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Articles & Stories

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wood-Mizer Sawmill Cuts 2,000-Year-Old Bog Oak in Germany

By Kirsten Longmuss

During a search operation in the flood zones of the Elbe River located south of Hamburg, Germany, a bog oak log was discovered and estimated to be more than 2,000 years old.

Bog oak is a type of oak that has been buried or underwater for hundreds or thousands of years. Due to the low oxygen conditions, the wood is preserved from normal decay and the color turns a distinct dark brown or black color that is highly sought after in the market. Immediately, there was an assumption that other precious oak trunks could be found nearby. But first, it was necessary to check the quality of wood in the find.

When the trunk was delivered to a nearby sawmill, the owner, seeing this curved, badly deformed, relatively short piece of wood, said that there is nothing he can do with the log. He claimed that it was impossible to saw such a log and it will not pass through his sawmill.

Then Andreas Hünerfaut came into play. He is known in the region not only as a lumber producer, but also as a specialist in the processing of twisted or curved logs. When Andreas set his Wood-Mizer LT40 mobile sawmill, it became clear that he was experienced with cutting exotic, extremely ancient logs, such as the salvaged bog oak from the Elba River. The shapeless piece of an ancient tree was clamped on the sawmill, and a surprisingly well-preserved core was revealed after several cuts.

Andreas said he was surprised at how easily and smoothly the blade cut through the hard bog oak. “The Wood-Mizer sawmill was displaying its versatility and functionality,” says Hünerfaut. “Even short pieces are easy to process into various timber.”

Andreas Hünerfaut bought his first Wood-Mizer sawmill a very long time ago. The sawmill was delivered on a ship sailing overseas from the United States. At that time, it took a lot of courage to start a relatively new profession as a mobile sawmiller. Among the owners of Wood-Mizer sawmills, there was a remarkable willingness to help people, which is still true to this day. His first clients were curious teachers who wanted to give a meaningful lesson to their students, as well as the estate owners who discussed this new industry and new possibilities at their family tables. More success was accomplished by classic word of mouth advertising. In fact, the Swiss Andreas Hünerfaut left his country to get to know the world better. In Northern Germany, he liked not only the landscape and climate, but also the people. Therefore, he settled and feels so at home that he even lost his Swiss dialect.

When it became clear that the wood from the bog oak was very well preserved, Andreas Hünerfaut offered his help in finding other oaks in the flood zone. It was winter, the thermometer showed -12 ° C below zero, and the feelings in this humid environment were even colder. The work was carried out using a mini forwarder. In the end, about 40 completely deformed bog oak trunks were pulled ashore.

Dendrochronology is the science of determining the age of trees. Using its methods, the Institute of Wood Science in Hamburg determined that the age of these swamp oaks is estimated at more than 2,000 years. The largest diameter log had an annual ring dating from 221 BC. Meanwhile, the salvaged logs were cut and dried in clean stacks to the appropriate moisture content. The timber is sold by weight in boards of proper size and is used in making knife handles, writing tools, kitchen facades or dashboards for premium brands in the automobile industry.

Andreas, who is both a farmer and woodworker, sees himself more like a forestry man. His experience is especially in demand when the tops of trees should be removed. This is a dangerous job that climbers do, and it requires special skills. Typically, this is part of a program to clear and recycle felled logs. And, of course, his Wood-Mizer LT40 sawmill is very helpful here.

After work, Andreas Hünerfaut sometimes rests in front of his wooden igloo on a very special bench. According to radiocarbon research, the wood from which Andreas made a bench is about 8000 years old. Of course, this gives him a short and well-deserved rest a very special quality.



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