Recently the entire avenue of Aesculus Hippocastanums at the National Trust ‘Barrington Court’ had to be felled as it had bleeding canker. Mike took all the bottom butts and converted them into some of the most gorgeous products he or most have seen. “Everybody drools over it”. As Mike’s project nears maximum efficiency, the entire process from standing tree to finished product will often need no more than 20 miles of transport. Even the kiln drying will be powered by waste timber from the milling.
Mike spoke of a particular job, “Two weeks ago Prince Charles gave us a native British Poplar which had been felled due to rot in the butt. The tree was located on Broadfield Farm in Tetbury, which is Prince Charles’s main production farm. It was over 11m long and 1.35m just above the butt end. We cut it into 4 shorter logs before milling. At that time we had worked the new mill for two short days and one longer one. We had to wait for the farm telehoist to put the remaining logs in place so we only managed about 6 hours actual milling on the last day. BUT we milled about 6.3m3 of log (2 of them) in that time. There were two of us manning the operation – one removing the boards and me milling. All the boards milled were either 18mm for flooring; 39mm for dining table tops, or 85mm for the table legs. I was extremely impressed with the production as I assumed we would not achieve a good volume when cutting so many thin boards. And that was on only our 3rd working day!”
So where to from here? Mike is already speaking of the future “I am very impressed with the WPF we are now using, but want to perfect the operation. I am sure we will want the automated ASM model in the not too distant future as pushing the WPF to achieve this volume on a continuous basis is demanding, and my personal time is too valuable to spend much time milling.”
Mike also has quite a number of photos of Tranquility House, and exhibited at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) in April where they were on display. Mike says “We make a big deal about the fact we do go all the way ‘from the forest to the floor’ which makes most customers smile. People love the notion we can tell them exactly where each tree grew”. When asked to compare timber recovery efficiency, Mike provided some interesting statistics:
“I am hugely impressed with the Peterson WPF and have realised it is truly an environmental mill. At first sight having a 5.8mm kerf against about 3mm for a band saw seems seriously bad news – but it isn’t. On the band saw we have been using, we needed to cut 20 or 21mm boards to produce 12mm finished flooring. But the milling accuracy on the Peterson will allow us to cut 17mm boards from the start. Therefore the log yield, even for such thin milling, is about the same for both machines. Another benefit is that we are using less power and ending with less waste. We are now air and kiln drying considerably thinner boards from the onset, which dry faster and use a lot less kiln energy to bring them below 10%. And it doesn’t stop there. When you are machining fatter boards through a 5 cutter, the rate at which the planing waste builds up is a big issue. With the more efficient Peterson boards, that waste is almost exactly halved. So well done; a great piece of equipment, and all who have so far seen us using it are extremely impressed. I doubt The Duchy will buy one though, as ours will surely now mill everything they want!”