Earn Extra Income…Mill Your Own Wood

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on February 7, 2017 in Money Saving Strategies, Personal Finances

Tom Kerr writing on milling your own wood…

When I was a kid my mom had a large pecan tree that grew in our side yard. During harvest season you could pick enough pecans to fill a gallon jug or paper bag in no time at all. As youngsters the best part was when you took that stash to the local bakery…where the proprietor would trade you for enough cookies to fill your mouth and your pockets.

Remembering what I used to call my “pecan money” got me thinking about all the other valuable assets that you can gather from trees and take home, for free.

Money – or its equivalent – really does grow on trees. You just have to know which ones to plant.

Then again, you may not even have to grow them yourself.

Millions of linear feet of fine hardwood – that could be easily converted into lumber – are thrown away or left to rot on the ground by property owners. They either do not recognize what they have – or don’t know what to do with it. If you’re extra lucky they’ll even pay you to haul it off for them.

I’m not talking about killing trees…that’s against my principles. I’m referring to dead trees that are still standing – and are a potentially lethal hazard – or trees that have already fallen because they died or blew down in a storm.

Imagine collecting all the wood needed to put new hardwood floors in your home or to panel your den with cherry or walnut. Normally that would cost you an arm and a leg. But not if you get the raw material for free. Then you can take it to a local sawmill and they will mill it to your exact specifications.

Or, if you’re up for a DIY adventure, rent a portable sawmill. Put it on your land and mill your own wood.

When I first moved out of the city and headed to the countryside to simplify my life, I lived in a wonderful cabin made entirely of oak that was cut and milled right there on the land. The home was about 900 square feet, and included electrical and plumbing. It cost my landlord, who was a carpenter, less than $35,000 to build. He raised his children there and after they grew up he moved out and continued to make a steady second income by renting it to folks like me.

That cabin was the first home I heated with wood, and it was a wonderful experience. I’ve mentioned before that you can heat your home with firewood that you haul away for property owners, and you can enjoy the romantic ambience of a fireplace or woodstove.

Where I live now I have both…one in the kitchen and one in the living room. But perhaps the biggest thrill is not paying the utility company for heating oil, the way I used to.

Last month, a chainsaw crew working for the local utility company was out in my neck of the woods. They cleared branches and dead trees from around the power lines, before winter storms could bring them crashing down.

But they left behind several discs of beautiful walnut wood after cutting down a dead walnut tree. As soon as I get around to it, I will sand and carve those into gorgeous new cutting boards or serving trays for the kitchen.

Incidentally, if you acquire a large, older black walnut tree you can fetch around $4,500 for logs cut from it to make wood veneer.

Sometimes that kind of opportunity or additional income stream is all you need to turn over a new leaf.

P.S. Discover how you can enjoy a more laidback, authentic, independent way of life in The Savvy Retiree Daily. Sign up below to have it delivered – free of charge – to your email inbox.

Image: ©iStock.com/levers2007 

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