Timber Sale Information

How to Sell Your Timber

This topic suggest ways on how to sell your timber.

Timber Sale Agreement

This is a sample contract that includes information which a landowner should consider prior to the logging operation.

Invitation To Bid

This document shows how to invite potential buyers to bid on your timber.

Estimating Standing Timber

This document explains how timber is measured.

Logging Operation Inspection For Marked Timber

Some activities to look for during the logging operation to assure compliance.

Harvesting Guidlines

A guideline to consider for your operation while harvesting timber.

Site Preparation For Natural Regeneration

Something to consider after the logging operation.

Tax Tips

Keep Uncle Sam happy.

List of Loggers in the Upper Cumberland

Sawmill operators, buyers, and loggers in the Upper Cumberland and Middle Tennessee area.

Best Management Practices

This is a link to best management practices for logging operations in Tennessee.

List of Consulting Foresters Practicing in Tennessee

Contact the Experts

List of State Foresters and Their Offices

Enlist the help of your local forester.


Forestry in Tennessee

Tennessee Division of Forestry Home Page

Tennessee Woodland Statistical Data

This is statistical data on Tennessee woodlands collected in 1989.

Master Logger Program

Tennessee Master Logger Program

Other Links

The information contained within this web site is information provided by the Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry. Much of the information limits itself to the Upper Cumberland area.

How to Sell Your Timber

Selling timber is something the timberland owner does once or twice in a lifetime. Because it is only dealt with once or twice it makes it difficult to know the best methods by which to sell your timber.

When you sell your timber, you may sell it either based on the "shares" method or the "lump sum" method. The share method is based on a percent of the actual board foot volume of timber, or cordage of wood removed and delivered to the saw mill. For example the buyer may deal with you on a 60% -40% bases. Where you receive 60% of the revenue from the sale of timber and he receives 40%. In this case the buyer usually will have the sawmill where he sells to make up two receipts and checks, one check and one receipt showing 60% of the revenue going to you, and the same showing the 40% going to him. This is usually done for every truck load of logs leaving the logging site. This "shares" type of sale does not generally give you the best dollar price for your timber. However, if you have a small tract of timber it may be the only way you can arrange a sale agreement with a buyer.

With the lump sum sale the buyer bids or offers a total amount for all the timber removed. This type of sale is usually the most convenient type of sale. Using this method, you know exactly what you will get before agreeing to sell. With the shares basis, you do not know the exact total sales price until the timber has been cut and its volume is determined.

If possible, the sale should be made on a sealed bid basis. Bidding provides for competition between buyers and will insure you receive maximum value. To get bids on your timber, you will need to prepare an announcement of the sale. This should contain:

  1. Your name and mailing address.
  2. The location of the timber (A US Quadrangle Map is a great way of showing the location).
  3. The size and type of timber.
  4. How the timber will be sold (clear cut, select cut, or marked).
  5. The type of bidding (lump sum or shares).
  6. The time limit on harvesting (normally one year).
  7. Any special requirements on the sale.
  8. A statement allowing you the right to refuse all bids.

Get as many buyers as possible to bid on your timber. This can be done by sending an announcement of sale to all potential buyers and by putting an advertisement in your local papers.

All sales should also be made with a written contract. This will protect you and the buyer. Your state forester or a consulting forester can provide you with a sample contract.

Before considering any timber sale, you should consult a professional forester. He can advise you on what to be sold and suggest possible buyers in your area. The Tennessee Division of Forestry has area foresters available to assist the owners in the sale of their timber.

You may also want to consider hiring a consulting forester to help you with the sale. This would be particularly appropriate where the value of the timber is very high or the volume of timber to be cut is very large. A consulting forester knows the ins and outs of the timber market. He knows the type of timber you have and can accurately estimate its value. Usually he will bring you a greater dollar return from your sale than the cost to hire him.

Invitation To Bid

Your Address

Their Address


The undersigned, the property administrator , hereby offers for sale and invites bids for certain standing timber described on the attached page and located on approximately 110 acres of  Landowner  property located in the Dry Valley area of Putnam County, Tennessee.

Bids for said timber will be accepted until 1 o'clock PM on November 15, 2006, at the address above, at which time they will be opened.

The undersigned reserves the right to reject any or all bids.

The purchaser will be required to sign a timber sale agreement specifying the procedure and method of payment, time limit, and other conditions of the sale. A copy of the sale agreement will be available upon request to interested bidders before the specified time for opening bids.

Bidders may obtain permission to examine the sale area by contacting the undersigned at the address and/or telephone number above.



Attachment: Timber description



In accordance with the above invitation to Bid and subject to the provisions contained therein, the undersigned offers and agrees to purchase and pay the contained therein, the undersigned offers and agrees to purchase and pay the sum of $________________, for timber referred to in said invitation subject to acceptance of this bid.

