The Importance of a Sawyer: Getting the Most Value from a Hardwood Log

A skilled and experienced sawyer has a tremendous impact on the success of a hardwood sawmill. In general, the role of a sawyer is not just to convert a log into boards, but rather, to extract the most value possible from each and every hardwood log.Hardwood Lumber Sawyer

In most instances, each hardwood log produces a portion of grade lumber and industrial lumber. Grade lumber is the lumber boards that are used in furniture, millwork, flooring and the like. Prime, FAS, 1 Common, 2 Common and 3 Common lumber products are examples of grade lumber. Railroad ties, cants, timber mats, pallet wood and architectural timbers are some examples of industrial lumber products.

Since no two hardwood logs are the same, no two logs are cut the exact same way. The ability for the sawyer to review and analyze each log and determine how best to cut each log to maximize value is crucial.

In a hardwood log, the highest quality boards are usually found on the outside of the log, (after the slabs are cut). Conversely, lower quality boards are generally found closer to the center of the log which can typically include more knots from the early limb placements as the tree continued to grow.

As the sawyer squares up the log and prepares to create boards they are looking to maximize the amount of wide clear boards in the required thicknesses the sawmill is trying to produce. Their ability to read the log and make the proper cutting decisions with speed and accuracy is of utmost importance. The sawyer needs to be able to look at the log after each pass of the blade and make a calculation as to the value of the potential next board based on market values of green lumber.

Today, many computerized log scanning machines are utilized in a sawmill to help the sawyer gain additional internal insights as to the potential quality of a log to drive better log yields. But the skill, experience and decision making expertise of the sawyer is still critical to the sawmills overall success.

We are grateful for the professional sawyers we have on staff in each of our hardwood sawmill locations. We think they give us a competitive advantage.

What other aspects of a sawyer’s role do you think create value? Let us know, we welcome the conversation!

Tony C.
The Baillie Group
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