Salvaging Old Growth
Cloquallam Wood Products Uses
Its Wood-Mizer to Mill Old Growth Left on the Forest Floor Decades Ago
By Carl Clayton
portable band sawmills were introduced to the forest products industry, some
traditionalists considered them to be little more than farm tools or hobby toys.
Today the portable band sawmill has become a significant supplier of specialty
lumber to the North American marketplace. This is due in part because larger
mills have specialized in the high volume production of dimension material and
small mills that once produced custom lumbers have disappeared in many regions
of the country. Serious sawmill owners, like Dave and Judy Glover of Shelton,
Wash., are leading the way in demonstrating the capabilities portable mills
bring to the lumber production table. Dave and Judy's firm, Cloquallam Wood
Products, LLC, has gained a regional reputation for supplying high quality
specialty woods to some of the Northwest's leading manufacturing firms, as well
as to farmers, contractors, and other professionals.
It all begins with logs,
some of which were first harvested 3/4 century and more ago. The logs
are stacked off the ground to keep them clear of mud and other
Dave Glover spent most of his working life in the forest industry and has seen
it all. He retired from Simpson Lumber in 1991 after a 28- year career where he
began on cleanup crew and retired as a sawmill superintendent. Dave wasn’t
finished with the industry, though. While at Simpson, he and his wife and
partner, Judy, had acquired two pieces of land they wanted to improve and manage
as tree farms, one at home near Shelton and one at Republic, a small town in
Eastern Wash. In 1992, after seeing it in action at a demonstration day, the
couple invested in a Wood- Mizer Products gas sawmill.
Their intention was to salvage
blowdowns and trees needing to be thinned out of their stands, then mill the
resulting logs into lumber for buildings and other projects on their own
farmstead. Before long, the couple found they weren't the only ones looking for
lumber. Fellow landowners, small manufacturers, and others came in search of not
only plain lumber but also specialty woods they couldn't readily find elsewhere.
Soon Dave was sawing everything from salvage cedar to figured maple, dimension
lumber to guitar stock — all at the request of customers he hadn't really
anticipated having when he first bought his saw. In 1994 Dave and Judy made the
decision to move up to a Wood-Mizer with a hydraulic log loader, hydraulic
clamps, and a hydraulic log turner. They needed the new machine both to reduce
the labor involved in what had become an expanding business, and to increase
The logs are precision
milled utilizing Cloquallam’s LT-40 Super Hydraulic band sawmill.
Because of the high value of the fiber, the ability to cut to within 1/8
inch of defects with a thin kerf blade is vital to maximizing
New Business Is Born
In 1997, in part because the business continued to grow and in part because
they'd decided they wanted to up their income, Dave and Judy bowed to the
inevitable and formally established themselves as a full-fledged business,
Cloquallam Wood Products. At the same time, the couple moved up another notch in
terms of production capabilities by investing in a Wood-Mizer LT 40 Super
Hydraulic band mill. The Super Hydraulic, according to Ken Barton, Wood-Mizer's
Branch Manager in the firm's Oregon service and sales center, is both a high
volume production sawmill, with some mill owners putting out 3,000-5,000 board
feet of product per day, and a thin kerf machine capable of sawing to very close
tolerances. The machine is so accurate and the thin kerf so frugal in terms of
waste, Ken says, that even some full service sawmills in the hardwood lumber
business save out their best logs for processing on the machines.
Dave says that for his company, the quality the Wood-Mizer can provide is more
important than the production. He describes one of his ongoing projects as a
case in point. Scattered throughout the Northwest are areas where old growth
trees were cut and, for a variety of reasons, left lying on the ground seventy,
eighty, or even ninety years ago. New forests grew up around them—forests now
ready to be harvested again. The old logs have some scattered rot but still
contain high grade, fine grain, old growth fiber. Because of their size and the
quantity of fiber remaining, the logs are removed from the forest floor in the
harvest and sent to chip yards to be processed into pulp chips. Dave purchases
the logs and, using his Wood-Mizer, saws around the defects in the wood,
producing a variety of high value products, most notably veneer blocks that are
sold to a producer in Idaho.
The thin kerf of his band mill's
blade is important to Dave because the wood available in the old logs he
processes has an extremely high value when sawn into blocks, but no value as
sawdust. The accuracy his saw provides is vital. "The profit is in the grade and
value recovery we can get out of the log. With the Wood-Mizer we can saw within
a quarter to an eighth of an inch of a defect,” says Dave. “That might not sound
important but in a tight grain veneer block that can mean a lot of extra value
added." Dave is pleased with the production levels he achieves with his saw.
The result is a very
high grade lumber salable to high end manufacturers, veneer plants, and
others requiring specialty lumbers.
Again, he points to the old growth
salvage wood where value recovery is far more important than volume: "To
maximize recovery you have to think cuts through and position the log precisely.
When I'm working those logs, I'm doing pretty well to cut 300 feet a day, but
it's 300 feet of the finest material available anywhere on the marketplace."
Because he can produce to high quality standards on his Wood-Mizer, Dave finds
he can market much of the lumber he cuts to specialty manufacturers needing
something beyond the ordinary in the wood they buy.
He not only sells to the veneer
manufacturer, he also sells stock to Simpson Door, a division of the firm he
worked for in the old days, as well as to other specialty manufacturers. Of
course, not everything coming off the saw is of the quality needed by high-end
users. Some old growth is sold to a survey stake manufacturer and some is sold
as just plain old lumber and timbers for more ordinary uses. Finding outlets in
specialty markets is the key to the Glovers’ success. Dave says production mills
today don't like to cut odd sizes, species, or anything else out of the
ordinary, but most manufacturers have special needs. Their choices without the
services of a sawmill like Dave's are to resaw or pay a heavy premium. "The
Wood-Mizer doesn't care what size or species it's cutting," says Dave. "You can
set up to saw in a few minutes so it's easy to give the customer exactly what
they're asking for. That's an important competitive advantage."
Cloquallam Wood Products works
hard to maintain that competitive advantage. "There are good days and there are
bad days," says Dave. "Sometimes you love it and sometimes you wonder why you're
out here. You can make a good living sawing but it doesn't come automatically.
You have to be professional in how you go about it. You can't just start sawing
and expect to succeed overnight." Professionalism is what Dave and Judy Glover
are all about. In producing high-grade lumber to exacting specifications,
they've helped create an entirely new industry sector in the North American
forest products industry. They've benefited the economy and the communities they
live in, and, because much of the wood they saw would have been burnt,
landfilled, or left to rot, they've done it all while providing significant
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