PLAN: Men’s Shed rocketeer Ed Chapman and Spiro Notaras go over the cutting diagram.
PLAN: Men’s Shed rocketeer Ed Chapman and Spiro Notaras go over the cutting diagram.

Log’s final cut gets tender touch

SPIRO Notaras made no apologies for his mill taking about 90 minutes to saw up a single silky oak tree into slabs for Grafton Men's Shed members to turn into rocking horses.

"I wanted to do it right so they got as much as they could out the tree," the sawmill's general manager said.

The tree, estimated to be 25m tall when it stood in Karl Cooksley's central Grafton backyard a little more than two weeks ago, was trimmed down to a 6.8m trunk plus the two largest branches, before it was carried to the mill aboard a Ravens Smash Repairs truck.

On Thursday Spiro's 45-year-old mill made relatively short work of the task. "It could have been done in about 10 minutes, but I wanted to make sure there was minimal waste," Spiro said.

Armed with figures given to him by the men's shed rocketeers (or rocking horse carvers), Spiro drew up mud maps of the trunks to pass onto the operator of the mill's twin edger, foreman John McLachlan.

In the saw's control room, figures were punched in and mighty machinery moved into action and moved the massive logs around like twigs.

Once the logs were broken down a quick turn through the re-saw bench trimmed off further rough edges before further dressing left a pile of rough-sawn timber.

The process was a revelation for rocketeers Denis Nicholl and Ed Chapman.

"If Spiro hadn't come on board, we would have attacked the tree with chainsaws," Ed said. "We've done it before.

"But without his kiln drying it out for us, we might have had to wait two years to use it."

"And some of us might not be up to doing it in two years," chipped in Denis.

Denis, a pastry cook by profession who could barely use a hammer when he joined the Men's Shed several years ago, found the whole process a revelation.

"To watch that machinery in action was a real eye-opener," he said.

"The way it dealt with those huge logs, with such precision, made your jaw drop.

"I just worry a bit for Spiro, about how much production time he lost."

Overhearing the remark Spiro said he would take it up with his foremen.

"I'll look at the production figures next week and I'll want to know why figures are down on Thursday morning," he said as a grin spread across his face.

Raw figures

  • The 6.8 metre trunk, plus two branches from Karl Cooksley's weighed in at about 2.2 tonnes.
  • After 90 minutes of careful attention in Spiro Notaras's sawmill their yield was:
  •  1.2 cubic metres of sawn slabs.
  •  42% recovery rate from estimated 3.2 cubic metres of logs.
  •  $3000 yield of rough sawn wood
  •  $6000 yield when kiln dried

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