Starting a portable milling business is a good way to work part time to build some extra income or even something that can be pursued full time as a lucrative business. Either way, it is possible to make good money with a portable sawmill. Exactly how much is up to you.
For those looking to replace an income, payment is directly linked to production. If you already own a band sawmill, then the work will have to be appropriate for what the mill can handle. However, if you need to purchase a sawmill, then you have to take into consideration what kind of milling business you plan on running, the size of the wood you will be cutting and what the wood will be used for, how big and how quickly you wish to grow the business. Then an appropriate sawmill can be matched to the requirements.
People often think the higher the production the more the sawmill will initially cost. But that’s not necessarily the case. Although, skimping on price and a buying cheap foreign-made mill will typically short-change an operator in the long run. Start with a high-quality sawmill that will handle the logs you plan to mill and have the features you will need such as portability or expandability. Investing in a mill that is versatile is generally wise. You can start with a manual portable band sawmill, which allows you to add trailer package, hydraulic attachments, etc.
A good place to start your sawmilling business is to identify and begin to establish a customer base. Begin with friends and family who may require cut lumber or finished products such as buildings, decks or furniture. As with any business, providing quality work on time will lead to positive feedback and referral business. In order to ensure your business will grow in this fashion, you will want quality, dependable sawmill equipment.
It is also important to know what type of work the business will be doing. An operator should consider the kerf efficiency, or how much wood is lost to sawdust when cutting, when purchasing a mill. For those who need to cut waste and limit profit-loss, a band sawmill has the best kerf rating, and therefore, leaves more money in the operator’s pocket.
When calculating expenses, thought has to be given to fuel for the sawmill, transportation if the portable mill has to be taken to the wood source, band blade costs, lubricant and, of course, the cost of the wood, if applicable. Routine periodic maintenance should also be factored into expense calculations. Lastly, you will need to determine if you will be running a one-man or multi-person operation, which again will have a bearing on the type and size of portable sawmill you purchase. Many mills and accessories are equipped to be handled by single operators.
One possible avenue to pursue is to find a niche, such as milling large timbers. For instance, fireplace mantels are always in high demand. Large overhead beams for homes, barns or log cabins, are also big dollar items. Focusing on these will allow you to not only potentially corner your market, but will enable you to pinpoint your actions on one particular need versus constantly changing directions.
There are ways to make money with sawmills as long as the owner/operator has a plan and can stick to it long enough to streamline the business, create efficiency, increase productivity and generate a profit. As with any business, this will require some time and patience, but opportunities certainly do exist for those who enjoy and are interested in pursuing sawmilling as more than just a hobby.