Nathan Waterfield is Peterson Portable Sawmills’ representative on the East Coast of the USA.
Based in Cherry Valley, Nathan operates Timberworks Tree Services and runs a 10 inch 35hp Peterson Automated Swingblade Mill.
Recently, Nathan was selling logs to a local commercial mill when he spotted some large logs in the yard. Upon enquiring as to their destination, Wightman Lumber informed him that the logs were too large to be practical for the commercial mill to cut so Nathan struck a deal and sawed them out.
The commercial mill had secured the large quantity of oversized logs after purchasing a half million dollar band saw that supposedly had the capacity to mill logs up to 56 inches in diameter. On paper, this capability was one of the most important selling points for the operation, however the practicality wasn’t as straight forward as it seemed.
Logs over 42 inches and above in diameter on the butt end are considered ‘oversized’. These logs considerably reduce Wightman’s production rates. Not only are the logs cumbersome to roll into the mill on the live deck and debark, but they also won’t fit into the sled.
To be able to mill the oversized logs, the company would need to use the head saw to cut a flat, but would not be able to ‘dog’ into the logs until one side was less than 36 inches. This process was time consuming, dangerous and hard on the equipment. In some cases, they would need to use a chainsaw to quarter split the large logs, particularly in the case of red oak where quarter sawn lumber is desirable and valuable.
The frame design of the Peterson ASM enables it to cut logs 5’ (1.5m) in diameter. Wightman Lumber owner, Dan Wightman arranged for Nathan to bring the portable mill to the commercial milling site and cut the oversized logs into 6 ½ inch x 6,8 or 10 inch cants. The cants would then be resawn to maximise quarter sawn yield.
To meet FAS (First and Seconds) grade, quarter sawn boards have to have a finished width of at least 6 inches. It is standard practice to plan for ¼ inch of shrinkage in the kiln. The ASM was able to saw the defined cants with ease.
This exercise was a perfect example of how complimentary a Peterson swing blade sawmill can be to any milling operation. The versatility of the Peterson mill helps it to complete jobs other mills struggle with.
“The ASM made breaking these large logs down easy,” Nathan said.
Another concern at the head saw that didn’t affect the Peterson was hardware within the logs. Hitting metal would normally halt production and leave 20 + workers in the assembly line standing and waiting – not to mention the cost of repairing the blade! But for Nathan and the ASM the halt in production was minimal and not nearly as frequent.
“As standard practice for the Peterson I used my ‘three strikes and it’s out’ policy where I could normally saw through three large nails before I would need to change the blade.”
Peterson’s blades can be sharpened while still attached to the mill, however if too much hardware is encountered, the tips can be replaced or the blade changed on the spot. All mill models are provided with two blades as standard. The blades are so durable there have been reports from Peterson mill owners of them lasting 10 years and beyond.
Dan Wightman assisted Nathan, tailing out the majority of the time Nathan was milling. Halfway into day two, Nathan looked at Dan and asked, “So what do you think?” Dan replied, “We milled a whole lot of cants!” They sure did… 18,000 board feet of Red Oak in three days in fact.
For more information on Peterson’s Automated Swingblade Mill and the full range of portable mill models visit their website: www.petersonsawmills.com.
Further information about Wightman Lumber’s range of products can be found at: www.wightmanlumber.com