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Articles & Stories

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Zero waste with wood for Swedish woodworker

By Micael Frisk - www.krapplehult.se

When I was young, I was always curious about what a tree looked like inside. When I was 11, I started working with my father and grandfather with some small jobs at the sawmill. When I was 13, I got my first proper job at the sawmill. When I got my first pay check, I rode my bike home and I think I stopped three times – just to look at the money!

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"Our company is completely surrounded by forests, lakes, and sawmills. Much of the wood processed in Sweden comes from this area. Our farm is an old farm. The place is mentioned in tax books as far back as 1388..."

I went to school and was educated in logging. And then I started working for a logging company with my chainsaw, and did that for 14 years.

Our company is completely surrounded by forests, lakes, and sawmills. Much of the wood processed in Sweden comes from this area. Our farm is an old farm. The place is mentioned in tax books as far back as 1388. We have many Bronze Age artefacts in the meadows here. I have also found stone axes and old items when I’m ploughing my fields.

We are logging timber by ourselves - spruce and pine. We sell them to other sawmills and also saw them up ourselves. Big, good quality pines logs we are always sawmilling ourselves for our use. For three months a year, we are milling fulltime. That gives us enough material for the kiln and flooring for the rest of the year.

The sawmills around also provide us with oak, alder and ash. They know we have a use for these species, and we’re the only ones in the area that are milling hardwoods.

Our main product is flooring in oak, ash, and pine. But mostly in ash and oak. We’re very proud that we’re making our own floors and that are very durable. We make them from 22 to 24 mm in thickness and if the customer wants something different, it is possible.

We have a router, planer, and multi-spindle moulder. We do not have a lot of machines – it’s quite minimalistic – but it suits our needs very well. We have an LT20 sawmill now, so we are thinking about upgrading quite soon to an LT70. And we want to buy a bigger multi-spindle moulder. We have a good flow now with flooring production, and with the money we earn, we want to use it to upgrade.

I have been milling all my life and yet I can stop several times a day and look at the slab and be happy because it is a fantastic grain structure. You never get bored of it. For us, it’s very exciting to be able to follow the tree from cutting it down in the forest to the point when we’re laying the final finish on a wood floor in a house. To be a part of the whole chain is a privilege for us.

Wood is an amazing product because there is no waste – you can get paid for everything you produce with it. Branches or areas of the wood that aren’t suitable for flooring, we use to make kitchen cutting boards and benches. Small pieces can be put on the lathe. Everything is useful, even the sawdust! We pack the sawdust and sell it to local meat smoking companies. Even the farmers around here buy the sawdust for the animals. The rest of the wood can be used for heating. We provide our own heat for the workshop and house. So wood is a fantastic product where nothing is wasted.

Getting a Wood-Mizer sawmill

At one of the earlier Elmia Wood fairs I first saw a Wood-Mizer, and since then it’s truly been a dream to own one. It’s a different technique then what we were used to - that such a small sawmill could mill such big logs – I was so amazed! But I had to wait 30 years before I bought one!

The advantage of Wood-Mizer blades

The low price of the blades and how easy it is to sharpen them – it’s so valuable because we have timbers from different places. We get strange logs and there are always a lot of ‘other’ items in them. We are very pleased we can manage the whole system by ourselves – the resharpening. We don’t have to send the bands anywhere, it’s so easy to sharpen them and then be sawing again.

Social media for marketing
Our main marketing is via social media – Facebook and Instagram. We’re updating those very often. If I build a bedframe, and I put the picture on Facebook, three hours later 1,500 people have looked at that picture. Where else can I get that kind of advertising for free? We’re not using regular advertising in newspapers and such. Social media is our marketing platform.

Regarding hobbies and interests
I’m always outside. You can’t work in an office when you’re used to the freedom of working outside. I’m outside 350 days a year, so no, the office was not for me!

In Sweden, hunting and forestry are closely related – hunting is a way of harvesting from the forest, and logging is another way.

The forestry, milling and hunting is more on a professional basis, but when I really need to relax and recharge my batteries, my hobby is fly-fishing. We have a lot of good trout and salmon in Sweden.

Advice for beginning woodworkers
Don’t be afraid to get started – wood is one of the best materials you can work with. There’s always a need for wood. For special wood like hardwood, a nice slab will always sell itself. So don’t be afraid, just go all in! I think that’s the best way to start.

If you can afford to buy a Wood-Mizer, just do it!  



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