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Wooden flooring specialist tackles recession by sawing his timber
Ireland’s only fine wood flooring producer who saws his own timber reports cut costs, improved income and more flexibility in sawn boards since installing a small narrow blade sawmill.
Sean Tiernan of Woodhill Timber Flooring, Dromore West, county Sligo has had a band sawmill for three years, converting almost 2 000 cubic metres (approximately 650cm3 p.a.) of soft- and hardwoods into quality flooring and other interior furniture. The new arrangement has proved an improvement over buying-in ready sawn boards.
The mill, from Wood-Mizer, incorporates its own thin ‘kerf’ technology which cuts less sawdust and in effect turns out an extra sawn board per log. ‘Kerf’ is the measurement of the cut made by a saw. He increasingly saws softwood boards with the mill, known as an LT20.
Originally, he used another American band saw but it proved unsatisfactory. As a result he operated without a saw for five
years, importing ready sawn hardwood boards but noting rising costs. The switch back to in-house sawing gives the company more flexibility, improved quality of timbers and an opportunity to branch out modestly into retail timber too.
Despite the difficult economic conditions his income has risen 40% since starting with the band sawmill.
With the best will in the world the sawmills which served Woodhill for five years could not commercially provide the combination of flooring developments which Woodhill needs to maintain his quality.
However, adapting to the Irish recession he has begun buying in softwood logs which he can process and market for a more reasonable price than hardwoods, appropriate in Ireland for the moment.
Indeed, he finds himself increasingly buying lower cost pitch pine logs and sawing them into 14
x14 and 12x12 beams, which he further cuts into flooring. Cutting flooring from his own softwood logs has proved more profitable. Hardwoods out of square cants from Africa at approximately €110 per square metre is now history since finishing them himself brings costs down to €60 per m2.
As most of his sales are in the 26 counties the less expensive softwood flooring is more attractive to irish householders, and with limited budgets. However, he does supply his flooring occasionally to Northern Ireland where similar kinds of flooring as in the Republic are in demand now.
The band sawmill which cost €20 000 has brought safe and reliable production of cants and boards, easy handling, pre-figured dimensions from the incorporated ‘Setworks’ (pre-computerised dimensions) to the operation. It also has prove economically useful as well as improving the carbon footprint of the operation since fewer trees need felling to produce the same amount of cants and boards. A particular benefit is the thin kerf technology inherent in all Wood-Mizer’s band sawmills.
He is the only manufacturer of flooring who saws his own logs, giving him an advantage in terms of quality, punctuality and flexibility. Woodhill Timber Flooring is prominent amongst irish floor makers
It specialises in hard and soft woods for flooring, skirting, architraves, ceiling boards and other items made to measure in the Dromore West premises. The floors are manufactured from wood sourced here in Ireland, the United States and from Africa. Moisture checks ensure suitability.
Particularly popular are Irish elm, ash and oak but they are all increasingly rare. Irish Elm is a native wood and hard wearing. Irish oak, a tough and durable wood offers decorative birrs — tiny knots similar to a cat's paw pattern. Irish ash is attractive, stable, durable and most noted for its two tone white and brown colouring. Less rare is Irish beech, a durable and strong wood
with rich golden colour, pinkish hues and a pale sapwood. It has a fine even texture with a subtle grain.
Using these and other species, Woodhill Hardwoods has made and installed solid wooden features to buildings and premises throughout Ireland for sixteen years, providing a supply-and-fit service tailored to clients' requirements. Contracts include the Skeff Bar in Galway, Crockets On the Quay in Ballina and Davis's Pub at Yeats Tavern amongst commercial clients and the residential market, especially in the Dublin/Kildare region.
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