Turman Lumber Co. Makes Most of Marginal Logs With Equipment from Cooper Machine Co.

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Cooper overhead skewing scragg mill system results in higher yield and greater production.

CHRISTIANSBURG, Virginia — Yield or production – which is your primary concern? Actually, there is no need to choose one or the other, said Truman Bolt, the manager and a part owner of Turman Lumber Company, Inc. His mill achieves both goals.
“I’m a production person,” said Truman. Yield, though, has long been the starting point for Mike Turman, the president of the Turman Group of which Turman Lumber is one of several component forest-product businesses. (Mike started Turman Sawmill, the root from which other Turman entities grew, in1967.)
What enables Turman Lumber to put an equal emphasis on yield and production is the design of equipment from Cooper Machine Company, Inc. based in Wadley, Georgia, explained Truman. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2012, Turman Lumber installed a Cooper In-Frame Skewing Overhead with Dual Axis Scanning System.
“This was our third Cooper,” said Truman. “We bought it new.”
The Cooper Machine system has already demonstrated its value in quantitative terms. “Our production is up 10 percent,” said Truman.
“Today, there are more crooked logs,” said Truman. So any system that increases production and yield must be a deft handler of raw material. The Cooper Machine system is.
For one, the log turners in the system from Cooper Machine can skew as much as three inches each way. That’s typically much more movement than needed. “When it skews – because of the dog lift – it rarely goes more than one inch,” said Truman. (The incoming logs at Turman Lumber are not that crooked, but it’s nice to know the flexibility is there, if needed.)
The optimized skewing is what enables the overhead saw to produce two equal faces. As a result, there is a greater yield from each log and fewer boards need edging.
In addition to its skewing capability, the system from Cooper Machine incorporates several features that work in consort to bolster both yield and production. For example, there is a cant support stabilizer. And the tandem movement of logs goes briskly, cutting cycling time, because of a retractable dog on the rear carriage. While one log is being sawn, another log can be dropped and scanned.
Cooper offers its in-frame skewing system with some mill-friendly options. A mill can choose an ultrasonic measuring system designed by Cooper Machine or a Lewis Controls 3D scanning supplement. The overhead scragg can be fitted with 44-inch, 48-inch or 56-inch circle saws, or the system can be configured with a twin band.
“I was working in sawmills since I was in school,” said Truman, who graduated from high school in 1966. He has been with Turman Lumber “close to 40 years,” he said.
Truman’s first mill job was carrying slabs. He also has experience cutting timber. Things have changed across the decades.
“I didn’t have an edger [in the early days],” said Truman. “I didn’t have a log turner.” With innovation came both, and “then, computers and scanning.” Add to that “thinning saws” and “debarkers that clean logs up better” and the entire process inside a mill looks very different than it once did.
Faster and more efficient than ever – yes, mills are. Yet Truman explained the sawyers that once assessed each log visually to extract the best boards did a superb (if slower) job; and their efforts should be recorded for posterity.
The Turman Group is a vertically integrated company. It supplies lumber to domestic and foreign customers. Among its holdings are businesses devoted to hardwood flooring, log homes, mulch and fuel pellets. Always looking ahead, Turman hickory chips are set to become part of the extensive roster of products and business interests.
Turman Lumber saws approximately 70 percent hardwood species and 30 percent pine, said Truman. Poplar species dominate in the mix and their average diameter is approximately 14 inches.
With the skewing overhead and end-dogging sawmill from Cooper Machine, sawing goes very fast, even with hardwood species. “We’ve hit goals as high as 16,000 to 18,000 board feet per hour in pine and poplar,” said Truman. “[In hardwoods] it’s 10,000 to 12,000 board feet per hour.”
A stepfeeder and a knuckleboom loader feed incoming logs to one of two debarkers. Ninety-nine percent of the logs entering the mill at Turman Lumber head to a Nicholson ring debarker, size A-6. “The Nicholson – production on it is so high it debarks one log every 10 seconds.” Only logs that are too large for the Nicholson go to the Fulghum debarker.
