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July 2024

Cover: Who Has It Better: 2 Inch, Timbers Or Board Mills?

The results of the Annual U.S. Softwood Sawmill Operations and Capital Expenditure Survey were presented in the June issue. But we couldn’t resist breaking them down just a little bit more.

Inside This Issue

THE ISSUES: Taking Pine Before It's Time

Depending on how you look at it, it’s definitely been a fortune of sorts for my brother and I who inherited a piece of family property in south central Alabama several years ago. As we’ve wrangled the property as very non-industrial private absentee owners, some of the issues that have cropped up are a microcosm of those facing industry.

My grandfather bought the place in 1973, at the time a broom-sedge covered cut-over on a terraced former 27 acre farm site that included a pine-covered hill, a big field, and a piece of Persimmon Creek fed by a nice year-round branch that made for a perfect pond site.


Article by Dan Shell, Senior Chief, Timber Processing

  • Smartlam Installs Ledinek Glulam Line
  • Timberlab Continues Mass Timber Growth
  • Arizona Operation Gains Funding
  • NW Pellet Mill Moves Forward
Early Look At TP&EE
  • Portland Show Is Right Around The Corner
  • Person of Year Reception On Tap
  • Mill Projects Are On The Horizon
  • Which Compnay Will Send The Most People?
  • Early Registration Opens In July
  • Autolog
  • Bid Group
  • Finnos
  • Joescan
  • Linck
  • LMI Technologies
  • Telco Sensors
  • USNR

Bienville Lumber, the new Hunt Forest Products-Tolko Industries SYP sawmill at Taylor, La., was the cover story of our May issue, which included lots of cool photos of lots of shiny iron. Well, here are some more cool photos of more shiny iron. After all, who can take their eyes off a new sawmill? We can’t seem to.

Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Chief, Timber Processing


  • Vaagen Bros. Enhances Handling, Accuracy
  • Element5 Continues Glulam Expansion
  • Kiln Sticks
  • No-Slot Chipper
  • Package Saw
  • Container Loader

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Digging Deeper Into Results

There’s a difference between timbers, dimension and boards.


Last month’s issue of Timber Processing featured the results of the annual U.S. Softwood Sawmill Operations & Capital Expenditure Survey. Those results noted that 52% of the respondents represented 2 in. dimension sawmills, 21% came from timbers mills, and 10% from 1 in. board mills. All of the results presented in the issue were combined (or added together) for those three lumber product sectors.

But what if we dug a little deeper into the results from each of those segments? Would, for example, the timbers operations reveal much variation from the 2 in. and 1 in. operations?

You’ll recall that the 24-question survey was e-mail blasted to mill ownership and management personnel in April. One of the key questions of the survey was how did those mill personnel forecast their lumber business situation for the remainder of 2024 and into 2025. Overall (combining timbers, dimension and boards), the findings were fairly bleak: 2% said excellent, 27% said good, 36% said fair, 32% said poor and 3% said very poor.

But how did each of our three main production segments answer the question?

As it turned out, timbers sawmill operators were a bit more pessimistic than their counterparts. That is, 50% said their forecast was poor, while 33% said fair and 17% said good, with no one selecting either of the extreme ends of excellent or very poor.

This is compared to the 2 in. sawmill operators, of which 3% forecasted very poor, 42% said poor, 38% fair, 17% good, and zero percent forecasting excellent.

But here’s the real finding: The 1 in. board operators had an extremely bright outlook, with 25% forecasting excellent, 50% good, 25% fair, with zero percent expecting poor or very poor.

Perhaps the numbers are distorted a little bit because there was a smaller sampling of board producers than timbers or 2 in.; or maybe their product niche simply happened to be hitting the market at the right time when the survey was conducted. Survey results are all about timing, right?

Expected annual production at the timbers mills this year ranged from 10MMBF to 100MMBF, while running from 25MMBF to more than 350MMBF at the 2 in. mills, and from 5MMBF to 50MMBF at the 1 in. mills.

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