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Creating opportunity – What do you do with windfall trees?
Faced with a large quantity of timber felled in a storm, and nowhere to take them, this driving instructor takes up sawmilling with a small Wood-Mizer LT15 sawmill.
Rolandos Piatrusis, a 32 year old Lithuanian driving instructor, never dreamed of becoming involved in wood production. However, two years ago, a violent storm levelled 150-200 m3 of timber in his family’s 16 hectare forest. With the timber on the ground, Rolandos began looking for someone who could help mitigate their disaster.
"Our first thought was local sawmills in the area, but it wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. The sawmills we called were extremely busy and lead time was six months! Also, they were not interested in buying our logs unless we delivered them to the sawmills ourselves, meaning additional expense for us," shares Rolandos. As a result, he began entertaining the idea of purchasing his own sawmill to process the timber himself.
"Researching sawmill prices wasn’t easy at first, then I found the local Lithuanian Wood-Mizer representative online, and one of the clear benefits they offered was in-house ReSharp services for blades," relates Rolandos. "I did find a sawmill company that build mills in their garage. I looked at it and decided the slightly lower price wasn’t worth the risks – the engineering was minimal, and if the sawmill broke down, I would have to handle the problem myself."
That’s when Rolandos went on a sawmill tour, visiting bandmill locations in Lithuania and Poland to see for himself what people were using successfully in their businesses.
"I was able to see the Wood-Mizer sawmills in their daily operation, and I was able to see that the cuts were straight and were producing high quality boards. The last visit I made was to the Wood-Mizer factory in Poland, but even after that, I thought carefully about my purchase for another 2-3 months, weighing all the pros and cons." As a result of his intensive research into the available sawmills on the market, Rolandos ordered a Wood-Mizer LT15 sawmill, which arrived in the summer of 2011.
With the sawmill finally in place, Rolandos lost no further time and in three weeks he completed sawing all the felled trees.
According to Wood-Mizer’s Lithuanian representative, Dmitry Gajduk, Wood-Mizer sawmills are becoming more and more popular in Europe due to several reasons. "On one hand, the design of the sawmills is simple and reliable, and on the other hand, they are quite reasonably priced."
The LT15 sawmill model that Rolandos chose is one of easiest and simplest to operate, ideal for price-conscious users. It can be fitted with a petrol, diesel, or electric motor, depending on the requirements of the user. The machine is shipped unassembled on a pallet. The bed itself is comprised of three segments that are installed and combined on a level surface. A special foundation is not needed – the supports being easily adjustable. The cutting head is mounted on the frame, and is capable of sawing logs up to 70cm. The log is rolled onto the frame by hand with cant hooks, where it is clamped securely to the bed for sawing. The operator starts the motor and advances the cutting head down the track to produce boards. The cutting head height is adjusted from a central control panel.
"Wood-Mizer’s approach to lumber production is with narrow bandsaw blades," shares Dmitry. "The sawmill only makes a 2mm wide cut, producing more lumber and less sawdust." Compared to other sawing technologies, this is the most efficient method on the market due to the reduced waste and as a result less power required to operate the unit.
Once Rolandos finished sawing the fallen timber, he soon found there exists a local need for custom sawn timber. He saws mostly on weekends, supplementing his weekly job with his new wood business. "There’s a demand for my lumber in the village all the time."
However, he is finding that there are additional benefits to having a sawmill on the property. He is planning to use some of his lumber to rebuild his grandfather’s home. Working the sawmill also keeps him in good shape – "Using the Wood-Mizer is great for the body, better than any gym workout!"
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