Millwood Quest for Improvement Leads to Better Gang Saw Blade: Country Saw & Knife Strob Blade Offers Better Performance, Life
Millwood: Millwood’s plant in Apple Creek, Ohio finds success with a new circular saw blade supplied by Country Saw & Knife for the company’s Brewer gang saw.
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 3/1/2009
APPLE CREEK, Ohio – At Millwood’s plant in Apple Creek, Oh., the management team – like others in the company organization – is on the look-out for ways to improve. Whether it’s a service to a customer, a new efficiency or a better product, the focus is on progress.
“We’re always trying to improve,” said Paul Yoder, maintenance manager for the Apple Creek plant.
Paul was on a quest for a thin-kerf circular saw blade to run on the plant’s Brewer gang saw in order to improve yield. He conferred with the company’s primary saw blade supplier, Country Saw & Knife.
“I have been talking to them about thinner kerf,” said Paul. “I sort of put the seed in the ground and they took it from there.”
Country Saw & Knife developed a new saw blade. The Apple Creek cut-up shop has been running it now about six weeks. Although the blade has the same kerf, it is improved and provides significantly longer blade life.
“It’s super,” said Paul. The new blade stays sharper longer and cuts longer, he said.
Millwood, with corporate offices in Girard, Oh., is a substantial player in the pallet industry. It has diverse operations with 25 plants and facilities in 11 states, from Georgia to New York and Minnesota. It has the strongest presence in Ohio, where it has 11 plants, including three in Columbus. Other states with operations are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee.
The company offers a diverse line of products and services with a strong emphasis on packaging and material handling supplies and equipment. In addition to supplying new and recycled pallets, crates and containers, dunnage and other wood products, it offers corrugated packaging, stretch wrap and stretch film, and material handling equipment and machinery.
Millwood, which has a Web site at www.millwoodinc.com, also offers extensive services. In the pallet arena, services include pallet design and testing, pallet recovery and retrieval, recycling programs, pallet management and inventory control, and special services for warehouses and distribution centers.
Services related to material handling equipment include turnkey applications, installation, start-up and training, preventive maintenance programs, system modifications and custom engineering.
The Apple Creek plant was formerly owned by Litco Wood Products, which was acquired by Millwood. Litco manufactures and markets pallets made of molded wood fiber – presswood – under the Inca name although the Apple Creek plant has always produced hardwood pallets.
The Apple Creek facility is managed by a team of five supervisors. Besides Paul, the others are cut-up shop supervisor Jeff Green, assembly shop manager Roman Weaver, lumber procurement manager Vicki Kiernan, and Eli Miller, plant controller.
The Apple Creek plant employs about 35 workers who produce about 4,500 pallets – mainly hardwood pallets — per day. They also produce a small volume of blocking, dunnage and wood crates. Some cut stock is produced for sale.
The plant has no pallet recycling operations, but an affiliated Millwood plant in nearby Dundee (five miles away) is set up to provide recycling services for customers.
The Apple Creek plant produces hundreds of different pallet sizes, estimated Eli. “Some customers take up to 16 different sizes,” he said. Some of the most common footprints produced at the plant are 48x40, 42-square and 45-square. The company is increasingly getting into more specialty pallets, he added.
Millwood’s Apple Creek plant serves customers in food manufacturing, automotive, building materials, and other industries. Most of its customer base is in Ohio although the plant also ships to West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
Operations are housed in two connected buildings – cut-up operations in one, and pallet assembly operations in the other.
The Apple Creek plant is equipped and set up to remanufacture hardwood cants and Southern yellow pine lumber into pallet parts. It normally buys 3-1/2x6 or 4x6 cants in lengths ranging from 6-16 feet and 2x4, 2x6 and 4x6 Southern yellow pine. The pine is purchased largely to produce repair stock for CHEP, the pallet rental company. (Millwood also provides pallet recycling services to CHEP.)
Cants usually are cut to length on a Brewer five-head multi-trim saw. Resawing is done mainly on the Brewer double-arbor, double-bay gang saw. With the double-bay machine, it can cut stringers on one side and deck boards on the other simultaneously. The finished cut stock exits onto belts that convey it directly to a pair of Cornell (now Pendu) stackers, one for boards and one for stringers. Defective material is culled and taken to a reclaim area equipped with a Baker band resaw and a Whirlwind chop saw.
A Hazlethorne machine is set up for in-line double-notching if needed, and the company also has a single-head notcher that can notch material any length. Other machines include a Brewer chamfer, a Hazledine chamfer and a Samuel Kent Baker block saw – the company makes some block pallets as well as block repair stock for CHEP pallets.
The plant also is equipped with cutting tools to make specialty items, such as banding grooves on stringers. The Brewer gang saw can be set up for dado grooving simultaneously while it is cutting.
In the pallet assembly shop, the company has two Viking nailing machines for automated nailing – a Viking Turbo-Max and a Viking Champion. Four or five workers usually are assembling custom pallets and small orders by hand with pneumatic nailing tools. In its pallet assembly operations, the Apple Creek plant relies on Stanley-Bostitch pneumatic nailing tools and collated nails and predominantly Mid-Continent bulk nails for the Viking machines.
Country Saw & Knife is the principal vendor supplying saw blades and saw services. For other cutting tools, such as notching heads, the company usually relies on Econotool.
