January through March 2000 - Issue No. 156
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Durgin & Crowell File Room Excellence:
A Source of Their Success

Peter Crowell and Arthur Durgin, co-owners of New Hampshire’s Durgin and Crowell sawmill, have been successful sawmillers since founding their company more than a quarter century ago. When they began to invest in a major upgrade of their pine mill, they focused on the saws and the filing room to achieve their goal of efficiently producing high quality lumber.

"Over the last three years we have installed a Valon Kone ring debarker, two new HMC carriages with Lewis controls, two Sanborn 7 ft (2.4 M) double cut bandmills, a 5-head Stenner horizontal band resaw and a PHL optimized rotary edger with AutoLog controls," head filer Tony Durgin reports. "We now produce 125,000 board feet (300 cubic meters) of top quality lumber every day in a single 9-hour shift."

"Both sawyers insist on VPD band saws"

Durgin and Crowell use two No. 4 band saw sharpeners that have been especially equipped at the Armstrong factory with multi-lobe cams to sharpen their Variable Pitch & Depth (VPD) double cut band saws. "We started with a standard 2" pitch on our double cuts with good results," Tony recalls. "But now that they have seen what a 5-tooth pattern VPD saw will do, neither sawyer would let me put a standard pitch saw on their mills. VPD saws are quieter, make smoother lumber, and saw straighter."

The double cut band head saws and the Stenner horizontal resaws are both Stellite tipped with an Armstrong AUTOTIP and side ground on an Armstrong SidePro. "We started off side grinding after swaging and shaping our band saws. The side grinder makes every tooth sharper and more accurate. Side grinding gave us a nearly perfect tooth even if the swaging wasn’t always perfect.

Durgin & Crowell
The SidePro at Durgin & Crowell was factory-equipped with an overhead saw support that head filer Tony Durgin uses when side grinding Stellite tipped Stenner resaws. This same horizontal SidePro also side grinds Durgin & Crowell’s big double cut band headrig saws.

"After a few months, we started Stellite tipping all our bands. We regularly run our double cut bands for a full 9 hours. Even the Stenner bands, which are always in wood, will usually run the full nine hour shift. When the Stenner saws were swaged, we often had to change the saws three times each shift. Stellite tipping and accurate side grinding help us hold our tight target sizes for a full nine hour shift."

Tony and filer Glen Fellows are keenly aware of the importance of sharp, accurate band saws. Both Tony and Glen are qualified sawyers who occasionally relieve the regular sawyers on breaks. Filing apprentice Bob Norris sometimes fills in running either the Stenner resaw or the 8" rotary gang edger. During a recent outbreak of influenza in their area, the filers were able to spend more time in the saw box than they did in the filing room, filling in for people who were out sick.

Durgin & Crowell
Glen Fellows (foreground) and Tony Durgin inspect a VPD double cut headrig saw as it is Stellite tipped on their Armstrong AUTOTIP. Durgin and Crowell swaged, shaped and side ground all their band saws for several months before beginning their Stellite tipping program.

Durgin and Crowell use an Armstrong Leveler, so their band saw plates are as perfect as the cutting edge. "Everything about the saw must work together. Stellite and side grinding give us a nearly perfect cutting edge, VPD stops the harmonic vibration within the saw, and the Leveler helps us to keep the plate absolutely flat.

"All of our equipment is very good, but it does not cure problems all by itself. Nor is machinery alone an adequate substitute for experienced people." Tony illustrates his point: "An automatic Leveler, for example, won’t perform magic on a wrecked saw. It takes good people to make everything work right. When we ordered our filing room equipment, it was important that Burl Swiger from Cascade Southern helped us get off to a good start."

Durgin & Crowell
Glen Fellows uses the touch screen to quickly reset the Armstrong automatic band saw Leveler for a double cut headrig saw after leveling a Stenner resaw.


The Saw Engineer congratulates Peter Crowell and Arthur Durgin on the continued success of their pine sawmill. We extend a special thanks to Tony Durgin and Burl Swiger for their assistance in preparing this article.


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