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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #910: Baker, Andrew (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (February 11, 2008)

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00:14:38 - 00:20:53 Seattle

Seattle, Portland, Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Locke, Edward G.; Metzen, Elmer, military project, log grading, sawdust, veneer, fuel, plywood, Douglas-fir, clearcutting; Harris, John

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Jack Harris and I went to a chemical engineers meeting in Seattle and while we were out there we went to the, visited [the Pacific] Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station and, in Portland. And Ed Locke used to work there and the director of the Laboratory also had worked [there], at Portland. And Ed Locke arranged for Jack and I to takes the tours into the [wood research laboratories] out there by the direct, by the, one of these projects at the at the Portland station his name was Elmer Metzen and he was a forester and he had two other people working with him, a civil engineer and another forester. And he took us through the woods and I think I impressed him because I knew the, how to identify species of trees. The trees out there were different but they looked just like some of the trees here in the Midwest and we spent I think three, four days with them and went through Oregon quite a ways into the forests go out and watch big trees getting cut down, going to the saw mills [and wood research laboratories], see how they worked and, Elmer and I got to be, I think, pretty (good) friends. He had a son just about my age also.

And then I came, we came back and and that military project money was going to be gone, Ed Locke knew that something was going to happen, and he asked me if I wanted to go to Portland, Oregon for two years. And that was Christmastime when we got out there. And that was quite a change to go from this area here to where it rained every day. I think the first week we, the first two weeks we were there it rained every day. But it was warm and the, you didn't get wet, it was raining but you didn't seem to get wet---small drips, drops of water. So I ended up out there and worked on various project out there.

The station group that I was in, there were four of us then, and one of them, the forester, was running experiments at sawmills to determine how much lumber you get out of a log of a certain size, and a certain grade. Very good, very high grade logs that to, very poor logs and what we'd do is measure the diameter of the log and the length and then run it through the sawmill and measure all the [lumber] that came out, the lumber, by thickness, width, and length and, and by grade of the log. My I, I think there were three or four grades of the logs coming out of the woods, and that's how they determined what the value of that log was. And we'd look at the lumber and the lumber would be graded at the saw mill, anyway we would then measure, have the grade of the lumber and the size of the lumber and the volume of the lumber. And turns out that about half of the wood was sawdust. That still is the case. So then [we] also did it [for] plywood, making cutting logs but rotate makes the veneer the long piece, and then that's cut into the sizes to make plywood. And you would expect that when you're not sawing it you would get more lumber out of it, or good wood out of it, but it's not the case because you loose a lot in the trimming of the,of the veneer. And about the same amount is wasted and used for fuel. And the rest was made into plywood.

That was one of the major---that information was used by the Forest Service to determine the value of logs at they found in the woods. They would go through the forest and measure each tree and estimate what the grade of the lumber, or of the log is and that would determine what the value of that the [log sale]. Douglas Fir at that time was clear cut, so they would clear cut maybe a forty acres a time depending on the terrain. And after 23 months I came back here, from Portland.

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