Dear Glenn, BACK TO LOGGING PAGE
What I specifically want to learn are:
* Measurements of saw logs and conversions to boardfeet.
* Estimation principles that a logger uses.
* An understanding of the timber pricing systems and current market
conditions. How do standing and raw timber prices relate to retail prices?
* Grading of saw logs... classifications?
* Safety principles with horses and saws.
* How to buck timber for greatest value.
* Efficient horse use.
The following are some of the things we talked about.
Measurement of logs is easy enough. You measure how long the log is,how wide inside the bark that the smaller of the two ends is, and look in your Scribner scale book. Let's say the log is sixteen feet long and fifteen inches on the little end. Scribner says you will get 150 board feet out of it. It's not true, but that's what he says, and that's what the mill will pay you for.
Estimation principles that a logger uses is a pretty broad question that would take about a year of working with a good competent horse logger to pick up on. One of the critical ones though is about how much a guy can yard out in a day. The size of the timber has to be observed, the average distance of the skidding, the ground slope, the availability of decking space and how you go about decking, and the size of the pull in your horses are mostly what goes into it. The cutterman will have some kind of impact, also, whether you do it yourself or have someone else. Until you have had some experience at it all, it will be very hard to do any estimating. If you pick what you have to have in a day for dollars, estimate how much boardfootage you can skid, and divide the footage into the dollars, that division will give you the price to log it to the landing and put it in some kind of deck. If you need $300.00 a day and can skid 1500 BF, you need $200.00 per thousand board foot to log.
The current market conditions are unstable, vary from one area of the country to the other, vary with the species and grade, and have to be assessed at the beginning of each job according to where it is located at and what the local market conditions are at the time.
The retail market pretty well establishes the raw material prices. If the mills are selling all they make, they up the retail price and pay a little more for logs until the market slows down and the process works in reverse. The importing of logs and the exporting of logs also affect the supply of logs to the domestic mills.
The grading of logs is important to the mills and therefore they will make it important to you as a log supplier by paying you more for higher grades and paying you less for poorer grades and refusing to continue taking logs that do not meet their grade requirements. A log scaler and grader goes to school and passes a test to become a certified log scaler and grader; so it does require some study to know what all goes into it, but it basically has to do with how free of knots the log is, how straight the grain is, how tight the grain is, and how large the diameter of the log is. The fewer the knots, the higher the grade; the straighter the grain, the better; the tighter the grain, the better; and the larger the diameter, the better.
In order to buck logs for the maximum value, you have to know where the grade breaks are and buck them there. Tim Carroll has a log buyer that comes out to his landing and bucks the logs, and then scales and grades and tags them accordingly; so sometimes you can get help from the mill in this manner. One thing about it, don't underestimate how important that it is to the mill that you supply them with the lengths and grade that they can best use. You are in it together with the mill because if they can't sell it, they can't buy it for very long.
Safety with the horses and saws is a little too broad to answer here. A person needs to do just what Steve is asking about and that is to get with someone who is successfully logging and learn from them. And a year is not too long a time to spend. If you haven't learned by then, either the student had a poor teacher or (and we hope that this isn't the case) the teacher had a poor student.
The costs will very somewhat, but don't buy JUNK. You can't succeed with poor horses and/or poor equipment. You are better off to throw it all away and know that you have nothing than to keep junk around thinking you have something but still not having anything. That's a mouthful to say, but I've practiced it several times with stuff that either I saw was no good or it wore out to the point where it got that way. Some things are worse than worthless and you are doing no one a favor if you give it to them for nothing. In other words it isn't even worth hauling away. Just get rid of it and don't shed a tear.
One way of helping you throw something away that you are emotionally attached to is to put it in a box with a cover on it marked with a date six months in the future with a note to take it to the dump on the above marked date. That way you won't remember what was in there; so it won't bother you to throw it away. I'm generally mad enough at it that I can't throw it far enough away, but you might not want to litter up your place or the woods.