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Thin kerf sawmilling to help revive Ghana's timber processing

Thin kerf sawmilling to help revive Ghana's timber processing A technique of harvesting and processing Ghana's teak and other valuable hardwoods economically and with less affect on her forests is expected to enjoy a revival in the country.

Relatively small band sawmills which incorporate a thin kerf technology, which gets more wood and less sawdust from logs are being bought by Ghanaians. Eighty of them now operate here.

Interest in them follows a programme set up by Ghana's Timber Industry Development Divn.(TIDD) to improve technical and investment collaboration between local timber processors and their overseas opposite numbers. The programme is EU-financed.

The all-Africa manager of Wood-Mizer which invented and manufacture these mills, Erik Demmer, is involved in the programme.

Philip Gyamfi, whose company, Gyadosaboc Ltd in Kumasi, reports strong interest in the sawmills which he imports from the American parent's European headquarters in Poland. He comments:

"The concept took a bit of getting used to here.

"However, when local people witnessed the mills operating the ease of operation, minimal wood wastage and quality of sawn boards leading to commercial opportunities was evident. Reasonable price is another attraction", he adds.

Wood-Mizer, the inventor and manufacturer, reports that in Ghana the most used version of its mills is its second smallest LT15. The thin kerf makes these sawmills particularly useful in harvesting trees, including some difficult to process plantation timber like:

Various eucalypt species (Eucalyptus spp), exotic
Various pine species (Pinus spp), exotic
Common Teak (Tectona grandis), exotic
Rubberwood (Hevea braziliensis), exotic
African Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis), indigenous
Gamhar (Gmelina arborea), exotic.

The kerf of circular blade sawmills is from six to nine millimetres whereas most bandsaws enjoy a 3-4mm kerf. Wood-Mizer narrow band sawmills enjoy 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 with a typical circular saw.

From: Business & Financial Times, Accra, 17th May 2010

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