Touring The Mill

The local mill tour was set up by our Woodland Association. The mill is located in the town of North Plains just 20 minutes from the farm. Over the years, I had drove past this mill thousands of times but never gave a thought to what they do there. This tour was the way to find out what the neighbors are up to.

Oregon-Canadian mill signWe started at the sign welcoming us into the facility. Our tour guide was one of the long time supervisors. When asked about the name he replied that the story was a little fuzzy, something about a couple of guys talking about starting a business, a tavern, and plenty of sudsy.

Even though this mill is considered to be on the small side, it is the largest re-manufacturer of specialty softwood products in North America. Their high grade products are made from Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock lumber, but it is only made from the most perfect parts of a log. They do not use any heart-wood (the center of the log) or lengths with knots (referred to as clear-wood). This means, out of a truck sized log, this mill may only work with one or two pieces that have been cut out of the log at a different mill and shipped to this facility.

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Each piece of wood that the mill gets needs to be handled on average 6-7 times to get it from the raw stage at delivery to a stacked, dried, milled and finished product that will be shipped to retailers. Considering that the wood has already been handled several times at the log mill to get it to this stage and before that handled a couple of times by the hauler to get it to the log mill, and at least twice by the logger who fell and cut the tree, each individual piece of gutter, paneling, flooring, siding or specialty item has had a workout long before its’ intended use.

The tour gave me a whole new perspective on going to the store to get a replacement board just to fix a door frame.

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