Interested in seeing timber turned into profit-rather than sawdust-Ontario sawmill operator Dennis Schruder opted for a Heartwood band saw system and has since seen a healthy return on his investment.
By Tony Kryzanowski
For those experienced hobby band saw owners wanting a bigger challenge or something with the potential for more financial return, there are many lessons that could be learned from Dennis Schruder's experiences operating a medium size hardwood sawmill based on band saw technology.
Schruder owns DMS Lumber Inc near Eganville, Ontario and produces about 2.5 million board feet of lumber annually from a variety of wood species. The timber supply consists of about 40 per cent hard maple, 20 per cent aspen, 15 per cent mixed softwoods such as spruce, hemlock and red pine, 15 per cent white pine, and 10 per cent mixed hardwoods. Having access to a variety of species means he can concentrate on producing lumber from species that provide him with the most financial return in the market at any given time.
With an investment of about $140,000 for the main sawmill system and in combination with hands-on involvement in both the daily operation of the sawmill and marketing products, Schruder is managing to earn a good living and employ five workers. The backbone of his sawmill is a computerized model 310 diesel powered Heartwood Saw system, manufactured in Trenton, Ontario. It is a double-cut band saw capable of manufacturing up to 8,000 board feet of lumber in an eight-hour shift.
"When I began shopping around, I wanted something that I could use to earn a living," says Schruder. Smaller band saws seemed to be targeted more toward hobby sawmill owners, and he thought that too much of his profits would be chewed up in sawdust and slabs from the waste generated by a circular saw. The kerf on circular saw blades he investigated measured 5/16 of an inch. The kerf on his band saw blade measures 3/32 of an inch and he is able to saw within 1/32 of an inch. That type of consistent accuracy keeps bringing customers back. About 99 per cent of his production is pre-sold.
"I'm getting a bigger yield with this mill," says Schruder. " That is half the battle when you consider the growing scarcity of quality logs and higher log costs. Obviously, I'm getting less sawdust because of the kerf and I can take a smaller slab thickness, which in turn gives me more lumber."
Schruder purchases his timber privately from farmers and independent loggers. Each year, he has noticed that they need to search further afield for quality logs. At present, he buys logs up to 80 kilometres from the sawmill.
Fewer quality logs readily at hand and
customers demanding accuracy are the two main reasons why a higher
production band saw system was the proper fit for his particular needs.
Typically, the wood he purchases arrives in the yard and is sorted by species. Logs can measure anywhere from six to 16 feet long. The saw can manufacture lumber from logs up to 21 feet long. Schruder has produced lumber from white pine logs up to 44 inches in diameter, and has sawn them down to as small as four-inch lumber.
Once a particular species is slated for
production, the stockpiled logs are loaded onto a Heartwood live deck and
fed individually onto the saw platform as needed. Schruder added his log
deck to improve production flow and it has delivered. He is now able to
produce lumber from 30 additional logs per day. Prior to the addition of
the live deck, the edger man or sawyer had to leave his post to feed
individual logs onto the saw platform, a poor use of time.
The edger operator removes and stacks
slabs, which are later sold for firewood, as well as boards and hearts. He
either passes the boards through the edger or sends them along a conveyor
to the trimmer station. The hearts are conveyed directly to the trimmer.
He says producing consistent lumber is a combination of all the elements in his production line, but 80 per cent of it can be attributed to the Heartwood saw's performance and the sawyer's ability. Having spent 20 years as a sawyer, Schruder has been passing on his expertise to the current sawyer who has been with him since day one.
The Heartwood 310 saw is sold in either a diesel or electric power configuration. The diesel power model comes equipped with an 122-horsepower, four-cylinder Perkins engine operating at 2,200 rpm.
In terms of blade maintenance, the mill will use one or two blades per shift, ideally providing six hours of production before blade changes. Each blade lasts nine months to a year and has a replacement cost of $246.
Schruder is satisfied with the parts and
service support provided by Heartwood Saw and the company's ability to
answer his technical and mechanical questions. Many replacement parts are
available from sources other than the dealer, but he prefers to purchase
his parts from the company. He adds that having a mechanical aptitude is
definitely an asset in the day-to-day operation of the sawmill.
"Every summer we shut down for a week so that the mechanic and I can inspect the sawmill for any repair requirements such as cracks," he says.
Overall, he says the saw has been very reliable. It provides consistent production both winter and summer, with frozen or thawed logs. The mill operates at the same speed for both hardwood and softwood, but experience and experimentation have demonstrated that they achieve better frozen log saw penetration with a minor adjustment on the saw tooth swedge.
On average, the sawmill is in production
44 to 46 weeks per year. Schruder expects high productivity when the mill
This page and all contents
©1996-2007 Logging and Sawmilling
Journal (L&S J) and TimberWest Journal.
last modified on Thursday, October 07, 2004