When business with the oil industry became too unstable a few years ago, Shawn Moore turned his attention to his residential tree service, Trimmed Line Tree Service in Red Deer, Alta. He was open-minded as his business shifted toward urban logging and then expanded into making lumber from salvaged trees.

Now, in 2017, the transformation is complete. Trimmed Line is consistently processing would-be waste trees into marketable material such as counter tops, live-edge slabs, and handcrafted furniture. The market for this kiln-dried, salvage lumber and slabs lies mostly with artists, wood workers, builders, designers looking for unique pieces.

Trimmed Line received some guidance in its diversification from a business incubator program called Catapult. Through this program, Moore has formed relationships with other wood-based businesses who make up a knowledge and skills “cluster.”

The other members of the cluster are: a housing manufacturer, a timber framing company, a cabinet maker, and a company that performs CNC milling. Moore says by working together, the business owners are sharing their knowledge and trying to get traction. “As a team, we can do just about anything with wood,” he notes.

One venture the cluster has been involved with is Sawing for Schools. Moore read about the idea in a Wood-Mizer publication, which featured an article about a company that was taking its portable Wood-Mizer sawmill to schools to let children see the log-to-lumber transformation first-hand.

“I was so inspired by that,” says Moore. “Kids in school don’t get much hands-on learning.”

So last fall, Moore took his Wood-Mizer LT50 portable sawmill to his local middle school (grades 6, 7, 8) to show them how logs become lumber. The students were so enthusiastic that Moore and the others in his woodworking cluster decided to continue the program. They worked with the students to design and build furniture items and two timber-frame sheds. From October to March the team spent 4 hours per week at the school. The items they built were auctioned.

Live-edge boards have become a staple for Trimmed Line. On the LT50 portable sawmill Moore is able to make live-edge pieces up to about 28-in. wide. There’s a good profit margin on live-edge products, and they are easy to cut, says Moore. “It sells for double what I could make on dimensional lumber, and dimensional lumber needs more cutting.”

Selling wood products made from trees that would otherwise have gone to landfill has some advantages. Moore says some customers will base their buying decision on the fact that the wood was salvaged, while others just see the beauty of the live-edge pieces. Other groups choose to do business with Trimmed Line because of the Sawing for Schools program. They want wood products created by/with the students.

Trimmed Line currently has four employees. In addition to the Wood-Mizer saw, the company is outfitted with an EG200 twin blade board edger from Wood-Mizer, plus a planer, a kiln, and a biomass-fired heating system that supplies both the shop and the kiln.

(Reprinted from the 2017 Fall #1 edition of The Working Forest)