Grading And Storage

When the rough-green lumber leaves the trimmer at the tail end of the saw mill, it is sorted by grade and size, then sent to be cured. This process is done on the sorting table, under supervision of the lumber inspector. These tables are frequently at right angles to the lumber direction through the saw mill and, occasionally, a separate part of the building. The table's length varied with the amount of lumber handled daily, and was wide enough to handle the general board lengths cut by the mill.

A platform 20 feet or more in width, built on one or both sides of the sorting table, serves as storage for the lumber buggies, trucks, or other equipment used for carrying the lumber to various points in the plant. The lumber is carried across the sorting table by endless chains, graded, and then picked off the table, where the sorter's pile it onto trucks or buggies for transportation to the yard for further drying. In general, almost all lumber was sorted, transported, and stacked by hand. Automatic machinery arrived in later years.

The method of stacking the lumber to air dry, varied with the size of the mill. At the small mills, the lumber was stacked on platforms from the ground level. However, the majority of mills used a series of elevated, planked runways, leading from the mill to the yards, on a level with the sorting area. The trucks or buggies were pushed along the runways to the lumber stacks. Each layer in the stack was separated by strips, resembling lath, called “stickers”. The number of runways and the height of the stacks, depended upon the size of the mill, and some were 30 feet high. Frequently, light-rail was laid on the runways, allowing the lumber trucks to be pushed with less effort than with wheeled carts. The use of animal power to pull the cars or trucks was very rare, as the animals hoofs caused excessive wear on the runways. The lumber stacks were interspersed with railroad sidings for loading and shipping of lumber. Modern saw mills incorporate kiln drying for the lumber.