_____________________________ _____________________________________

Bidder's Name Street Address

By __________________________ _____________________________________

Signature and Title of Person City - State - Zip Code

Authorized to Sign Bid


Telephone Number



This agreement is entered into by________________________ (Name) of_______________________________ (Address) , hereinafter referred to as the Purchaser, and_________________ (Name) of________________________ (Address), hereinafter known as the Seller.

The Purchaser agrees to buy and the Seller agrees to sell timber hereinafter described on a portion (or portions) of his/her land near (Town or Community) in ___________County, Tennessee, as shown on the attached map.

The general area(s) from which subject timber is to be removed is marked on the attached map of the Seller's property. Boundaries of specific area(s) from which timber will be removed are marked on the ground with colored paint or colored flagging tape which is (painted/tied) on trees and shrubs at eye level at approximately 25 foot intervals.

All trees included in this sale have been marked with paint on the stump near the ground and at eye level.

The Seller estimates, but does not guarantee, the volume of timber included in this sale as follows:


Tree Species

Number of Trees

Board Feet

(____Rule) 1/











Tree Species

Standard Cords (128 Cu.fT.)







1/ Specify Doyle, International, or other log rule.

The Purchaser agrees to buy said timber in strict compliance with all the following conditions and requirements: (include any or all the following or additional stipulations as may be applicable).

To pay the full purchase price of $_________________________ when this sale agreement is signed. (OR To pay for said timber; in the followings manners_________________________


To post with the Seller a certified or cashiers s check in the amount of $______at the, time this agreement is I signed This check constitutes a performance bond which will be returned in full to the Purchaser when timber cutting operations have been completed provided the terms of this agreement have been fully met. If any conditions of this agreement are not complied with, the value of such damages or violations will be deducted from the performance bond, and the balance, if any will be returned to the Purchaser.

To cut and remove all merchantable timber included in the sale area(s) not later than_____ (Date)_____ If additional time is needed, the Purchaser will submit a written request to the Seller at least_______days prior to ___ (Termination Date). Consideration will be given such a request provided the Purchaser has done all in his power to cut and remove said timber in the allotted time and other sale conditions have been carried out in satisfactory manner and in good faith.

To cut all paint marked trees (including those trees considered by the Seller to contain no commercial value, which have been marked with a "X"). Any unmarked trees cut or damaged by carelessness will be paid for at the rate of $________ per thousand board feet, ____________Log Rule , as estimated by the Seller.

Title to and responsibility for the above mentioned trees shall pass to the purchaser as they are severed from the stumps, but the Seller retains and the Purchaser grants a vendor's lien on all forest products cut or removed from the above-mentioned property until paid in full.

Any marked trees which are uncut and any cut forest products such as logs, tree tops, branches, slabs, edgings, and sawdust which are not removed from the Seller's property before the termination date of this agreement will revert to ownership of the Seller.

To exercise caution, to the fullest extent possible, to prevent and minimize damage to unmarked trees, adjacent standing timber, and small trees during felling, skidding, loading, and hauling operations.

To consult and act only on the approval and instructions of the Seller in the location and construction of access routes, haul roads, main skid trails, log landings, and sawmill sets. To locate haul roads, main skid trails and log landings at least 50 feet from streams and major drains.

To keep all roads used in connection with this sale on the Seller's property clear of limbs, tops, and debris and in passable condition for normal use. Ditchlines and drains will be kept free from tree tops, limbs, and other debris.

To prevent trucks, skidders, and other logging equipment form operating in streams; to avoid operating logging equipment within 25 feet of streams; to avoid crossing streams and drains and to skid logs away form streams and drains when possible; to drag trees, tree tops, and other logging debris which may fall into or across roads, streams, cropland and pastureland into an adjacent wooded area; to drag trees, tree tops, and other logging debris from sloughs and dry channels which may carry water when flooding occurs.

The Purchaser shall avoid logging operations during periods of wet weather to prevent damage to roads, skid trails, and log landings, especially rutting, compactions and soil erosion.

The Seller will have authority to temporarily close down all or any part of the Purchases, operation when, in the opinion of the Seller, soil or weather condition ions are such that logging operations will lead to excessive damage to toad and, other site deterioration.

The repair and/or reimburse the Seller for damages caused to fences, gates, bridges, roads, structures, equipment, crops, and other improvements and property of the Seller, incident to this sale operation.

To do all in his power to prevent and suppress any forest fires on the Seller's property of the Seller, incident to this sale operation.

If it becomes necessary to service equipment on the Seller's Property, the Purchaser will catch all oil, coolant, hydraulic fluid, fuel, or other solid or fluid materials in an appropriate co container ' preventing spillage of any such material on the Seller's property, and transport such materials to a legal dump site.

