In this installment of Pinebelt Tough, Christopher Harkey takes us through a sawmill. Operators at Joe Miles & Sons Lumber in Bogalusa, LA, were kind enough to show us what makes them Pinebelt Tough.
"You gotta be on your P's and Q's otherwise you're gonna get hurt." Pinebelt Tough picks up where we left off following a log from the forest to the mill. "Its not just tinker toys, haha." When a log truck rolls into Joe Miles & Sons Sawmill in Bogalusa, Louisiana, its weighed and unloaded.
"The big foot here can lift a whole load of logs," says Jonathan Smith with
Joe Miles & Sons Lumber, Inc., "The loader operator is loading the debarker. The debarker has a series of spike rollers and knives. Then they go through the metal detector." The metal detector can spot something as small as a bb. If it passes, the log goes to the deck saws. The saw operator uses a keen eye to cut various lengths for the best boards possible. Once in the mill the logs go through a series of band saws to take the edges off, using technology on its cutting edges for efficiency. Smith says, "The lasers paints the logs and the infrared camera catches the data. It's going to tell you the grade of wood and all that." The program called the Optimizer tells the main saws the best way to cut. "The slews skew, that where the saws reside. There is 24 saws on top and 24 saws on bottom."
That's when the lumber really takes shape. Then it's on to a series of refining trimmers. "It comes through here. This is a trimmer. It trims the ends." Once trimmed, it is sorted, loaded into bays, and stacked for the dry kiln. "This is our dry kiln. It dries the lumber." And nothing around the mill is wasted, "They're lit off of fuel, but they run off of saw dust. "Each load spends 12 hours in the kiln. Once its dry, Smith says, "A set of chains that conveys it through to the planer." Each stack is unloaded and hitches a ride to the planer which gives the board its smooth finish.
Then the lumber is resorted, "And its banded and tagged and put out here. This is our dry lumber shed. This is the finished product."
A ballet of forklift drivers load trucks of sold lumber. "Barely touch that lumber with the tip of those forks, you will knock them over and that's a scary feeling." Then the truck operator goes to work tying down the load and it's off to the lumberyard as board lumber for homes, businesses, and construction projects. In our book, that's Pinebelt Tough. "You're dealing with lumber. Its gonna get tough.
It's not a bad job. Gets a little hectic though."