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Hemphill Wood Products Realizes Big Gains in Speed And Productivity with Logosol Laks Frame Saw
Logosol Laks frame saw is essential part of line for a Keystone State sawyer that transforms softwoods to panels, flooring, log homes and RVs.
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 6/1/2011
GENESEE, Pennsylvania — A cabin in an idyllic woodland setting is such a wonderful place for escape that it’s difficult to imagine something better. Or is it? Imagine a cozy abode that could be moved from one quiet place to another – a high mountain lake in summer, a valley in winter.
Tim Hemphill, owner of Hemphill Wood Products, did just that. And he decided to make cabins that can be relocated on a whim and with a purpose, either on skids or on trailers. The recreational vehicle (RV) version makes it easy for respite seekers to choose different woodland settings.
Hemphill Wood Products (HWP) produces paneling, ¾ paneling, log siding, flooring, small cabins and sheds. “We actually saw lumber, dry it, machine it and build with it right here,” said Tim.
The newest piece of equipment in Tim’s saw line is a Logosol Laks frame saw, which was purchased in August 2010. The addition of the Laks frame saw led immediately to “less labor, more production,” said Tim. Without it, he explained, he would need a third person in his operation.
Tim’s line, which is housed in a 25- by 50-foot pole building, begins with a Wood-Mizer portable saw that has been rendered stationary. Incoming logs are sawn to cants; and the cants are fed to the Laks frame saw. A Marathon edger — new in 1993 or 1994 — is also in use.
“I buy my logs right now,” said Tim. “We don’t debark.” Most of the slabs are sold to a large mulch maker, but some are used as boiler fuel. A boiler preheats the two Nyle L-200 dry kiln systems to 80°F. The Nyle dry kiln systems are electric. The electric power source takes over once the pitch is set with the heat from the boiler.
Two factors weighed heavily in Tim’s decision to purchase the Logosol Laks frame saw. The saw was a good match for the goals at HWP. And, Tim had had a very good experience with Logosol in the past.
“It kind of fit my business,” said Tim, citing reason one for buying the Logosol Laks frame saw 500. “The big gang saws were way bigger than what I needed – and more horsepower.”
The Laks Frame Saw 500 is the larger of two models Logosol offers. Tim powers it with a 23 horsepower gas motor. “It’s one of the only ones in the United States with a gas motor,” said Tim, noting the standard configuration for the saw is an electric three-phase motor.
The Laks frame saw is indeed Tim’s second piece of Logosol equipment. HWP simply outgrew its first machine, a Logosol PH260 four-sided planer/molder.
But in using the Logosol PH260 for several years, Tim developed great confidence in Logosol products. “The PH260 that we had for a molder was everything they said it would be,” he explained.
Such good results with Logosol resulted in a scenario that surprised Tim, as he thought about it in retrospect. He actually purchased the Laks frame saw based on research alone. “This is the first time I ever bought a piece of equipment without trying it, seeing it,” he explained.
“As far as the Laks machine, it’s everything they said it was,” said Tim. “We do a lot of one by sixes.” With the Laks, it’s possible to do “boards all in one shot and not a lot of walking back and forth.”
The Logosol Laks package includes a sharpening machine for the tungsten-carbide toothed saw blades. Sharpening takes approximately 20 minutes and it is done after eight to 10 hours of sawing or every 100 logs or so. “I sharpen my own blades,” said Tim. “It’s even simpler than sharpening blades for a band mill.”
A comb-shaped holder serves as the mount for blades. The holder arrangement is designed to make blade replacement simple; it also ensures that the blades are positioned correctly.
HWP is located in the town of Genesee in north-central Pennsylvania. Genesee is part of Potter County, which shares a border with New York State.
The Buffalo, N.Y. base for Logosol Inc. is just 150 miles northwest of Genesee. The headquarters for Logosol is in Harnosand, Sweden. Tim said he welcomed the visits that Buffalo-based team members from Logosol have made to his facility just to understand his operation better. And he was particularly pleased when he got a visit from a Logosol team member that is based in Sweden.
“We really take pride in what we do,” said Tim. Consequently, he appreciates seeing a parallel commitment to quality and performance amongst those who represent Logosol. Since 1989, Logosol has been selling portable sawmills. Its products are in use in 65 countries.
Logosol’s founder Bengt-Olov Byström put an emphasis on portable sawmills at the inception of the company. Portability allows builders to make the most of fiber on small wood lots. Today, the full line of equipment from Logosol encompasses bandsaw mills, joinery machines, stack cutters, vertical milling machines and more.
The species that HWP uses fall mostly into the categories of pine and larch. Tim began thinking about sawing and building when he was logging such trees.
“I cut pine for many, many years and it went to a fence operation,” said Tim. He started out logging right after high school, joining his father’s business. He cut with a chain saw and ran a John-Deere 440B skidder. Later, when his dad’s business became mechanized, Tim ran a Franklin forwarder and log loaders.
As he logged, Tim got more and more interested in sawing. He used the mud season to do some sawing. “We live in a 22 by 44 foot two-story log cabin that I built myself,” said Tim.
Once the cabin was finished, Tim was keen to find more reasons to keep sawing and building. And after 19 years in the woods, he decided to make a definite break from logging. He did so first on a part-time basis. Four years ago, he launched HWP. It has been his fulltime venture ever since. (His father still logs.)
“I’ve always worked with wood,” said Tim. “When I got our house done, I wondered what I would do with my free time.” In fact, he explained, to fill the time when the soggy substrate was unsuitable for logging, he purchased the Logosol PH260 planer/molder. And it was that machine that persuaded him that his passion lies in making products from wood, instead of felling and harvesting.
With orders for paneling, flooring, cabins and RVs being so brisk, HWP no longer does much else. “We do very little rough cut here,” said Tim. But he hastens to add that he will “never say never” because he strives to give customers what they request. If it is rough cut buyers require, he will provide it.
Most of the products from HWP go to customers within a 140- to 150-mile radius of the home base in Genesee. Deliveries are made with a F350 flatbed and a 16-foot trailer. Deliveries beyond the normal radius are made by arrangement with customers and contract haulers.
Many features of the Logosol Laks frame saw simplify the day for the team at HWP. The frame saw has a sawdust extractor. It also has a nozzle vacuum to remove sawdust from the top side of the cant. Clean boards emerge from the saw and the entire area is kept relatively dust free. Of course, the thin blades on the frame saw also reduce the amount of sawdust generated.
In addition to a low-sawdust environment, the Logosol Laks frame saw also tamps down the production of sound. Designed to work in harmony, the flywheel and mechanical feeder are muffled, so that the noise level is kept at a minimum. The rhythmic sound reminds some listeners of a locomotive at a distance.
Tim grew up in a logging family. He also is part of a maple-syrup making family. The 2,000 taps this year will yield between 600 and 700 bottles of Cobb Hill Maple Products of Genesee.
For Tim, there has never been any second thought about choosing a professional life in the wood products industry. The possibilities inherent in wood fiber and business ownership suit his independent outlook. “I like having control with what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m not doing the same thing all day.”
That does not mean there are not bumps along the way. “It’s definitely challenging,” said Tim. “We keep expanding every year.”
Expansion itself brings new layers of challenges. The RVs with wood paneling on the inside and logs on the outside are meeting a receptive market. If they sell in sufficient numbers, Tim will be required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to spin off a company to handle them. (There are regulations about sales volume of certain products and business categories.)
Yet Tim takes the requirements of doing business and the perks of being a business owner all in stride. When he gets some free time, he has definite objectives. “I hunt and I fish,” he said.
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