A Scottish manufacturer of log cabins and other dwellings has improved his prices and reduced his 'carbon footprint' by eliminating his wood waste. At the same time he appears to be beating the recession.
Michael Dutton, 50, formed The Tsarina Imperial Dacha Co Ltd in 2007 to build log structures, in Delmellington, Ayrshire. He explains the exotic company name with family and his own Russian connections. He further explains that he buys locally sourced Scottish softwood logs in the round to make the cabins.
Actually, his product range includes two- or three-bedroom log houses, garages, summer houses, stables, woodsheds, 'Wendy' houses and fishing or shooting lodges. All are produced by proven methods and systems with the emphasis on maintaining traditional styles.
He buys pine logs in the round from local estates and harvesting companies which he processes on his specialised log rounding machine which 'rounds' and delivers logs to the required shape complete with joints and notches. However, whatever the diameter of the trees everything except the finished product used to be wasted. He found himself throwing away 50% to 75% of his timber, which naturally he regarded as commercially and environmentally unacceptable.
The problem was overcome by introducing a small band sawmill which now squares the logs, in effect salvaging the timber that was formerly shavings waste for manufacture of other components. Prior to the mill's acq
uisition he had to fill a 4m3 trailer daily with waste, whereas now the trailer takes 15 days to fill.
Also the thin kerf technology means he gets yet more product from each log. Furthermore, the now-minimal sawdust and shaving waste is donated locally for cattle bedding. Waste is history with the exception of his first cuts which he is also in the process of disposing of locally for use by his local 'community-on-community' projects.
What used to be jettisoned is, by virtue of its quality, now used to make floorboards, decking, saunas, hot tubs, fencing, roofing boards, sheds, gates, doors, windows, stairs and other products. Thus, 100% of his timber (approximately 300m3-plus p.a) now is put to good use.
Consequently, he is able to sell his structures at more attractive prices than competitors; a welcome bonus. Indeed, he is able to sell on some surplus off the saw as useable lumber at GBP160/m3. This year he will increase profit by 200%!
Equipped with his new Wood-Mizer LT15 band sawmill
, which he and the two lads who help him find easy to use, he expects to produce more cabins in 2009 faster than was previously possible.
The extra benefits of the band sawmill leads Michael Dutton to forecast greater cabin output capabilities in 2010, representing an approximate, further 200% growth.
He is particularly impressed by the mill's inherent thin kerf technology, commenting:
"I understand that the kerf of circular
blade sawmills is from six to nine millimetres whereas most bandsaws enjoy a 3-4mm kerf.
"My Wood-Mizer narrow band sawmills enjoys a 2-3mm kerf, the smallest available for round log conversion.
"Broadly speaking, such a narrow band sawmill will achieve approximately 0.68m3 sawn production from a 61cm x 3m log, compared with about 0.43m3", he adds.
The Wood-Mizer LT15 is operated for about 56 hours a week, the equivalent of 122 working days a year. It uses general purpose 'DoubleHard' band blades, manufactured and sharpened by Wood-Mizer (ten blades twice a year).
A recent example of his product is a log home built in sections at his 'works' in Ayrshire and will be delivered to a site at Ascot for assembly and erection shortly. This is followed by a home made of 300mm-diameter logs for a customer in the Highlands. In turn, this order is to be followed by log cabin-style staff accommodation for a client in Argyll plus twelve holiday cabins for letting purposes for the same client.
Michael Dutton has only been operating for two years as a limited company and for a year as a sole trader before that. The 2009 credit crunch seems to have had no effect on his revenues. He explains this with the nature of his 'cabins' and the boost in productivity and margins from the band sawmill.
On the subject of Russian connections, he reveals that his wife, Natasha, a director of the company, is Russian, that he lived in Russia for three years and speaks the language. Finally, grins Michael Dutton, "…my great grandfather is buried in Highgate cemetery near the tomb of Karl Marx and my ten-year old son also celebrates the same birthday as Karl Marx, although not the same year!
"Shastleeva ee Oodachi"!, he concludes.
'Be Happy and Good luck!"Michael Dutton
01292 551840 (Evenings) or 0788 0621 103 (Anytime)
Dalmellington, Ayr, ScotlandRead more: Log housing firms log on to log moulder/planerPublic sector band sawmill use increase