My blog post yesterday about small scale logging reminded me of a related business milling hard to find specialty woods for woodworkers. These woods command a premium price, but often are not commercially available due to scarcity or difficulty of obtaining adequate supplies. Woodturners, fine cabinetmakers, instrument makers, hobbyists, etc. are all potential customers. You could build up a client base and mill the wood to their specs or cut standard dimensions. To get an idea of the profit potential, visit a specialty woodworker’s supply store in a major city (or check online catalogs) to see the eye-popping prices being charged for specialty hardwoods. Cut out the middlemen and sell direct and/or over the Internet. You could also make furniture, cabinets, crafts, etc. and sell the surplus wood.
This type of business would work particularly well where there’s an abundance of valuable hardwoods. You and a friend with just one or two good chainsaws and a truck (and trailer for large logs) could get the wood for free or very low cost by removing blowdowns after storms. Even though the trees may have considerable value, many people will be more concerned about clearing their driveways and roads in a hurry than about the money. One drawback though is many trees near houses have nails and other types of metal embedded in the wood. It might pay to buy a metal detector to check the wood first. Working around downed power lines is another hazard. And as mentioned in a previous blog post, you might be able to cut a deal with tree trimming companies. You’d likely have to buy the best logs and haul them away, but this could still be profitable.