Choosing an edger

What to consider when buying an edger for a primary processing operation. January 4, 2001

Which type of edger is better--the type made by Timberking and Baker with the conveyer belt or the type made by Wood-Mizer with powered rollers on top and bottom?

Are those of you handling over 100,000 board feet a year using edgers or edging on your mills? Also, in a one man operation, is edging on the mill an awkward job?

Forum Responses
Assume the average hardwood lumber width is 8 inches. Assume that the edging is not done precisely and so is 1/4 inch too much. Because once in a while the lumber will end up being just scant of the larger board footage, this will result in an average loss of 3% monthly. (With narrower average lumber widths and more inaccuracy, the numbers get quite large.)

So, a good hardwood edger operation will be very accurate (perhaps 1/16 inch) and allow the saws to be positioned precisely and the operator to have good visibility. Of course, even the best edger cannot work well if the operator doesn't know the grading rules, critical lumber widths, etc.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to tell the operator that he/she is just 1/16 inch away from the next BF of lumber? That is, make the piece 1/16" wider and you will gain 1 BF. I saw one of these edgers manufactured by Corley.

In one study I helped with in Virginia, we found that the average hardwood edging process has losses (due to poor edging) of over 26% of the lumber's value.

Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor

We use an S & W edger from Elba, Alabama. This edger has 7" blades and is very accurate. We run mostly 3/4 lumber. It works fine for 4/4 also, but we have the speed set too high for 8/4 lumber with the 5 HP motor. We liked this edger because of its smooth cut on cedar. It runs 6 to 8 hours per day and has done so for 8 years. For 8 years before that we edged on a band mill and I hated it.

We run a vertical edger right on the headsaw. Our sawyer understands lumber grading and the unit is accurately positioned using lazer lites and Silvatech setworks. We are doing around 45,000 bd ft per week and we feel that we aren't at a production level that would justify another operator to run the edger. We also run a scragg mill with a slab edger. It has bottom rolls which are driven and large pressure rolls on top which are not driven. We are planning on replacing this edger in the near future. We will definitely be buying an edger with top and bottom feed rolls that are driven.

I'm running a vertical edger, but have a horizontal edger as backup. I find that even the best guess on sawing will yield boards that have to be re-edged to be upgraded.

I have sawed with and without vertical edgers. I find that from a production standpoint, the vertical edger costs you in production. This comes from the extra travel distance required to clear the edger. An extra 6 feet carriage travel on each pass starts to add up by the end of the day.

Then you have to factor in the extra time it takes to set the saws. I can't get the accuracy that Gene has described with a vertical edger.

Less production means higher $/bf production costs.

I saw in excess of 300,000 bf per year and edge on the mill. I have a portable custom sawing business. Much of the edging is construction wood.

The consideration for furniture wood is that the board is what the customer wants and is many times edged on only one side so that he has the choice of selecting good wood in his shop. The one straight edge just helps him using a table saw fence. It would be nice to have an edger, but more equipment complicates the logistics of setting up on the job.

I just bought an edger from Norwood industries. I saw a lot of construction lumber, and wanted an easy way to get 2x6's. I'm a one-man show, and my production has increased greatly. Also, owning an edger sure saves a lot of wear on my mill, and my band blades last longer.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
One of the writers stated that he had to back up an exta 6 feet with each pass with a vertical edger. This doesn't have to be the case. The end of the log only needs to clear the mandrel before the carriage has to be reversed. This is only about 6 feet in Helle Sawmills. Also the edger is set while the log is returning, so there is no delay there. A good sawyer with a vertical will do a better job edging than the average edgerman.