Scrap material goes into a Kokums chipper, and the chips are supplied to a company that processes them into mulch. Sawdust is collected by a blower system into a 20-foot by 74-foot silo and is sold for horse bedding and other markets.
The plant is equipped with a Converta Kiln Inc. pallet heat-treating system to provide pallets for export shipments. The company’s heat-treating services are audited and certified by Timber Products Inspection Inc.
The Apple Creek plant has been relying on Country Saw & Knife for about 10 years. The company supplies saw blades and cutting tools and services saw blades. Based in Salem, Oh., it also provides pick-up and delivery services to select locations with its own trucks.
“Country saw comes every Thursday,” said Paul, picking up blades that need sharpening and dropping off blades they have serviced. “They’ve done a great job for us.”
The main difference in the new Country Saw & Knife blade is the strob design. “They had a blade that worked good,” said Paul. “This one works better.”
He gets about one-third more run time with the new blade, Paul indicated. “It’s a good blade. We can do all species with it.” The Brewer gang saw runs 12-inch blades.
The recession has not impacted the Apple Creek plant severely, according to Eli. “Overall, we’re fairly lucky. We’re not as busy as we want to be, but everyone’s working 40 hours.” The plant did some seasonal work for CHEP last fall, and when it was done, 13 workers were laid off, but six were brought back.
“Fortunately, we have a large sales group,” said Eli, that works out of the Millwood corporate offices. “We’ve landed a few new accounts lately,” he added, “so that has really helped.”
(For more information about this new saw blade, call Country Saw & Knife at (800) 253-7379.)
New Blade by Country Saw & Knife Has Inner Teeth
Dan Glista, vice president of Country Saw & Knife, has seen a lot of saw blades in his time. He has decades of experience servicing saw blades.
At Country Saw & Knife, Dan spends a lot of his time re-tipping carbide-tipped strob saw blades for gang saws and other applications. “I always see the hot spots and rub areas,” he said. “The strob bar is not able to eliminate it.”
Using a felt tip marker, Dan sketched a new design for a blade he conceived. The design, for which he has a patent application, features two inner cutting teeth on the blade. The inner teeth are located about 1-1/2 inches from the outer edge of the blade toward the eye or center of the blade.
The inner teeth help the saw remove sawdust more efficiently, reduce pitch build-up, and keep the blade sawing straight in the cut when it encounters a split, knot or other tough spot, according to Dan.
The reason is simple, he said. Most strobs are on a negative degree angle in relation to the arbor. “The problem with the negative degree angle is that it’s completely opposite of where it needs to be in order to be effective,” said Dan. The inner teeth he conceived of are at a positive angle.
Most strob saws are at an 8, 10 or 12 degree negative angle relative to the eye or center of the blade, said Dan. As the blade rotates clockwise, the angle of the strob leans back. “It has to be at a positive angle to efficiently remove the wood,” he said.
When the blade hits a knot or other bad spot, the inner tooth will remove it and prevent the side of the blade from rubbing the cant. A normal blade wants to follow the grain of the knot or defect, and the resulting friction heats the blade, it loses tension and ‘rolls over.’
“The inner cutting tooth…will remove that bad spot and keep it from rubbing on the side of the saw blade,” said Dan.
“It’ll probably eliminate 95 to 100 percent of the hot spots on the saw blade caused by friction and heat,” he added. “And they seem to stay so much cleaner.”
The new design will save money for mills, he said. “It’s designed to save pallet mills and box mills money. It does the same job more efficiently.”
“Once they get to running them and see how true they cut, and how few saw blades they’ll have to throw away and replace…they’re going to benefit.”
The inner teeth have the same geometry as the outer teeth, and the tips are made of the same grade of carbide. The inner teeth are slightly wider than the strob bar.
The saw plate also goes through an additional manufacturing process to make it perfectly flat, said Dan.
The result is a blade that cuts better and longer. Country Saw & Knife supplied Millwood’s plant in Apple Creek,Oh. with 28 of the blades for a gang saw. It’s been approaching several months and the blades are still running well, according to Dan. “They’re getting double production out of some of them.”
“It runs longer for the simple reason…when you’re cutting that green hardwood…you start to get pitch build-up on the side of the blade from the sawdust and that damp, green wood.” The new blade “helps remove that pitch build-up.”
When a blade begins to get dull, it is prone to run out of the cut when it hits a knot, Dan noted. “The inner teeth are going to keep it running on line in a tough area…They can run more footage, cut longer…and still cut straight…When you get the blades in, there’s hardly any pitch build-up on them.”
Millwood sometimes cuts 6-inch soft maple, said Dan, which can cause a lot of pitch build-up on saw blades and result in “fuzz” on the lumber. “With this particular saw blade…it eliminated just about all the fuzz on the sides of those boards.”
After repeated use the blades are in such good condition that “we’ve hardly even had to lay a hammer on them yet,” Dan added.
The new blades will be priced a little higher than ordinary strob blades but will be more cost effective to run, said Dan. They will be suited for other applications, too, such as edging.
Weyerhaeuser obtained a patent on strob saws in 1971, according to Dan. Although there have been many improvements in saw equipment and machinery since then, strob saws have virtually remained the same.
“It was time for a change,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it.”
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