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Thininking of jumping into the firewood biz next year. Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Firewood' started by BadRancher, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. ShooterK2

    ShooterK2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 815

    I'm from western Oklahoma and have been considering firewood as a part-time business venture as well, in addition to lawn care. So far, however, I haven't been able to crunch numbers and come to a place where I think that the labor, time, and cost involved will be worth the money. I know people make a living at it, however, and I enjoy cutting wood. Loading and unloading, however, not so much.......
  2. shostoppa

    shostoppa LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    I was thinking the samething and the begining of October, and it worked out great. I worked out a deal with a local family who own a tree cutting buss. and it is already split. I sell oak and pecan, the pecan goes like chocolate cake at a weight watcher convention. Alot of people down in South Louisian cook and smoke with it. Put an add on craigslist and pass out flyers. But, I do have a regular job beside grass and "bringing the wood"!. It is funny though when the costomers say " you have real nice wood, I will be calling you back".
    Alot of tree companies have to pay to dump the trees. They will prob let you come pick the stuff up for free and you would just have to split it and cut it up into 16" to 18" lenghts.

    I will be doing it next year.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  3. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    I made contact with a guy that would let me cut all the hedge and locust I want, but I have to drive about 40 minutes one way to get it. That wouldn't be bad if I could cut all day. The first time I went there I took my Isuzu, which has a 14' dump bed. I was thinking I could really load that sucker up. After about 2.5 hours, I was done. I couldn't lift my arms....they felt like jello. I came home and waited until the next day to split it. I got about 2.5 ricks. So I can cut about a rick an hour. If you figure a rick sells for (around here) about $75. That might be towards the lower side. $125 to the extreme higher side. Anyways, I figured the amount of time it takes and the cost of fuel into consideration. I figured I would make about $15 an hour and that is if the customer would come pick it up. A lot of people will deliver and stack for $15 or $20. My conclusion, I think I'll passToo much back breaking work for too little of money. I still go every year and cut enough to burn here at my house, but that's it.

    I bought my 22hp splitter from Tractor Supply for $999. You can spend $400 more and get a 35hp, but it's not needed. I did A LOT of research before buying this model. There is a forum out there on wood cutting and this splitter was recommended. It has split EVERYTHING I have put though it.
  4. aroddy

    aroddy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 383

    I wouldn't know about doing any COMMERCIAL firewood sales. But since I was 14, me and a buddy of mine cut firewood for 3 years strait. Then year 4 it dwindled to just me, and cut wood till just two years ago when the gas got so high and hovered there. It just got to where the exspense for the amount of work was rediculous. You were making money but it felt like you were running yourself into the groung. With my half ton dodge making a delivery 20 miles away (my furthest was 45 miles), it drank a qaurter tank easy so theres, $20...then the amount of fuel to power 2 sthil saws might be 2 gallons, but with the mix and bar oil and everything...your looking at $15 per cord. You have to buy sthil bar oil and mix for the warranty to cover against any breakage...sucks. So you have $35 gone right there. Then you got your splitter there using around 3 gallons of fuel/cord, theres another $12. So you looking at $47 just in fuel and equipment supplies. So lets say your selling your cords at a respectable $145 dollars. You've already spent $47 in supplies and fuel, now you got labor. With one guy who is motivated as your are to get this stuff done. I bet you can get a cord whipped out in 4-5 hours. Thats cut, split, loaded and ready to take off. (not delivered) 5 hrs @ $8/hr is another $40 gone- plus taxes if he's employed... So you gotso you got a whopping $58 dollars left. But dont forget about your wear and tear...Chains on your saws will call constant attention, files, split a bar every once in a while. Bust a hydralic hose on your splitter...etc etc. But the best of it all is dealing with the customers (this is why I quit doing firewood). If you have ONE peice of wood thats a inch shorter than what he/she ordered. They want a freebie and hastle you about it forever!!! Then yuo got customers to where you cant drive right up to the spot they want it stacked. So they want it on the other side of their yard through a fence so you gotta throw ALL this freshly cut red oak fire wood in the middle of their yard. THEN throw it to the spot where thy want it, and stack it. BOINK THAT!!! After all that, you feel like you just worked out with arnold in his prime for 8 hours strait...

    I guess what I'm getting at- If you have a Good source of wood, a good crew, and time to do it. Go ahead and get after it. But After the expense and hassle of cutomers and not making enough profit for the amount of work. I say screw firewood. Start burning pellets in your stove like I did :weightlifter:
  5. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    Walker, you mean 22 TON right?

    I have a 27 ton. It will bust right through a big knot and ask for more. :) We call the bad ones ugly sisters. LOL The ones you can't touch with a splitting maul.

    I've considered welding another cutting edge horizontal to the vertical edge which will split into 4 pieces versus 2 pieces. I'm hesitating because I don't want to have to remove it if it doesn't work well.
  6. shostoppa

    shostoppa LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Also, keep in mind that people will pay a "little" more for good service and people thay can trust. I have sold 62 ricks of wood since the first weekend of Nov. Let them know that you are keeping a spead sheet and you will be calling them around Oct. of next year, it really catches their attention and they appreciate that.
    About 75% of my customers tell me," I cant remember the guy's number I got wood from last year". i give them my card and keep their information and will call them in about a month or so, just to see how their wood is doing and if they will be needing any, anytime soon.

    I got 2 deliveries today amd 3 on Monday.

    4' x 4' (rick) delivered and stacked ..$100.00
    4' x 8' (face cord) delivered and stacked ..$200.00

    Pecan and/or Oak only.
  7. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    I can split a cord of wood on a tank of fuel (a quart maybe) with my splitter. Not sure where you get 3 gallons to split a cord.

    Mix and bar oil to cover warranty? Where'd you hear that? BS

    2 gallons of gas for 2 saws? Again, I can cut a whole tree (40-50ft tall, 20-30in diameter) on a tank or maybe 2 tanks of fuel with one saw. Last tree I cut down took me and a friend about an hour to cut it up and start hauling to our storage area about 5 miles away. 3 trips and it's all at our storage ready to start splitting.
  8. aroddy

    aroddy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 383

    Tried that- and with my 22 ton splitter- Me and my dad fabbed upa peice to replace the wedge on the machine (in case I didn't like it). It worked well if you got a level log surface. But if you get a peice that has two seprate knots on the log- the lil 22 ton dont like it much at all. You'll be working on that peice for a little while
  9. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    that's why I'm still on the fence. :)
  10. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    A friend of mine used to cut a lot of wood. He had logged his property, so had treetops to cut up. He never delivered anything, would either sell to a guy that hauled it to KC or Wichita by the semi load, or rick it up and the customers would come pick it up. I think it goes for around $100 a cord here (No shortage of firewood in SW MO).

    He always claimed he was making money, and I suppose he was, but when you look at the work involved, I don't really think it was very much per hour. I think in most cases, it is one of those things where if you aren't doing anything else, then I suppose it is more profitable than sitting in the house watching stories all day long. :)

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