Logging and sawmilling brings to mind images of tough men with callused hands. While this is true for many wood-related jobs, Janis Freer and her daughter Jade, of Grand Forks, British Columbia have found that producing moldings with the Logosol PH260 can also be done with a feminine touch.
Logging and sawmilling brings to mind images of tough men with callused hands. While this is true for many wood-related jobs, Janis Freer and her daughter Jade, of Grand Forks, British Columbia have found that producing moldings with the Logosol PH260 can also be done with a feminine touch. Just north of the U.S. border, the Freers run a bed & breakfast, maintain a chain saw museum, and keep a beautiful flower garden. While these tasks would keep most people occupied full time, they along with Janis’s husband, Ross, and a hired sawyer, also manage their own woodlot, plus 1,200 acres of “Crown land” (land belonging to the government), and run a lumber business, Son Ranch Timber. According to Janis, “We’re doing everything from felling trees to producing the final product, instead of selling them to the large mills here.”
Two and a half years ago, the Freers were looking at ways to expand their product offerings beyond what a sawmill alone could produce. Janis’s research indicated that she needed to make two additions to the operation—a kiln, and a molder/ planer. “I knew that to do flooring you had to kiln dry it,” she explained .
A FAMILY BUSINESS
The Freers have found that taking wood through the entire process from logging to final product makes good business sense. Her husband, Ross, does the logging and provides the mill with fir, larch, cedar, and aspen. They use the circle saw to cut flooring and molding blanks, and a WoodMizer band saw mill to cut beveled siding. When she’s not running the Logosol molder, Janis tails for the milling operations.
One of Janis’s repeat customers is her son, Shilo, who runs a timber framing company. “We’re very much a family business,” she said.
Janis is no stranger to woodworking, building shower houses, and renovating the bed & breakfast. “I’ve always worked with a skill saw, miter saw & stuff like that, but nothing like the Logosol. When I first saw one, I thought it was just awesome.” At first, she found the Logosol a little intimidating. “I wish I could have gone to one of their weekend courses, but I’ve got the better of it, now. Once you learn to use the machine, it is really easy,” she says.
Even so, she did not have to work on her own. Janis says that she received excellent customer support. “They’ve all been helpful over the phone.” For example, she had a problem with the blades tearing out the wood when running larch through it. A call to Martin Hall at the Logosol office in Madison, MS got her the contact information for another Logosol user not far from her who had encountered and solved a similar problem. “I found that he had solved the problem by grinding a small back-bevel on the knives for better chip clearance,” she said. I tried it, and now its working really well.” Janis sharpens her own blades. She recently bought a sharpener for the straight planer knives, and touches up the profile knives with a file, putting in a little back bevel in the process. “I’ve got that figured out pretty well, now.” she said. “I’ve been sharpening my own blades for the last three or four months.”
Janis dries the wood in a 45’ “reefer” trailer. “I keep pretty busy with it. My kiln holds about 2,000 bd ft, and takes about a week to dry. While that’s drying, I’m running wood through the molder, and working on the sawmill. She says the reefer trailer makes an excellent kiln. “I’ve got tracks that go in. We load up a cart, and roll it in. We’re only using half of the trailer right now, but plan to open up the other end to use as a second kiln. Then I’ll be able to do 4,000 to 4,500 bd ft per week.” When the wood is dry, she rolls it out of the kiln into the shop where the Logosol is. “If the weather is nice, I just plane it outside.”
CHARACTER IN THE WOOD
Since installing it, the machine has seen a lot of use. “I’m using the timber for flooring, crown molding, siding, base boards, and window casings. I’m always adding more knives. People restoring old houses come by and ask if I can match profiles. I fax the drawings to Martin [Hall], and he sends knives that match what the customers want. I usually get blades in two or three days.” Janis has found that installing the knives is simple and straightforward. “I’m getting very quick at it.” She keeps sample boards, so she can match them up with profiles, and writes on them which shims they use. Janis noted that customers’ tastes have changed over the years. “Fifteen or twenty years ago, people wanted all clear, but now they want character in their wood.”
One problem that is solving itself is finding space to store the finished product. “I’m finding that as I’m getting known, I don’t need to stockpile wood,” Janis said. “The wood I’m cutting now is already sold. I have to tell people that it will be a three week delivery time.”
Summing up her experience, Janis says, “Women can do the Logosol. I’m getting pretty good at it. I enjoy it now. I never thought I could be so excited over wood. It is amazing to put a rough board in one end and watch a finished piece of crown molding come out the other. I worked in an office before. Then we got the Logosol, and now I’m pretty much full time with that.”
As far as handling the work, she says, “I’m 55 [years old] & I didn’t start doing this until three years ago. So women can do it. It doesn’t take a lot of brawn. I find it fun.”