Big Thin Kerf Sawmills Win Over Even A Die-Hard Circle Saw Owner

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Missouri company found increased profits and success after switching to a Wood-Mizer industrial thin kerf narrow band mill.

Royce Smith lives in Success, Missouri. That seems appropriate. That town’s name is a dead-on description of Smith’s walnut-cutting operation. Smith was born 60 years ago with “a sawmill in the backyard.” Back in those days, circle saws dominated the sawmilling landscape. But revolutionary developments in thin-kerf technology in the 1980s and 1990s, largely brought on by Indianapolis-based Wood-Mizer, had given Smith a reason to start re-evaluating his circle mill operation. But before Smith would turn out the lights on his circle mill, he needed convincing.

In 1998, Smith decided it was time to see what this thin-kerf chatter was all about. “We actually bought the Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic really just to run some experiments. We wanted to test the claims about bandmills—were they hot air, or could you really get more lumber out of a log?” After a year of “playing around with it,” Smith was making money running the LT40 Hydraulic mill. But in order to keep pace with demand, he needed something bigger. He didn’t have to wait long.

Smith once again turned to the industry leader in thin-kerf, narrow-band technology. “When Wood-Mizer came out with the LT300, it was a lot more of an industrial type machine. It had a better log turner on it, and just looked like something you could get more production with.”

Smith took his LT300 back to Missouri in August of 2001. The change was dramatic, Smith says. “We’ve seen tremendous results. We cut ten hours a day, and five days a week, and we’re averaging about 10,000 board feet a day, and I’m being conservative. We have days we can cut 17,000 or 18,000 feet with it.”

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Smith says his whole business changed for the better with Wood-Mizer’s creation of a large thin-kerf headrig. Right now, he and his 25-man crew are cutting half as many logs, but making twice as much money doing it. “The kerf is what it is. In the good walnut logs, the ones that cut a thicker product, we average $65.00 dollars more per log cutting it on the bandmill than we did the circle mill.”

Smith also points out that the bandmill has allowed him to be more selective with the logs he cuts. “With the bandmill, the pressure’s not there buying logs. You don’t have to buy four million feet of logs, you can get by with half of that. We walk off and leave logs now, and only buy the ones we know for sure are going to make money. Smith adds, “If you’re trying to make a high-end product, the more money your lumber’s worth, the more valuable a Wood-Mizer.

Smith’s business is always hopping. He and his men cut wood and ship it to global furniture producing markets. Wood-Mizer’s thin-kerf, narrow-band headrig is a safer, and easier bet when it comes to keeping his busy operation up and running. “You can teach someone to run one of them in 40 hours. To teach someone to run a circle mill takes someone three or four years.”

Smith also takes advantage of Wood-Mizer’s large selection of blades, and the company’s exclusive blade re-manufacturing program, Re-Sharp. Smith says it has been a huge success. “We never did have time to sharpen our blades. It was irritating to take guys away from other work to sharpen blades. We are really happy with Re-Sharp.”

Smith sums it up by saying, “The Wood-Mizer LT300 has provided us an opportunity to change the way we do business and increase our profits and do less work. We know enough now that we could probably cut the labor force in half, and cut production labor down more than what it is, and probably still make $600,000 dollars a year.”

Welcome to Success, Missouri.

Looking for Success?

Royce Smith’s experience is just one story. Wood-Mizer has plenty more. We’re certain you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the productivity, cut quality, and ease of operation the LT300 will provide. And your jaw might very well drop when you learn how affordable this machine is. It’s just a fraction of the cost of most circle mills–and it’s significantly safer. Higher profits may be just a phone call away. Ask to speak with a member of Wood-Mizer’s industrial sales team today at 1.800.553.0182.