To keep the Seller's property clean and free from oil cans, garbage, and other litter.

The Purchaser will hold the Seller harmless from any and all claims arising from damages to property or to the person of the Purchaser, his agents, or his employees which may arise or be incident to the use and occupation of the Seller's land or property.

It is mutually understood that any violation of this agreement than Purchaser, his agents, or his employees, as determined by the, Seller may constitute sufficient cause for immediate, oral suspension of the timber sale operation.

In the event the Purchaser and the Seller are unable to agree on differences concerning damage appraisals or any other conditions of the sale, the final decision will rest with a committee composed of a representative appointed by the Purchaser, a representative appointed by the Seller, and a third member to be selected by the two appointed representatives.

The Seller agrees to grant the right of ingress and egress to and from the designated sale area(s) across the Seller's land to guarantee title to the timber designated for sale.

AGREED TO, THIS ___________ DAY OF________ l9____ AT ________________________TENNESSEE.

_________________________ _____________________________

(Purchaser or Agent) (Seller or Agent)



The average citizen knows less about measurement of timber and wood products than almost any other commodities. Whereas most products are measured in familiar units such as pounds, gallons, inches, etc., standing sawtimber and sawlogs are measured in "board feet."

A "board foot" is a board measuring 12 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 1 inch thick or its equivalent, e.g., a board 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 2 inches thick. In the marketplace sawtimber and lumber are bought and sold in units of thousands of board feet (MBF).

Measurements of board feet contained in a stack of sawed lumber are precise because each board has a definite length, width, and thickness. In the standing tree or log, however, measurement of board foot volume is only an estimate of the volume that night be sawed from logs delivered to the mill.

The reason estimates of timber volume in trees and logs cannot be more precise stems from the fact that trees are round. Thus, foresters and the timber industry are faced with the task of estimating volumes of lumber that might be sawed from cylinders. Volume estimates are further complicated by allowances that must be made for crook, sweep, and hidden defects which reduce the amount of lumber that can be sawed from trees and logs.

Many attempts have been made to devise ways of estimating volumes contained in trees and logs. Various formulas, called log rules, have been developed which provide estimates of board foot volumes for both standing trees and cut logs. Volume tables based on each rule have been constructed to provide estimates of board foot yield for a wide range of diameters and lengths.

Two log rules are in common use in Tennessee. The Doyle Rule, developed in 1825, is still widely used by the timber industry throughout the South and Eastern United States. According to the Doyle Rule, allowances are made for slabbing and saw kerf, but because allowances for slabbing are so large, estimates of volume are highly inaccurate and inconsistent throughout the range of tree diameters. This results in gross underestimates of lumber volumes, especially for logs in smaller diameter classes.

The International Log Rule is based on a reasonably accurate mathematical formula which not only makes realistic deductions fur slabbing and saw kerf, but also for log taper, edgings, and board shrinkage. As a result, the International Rule has proved to be the most consistent and accurate rule available. It has been officially adopted for use by several states and is employed by the United States Forest Service for forestry research.

A comparison of the differences in volume estimation according to the International and Doyle

Rules for trees of three diameter classes is shown in the table below.

Estimated Board Foot Volume in Trees Containing One (1) 16-Foot Log

DBH 1/

International Rule

Doyle Rule


















I/ Diameter at breast height, a point 4.5 feet from the ground.

In Tennessee the vast majority of sawmills and timber buyers use the Doyle Rule when purchasing standing timber and logs. Tradition is probably one reason for its wide use today, but because actual lumber yields are always higher when timber is purchased according to Doyle, its popularity among buyers is understandable. If asked to submit a bid on timber estimated according to the International Rule instead of Doyle, buyers would quote a lower price per thousand board feet.

The Division of Forestry utilizes the International Rule when estimating timber volumes for timber advertised for sale on the State Forests. Although the estimated lumber yield according to the International Rule is invariably higher than for the Doyle Rule, the reason the Division uses International is simply that it provides the most accurate estimate available of the true volume of standing timber and logs. The Division's use of International is not for the purpose of charging landowners more for marking their timber.

When contracted to mark timber for private landowners, however, the Division's policy is to provide estimates of timber volumes according to both the International and Doyle Rules, furnish explanations for differences between estimated yields, and encourage landowners, provided with the best information available, to negotiate the best timber sales possible.

List of Loggers and Sawmill Operators

Linked is a list of loggers and sawmill operators who conduct logging operations in the Upper Cumberland.

Some other Tennessee Forestry Links

Tennessee Urban Forestry Council

Tennessee Forestry Division

Tennessee Forestry Association



This site is maintained by Guy Zimmerman

Copyright © 1996, Guy Zimmerman, Last Updated – 06/15/2006