BC Saw Filers’ Association Conference and Trade ShowBC Saw Filers: Sharpening their skills

The upcoming BC Saw Filers’ Association Conference and Trade Show—being held April 26 to 28 in Kamloops—will feature the latest developments, with industry specialists talking about everything from bandsaw alignment best practices to the latest developments in precision-cutting technology.

By S.J. Trotton

Members of the BC Saw Filers’ Association (BCSFA) know that the decision on where to position the blade on any given log can be just as important, from a financial perspective, as ensuring the teeth on a saw used in a mill achieve the best results in value recovery.

That’s one of the reasons why they continue to organize an annual saw filers’ conference and trade show that is typically a heavily-attended function with dozens of industry specialists from around the province gathering in the B.C. Interior to hear about the latest industry developments.

This year’s annual event, to be held at the Coast Hotel and Convention Centre in Kamloops April 26 to 28, is looking like it will again be a success, with demand from both exhibitors for floor space and attendees who recognize the value in learning about everything from bandsaw alignment best practices to the latest developments in saw knife and precision-cutting technology.

The provincial association that runs the affair is an independent, grassroots organization which aims to encourage the wide-ranging dissemination of knowledge and resources for the benefit of all those involved in the saw filing trade.

BC Saw Filers’ Association Conference and Trade ShowThe BC Saw Filers’ Association has identified the need for more qualified saw filers for many years and the need continues to grow, with sawmills looking to maximize production, to take advantage of very healthy lumber markets.

Attendees will once again hear about the developments in saw filing optimization, the most up-to-date trends in automation and the continuing need for more people to consider entering the saw filing trade.

“The association has identified the need for more qualified saw filers for many years and the need continues to grow” says Matt Graves, BCSFA secretary and Tolko Industries Lavington Division saw filer veteran. “With more filers continuing to retire, the aging demographic gap is more apparent than ever.”

Since 2016, the industry’s answer to combating the skilled saw filer shortage has been to hire back filers—who had already retired—on a contract basis in order to keep filing room operations running smoothly. Mill managers admit the solution is only a stop-gap measure and doesn’t begin to be a long-term answer.

For this reason, this year’s conference and trade show will highlight recruiting information about training opportunities such as the program offered at the School of Trades and Technology at Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

Located at the TRU campus in Williams Lake B.C., the saw filer apprentice program provides the knowledge and skills required to become both a provincially and inter-provincially certified tradesperson. It is the only program of its kind in Canada and the Western United States. The industry has always supported the program, recognizing how much it relies on skilled trades workers who can produce optimum results. Canfor Corporation is an example of how supportive the industry is of programs like the saw filing apprenticeship program in Williams Lake.

Last year Canfor donated a Vollmer CHC20 top and face grinder. With this donation, students were given a hands-on opportunity to learn how to operate, repair and make adjustments to this machine, which is considered to be one of the most crucial pieces of machinery used by industry saw filers. Before the equipment was donated, Canfor partnered with HMT Machine Tools Canada to rebuild the grinder. The work done by HMT will prolong the life of this equipment and ensure the learning environment suitably mimics the real-world.

This year’s B.C. Saw Filers Conference and Trade Show will take place April 26 – 28. The trade show portion of the event will run two days this year and will begin at 12 pm and end at 7 pm both Thursday the 26th and Friday the 27th, and is open to all filers, mill managers and maintenance supervisors.

“Building on the success from past years, this year’s conference once again promises to be a must-see exhibition of all the latest in technology, products and services,” Graves says. “And for this year, we are putting together a program that is bigger and better with the top names in saw filing all under one roof.”

BC Saw Filers’ Association Conference and Trade ShowLast year, the trade show brought together dozens of exhibitors who featured the latest innovations in filing technology, products and services. Already confirmed for this year’s event are manufacturers known throughout the industry. Popular brand names like Saw+ADD, Corbilt, KeyKnife and the newly merged Simmons Knife & Saw, Burtons Saw & Supply and BGR will be front and centre at this year’s show.

“We are expecting as many exhibitors as we had last year, if not more,” says Graves. “We’re excited to confirm these names and expect to be adding more shortly.”

