Tour a sawmill with a purpose

  • Posted on:  Tuesday, 17 November 2015 14:31

Sawmill tours are a very popular activity in our industry. Customers and prospects from all around the world like to visit sawmills to gain a better perspective on what a hardwood lumber supplier may or may not be able to provide. But if you are new to the industry what should you be looking for when visiting a sawmill? Here are a few suggestions...

Lumber Quality

sawyerSometimes starting with the boards a sawmill creates is a good idea.  By inspecting the finished product and then observing the sawmill’s operation from start to finish you can gain a good perspective on the mills capabilities.  Take note of the thickness of the lumber and see if the widths and lengths meet your criteria of a good finished product. Look for over length and then consider taking note of the trimming and edging of the lumber.

Types of Hardwood Logs Used

The quality of the hardwood logs that a sawmill has access to and processes will have a big impact on the lumber they can produce.  When you look at the logs in their log piles take note of their size. Hardwood logs are usually purchased in 2 foot increments ranging from 8’ to 16’ in length.  Each log should have a few extra inches on it to allow for trimming. The longer the lengths of the logs the longer the boards a mill can cut. 

Also look at the average diameter and straightness of the logs they are sawing. This can be a good indication to the type of lumber they can yield.

Machinery

The more sophisticated a sawmill is the more likely they will be able to produce a variety of lumber products.  The type of sorting capabilities and the machinery configuration that a sawmill utilizes are good indicators to what type of hardwood supplier the sawmill can be. 

For example, look for a fully functional debarker. Pay special attention to the type of head saw configuration they use. See if they utilize a resaw, a gang edger and other machines that can optimize the boards they produce. Keep in mind that some sawmills are optimized to create industrial timbers and ties while others are set up to produce wide random boards and still others can do both efficiently.

Cleanliness and Safety

When a sawmill is focused on cleanliness and the safety conditions for their employees it usually means they pay attention to details and care about what they produce.  It usually means they keep up with the necessary equipment maintenance needed and ensure their employees are properly trained and managed.  All of this results in higher standards, better consistency and even improved reliability in production.

Consider adding these points of inspection to your next sawmill visit.  Please contact us if you would like any other information on sawmills.  We will help if we can.

American Lumber
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Last modified on Tuesday, 17 November 2015 14:54

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