In 1982, two American inventors had an idea – what if you could take a sawmill to the trees? They founded Wood-Mizer (which roughly means ‘wood saver’) with the motto – From Forest to Final Form. Wood-Mizer’s success in building a new kind of sawmill was due to one factor – they used a thin-kerf bandsaw blade to cut the wood. Traditional sawmills always thought that ‘bigger was better’, but with Wood-Mizer blades, sawmillers were able to get more boards and less waste from every log.
Benefits of Portable Sawmills
By taking the sawmill to the logs, the environmental impact of timber production is reduced. Fewer trucks are needed for deliveries and fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are reduced. Wood-Mizer’s portable sawmills were a completely new product on the market in the 1980s, and as a result, a new niche industry suddenly formed. Sawmillers could efficiently and affordably travel from customer to customer and process any number of logs into lumber on site. In the old days, a small pile of logs would not be cost-effective to transport to a large sawmill or worth the local mill’s time to process, and would simply end up as firewood or left to decompose. With a mobile sawmill, those logs could be converted into valuable lumber and marketable wood products with the same or better quality than available previously.
Benefits of Thin-Kerf Sawmill Blades
Wood-Mizer’s success in building an affordable and mobile sawmill was solely due to one factor – they used a thin-kerf bandsaw blade to cut the wood. Traditionally the sawmilling industry thought that ‘bigger was better’, because a thicker blade could cut faster. However, a thin-kerf blade with 1.5 mm thickness and kerf of 2 mm removes a very small amount of wood with each cut compared with circular blades with thicknesses of 6 mm or large bandsaw blades with 3 to 4 mm thicknesses. So with Wood-Mizer blades, sawmillers were able to get more boards and less sawdust waste from every log. Depending on log size, total timber recovery can reach up to 80% instead of 50 to 60% for conventional wide kerf saw blades. Thin-kerf technology saves on raw materials by producing the same level of final wood products with less raw timber.
“The much greater yields of the thin-kerf are second to none and has positioned us to be very competitive on a daily basis,” shared hardwood lumber producer Mike Junk. “We are getting the same amount of lumber while using 25% less timber and raw materials, which in turn, reduces transportation costs across the board.”
Benefits of Reduced Energy Consumption
Wood-Mizer sawmills don’t just offer advantages from one or two areas, they deliver comprehensive cost savings from a variety of perspectives. They positively affect many different operational costs including energy consumption - an area that is often overlooked when investing in new machinery. Wood-Mizer’s thinner blades reduce energy costs by requiring significantly less power to operate and cut effectively than other sawmilling methods. In addition, the blades themselves are cheaper and easier to replace and sharpen. Sharpening Wood-Mizer blades can be done with minimal training, whereas large blades require a sharpening specialist.
Portable Sawmilling – A New Industry and Lifestyle
Over the last 35+ years, more than 80,000 Wood-Mizer sawmills have been sold into more than 120 countries around the world as the ‘niche’ industry of thin-kerf sawmilling has grown and grown. Many people that previously were limited in their options for business diversification, have found themselves operating successfully with a new sawmilling career. Farmers, homesteaders, estate owners, contract sawyers, tree surgeons, furniture workshops, woodworkers, natural parks, and established timber companies are countless examples of people successfully integrating a Wood-Mizer sawmill into their existing businesses and lifestyles. Many find that a sawmill allows them to begin a new enterprise, live more independently, and have a closer connection with the outdoors – all intangible assets created by owning a sawmill.
“Purchasing a Wood-Mizer was the beginning of a way to create not only an income but also a flexible lifestyle that I love,” shared entrepreneur Steve Smith.
“Owning my own Wood-Mizer went far beyond my expectation,” commented mill owner James Mann. “It has allowed me to enjoy being my own boss.”
“The Wood-Mizer is hands down the best investment we made for our farm,” said business owner David Weyler. “It has returned the original investment over 6 times in 6 years without doing any commercial sawing. It has enabled us to improve the value of our assets as well as create a profitable business off our land without doing traditional farming.”
Benefits of Sawmills in the Economy
Wood-Mizer sawmills generally function as the basis for small and medium-sized businesses, processing local timber for local end users while employing local workers. This is a perfect example of sustainable development at the local level, which has a positive impact on the larger regional or country wide economy. This kind of business model is exactly what many analysts have predicted for years – smaller companies will grow that can react quickly and more efficiently to the market needs and incorporate new technology faster. Experts often refer to this as a ‘circular economy’ where raw materials are reduced and waste becomes zero. Promoting companies to adopt this model is very important to both preserve the environment and stimulate innovation in business. The success experienced by small companies with Wood-Mizer sawmills confirms that the transition from the ‘theoretical’ to ‘practical’ is possible and happening today.