Sawmill Operations

      The first thing that happens to a log upon entering a sawmill is debarking. A barker strips the bark off  the log so that it is ready for cutting.

      In a typical sawmill, a circular crosscut saw with a 3.5 ft diameter cuts each log down to 16 ft. lengths. If the log diameter is greater than 3.5 ft., a 7 ft. mechanical chainsaw must be used to cut the log.

          Next on its trip to becoming a lumber product, the debarked log is evaluated by   scanners with "electronic eyes". The scanners use lasers to determine the size of the log and the best possible cuts. A computer then sets up the longitudinal cuts using an edge saw.

          A sawyer oversees the process and can override the computer at any time to make what he thinks is the best possible cut. The sawyer's cut decisions are based on:
  • Species of wood
  • Log diameter
  • Intended use of the lumber
  • Yield
  • Market costs for different grades and sizes of lumber

          The sawyer is a very important person at the mill because he determines whether or not the mill will make money based on his evaluation of the log. A sawyer must be very coordinated and able to make quick decisions. With adequate training a sawyer can become qualified in thirty days.

          The saw mill pictured in these photographs can produce approximately 102,000 board feet of lumber in an eight hour shift (1 board foot = 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch).

          The saw is a double cut saw which means it cuts both up and down the log. The saw shown in the photographs cuts many different sizes of lumber to lengths of up to 16 ft.   Saw blades are changed every four hours and are re-sharpened when not in use.

          To view the edge saw process in action please click on the picture below.  Windows media player 3.0    is required.


edge2.gif (21365 bytes)

  • The edge saw makes longitudinal cuts on a log (sawing a log into boards), whereas a cross-cut saw makes transverse cuts (cutting a log into smaller lengths).
  • There are two components to the edge saw,  there is a vertical "band saw-like" blade, and a "piston-like" circular saw blade.
  • The circular blade that is moving horizontally (right-to-left) in the video clip, is actually making a straight edge cut along the log, therefore when the log goes through the band saw one complete piece of lumber will be cut.

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