Heritage \ Writings \ Industry: Lumbering

Lumber Manufacture
1887 article from the Bay City Tribune.

Lumbering manufacturing. Contributed by Alan Flood - Jan., 2004.

Bay City Tribune: Special Edition, November 1887.



ELSEWHERE is told the story of the saw-log from the time it stands as a majestic pine in the forest until it reaches the saw mill and undergoes the first of a series of evolutions by which it is transformed into merchantable lumber. In the manufacture of lumber, the great desideratum has been, while increasing the quantity, to diminish the cost of production, and to that end labor-saving machinery has been introduced to an almost wonderful extent. The saw mill of twenty years ago and the saw mill of today are two entirely different institutions.

We have the log at the foot of the jack-ladder or haul-up works in one of our ordinary gang saw and two-band and two-circular saw mills. Should the log be a fine one it goes to the band saw, where the operator cuts each board to the best advantage, as the face of the log appears af- ter taking several cuts. At this point is obtained our wide, thick uppers. To follow the log through, the central portion, which is probably reduced to a twelve-inch cant, is passed over on transfers to the gang feed rolls, which carry it into the series of gang saws that cut it into the ordinary stick boards we find in the general lumber yard.

Returning to the band saw, the thick, wide uppers or sidings of various thicknesses are passed over live rolls to a parallel edger, where two transfer chains take it. The operator of an edger, if he is an expert, will set the saws in such a manner that the best possible quantity of clear lumber will be obtained. It may only be necessary to take the wane--sap and bark--off the two edges, leaving a clear, wide, parallel piece of lumber.

The pieces taken off are of various widths in butt logs from one to eight inches wide. These are cut up into various lengths sufficiently long for lath, staves, sash-stuff, and in many cases are worked into shorts, into which door stiles are made. In some mills the loss of material at this point would pay the entire running expenses of the mill, provided the lumber is worked up mechanically as it should be, and reduced to merchantable lumber or commodities of trade.

The fine wide siding board now goes from the edger to the trimmer, where good judgment should be used at all times to see that the boards are properly trimmed--the ends cut off correctly. It is the custom in this day and age of lumber manufacture to to trim lumber 12 feet 1 inch, 14 feet 1 inch, 16 feet 1 inch, etc., and a good operator will always place the lumber on the trimmer so that he barely squares the end with the first cut. Should there be any extra length over and above the required length as above stated, it is taken off by a second cut.

To return to the gang. In this modern mill we are supposed to have two parallel edgers. As the lumber passes from the gang on live rolls which are arranged in the rear of the gang, the first operation is to shoot it forward rapidly for six or ten feet, giving the gang men ample time and space to sort the lumber at this point. All boards that require edging are thrown to the right or left hand edger, as the case may be, and in a model mill the balance is stacked upon live rolls and sent directly forward to the trimmer. These are usually the square edge stock boards, which require no splitting or edging.

Now we have both sidings and stock at the trimmer. As before stated, the trimmer operator should exercise great care in seeing that all lumber is properly trimmed and that shaky ends, rotten butts and wany ends are cut off at the proper point to make merchantable lumber at some one of the grades--first, second or third. In a well-regulated mill in the rear of the trimmer is a series of live rolls which may run out an indefinite distance from the trimmer. On either side of said rolls are two car tracks, two having been arranged in from three to five sections each, op- erated independently of the other. At the rear of the trimmer two experts are placed who should thoroughly understand lumber sorting. Immediately in the rear of the live rolls and behind the trimmer is placed a car on which is placed the stock boards, which are usually 75 per cent of the whole cut of the mill. The wide uppers before alluded to, bill stuffs, culls and common are placed on the live rolls in the rear of the trimmer in as many tiers as possible. When a pile is here obtained they are sent for- ward by two experts, who have assorted them to the best of their ability in tiers, who select from the tiers already sorted the thick uppers and place them on No. 2 car. The pieces, 2x4, 2x6, etc., are placed on separate cars, which are run out to separate piles on the dock.

There are two grades of culls. One is known as the mill cull, which is usually piled up adjacent to the mill for immediate consumption at or near the town or place of manufacture. The other grade is known as the shipping cull. This is placed in with the common lumber on the dock.

Slabs are a valuable product if properly handled. In a well regulated mill they are run on to and pass the parallel edgers, where they are cut into various lengths for different grades of products--lath, staves, heading, box boards, shingle boards, etc. If a separate building is used for the manufacture of this product, after each operator has cut from the slab the different lengths required for different machines, paying strict attention to cut out coarse, burly spots, all are delivered onto a main conveyor, which runs through and parallel with one side of the wing and about 2 feet 4 inches above the floor. Along the line of the conveyor are stationed men or boys to assort the product, each taking the kind required for his machine. No. 1 takes the slabs or edgings that have been cut into proper lengths for lath. No. 2 picks out the heading and stave stock, No. 3 the box boards and No. 4 the shingle bands. The balance goes over the conveyor into a pocket to make fuel for salt manufacture.

Subject Notes

Hauling Logs

Related Pages:
{Lumbering Pictorial}
People Referenced
Subjects Referenced
Band saw
Box boards
Butt logs
Circular saw
Door stiles
Gang feed rolls
Gang men
Gang saw
Hand edger
Haul up works
Jack ladder
Live rolls
Lumber sorting
Main conveyor
Parallel edger
Salt manufacturer
Saw mill
Stick boards
Stock boards
Transfer chains
Two-car tracks
Related References
None at this time.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.