Mississippi Sawmill Has Connection to Maine

- Advertisement -

R&R Timber saws oak, cypress on Sanborn Machine Co. Inc. Min-Max portable sawmill

His son works as an inspector for a large sawmill, and it was his son who introduced him to the forest products industry. In the course of talking with his son, Morris got more and more interested in building a sawmill from the ground up and going into business for himself.

Eventually, he did exactly that. Today, Morris owns R&R Timber, and he is very happy with the decision he made to start his own business.

“We cut logs, oak and cypress, and we sell the lumber to wholesalers,” said Morris. His customers are located in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. R&R Timber relies on contract haulers for making deliveries.

Morris does not plan to venture into retail lumber sales because the area where he is located is too remote and rural to make it profitable. R&R Timber is in Vicksburg, a city of about 20,000 people 40 miles west of the state capital of Jackson.

- Advertisement -

When Morris started R&R Timber four and a half years ago, he had to decide what kind of portable sawmill to use. His son gave him a few suggestions, including a Min-Max Model 636 portable sawmill, which is made by Sanborn Machine Co. Inc. in Waterford, Maine. Morris got a video from Sanborn that showed the Min-Max mill in action, and he was immediately sold on the machine.

One of the things that Morris liked most about the Min-Max was that “it was built heavy.” He wanted a heavy-duty portable sawmill because he planned to saw large oak and cypress logs. Sanborn Machine’s base sawmill weighs just over four tons. It can be operated as either a stationary or portable sawmill; as a portable unit, it can be set up in no more than two hours. R&R Timber operates the Min-Max Model 636 as a stationary sawmill.

“We started from scratch,” said Morris -— buying equipment and putting up a building for the sawmill operations. In order to house the Sanborn Min-Max Model 636 and other equipment, Morris constructed a 14,000-square-foot plant. “I built the building myself, concrete floor and all metal” construction, he said. The concrete floor makes cleanup of sawdust easier and of course, it also provides a good, stable substrate for the equipment.

Morris buys about 50-60,000 board feet of logs per week. Cypress and red oak are the two dominant species. Operating the Sanborn Min-Max Model 636 eight hours per day and with re-sawing, he produces about 10-12,000 board feet of red oak lumber and about 14-18,000 board feet of cypress.

For R&R Timber it is more than a matter of just sawing lumber. Making high quality wood products is important to Morris. “We upgrade our lumber,” he said, “It’s true thickness, all.”

Cypress, which is resistant to insects, has many applications for outdoor uses, such as decking material, siding and outdoor furniture. It is soft yet resists warping more than similar types of wood, such as pine. These characteristics make it attractive to consumers and to R&R Timber’s wholesale customers.

Sanborn named its portable sawmill the Min-Max because it aims to maximize the most desirable things about sawing and minimize the least desirable. For example, the Min-Max can be operated by one person, which means it requires a minimum amount of labor. It is built to handle large logs in order to provide maximum log capacity. The standard model Min-Max can handle a 36-inch diameter log up to 16 feet long. Sanborn also can adapt the Min-Max to handle logs up to 40 feet long.

The Min-Max Model 636 runs a 6-inch-wide, 21-foot-long, 18 gauge blade with 0.80-inch kerf. The sawmill is powered by a 50 hp electric engine, which makes it fuel efficient and minimizes fuel costs, Morris noted.

R&R Timber is also equipped with a Morgan resaw, a Morgan chop saw, and a Miner edger, which Morris said has been “real dependable.” He designed the building and plant layout to reduce material handling by R&R Timber’s seven employees. His wife, Theresa, collaborates with him in the business.

One employee operates the Min-Max Model 636, which Morris said “out-performs what Sanborn says it will do.” He is “well-satisfied” with the Min-Max and has gotten everything out of the machine that he expected.

The standard hydraulic-powered features on the Min-Max Model 636 include the feedworks and top saw guide. The sawmill also has automated setworks and can run at infinitely variable speed.

The Min-Max Model 636 hydraulic system is powered by a seven-gallon per minute (GPM) pump, and the components are designed to work at 1,500 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Optional equipment includes a log cleaner and hydraulic turners, grapples (dogs) and log-loading.

Morris built the log deck that feeds logs to the sawmill. He also maintains all the equipment.

R&R Timber is equipped with a Fulghum chipper. Scrap cypress material is chipped and sold wholesale for mulch, and oak waste material is chipped and sold to International Paper.

The only thing slowing down R&R is the log supply. When Morris spoke to TimberLine, there was a lull at the mill because intense recent heavy rain made for muddy conditions and slowed down loggers.

Morris, a native of Vicksburg, owns 142 acres of timberland — mixed hardwoods, including a lot of hickory and pine. When he takes time away from R&R Timber, he likes to go fishing.

His decision to start a sawmill business has proved to be ideal one for him, he said. “It just seemed like a good, honest way to make a living.”