I had the opportunity to attend a Log Roll Out recently. The local mill in Clatskanie invited log producers in the area for a day at the mill.
In the looming distance, the log deck awaits to be moved into the mill.
Looking into a forest of trees, one could imagine each tree a near clone of the millions near it, but each tree is as individual as snowflakes or people. Each one has its own unique characteristics. The job at the mill is to be able to make marketable lumber despite the defects by cutting around objectionable flaws.
The roll out is not a passive classroom experience. Producers, foresters, loggers and haulers had the chance to touch, see both ends of the log, and evaluate the quality through the eyes of the mill workers.
One log had spangle and large crook right in the middle. That log was rejected by the mill and will be shipped to make pulp. It cost the producer to fall, limb and truck that log to the mill but will receive no money for it.
Another log had the heart off center, most likely a tree that had been growing on a steep hillside and was trying desperately to grow upright. The one side of the tree became timber-bound from the constant pressure on the fibers to hold the tree upright while growing. Timber-bound wood holds that pressure until it is released during the milling process where it can explode with force that is dangerous for equipment and people inside the mill. This log was destined to have 2 feet cut from the butt end before milling to remove the most dangerous timber-bound area with the rest being good grade to make into timbers.
Embedded in the logs we saw bear scarring from 50 years ago, what looked like a metal spike left in a tree from 100 years ago ( a very dangerous hazard for mills), spike knot (a limb that angles out of the tree along the bark instead of out like a regular limb), saprot (rotten butt end), oversized knots and conk (rot).
One log that was near perfect was sorted as 2M1 Grade since it met the minimum requirements of 12″ diameter at small end, ring count (growing rings) minimum of 4 to the inch, knots less than 2-1/2 inches with no more than 1 knot per running foot, and no defects that pertain to milling. As with people and snowflakes, it is difficult to be perfect.