Olympic Peninsula - Part 3

Forks, WA

Mill Tours

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We toured two types of mills, Cedar Shakes and Shingles, and 2 x 4 studs.

Both mill operations were small compared to other mills in the area, but we were able to view all parts of the operations and talk with the operators.

Cedar Shakes and Shingles Mill
The mill receives blocks of cedar which were collected from previously logged areas. The two to three foot cedar stumps which were left after the loggers completed their effort are further cut almost at ground level and then quartered. These quarters are then sent to the mill for final cutting to length and splitting.

Lumber Mill
The mill receives logs of various sizes in diameter and length. They are first separated by diameter. There is a large log process and a small log process.

The large log process slices the logs in 2" thick slabs. These slabs are then cut into four inch widths. The huge bandsaw blade, witch cuts the slabs, is changed every 4 hours. The log slides back and forth through the blade, which requires the blade to cut on both sides.

The smaller logs are milled and cut directly into 2 x 4 boards.

The mill we toured only made 8 foot length 2 x 4 studs. The process is very automated. Logs are placed on a conveyor in one end of the mill and the boards come out the other end. Most of the manual labor is inspecting and selecting quality of the boards.
In both processes, all chips, saw dust, and waste are saved and transferred to a pulp mill. Nothing is wasted.

Cedar Shakes and Shingles Mill
The blocks are cut to length using a tool containing two chain saws. (background)
The blocks are then split into the correct thickness. (foreground)

Lumber Mill
This machine cuts the logs to length after they have been debarked.
The logs continue on by conveyor either to the next operation or, if the next operation is down for blade replacement, they are stored in the yard for future processing.

Loading small diameter logs from storage in the yard into the cutting process.

This is the control room for the small diameter log processing.
It is one continuous process. If something goes wrong, the operator must stop all processing and signal for maintenance help.

The boards are being sorted before going to the dryer.
The first sort manually removes boards (drops down to a conveyor under the floor) which are too bad and should go to the pulp mill.
The second sort removes boards which and not good studs but can be cut into furring strips or shorter boards.
After the boards are dried, they are planned on all four sides, sorted, graded and made ready for shipment.

We are in the tool room where all of the blades are sharpened or repaired.
We are inspecting a double sided blade which is used on the large bandsaw.

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