MiCROTEC - Cranking out the lumber at Idaho Forest Group

Cranking out the lumber at Idaho Forest Group

Cranking out the lumber at Idaho Forest Group


United States


Idaho Forest Group

Idaho Forest Group’s new Lewiston, Idaho upgrade cranking out 550 thousand lumber meters (six million board feet) a week —with room for more production

It was the forest industry’s version of the kid in the candy store as Idaho Forest Group recently unveiled its new Lewiston, Idaho HewSaw SL250. The key companion equipment to the HewSaw, a Microtec CT Log scanner, is no small part of the new mill set-up, scanning each log at a blazing three rotations per second. The scanner conveyor speed of 160 meters per minute (525 ft/min) makes the log scanner 100 times faster than your regular medical scanner. Microtec representative Norvin Laudon explained that the goal is to see all the defects in each log, evaluating knots, cracks and wane, which can affect total log quality.


“The goal is to unlock the shape of the log,” said Laudon. “Usually bucking and debarking come first, but they don’t debark at the Idaho Forest Group mill until later in the process. With the bark on, there is less checking and bluing. You get to see the real shape of the wood with the scanner. There are some logs you never want to reach your sawmill because maybe they are rotten, twisted or off-species.” Right now, the scanner is only used for sorting and bucking, with future plans for optimization in sawing. As it creates a total three-dimensional profile for each log, the scanner focuses on features and properties of wood species common to the Intermountain West.


In the current configuration, logs come into the mill and are first run through the CT scanner before heading to the chop saw and merchandizer, and then on to separate lines for the HewSaw, large logs, rejects and flare reduction. In the near future, a Microtec Logeye 300 will be operational to X-ray logs further before sending them to the sorting bins. Currently, Idaho Forest Group has thirty sorts, with each having four sub-sorts, creating 120 destination sorts. Further plans call for a second Logeye 300 to be installed before the saw to further determine cutting options. 


As Georgia sawmill owner Jack Jordan opened this year’s Small Log Conference, he echoed the thoughts of many who attended the tour: “They’re going to set the standard.”


by Barbara Coyner, Logging and Sawmilling Journal May 2015

»One of the owners told me it’s always been his dream to saw from the inside out«

Norvin Laudin

Director MiCROTEC Corvallis/Vancouver