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Thin kerf gives parquet a boost in the Congo

Thin kerf gives parquet a boost in the Congo Simba Parquet sprl in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has boosted parquet manufacturing since it switched to sawing its own timber rather than buying it in ready sawn.

Established in 2003, the company now produces 6 000 square metres per month of finished parquet which it exports to Poland and Italy. This represents a 40% increase over the past three years and results from the acquisition of an electrically-powered, hydraulically-assisted, semi-industrial band sawmill with hydraulic log handling.

This has eliminated the reliance on either bought-in boards or sub contracted sawmills whose service was "miserably lacking in quality, flexibility or punctuality", according to chief executive, Tomasz Mazurek. Indeed, he adds that it had been the most frustrating part of the whole enterprise.

"We became increasingly uneasy about relying on the service for 100% of our sawn timber", Tomasz Masurek explains. The increase in the quality of the boards turned out by the new band sawmill certainly impressed him.

The firm's Wood-Mizer LT70 band sawmill could have been designed for a modern log processing operation like Simba’s.

One instance encapsulates the sawmill's value to Simba Parquet when the company was approached by a client who wanted logs from the extremely hard Bubinga tree sawn into boards for export. This species is so hard that its structure is almost designed against being sawed. Four other sawmills had been unable to cope. At first it burned the band blades, then the logs jammed after deviating from the cutting line by eight to ten centimetres. However, by re-sharpening the blades, increasing the set of the teeth and operating at a relatively slow pace, the band sawmill cut the Bubinga successfully.

Tomasz Masurek claims that the mill's inherent thin kerf technology was a factor in making it possible
to cut such a wood. Certainly, on 'normal' hardwoods like the local Wenge he often gets an extra board from each log. Band sawmills incorporating the thin kerf principle enjoy a 2-3mm cut whereas most bandsaws are unable to cut below 3-4mm.

Broadly speaking, such a narrow band sawmill will achieve approximately 0.68m3 of sawn production from a 61cm x 3m log, compared with approximately 0.43m3 using a typical circular saw.

Fortunately, the operation rarely cuts Bubinga but the example illustrates the fact that the sawmill, in skilled hands, can tackle almost anything with its 'ruggedness' and with components such as the mill’s 600mm pulley wheels and roller double block guides.

The mill is equipped with computerised setworks called 'Accuset', an centrifugal clutch which engages the drive to the blade and a blade lubrication system which melts away sap and known as 'LubeMizer'.

Generally, the four-man team saws Wenge logs with diameters of from 10cm to 120cm running in two 8-hours shifts daily. The Wenge is bought in the round from log dealers in Kinshasa harbour.

The band blades are usually changed every two hours or so and sharpened and reset on-site with one of Wood-Mizer's customer blade maintenance packages.

It is an unlikely location for a parquet producer but it certainly works since Simba Parquet assumed full control of the production process 'from log to final form'.

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