SAW ENGINEER
January through March 2000 - Issue No. 156
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Washington Alder:Filing is a Family Affair


Washington Alder Head Filer, Ben Madden, began his filing career working in his father’s saw shop in 1978. More than twenty years later, the two are working together again. In fact, Washington Alder’s five-man filing room has two father/son teams. The day shift consists of Ben Madden, Don Swyers as circle saw benchman, and Alex Coble as fitter. When a second shift was added, Ben Madden, Sr. and Don’s son, Nate Swyers, were added to the team. Ben Sr. and Jr. have more than 60 years of saw filing experience between them.

Washington Alder
Ben Madden, Sr. checks the side clearance while using an Armstrong SidePro to side grind one of the 14" (355 mm) by 38’ (11.5 meters) double cut band saws. "Its consistent grinding abilities and compact design make it a plus for filing rooms where space is a consideration" says Ben Madden, Jr. Head Filer.

Established in late 1997, the mill has already made a reputation for itself worldwide. Head filer, Ben, says "Our customers are extremely loyal because of the beauty of our product. We literally struggle to meet the demand for our product." Customers include cabinet makers, furniture manufacturers, flooring companies, and pallet manufacturers for the produce industry.

Mostly alder is sawn, but also maple and birch. The average log diameter is 9" (230 mm). They use 60 to 80 circular saws per day with .075" (1.9 mm) plate, 22" (560 mm) and 25" (635 mm) diameter, #3 splines and .105" (2.7 mm) kerf in a Sherman main gang and pallet gang. Band saws are 14" (355 mm) by 38’ (11.5 meters) double cut and are run on a 6’ (1.8 meters) Letson & Burpee band mill. Circular saws are Stellite tipped, while the band saws are swaged and shaped.

Washington Alder
Alex Coble tips one of the 60 to 80 circular saws the mill uses each day. Washington Alder is one of the progressive hardwood mills that Stellite tips its saws. Of the AUTOTIP, Ben, Jr. says "It gives us longer life to our round saws."

The filing room consists almost entirely of Armstrong equipment – AUTOTIP, SidePro, band saw Leveler, No. 4 band saw sharpener, No. 25 circle saw sharpener, TrueSizer and circle saw bench. Ben credits Terry Rismoen, Vice President of Maintenance, and Steve Bergerson of Cascade Southern Saw in Milwaukie, Oregon with selecting most of the equipment for the filing room.


"Variable Pitch bands feed faster with less deviation"


The daily production of the mill varies greatly by species and diameter of the wood being sawn. With the introduction of variable pitch band saws in the past year, the mill has seen both increases in feed speed, as well as a decrease in saw deviation.

Washington Alder is one of the progressive hardwood mills that Stellite tips its saws. Of the AUTOTIP, Ben says "It gives us longer life to our round saws with greater ease and efficiency in tipping ". Don Swyers does most of the tipping and the maintenance on the AUTOTIP. Prior to purchasing the AUTOTIP, Ben had used one at Cascade Southern Saw and received quite a bit of training there. Once installed at the mill, hands-on training has added to their expertise.

Washington Alder
Head Filer, Ben Madden, Jr., uses an Armstrong air swage in preparation for sharpening on the Armstrong No. 4 band saw sharpener and side grinding with the SidePro. Since introducing variable pitch band saws in the past year, the mill has seen both increases in feed speed, as well as a decrease in saw deviation.

The SidePro was already in the filing room when Ben came to the mill. Having used other side grinders at previous mills, Ben says that the SidePro is "hands down the best". Its consistent grinding abilities and compact design make it a plus for filing rooms where space is a consideration.

A notable return on investment that Ben sees is the addition of a second TrueSizer. "We’ve been able to eliminate two steps to our fitting process by using one side grinder to rough in the tooth and the other to finish grind. The TrueSizers give us a beautiful finish on our lumber."

Washington Alder
The 5 man filing crew includes from left to right: Ben Madden, Jr., Head Filer; Alex Coble, fitter; Ben Madden, Sr., night shift benchman; and Don Swyers, circle saw benchman. Not pictured: Nate Swyers, night shift fitter.

 

Armstrong salutes the filing crew at Washington Alder on their success. Our special thanks to Ben Madden, Jr. and his entire filing crew for their help in preparing this article and taking the photographs.

 


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