The Nicholson is paired with the new end-dogging scragg mill from Cooper Machine. The Fulghum, which handles logs with a 36-inch or greater diameter, is paired with a Dickerson head rig. Wheel loaders are used to convey debarked logs to the head rigs.
Four-sided cants from the head saw go to a Jocar12-inch band resaw. Two-sided cants are routed to a Ligna thin-kerf gang resaw. After boards are edged, they merge and are conveyed to an unscrambler. They are then trimmed with a trimmer from HMC Corp.
All bark from the mill goes to the grinders that support the mulch operation of The Turman Group. Two grinders from Jones Mfg. are used. Mulch is colored with a Becker-Underwood mulch coloring system.
The logs that power the mill at Turman Lumber come primarily from Virginia and West Virginia with a few from North Carolina. The Turman Group has both conventional and mechanized loggers under its umbrella. Its mills are situated in the Appalachian, Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountain chains.
Turman Lumber is located in Christiansburg, Va., the county seat of Montgomery County and home to 15,000 residents. The Turman Group is headquartered in Floyd, Va.
Truman said he had every confidence in the new Cooper In-Frame Skewing Overhead with Dual Axis Scanning System. The confidence is derived from a long-standing “good working relationship” with Cooper Machine, he explained.
The installation of the new Cooper system in May was followed by a quick return to sawing. “We were back up to speed within two or three days of installation,” said Truman.
Turman Lumber runs ten hours each day, four days each week. The Cooper scragg keeps pace. “It’s a new machine,” said Truman. Even so, it has been a maintenance-free performer.
The configuration of the retractable dog lift cannot be overstated as key to speed offered by the system from Cooper Machine, said Truman. “Quite frankly, that’s what impressed me the most,” he said.
Truman also appreciates the carriage on the new Cooper scragg system. “It’s a leaner position carriage,” he said.
And Truman reminded us: “I’m a production person.” Yield is important, too, especially as Mike looks to position the parts of The Turman Group in a way that adds value to every bit of fiber.
One way to sum up the dual capability of the Cooper Machine In-Frame Skewing Overhead with Dual Axis Scanning system is in terms of its efficiency – with both yield and production being components.
Efficiency is what ultimately ensures that sawdust becomes fuel pellets and bark becomes mulch. But it is also what ensures that a little bend in a log will not impede the extraction of the best boards possible.
A native of Floyd, Virginia, Truman has been observing the changes in the forest products industry since he was a child. He can recall when electric sawmills entered the market and sawyers were able to sit in a seat and gain a new vantage. He also remembers the way equipment, such as portable Edminston sawmills, were once used in the woods.
Today, Truman is a team member at one of the most multifaceted forestry products companies in the nation. The Turman Group employs more than 500 people. It offers a product line ranging from pallet stock and veneer logs to kiln-dried lumber and furniture-grade lumber. And it sets an example as an environmental steward. The Turman Group is a member of the Forest Stewardship Council®, an independent, non-governmental and international group.
“I’m just amazed at the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Truman. “Sawmills are fun.” And they always have been. “Labor is the big challenge.”
The path Truman took is one that put him solidly in the footsteps of his grandfather and father. He could not be happier with the trek taken. “I love what I do,” he said. “I love the smell of wood. I enjoy working with lumber.”
Turman Lumber, like its umbrella the Turman Group, is a very special place, too. “It’s like family around here,” said Truman. “My son is 20 years old – he travels to work with me.”
The same family spirit and commitment to stability and strength that Truman sees at Turman Lumber – and the Turman Group – is something he sees at Cooper Machine. “Cooper deserves credit,” said Truman. Cooper has been “making improvements” and “holding steady” and is always ready to serve with reliable, durable equipment.
In his free time, Truman devotes himself to another passion. “I have a farm,” he explained. “I have 150 head of cattle. I like farming like some people like golf.”