Monday, July 16, 2012

Forest Products Industries in Elkins, WV

After arising at the Hampton Inn in Elkins, the group boarded the vans for Hamer Pellet Fuel to see wood waste being converted to pellets that are burned in wood heat stoves.  We were impressed that the WV based company took waste sawdust and chips from sawmills and wood manufacturing and converted into useful product.
Hamer mixes sawdust from a variety of hardwood species and sends it to a high BTU drier that is fueled by the very sawdust that it processes.  The dried sawdust gets heated with a small amount of vegetable oil and sent to an extruder where the pellets are formed.  These pellets are cooled and sent to an automated system that fills and seals bags before stacking on pallets with a robotic arm and wrapping with a protective plastic.
A nice lunch of Subway sandwiches at Riverbend Park in Elkins allowed everyone to get some tree identification practice in and to spend some time in the outdoors on a beautiful summer day.
After lunch, we went to Wilson Lumber Company where we saw rough sawn lumber get graded, kiln dried and planed in preparation for shipment to millwork shops.  We were impressed with the efficiency of the operation and the professionalism of the employees.  The kilns are fueled by sawdust, largely from the planers on the site.  We were shown how the moisture content of wood is determined and how the board footage is estimated quickly.
From there, we went to Wilson Quality Millwork where the kiln dried lumber is turned into molding and specialty products.  Wilson sells stock styles of molding or can make custom designs in quantities as large or small as the customer desires.
After a dinner at Bob Evans, we heard from our speaker, Mr. Robert Whitshell, a local historian.  His interesting talk reiterated many of the concepts from our spring course and made our group more aware of the history of forests in Randolph County as well as in Appalachia as a whole.

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