In addition to the exhibits, attendees will have a chance to hear from speakers who address topics that include best practices for working safely, safety products for filing rooms and the newest trade technologies currently available.

“The speakers at this conference are always a popular attraction as they truly understand the needs of the industry and the fact our annual event is considered an important educational opportunity for all those in the industry,” maintains Graves. “For this reason, we always try to ensure we have something new to offer attendees each year.”

Following the annual general meeting, this year’s conference program will include: a talk from WorkSafeBC, a luncheon sponsored by Simonds International, an in-depth look at hand safety, an update from the Industry Training Authority (ITA) on the saw filer program, and highlights from industry leaders Precision Machinery, HMT Machine Tools and SiCam Systems.

“These conventions help with getting to know people in the industry. It’s a close-knit community which is open to helping each other out with challenges they may face at work,” says Graves.

When the trade show wraps up, a full buffet dinner and entertainment will take centre stage. Hypnotist Wayne Lee is the confirmed act for this year. A published author, performance coach and award-winning entertainer with more than 4,000 presentations to his name, Lee’s hypnotic techniques are said to “entertain, excite and mesmerize.”

Those wishing to register as an exhibitor can do so through the association by filling out the registration form at: http://bcsawfilers.com/news/. In order to streamline registration and to establish numbers for the dinner and show in advance, the association is offering pre-registration opportunities. When that process is complete, registration will open up to anyone else who may also want to attend. The association has also arranged for a block of rooms at the Coast Kamloops Hotel. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-663-1144 using group code GFC 5212 or reference BC Saw Filers.

Saw Filers Trade — Facts at a Glance

  • Saw filers operate, repair and adjust saw sharpening equipment and are trained to bench all circular and gang saws, including tensioning, welding cracks, welding on teeth and any other work that is usually performed by a saw filer in the lumber manufacturing industry.
  • Two trades make up the saw trades: saw filer and bench person.
  • Bench person endorsement certifies the trades person in bench band saw operation including the lining up of head rigs, grinding of band wheels and other tasks.
  • To begin an apprenticeship as a saw filer, learners must complete 840 hours of work-based training, working in a saw filing room and assisting saw filers in their work.
  • Once students have successfully completed the apprenticeship requirements, they receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship and are certified as a journeyperson in the trade.
  • Since its inception in 2013, the Thompson Rivers University Saw Filer program in Williams Lake has produced 219 graduates. The program’s current group has 16 apprentices.
  • The apprenticeship saw filing program in Williams Lake has a wait list. Those interested in applying are encouraged to visit: https://www.tru.ca/forms/trades/apprenticeship/
  • According to industry reports, saw filers in Canada can make anywhere between $29 to $47 per hour.
  • When saw filers sharpen their blades, the widely accepted two most important standards they evaluate are the clearance angles ground into the sides of the tips, and how dull the saw blades are run between sharpenings.
  • B.C.’s Industry Training Authority is responsible for overseeing all apprenticeship programs.

To learn more about saw filing careers in general, visit: http://www.itabc.ca/program/saw-filer.

Saw Filers’—Exhibitor List

Andritz Iggesund Tool Canada Ltd.

Bestar LLC

Canadian Forest Products

Carbide Tool Works Ltd.

Chevron Canada Ltd.

Cut Technologies

Fuchs Lubricants

Grache USA

HMT Machine Tools Canada

Hodgson Saw Ltd.

Industrial Autolube International

Jayrod Consulting & Sales


Key Knife

Logging & Sawmilling Journal

Optimil Machinery Inc.

Peerless Saw Company

Petro-Canada Lubricants

Precision Guide Machinery and Repair

Premier Bandwheel & Equipment Ltd

Promac Group

Raptor Integration

Saw+Add LLC

Simonds Int. / Burton Saw / Cut Technologie

Streifel Industries  Ltd.

Supersaul Chemmex Inc.

The Sharp Tool Company


Voestalpine Precision Strip

Western Forest Products


Williams & White Group of Companies

YGE Equipment

Logging and Sawmilling Journal
March/April 2018

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