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Western Red Cedar

The "tree of life" in the Pacific Northwest, rot-resistant cedar is harvested for siding, shingles, decks, and more. We follow its progress from forest to factory.

Western Red Cedar

The "tree of life" in the Pacific Northwest, rot-resistant cedar is harvested for siding, shingles, decks, and more. We follow its progress from forest to factory.

  • Harvesting & Replanting - Clearcutting is the most common cedar harvesting method. Replanting cut forests is not a feel-good strategyit sustains the logging industry with future tree stock. Usually within a year of harvesting, cedar companies return to plant seedlingstypically, eight for every tree removed. Once replanted, the forest is left to grow for 60 to 80 years.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp6751%2Etmp_tcm20-224896.jpg?width=260

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    Harvesting & Replanting - Clearcutting is the most common cedar harvesting method. Replanting cut forests is not a feel-good strategyit sustains the logging industry with future tree stock. Usually within a year of harvesting, cedar companies return to plant seedlingstypically, eight for every tree removed. Once replanted, the forest is left to grow for 60 to 80 years.

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    Jameson Simpson

    1. Harvesting & Replanting
    Clearcutting is the most common cedar harvesting method. Replanting cut forests is not a feel-good strategy—it sustains the logging industry with future tree stock. Usually within a year of harvesting, cedar companies return to plant seedlings—typically, eight for every tree removed. Once replanted, the forest is left to grow for 60 to 80 years.

  • 2. Transporting - Near water, felled logs may be grouped into raftlike booms (left) and floated downstream toward saw mills. Otherwise, they are moved over roads by trucks. Before leaving the woods, the delimbed tree is first bucked, or cut to mill-specified lengths, while working around diameter changes or damage and taking into account the logs quality grade.

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    2. Transporting - Near water, felled logs may be grouped into raftlike booms (left) and floated downstream toward saw mills. Otherwise, they are moved over roads by trucks. Before leaving the woods, the delimbed tree is first bucked, or cut to mill-specified lengths, while working around diameter changes or damage and taking into account the logs quality grade.

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    Jameson Simpson

    2. Transporting
    Near water, felled logs may be grouped into raftlike “booms” (left) and floated downstream toward saw mills. Otherwise, they are moved over roads by trucks. Before leaving the woods, the delimbed tree is first “bucked,” or cut to mill-specified lengths, while working around diameter changes or damage and taking into account the log’s quality grade.

  • 3. Sorting & Storage - Most damage to sawed logs happens before they reach the mill, so careful handling and storage is crucial. Logs in the booms are separated by the jack jadder (above left), which loads them onto the log deck. There they are sorted (above right) and stored according to their grade, species, and diameter. To minimize defects in storage, inventories are rotated so the first logs put in storage are the first taken out for sawing.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp6753%2Etmp_tcm20-224905.jpg?width=173

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    3. Sorting & Storage - Most damage to sawed logs happens before they reach the mill, so careful handling and storage is crucial. Logs in the booms are separated by the jack jadder (above left), which loads them onto the log deck. There they are sorted (above right) and stored according to their grade, species, and diameter. To minimize defects in storage, inventories are rotated so the first logs put in storage are the first taken out for sawing.

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    Jameson Simpson

    3. Sorting & Storage
    Most damage to sawed logs happens before they reach the mill, so careful handling and storage is crucial. Logs in the booms are separated by the “jack jadder” (above left), which loads them onto the log deck. There they are sorted (above right) and stored according to their grade, species, and diameter. To minimize defects in storage, inventories are rotated so the first logs put in storage are the first taken out for sawing.

  • 4. First Cuts - For large logs (more than 18 inches in diameter), initial mill cuts usually are made by a headrig, consisting of a headsaw (may be a band or circular blade), a carriage loader for handling, and a turner to rotate partially sawn logs. Full-taper saws cut around a large log to a tapered core to get the outer lumber. Half-taper saws cut smaller logs in which quality is similar throughout, orienting the logs pitch so its parallel to the saw line.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp6754%2Etmp_tcm20-224908.jpg?width=258

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    4. First Cuts - For large logs (more than 18 inches in diameter), initial mill cuts usually are made by a headrig, consisting of a headsaw (may be a band or circular blade), a carriage loader for handling, and a turner to rotate partially sawn logs. Full-taper saws cut around a large log to a tapered core to get the outer lumber. Half-taper saws cut smaller logs in which quality is similar throughout, orienting the logs pitch so its parallel to the saw line.

    258

    Jameson Simpson

    4. First Cuts
    For large logs (more than 18 inches in diameter), initial mill cuts usually are made by a “headrig,” consisting of a headsaw (may be a band or circular blade), a carriage loader for handling, and a turner to rotate partially sawn logs. “Full-taper” saws cut around a large log to a tapered core to get the outer lumber. “Half-taper” saws cut smaller logs in which quality is similar throughout, orienting the log’s pitch so it’s parallel to the saw line.

  • 5. Finishing Cuts - After being debarked (top), the logs are squared and broken down based on grade and target products. In a secondary breakdown (bottom), the grades are separated and the lumber is edged to remove remaining bark or defects. Edged lumber is then trimmed and may be resawed and possibly kiln-dried. Finally, a planer mill finishes the surface to the precisely correct size.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp6756%2Etmp_tcm20-224919.jpg?width=131

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    5. Finishing Cuts - After being debarked (top), the logs are squared and broken down based on grade and target products. In a secondary breakdown (bottom), the grades are separated and the lumber is edged to remove remaining bark or defects. Edged lumber is then trimmed and may be resawed and possibly kiln-dried. Finally, a planer mill finishes the surface to the precisely correct size.

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    Jameson Simpson

    5. Finishing Cuts
    After being debarked (top), the logs are squared and broken down based on grade and target products. In a secondary breakdown (bottom), the grades are separated and the lumber is edged to remove remaining bark or defects. Edged lumber is then trimmed and may be resawed and possibly kiln-dried. Finally, a planer mill finishes the surface to the precisely correct size.

For centuries, the Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) was the tree of life for cultures along British Columbia’s rain coast (hence the genus Arborvitae). Growing commonly to 150 feet high with a trunk more than 20 feet across, it provided bark for baskets, blankets, and diapers; twigs for rope; and tons of lightweight, fine-grained wood for canoes and buildings. Today the rot-resistant cedar still becomes posts, beams, decks, siding, and shingles. But first it’s put through several paces after leaving the rich, moist soil where it grows.