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Selling trees for lumber

Updated April 17, 2017

When cutting and selling trees on your own property, you need to decide whether you are able to do the cutting yourself or if you will need someone else to do the work. When trees are cut for lumber, you must use special equipment, and they must be harvested a certain way to keep their value. Many places that buy lumber will not deal with people who have inadequate insurance, because this job can be extremely dangerous.

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  1. Call and talk to several different sawmill companies in your area. They may have certain requirement for trees that they will accept. Species can be a concern, number and size can also be important. Most good harvest trees are around 18 or 19 inches in width. Check your trees for these specific qualities.

  2. Sign a contract with your choice of company. Write out who will be cutting and hauling the trees back to the mill. Make sure an agreeable price is reached per scale reading. Bring proof of insurance. If you are cutting your own trees, you must know about state safety laws, worker's compensation and liability insurance requirements. Sawmills will require an individual to be properly insured before signing any paperwork.

  3. Cut the trees, or have them cut by the sawmill. Most sawmills will only do the work if there is a lot of work to do. It is not likely that they will waste their time for only a few logs. When you cut a tree, you want to cut it close to the stump. Get rid of all branches. Cut out any bad parts or flaws so you do not have to haul extra wood that you will not be paid for.

  4. Transport the logs. Take your logs to the sawmill to be checked. If you have a large amount, remember the sawmill can make arrangements for the complete removal process.

  5. Evaluate the trees on a log scale. The buyer will weigh each log and give it an overall assessment. The species and condition are also key factors. You will want to stay and watch this process. There is no true way to know how much your lumber is worth until each and every piece has been checked on the scale.

  6. Tip

    Need help figuring out which trees are good to harvest? Consult with a professional forester, or get timber sales advice from your local cooperative extension service.


    Do not cut your trees before you find a buyer.

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