July through December 1999 - Issue No. 155
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Canadian Sawmill Miles Ahead With Automatic Levelers

During the gold rush days of the 1860's, the Cariboo Wagon Road of central British Columbia started at Lillooet and stretched all the way north to the gold fields of Barkerville. There were many stopping houses along the route, including one at the 100 mile mark, which catered to fur traders, settlers and travelers. This stagecoach stop became the town of 100 Mile House, home of Weldwood of Canada's 100 Mile House Sawmill.


Virgo and Joly
Glen Virgo (left) shows Herve Joly how to use the easy color touch control screen on the Circle Saw Leveler. The screen continually reports the saw’s condition during leveling and stores settings for six different types of saws.

Forestry is the largest employer in the region and is predicted to remain so for many years. Built in 1984 and significantly expanded in 1994, Weldwood's sawmill currently employs 250 people. Two shifts in the sawmill produce an average of 450,000 board feet (1055 cubic meters) each day of Spruce, Douglas Fir and Balsam. Fifty percent is exported to the USA and 10% to other countries.

The mill consists of two lines. The canter line has a 6’ (1.8m) CSMI quad mill, followed by a 10" (254mm) vertical and a 10" horizontal double arbor edger. There is also a Chip ‘N Saw line with an 8" (203mm) vertical double arbor edger. An Optimil Edger runs at 1000 fpm (305 mpm).





Feed (FPM) (MPM)



6’ Quad 36’ x 10" x 15 gauge Swaged 180-400 .134" 8
1.8m 11m x 254mm x 1.82mm   55-122 3.4mm  
10" HDA 19"x.100" plate Carbide 350 .130" 40
254mm 483mm x 2.54mm   107 3.3mm  
10" VDA 17"x.100" plate Carbide 380 .130" 40
254mm 432mm x 2.54mm   116 3.3mm  
8" VDA 15"x.080" plate Carbide 380 .120" 32
203mm 381mm x 2.03mm   116 3.05mm  
Opt. Edger 24" x .120" plate Carbide 1000 .150" 6
  610mm x 3.05mm   305 3.81mm  

The mill’s quality control program determined that more accurate sawing could help increase export lumber by improving lumber quality. Head Filer John Wardrop believed his crew could improve accuracy by automatically leveling the saws. John was also interested in reducing the exposure of the crew to repetitive stress injury.

An Armstrong band saw Leveler and an Armstrong circular saw Leveler were installed in the filing room in June, 1999. Head Filer John Wardrop selected Armstrong Levelers because "they were the most ‘user friendly’ and seemed to do the best job."


Band Saw Leveler operation

Gord Popadinac and Merle Ross look on as Head Filer John Wardrop operates the Band Saw Leveler. Eight band saws are automatically leveled each day in Weldwood’s 100 Mile House Sawmill filing room.

Over 110 circular saws are benched each day by Tom Tomlinson, Bert Gedford, Herve Joly, Glen Virgo and Gord Popadinac during two filing room shifts. Guide clearance of .001" requires absolutely flat plates. All five circle saw filers like the easy set up and agree "the Leveler does an excellent job."

Fitters Darren Chambers and Laurance Johnson sharpen the band saws on No. 4 grinders while Rolf Leis and Merle Ross bench the bands. They report the band saw Leveler is "easy to use" and gives them more time to fine tune tension and back.


B.C. Express Stagecoach
Weldwood of Canada’s 100 Mile House Sawmill is located at the 100 mile point of the Cariboo Trail where a way station was built in 1863 to serve gold miners, fur traders and the Barnard Express Stage Coach Line. This B.C. Express Stagecoach is the only surviving coach.

John began his 35-year career in his family’s Ontario, Canada hardwood mill. He came to 100 Mile House as a benchman when the mill was built in 1984 and has been Head Filer for five years.

John admits his crew was apprehensive with the introduction of new technology to the filing room, but credits them for "sinking their teeth into making it work even better than expected." He also credits the "relentless support" of his manager and the Mill Superintendent toward helping the filing room staff achieve its goals.


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