack at the Bodger's Ball.

I don't compare the cost to firewood, or timber (lumber) I have been paid for the extraction and the customer allowed me to haul it back to my yard. I try to charge a fair price to cover the cost of handling and hauling, milling and cross cutting, end sealing and storing - plus time spent (always pleasant) over cups of tea coffee and cake when greenwood workers tip up here to buy materials. I love this stuff going into the hands of creators and makers. I want to be one of you but I'm a bit of a busy grandad/tree surgeon/arborist/bat worker....

On a quick note - I have a load of Elm - standing dead trees coming up shortly and will be planking trunks and major limbs. Anyone interested please call on 07918600630.

A salesman mate of my told me once that the price of anything is the amount the customer is prepared to pay. Can't argue with that?
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