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Band sawmill cuts 500 mt of ice in 14 days for Finnish Snow Show
Not what it's meant for but cool

Band sawmill cuts 500 mt of ice in 14 days for Finnish Snow Show A Finnish Laplander has taken time off from sawing pine logs for cabins, herding reindeer and dairy farming to cut over 500 metric tons of ice for Finland's 2004 Snow Show 12th February to 31st March. The 55-year-old Lapp, Samuli Luksua, sawed twelve hundred 60 x 60 x 125 centimetres ice blocks over 14 days near the Arctic circle show site, at Rovaniemi, with his Wood-Mizer portable band sawmill. It is not what the mill was designed for but it gives an indication of its general faxibility.

Earlier he had sawn ice for the altar and pews of the snow church as well as for an ice restaurant's furniture at nearby Kemi. The sawmill, a mobile diesel-powered model LT40HD Super, cuts the ice well (it has no knots or grain and is uniform and smooth) in various shapes and of differing sizes. Samuli Luksua cut it at 6.00 am in the morning when the temperature was minus 25 degrees C. When the temperature rises to zero celsius it is more difficult to saw as the ice becomes slippery causing the blade to jump out of place.

To efficiently handle the ice he constructed a long waterproof plywood bench/table at the rear of the sawmill. Lorries delivered and unloaded ice blocks on to the table and Samuli's assistant slid the blocks to the sa wmill. The cut ice came off the ramp on the operator side and was driven away to the ice construction sites.

Subsequently, most of the blocks were used to construct dramatic ice sculptures, including one called Penal Colony 2004, designed by Arata Izozaki and Yoko Ono, who joined other celebrities at the show. Around 100 000 people - mostly from the worlds of art and architecture - attended.

Samuli Luksua began sawing wood building components, including logs for cabins, in Lapland in 1968 using a circular saw. However, this could not turn out boards from bigger logs efficiently and of sufficient quality. Now he cuts half his timber on the band sawmill, half on the circular saw. The band saws provided the facility to produce high quality lumber efficiently. Also the increasing scale of his timber processing enterprise, which accounts for about 40% of his income, led him to progress to a petrol-driven Wood-Mizer LT40HD in 1990, giving him more scope and flexibility and increasing his annual output by about 25% to 1 000 m3/year more of pine plus some spruce and aspen a year.

In 1997 he upgraded again to the then new model LT40HD Super Hydraulic, which, being diesel powered, he says gave him greater economies.

He explains: "Centralising boards lengthwise and cutting longer ones with this new mill's toe board rollers is a boon.

"If I 'lose' time sawing with the band sawmill I win it back in terms of the material saved - made possible through its thin kerf technology", he adds.

Half his work is contract sawing, taking the easily towed band saw to customers and half is done at his home farm at Posio, just below the Arctic circle. The stationary band sawing produces wood for boat builders and furniture makers as well as boards and two sided cants for cabins. He cuts window and door frames with the circula r saw.

He has a reputation in Lapland for providing good quality lumber, quickly and at a reasonable cost. This led to his selection to saw timber for wood sculpture at the Kemijärvi International Sculpture Symposium, which he has done since 1991. Here, he is known as 'the cultural sawyer'.

His 24-head dairy herd consists of Ayrshires, Friesians and a Lapp cow (sadly this type is nearly extinct). His family have herded the reindeer for three generations, enclosing them from January to March and allowing them to roam the tundra for the rest of the year. Both Samuli and his wife Leila have their own reindeer brands. He concludes: "Sawing has complemented our traditional life by bringing greater income and the Wood-Mizer has made it easier and allowed me to travel widely and meet many interesting people. "With our son, Jussi, we are a happy family" he concludes.

Brian Hind, UK

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