We asked experts from several leading equipment manufacturers: “What’s the one thing tree care professionals need to consider when purchasing a portable sawmill or log splitter?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Michael Spadaro Factory Sales Rep/ Hud-Son Forest Equipment

Michael Spadaro
Factory Sales Rep/ Hud-Son Forest Equipment

Tree care professionals need to ask themselves, “How can I turn my by-product (trees) into extra profit?” Let’s face it — most tree jobs can pay for your manpower and equipment. But when you factor increased competition, and the need to keep your prices competitive, you need to find way to make extra money with the wood waste. This all adds to your bottom line. A general rule is, if you have smaller diameter trees with foreign objects in them, like nails, turn them into firewood. If you have large diameter trees, get a large diameter slabbing mill, like our Oscar-52 portable model. You can get hundreds of dollars per slab (rough cut) on most pieces over 30 inches wide. These slabs can be used for bar tops, tables, mantles and more.

David Boyt Sawmill Specialist/ Norwood Sawmills

David Boyt
Sawmill Specialist/ Norwood Sawmills

The question is, “Can this equipment make money for my business?” A log splitter may be a good fit if you’re in a place where the demand is strong, but sales are seasonal, and firewood requires at least six months to season. It may be a good use for small, crooked logs under 12 inches in diameter. Sawmills provide greater potential income. A 20-inch diameter, 10-foot log milled into lumber yields approximately 200 board feet. At an average of $1.75 per board foot, the value of the lumber is $350. As a side benefit, many customers are more likely to select a tree service that can mill the logs from their property, instead of dumping them in a landfill. An ideal sawmill for a tree care company is simple to use, economical to run and capable of handling the wide variety of sizes and shapes of urban logs.

Patrick Clark Davis Director of Operations/CRD Metalworks

Patrick Clark Davis
Director of Operations/CRD Metalworks

As tree service professionals continue to see the added value of firewood as a bottom- line stabilizer, or as a major market to access in their area, consideration of your cutting/limbing practices is critical. Being able to produce longer, higher quality lengths of material aids in the processing of firewood. Implementing a grading practice in your yard will also allow you to set priorities in your processing operation. We have hundreds of successful clients in the tree services industry who utilize our firewood processors in various ways for success. Some clients work with other tree care professionals to source additional material at low cost, which makes the firewood profit rich. No conversation is off limits — call or email us and we can educate and advise you how to be successful as a firewood producer with the wood you already have available.

Chris Osgood National Sales Manager/Iron & Oak

Chris Osgood
National Sales Manager/Iron & Oak

Make sure to purchase a unit to fit the types and sizes of logs you’ll split most often. This will help determine if a horizontal, vertical/horizontal or commercial horizontal unit with log lift is needed. It’s also important to look at features like a hydraulic adjusted four-way wedge. The more features the machine has, the faster one can produce firewood. The more efficient the machine, the faster firewood can be produced for resale. Like any commercial purchase, also make sure the parts availability and warranty are geared to the commercial user. At Iron & Oak, we focus on creating products specifically for the rental and commercial customers.

Joe Prince Sales Director/ Brave

Joe Prince
Sales Director/ Brave

Many tree care professionals are looking at ways to use wood from job sites. While some go into selling firewood as an additional business, some just want to split for their own needs. Products like Brave and BravePro splitters are built for the “prosumer.” These products offer ease of use, like many commercial products, but at better price points. Spending a little more to upgrade to a “prosumer” log splitter will provide years of use. Operators will also find higher quality in the components and engines of these units.