The County Ag Report: Sawmill Processes

PORTAGE LAKE, Maine - While a deep winter snowpack makes it more difficult to harvest wood this time of the year, Maine Woods Company continues to produce lumber year-round. It's part of an industry important to this area.

(Scott) The State of Maine as a whole, it's almost a 500 million dollar, hardwood alone, is almost a 500 million dollar business.

General Manager Scott Ferland says Maine Woods Company is just one step in a long process of timber going from the forest to the showroom floor.

(Scott) We're in the middle. I mean, we are blessed with some good land base around us, with industrial forests that supplies us with the logs, so they take care of the forestry part for us for the most part, and we just manufacture the lumber, and grade it, and ship it, logistically, wherever we need to.

It all starts with the wood arriving at the mill, a step that typically begins with procurement manager Marshall White.

(Marshall) I buy wood from the different landowners and suppliers that are in the area, that we can saw lumber out of.

Log trucks are sent to the scale when they arrive.

(Marshall) They'll get a weight, and if it's already processed logs they'll go to the log yard, and at the log yard, the crane will unload them, and a scaler will go out and actually physically measure the length and diameters and then come up with a board foot scale, and grade them as well.

The grade assigned to the wood is reflected in the pricing, as is supply and demand for the particular wood being gathered.

(Marshall) It also has to do with markets and stuff, when you sell the stuff out on the lumber, and then coming back forward, back this way. So if it goes up, we can go up, if it goes down, well, sometimes, we have to press stuff down.

Logs are brought into the saw mill itself, where they are processed, manufactured, and sold, which finally completes a process that began with wood supplied primarily from the North Maine Woods area.

(Scott) From the forestry layout, to the road building, to the buying of the timber, to the negotiations to get the timber to the mill with the trucking, and then the actual manufacturing process, and then the whole way that the lumber is sold to different entities, I mean, we sell our lumber all over the world.