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Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:55 pm
by management1011
I have a buyer interested in some 15 or so standing Chestnut trees. They are in the middle of my wood surrounded mostly by Larch.
They are quite straight, about 20-25 metres tall and look to be in good condition.
The contractor has seen the trees and likes them, he would fell them and is not concerned about getting the felled trees out of my wood.
Given the small quantity does anyone have an idea of a realistic price to charge.
I have looked at various sites online to no avail, so I am a bit in the dark.
Any advice will be gratefully received
Thank you.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:33 pm
by Wendelspanswick
Have you looked on Arbtalk?
There are a couple of fairly recent posts on Chestnut prices.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:23 pm
by oldclaypaws
Sweet chestnut is a desirable timber for outdoor use such as decking or cladding or furniture as its very durable. Its worth roughly 2/3rd's of the price of oak.

The way it works is a contractor will buy standing timber cheaply, factoring the cost of felling and extraction. By the time its sawn and sold as planked and seasoned, the price will have increased as much as five fold or more. As such, if you have enough to justify the effort, its worth investigating as a project paying to have it felled and milled, storing it and then selling the planks. Whether you can do that will depend largely on whether you have the time to investigate the process, manage it, and somewhere to store it while it dries.

Its hard to say what your trees are worth as we don't know the volume of timber. If for the sake of argument there was a cubic metre of timber in each one, a contractor might offer about £200-£250 per tree. By the time the same wood is planked and seasoned though, it might be worth £1000.

You can see why as I'm sitting on about 700 cubic metres of oak, I soon realised the value added in the conversion process to timber justified building a large barn and buying the necessary equipment to turn it all into planks rather than selling the standing timber to a contractor. In the words of a sawmill distributor who heard what I had "that's your pension sorted".

You've probably not got enough to justify the cost of a building and sawmill, but if you had access to a vented storage space and the time, the difference in selling the round wood versus converting it and then selling the planks will potentially be several thousand pounds. It would certainly be enough to cover the cost of a basic milling set-up such as an alaskan chainsaw mill, or hiring in someone with a bandsaw to do it for you at a fraction of the total worth. Food for thought. :)

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:58 am
by Wendelspanswick
With regard to OCP's post very little Sweet Chestnut will go for milling, the demand for the timber is just not there. Most SC goes for paling or as fencing where it is in demand as its a naturally durable timber, high in tannins making it resistant to insect and fungal attack.
You don't say where you are as that is relevant to the price.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:21 pm
by oldclaypaws
I've milled some into boards and its a very attractive wood. It could also be split into shingles. I've found websites selling it for cladding and decking and it could be turned into durable outdoor items such as garden furniture, arches, gates, etc, or indeed rails or posts as WP suggests. If you don't try these things, you never find out. What I'm saying is give turning it into an end product to sell or use yourself some thought rather than taking the easier but less satisfying and rewarding option of selling the round wood. If it interests a contractor, what would he do with it? No doubt he'd make a fair mark up.

Finding end uses for your timber is part of making owning a wood viable and fulfilling.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:36 pm
by Toby Allen
I usually pay around £5 per hoppus foot, roadside, for pretty amazing oak (£121 per ton), and around £2.50 standing, less for poorer quality. I paid £1.40 per hoppus foot for a parcel of standing good quality chestnut last year.

There's not a lot a lot of money in timber, for anyone in the loop. Which is why as a grower it's important to be producing the highest quality timber possible which gets a premium.

Yes, as OCP says you will get more for air dried planks or end products, bear in mind you'll need to find a market for this or you'll be sitting on some expensive firewood. It's easy to think the contractor is making good money, but add in the price of machinery and wages to get the timber out, plus the time to find the markets for the timber it's not exactly easy money. Adding value is great if you have the time and kit to do it, the added value needs to cover your costs of bringing the product to that stage or you may as well sell it at the stage where it had paid for it's self.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:31 pm
by oldclaypaws
You say Toby Allen that converting timber such as Sweet Chestnut into end products such as rails, gates, cleft posts, etc is not exactly easy money.

