This is the second in the continuing series on how Montana Logs are harvested and then top-quality wood products manufactured. In the previous post, “The Art of Selecting the Right Log for the Right Wood Product”, we discussed how important it is to harvest timber in a responsible, sustainable fashion and touched on how to use those resources in an intelligent and efficient manner.
This blog post will provide an overview of how the Marks Lumber sawmill team optimizes the Grown-in-Montana wood fiber they purchase to manufacture Made-In-Montana specialty products.
When logs come into the sawmill, some are ideal stock to make boards or to make “blanks” which are boards that will be planed into finished products such as flooring. Other logs are ideal for other products such as timbers. It is up to the head sawyer to coordinate with the log yard team to recognize a log's best potential. Sometimes we even label logs with what we are hoping to cut out of them.
To optimize the use of a log, many of the best logs are chosen to create structural, appearance grade timbers with the side lumber from these logs often making great blanks for flooring. Other times we are running the mill primarily to make flooring blanks selecting good solid logs, but they may have 1 noticeable defect that can be removed. When the sawyers are producing the best board that a log will give them we say they are “cutting for grade”.
Fun Fact: The first cut a sawyer makes on a log at Marks Lumber is to flatten the best (clearest) face of a log. With that log 'opened up' the sawyer now decides how to proceed to get maximum yield from the log.
Getting optimal yield out of the wood fiber we purchase is obviously critical to Marks Lumbers survival, and it is critical to our customers as well. Recognizing optimal situations for logs allows Marks Lumber to offer a wide variety of very high-quality timber products at very economical pricing. Operators at all stages of mill production must pay attention and communicate with the rest of their team to operate effectively and efficiently.
Another way to optimize the use of a log is to cut blanks for the flooring mill on the head rig as 2-inch boards or “cants” that are sent to a bandsaw to be split. This process minimizes waste, while still allowing Marks Lumber to produce true circle sawn material. Mill hands must always be aware of the circle sawn face to protect it throughout the milling process.
Manufacturing top quality, appearance grade lumber is a sometimes challenging, but fulfilling vocation. It takes more care and expertise than first meets the eye. The Marks Lumber mill crew appreciates the opportunity to utilize their skills in optimizing log use so they can supply your Grown-In-Montana, Made-In-Montana specialty lumber products which include circle-sawn flooring, sidings, timbers, and more.
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