Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Business and marketing a niche product

Ah, the joy of coming up with ways my small business can market it's products. I am currently using the mill to make my own lumber from thinnings and cleanings on the property. The higher the end the end use, the higher the profit I can make. The trees were junk to a luber buyer, the lumber I cut could probably be sold for $2.00 a board foot, or I can make a bench out of about 15-20 board feet and a few hours of my time that sells for $100-$200. The cedars I milled on Monday would have been considered junk by any self respecting forester or logger. They were broken 8-12 feet up, most were standing dead, and they showed signs of insect damage. I could see the diamond in the rough. 100 board feet of beautiful, pink eastern redcedar to make all sorts of rustic items out of. I like to build what I see in the wood, not gather up wood to fit to a plan. A nice leaner had perfect slabs for bench legs or possibly book shelf sides. The smaller diameter logs will yield lots of wall shelves or mini picket fences. All from a few junk logs. I still have several larger standing dead cedars to go that are even bigger, and then I can get started on the hardwoods. The trick is to get the logs cut and air drying so that I can get them in the product pipeline. I need to pay for that sawmill somehow since I want this place to be self supporting. I plan on using Etsy to sell the small items, a local flea market once a month, and my website for larger and commissioned items. I may try to sell unusual lumber pieces on Ebay, but I will post it on the website at first. I should be able to start making items in a month or 2 that I can market as 100% Texan, made in the US, and sustainably harvested.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sawmill is here!

Well, the sawmill is finally home and set up. We had a problem when picking it up with a faulty drive belt. The owner of Mister Sawmill fixed it. I am really glad I asked for a demo run. The drive pully was out of alignment, and that would have been a pain to fix in the field. I ran a test log after getting it to the property and it works well. There is definitely going to be a learning curve with this tool. I went out this past weekend and cleared out some busted, half dead cedar big enough to mill. They cut into ~100 board feet of nice lumber, and one made an especially nice set of 8/4 bookmatched boards for bench legs. I also had my first busted band right at the end of the last cut. Now I need to figure out why. I did not bring a piece home, but you can look at where the cracks start and see chat it might be. Hopefully they don't start at the back since that means the guides are not set up right. Cracks on the front mean something is wrong with feed rate, lube, dull blade, etc. I hope it was just me pushing to hard, and I already know I was not using enough lube. There are still a few more dead cedars to mill and a 8' tall 12" DBH hickory near the mill. I have been wondering what boke their tops out. I get to start fetching logs from farther off with the lawn tractor after that. It pulled a 5'x8' skid pretty well. Hopefully it will pull a log with a skidding cone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Woodland Steward by James R. Fazio

I am slowly making my way through all of my forestry books to put small reviews here. This is another one of those books. I like this book. The reason I like it is because of the many illustrations. If you are a visual person, then this is the forestry book for you. The book also has a lot of helpful information. It has chapters on all of the pertinent aspects of forestry including inventory, planing, improving, protection, and harvesting. It also has some extra chapters on other ways to make an income through a woodlot and reason other than income for maintaining your woodlot. One chapter in particular stands out in this book. Forestry cannot be pure science. The author goes into the art behind applying scientific principles to a living, growing forest. The one downfall in the book is some of the ideas are a little dated. Fazio's book is very good because of the depth of information and the illustrations, and it makes an excellent secondary book to add to one of the current texts out there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weather and new beginnings

Weather seems to be my bane right now. The sawmill from Mistersawmill is delayed again because of the severe thunderstorm blowing down part of their building. First the ice storm and now this. Nature seems at odds with me lately. I have begun construction of my business website: . If you stop by, please keep in mind it is under construction. The site will be used to showcase some larger woodworking projects for sale and show what I can do for commissioned pieces. I will also be showcasing my new sawmill business there. Since the sawmill is mobile, I will be using it to custom saw for customers at their site. I will be practicing a little before I start marketing this new venture. It should key in well with my small item set at . The Etsy site is where I have been selling small boxes for a while now. I just need to get more of them built and posted for sale.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The trees are in

Well, the seedlings finally made it in and I planted them yesterday. The 25 mayhaws went together on a 10-12 foot spacing on a peninsula at the shallow northeast end of the pond. I put some near the waters edge and a couple are in the center of the peninsula. Boy, planting in the soft, sticky clay is a chore! The cypress went in on the opposite shore from the mayhaws. A large section there was flooded for a while and killed off some oaks. I was able to get these in between the drying out and reseeding of terestrial weeds. Hopefully I will not need to mow it to much before the little trees grow above the weeds. They are tough to see in a sea of green and I know a few will fall victim to the mower. I also hope the wildlife stays away from them. I am not to worried about deer, but the hogs are a nuisance. They may uproot them to eat the roots. I sure hope not. I also picked up a 1985 Montgomery Wards lawn tractor made by MTD on craigslist for $150, and it works! Well, except for the loose mower belt and the throttle lever I accidentally borke in half while putting it up for the day. Finally mowed a large portion of the areas that really needed it. The wife is happy now that she will be able to get around in her wheelchair. It seems to be a well built machine, and I am going to fix the small problems it has. It should also have enough power to pull a log arch to fetch logs to the mill.