Glenville, W.Va. – Students within the Glenville State College (GSC) Department of Land Resources’ forest technology program had the opportunity to learn about and operate different sawmills through a hands-on lab in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF).
The students began the lab by learning the technical process of scaling and measuring the logs. That process, very similar to the method used in the industry, prepared the students to begin loading the logs into one of two sawmills available. The Frick Circular Sawmill, an older style of sawmill, requires an entire team to operate. GSC students stepped into that role with careful guidance, and job duties included head sawing, off-bearing, and lumber stacking.
Circular sawmills are appropriately named for the circular shape of their blades. The circular sawmill on GSC’s campus has been available to students for over 40 years.
The second sawmill, a newer addition to the Department of Land Resources, is a Wood-Mizer bandsaw. The bandsaw utilizes a small band blade rather than a circular blade and produces a smoother cut. It is also portable and can be operated with only one person. GSC land resources student, Gabrielle Dean, had the opportunity to run the bandsaw alongside WVDOF Forester, Jesse King.
“I had not previously worked with a sawmill, but Jesse King taught me everything on the spot, and I picked up on how to run the bandsaw pretty quickly,” said Dean. “I got to finish sawing the poplar log into a 2×6 by myself, with Jesse close by if I forgot a step or needed help. Running the sawmill was something I didn’t expect to do that day, but when the opportunity arose, I knew I had to take it.”
After experiencing sawmill operations, the students collected measurements of the lumber to calculate the volume and various other scales and grades.
“This lab prepares students in the forest technology program for future employment as a procurement forester, sawmill operator, mill manager, or small business owner,” said King. “Glenville State College prides itself on its hands-on method to education, and the students find it better prepares them to obtain a job in their field of study upon graduation.”
“I enjoyed this lab because it was hands-on, and the results of the lab happened right before our eyes,” said Dean. “It’s neat to see how far sawmills have come, and the skills I learned will be helpful to me for the rest of my college and into my professional career.”
The students were accompanied by GSC Professor of Forestry and Department of Land Resources Chair, Dr. Rico Gazal, and Land Resources Instructor, Tom Snyder.