Crafting Custom Wood Floors is a Creative Outlet for Swedish Project Manager
By Nils Ohlin, Sweden
I work as a project manager on a building site, and this mostly means paperwork. For me, it is very relaxing to come home and be able to work with my hands. My goal is to be working full time with this back here at home, within a couple of years. It started as a hobby, but it is not a hobby today!
My production is very small, and, how shall I put it, very specialized. The idea is to only manufacture floors that are special ordered. The product in itself requires a lot of craftsmanship, and is intended to last for generations. My typical customer wants a unique product - something that nobody else has.
Some customers even supply the timber themselves. Some farms might have been owned by the same family for hundreds of years. So you can take a tree that has grown there and turn it into a floor in your own house.
I have been growing this business for the last 5 years. That is what I think is really awesome with this idea, that I can do everything, from cutting down the tree out in the woods, transporting it home, and then cutting, drying, and processing the material all the way to a finished floor product.
For me the entire process of converting raw material to the finished product is important. There are many different tasks connected to this, and you also have to know a great deal about the machinery to have control of the entire process.
I actually have a lot of oak on my own land. I simply take my small harvester and go fell the tree, cross cut it and de-limb it. I then take it home and put it on the sawmill. Once the log is cut, there is a lot of traditional work to be done, selecting pieces and stacking them before drying.
You also leave a small carbon footprint, there is a lot of talk about that these days. I heat my buildings with waste from cutting, and I also use it to fuel the kiln. This is very good for the carbon footprint.
I work with wood with a lot of life to it, since my goal is to make a product with a lot of life to it. This make the material a little bit harder to work with, since there is more tension and more movement. The greatest secret, in order to make it work, is to work WITH the wood’s natural properties. You have to adapt the process to the properties of the wood.
The hardest part of the process is that all cutting has to very exact, when it comes to measurements. If not, it will not be possible to lay the floor. Wood is a living material, and I do not think I have ever managed to make two pieces that are exactly the same, if you measure down to fractions of millimeters.
The capability of the [LT40] sawmill to be able to saw large dimensions - that was important to me. With Wood-Mizer you get simple, stable functionality. Things have been thought through, so that you can work on your own.
The sawmill I had before was from 1990. There has been a lot of development since then, and the new one is so professional that I would be able to work full time and support myself by just cutting timber.
I can definitely recommend it, I am really happy with the sawmill and all its functions.
Air-drying the wood takes ten weeks. This industry is very good at speeding up the process, for example by only allowing one week for drying. Here we let it take the time it takes.
Then we dry it in the kiln down to about 4.5%. During the last week, we once again add water, to bring it up to 8.5%, before taking it out. This makes the material more stable. If it has been dried down to this level, it will be able to handle movement, drying and humidity much better once it is in place. It is actually quite incredible, for 600 items, the dryer will extract about 600 liters of water.
There is a great joy in seeing the finished product, knowing the role you have played in it. The sense of completeness, to be able to make all these beautiful oak floors, it is pretty awesome.
And to be able to see the entire process, from finding a customer and then designing the product, and to have them come here and see it. That is like an overview that really conveys the benefits of wood products. They last for generations!