Whilst working on some timber extraction, Nick Meech, formerly based at Woodland Enterprise Centre, helped us out with a couple of projects to fill in the gap left by our abruptly curtailed training programme due to lockdown. One was a tree contracting job improving the sightlines near the entrance to both tate fencing and the Woodland Enterprise Centre - the other an unusual sawmilling project for our Woodmizer LT20 3 phase electric Sawmill.
Nick had his eye on a few sweet chestnut trees of larger diameter, possibly not felled during the last coppice cycle because they were on a compartment edge. He wanted them for some research and development work on construction beams made from sawn sections or segments.
We felled the identified trees using the danish pie or safe corner method with a Husqvarna 572XP fitted with an 18” guide bar and ran them back to the yard in 6m lengths. That’s one of the benefits of having an agricultural-based forwarder – you can drive to the site and bring the material back to the yard.
This is about the most extensive practical length you can fit onto the sawmill, although it can accept any size with its modular design, you add another section to the frame. Over 6m there’s a fair amount of taper in sweet chestnut so for Nicks project this was also the limit in terms of the beams having adequate section size at the top.
After some discussion, Nick agreed to come over to supervise the milling of these pieces into 6 and 8 lengths along the lines of chestnut rails but longer.
The plan was to cut the log in half first, by carefully checking the position of the mill head at the base and adjusting the top until they both were at the log centre. This was checked and double-checked by moving the cutting head of our Woodmizer CT20 to the top and propping until it was exact.
Next, we turned the two halves together and made a 600 cut. Lastly, Nick made a jig to hold the top at the correct height and angle. The four log sections by this time needed straps to keep together for the final cut.
Later much to Matt’s delight, we repeated the process but at 450 and cut the log into 8 segments.
The beams were delivered back the WEC, and later Nick joined them in opposing pairs using CNC machined plywood biscuits screwed and glued to the outside of each face.
We await the results of Nick’s strength testing with interest.