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Woodworking - When your hobby and business are one and the same
For the Silbernagl family of the Czech Republic, woodworking is their passion.
In the Czech village of Davle Sloup we meet a family who is passionate about their chosen profession. Alice and Vaclav Silbernagl are enthusiastic woodworkers whose hobby and business are one and the same.
Vaclav is a professional forester, and was employed for many years in the Cisovice forest, seven kilometers from their current workshop, which they built on the land purchased from a former chicken farmer. Their son graduated from a vocational craftsman’s school, and has brought those skills home to work in the family business.
The Silbernagl family was among the first in the Czech Republic who put the benefits of Wood-Mizer technology to use. Back in 1993, when portable sawmills had just been introduced to the European market, the Silbernagl family acquired their first mobile LT40 Hydraulic sawmill.
"This technology has been and remains an advantage, because boards cut on our Wood-Mizer sawmill are perfectly accurate, and the surface of the board is smooth and level. Our customers are happy with the quality," explains Alice, "The most profitable benefit is that it's possible to produce more lumber from each log because the Wood-Mizer band blade makes a very thin cut, and less wood is wasted in sawdust."
After 10 years of using their LT40, the Silbernagl family decided to upgrade their sawmill in 2003. They sold their old machine, and at an exhibition in Prague bought a brand new, European-made LT40 sawmill.
"The difference in the design is huge," shares Alice. "Now all the engines in the machine are three-phase AC, 380 V, and the engines are much more reliable." In addition, their new LT40 sawmill is equipped with computer Setworks. Board measurements are inputted into the computer, and the cutting head automatically lowers to the desired position.
Another advantage is the debarker. This is a small circular saw which makes a thin cut right in front of the blade as it enters the log, removing dirt and bark from the blade’s path. This results in longer blade life between sharpening, and more production from each blade.
The new LT40 sawmill also features a longer bed allowing them to cut logs up to 8 meters long. This was an important requirement because the Silbernagl family specializes in long timbers.
"We cut lumber for carpenters and fencing material, but the most important product is structural material for roofs," shares Alice. Last summer they produced lumber kits for eight houses, most of which were ordered by people within 50 km. Their most "distant" customer was from Ostrava, and one time they made fences and roofs for small enclosures in the Prague Zoo!
Although each family member is able to operate the Wood-Mizer sawmill, during the busy season they hire an operator and an assistant. On average, the Wood-Mizer produces 10 cubic meters of lumber per day. Vaclav sharpens and sets his own Wood-Mizer blades as needed. Hiring additional workers makes sense, because Alice stays very busy with many different projects at once – laying flooring, restoring furniture, and more. Recently, a neighbor hired Alice to restore a 17th century furniture set. They have also recently purchased seven hectares of forestland, and have planted new seedlings on four hectares.
"All these skills are from my dad. He knew how to make anything from wood, and then taught me," says Alice. Their workshop utilizes a little pellet machine for turning sawdust into a usable product as well. There is always work for everyone. And what could be more wonderful when you're doing work that you truly enjoy, and have happy customers who are willing to pay for your products and services?
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