I notice though, having looked at your website, that's exactly what you do for a living, so I guess we wouldn't expect you to say anything else. :lol:

I was offered a similar price to £5 a hoppus foot for my oak, but a little bit of research revealed its been sold in large quantities locally for £30 a cube foot as green construction timber, and as much as £50 a cube foot as air dried planks. I know potential buyers for my oak at the higher price who would be happy to buy it as local planked English Oak rather than acquiring the all too common imported French. The cost of felling, conversion and storage on site is a modest % compared to the end value. The marketing will be an effort (not to mention the extraction and milling), but it was my former profession and I think the rejuvenating and biodiversifying of an ancient wood is an attractive and genuine story for the end buyers. Its tragic that we are now burning loads of our own hardwoods and increasingly importing it to use in joinery. Still, its an opportunity for me.

It'll all depend on the quantities of timber an owner has and their circumstances as to whether its economical to invest in all the kit and time to project manage your own timber conversion, few woodland owners will be sitting on the quantity of oak I have, but then I did unwittingly buy an exceptional quality mature oak plantation. It wasn't marketed as such ('a pretty copse') and I didn't appreciate what I had until several months after- 700 tons of prime straight mature oak. I literally couldn't see the wood for the trees. I'm very fortunate, but would always encourage others to consider making the most of the resources they have with a little thought and effort, it can be very satisfying and rewarding.

If I'd sold my oak cheaply I'd now be kicking myself rather than milling it, getting fit and having the prospect of many happy years doing something I enjoy and which gives a nice little pension.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:59 pm
by Toby Allen
I'm glad your going to do well with your oaks, and by the sounds of it you've got a bulletproof plan. This time next year Rodders... ;)

I make my money by having quite a bit of experience at what I do, trust me, it's bloody hard work and the money isn't easy. Everything I have is invested in what I do, including most of my adult life spent looking for ways to improve on quality and efficiency. Your welcome to come and spend a day splitting stakes with the lads if you think it's easy.

The forestry commission publishes the results of their timber sales on the website, and Confor have the market report in their magazine, it's what I base my prices on. If you have a customer willing to pay over the odds for your product because it's local then that is a good thing.

In my experience oak can be a fast way to lose money, your ok because you won't be paying for it and I'm guessing will be doing all the work in house. Big timber is the biggest gamble of all. It needs to be felled well or risk wasting a big proportion of the log, then the kit to bring it out needs to be upto scratch (oak is hard on kit~), even with an experienced miller we get a high volume of waste, shake or rot. Theres upkeep of the mill, blades, downtime, transport. Then factor in holding stock while it dries plus a certain amount of waste from splitting. That's all before you've spent time and money on selling it and a percentage which will sit in the yard for years going grey because it just wont sell.

What I'm trying to get accross is contractors are not ripping off woodland owners to make a fast buck, bringing trees from standing to end market is a skilled job and involves risk, which is why the difference between sawn wood and standing timber is so high.

Re: Standing Chestnut

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 11:51 pm
by oldclaypaws
Thanks Toby for your full and humourous reply. I shan't hijack this thread talking all about my own plans rather than the OP trying to get advice on Chestnut, but take on board what you've said about timber processes having risks. I already spend most days in my wood chopping, shifting, and processing so know it is indeed physically hard, but personally I get quite a buzz from that, I enjoy laughing in the face of time and have never felt fitter or more content.

I have indeed recently encountered a tale of someone who perhaps rather optimistically bought a lot of kit only to find the income wasn't as guaranteed as they thought, so prudence and research is advisable. However, as you say, I actually own a substantial amount of timber, have no wages, am paying no rent, am not in a hurry, and am doing everything in house with modest ambitions and consequently the odds must be in my favour. I don't need much to get by. Apart from selling timber I'm also involved in fuelwood and my own more creative end craft products, and even a modest degree of financial return will be enough to keep me happy, I'm equally motivated by seeing the dark neglected wood coming back to life, so on that basis I'm sure I can spend many happy and fit years my wood on whatever activity proves most worthwhile.

I spent today splitting chestnut, alas for firewood as it had been leaning and had bad shake, but my oak by contrast is choice and shake free as the heavy clay is ideal growing conditions. Good luck to all with their woods and whatever they are hoping to get from them, be it pleasure or business. :)