We have learned to make high value flooring from low value curved logs. As I run the rip saw, I pile the boards sawn from the curved logs, boards with lots of taper, and the boards that have curved in the drying process - to the side. Then I'll cross cut the pile in half with my chain saw, producing 3, 4, and 5 foot long pieces. Shorter boards produce straight flooring blanks with little waste. Often the center of the board with the pith or splits can be ripped out at this time, and taper is utilized more fully.
The pile of flooring blanks is then taken to the workshop and rolled to the single side planer on an old hay wagon running gear. To get optimum quality flooring and millwork, we pre plane the boards using a single sided planer. This is especially important for us when we use wood from low grade logs with lots of character. Our band sawmill also leaves ridges that cause the board to move up and down some in the molder. Pre planing the good side of the board removes most of the ridges from the sawmill blade, removes thick portions of the board, and smoothes out deviations in the lumber caused by drying character features. We have a 16 inch wide single side planer that we use, though this could be done on the Logosol molder also. The advantage of using the single side planer is we can pass the board through the planer at an angle, so the ridges in the wood from the sawmill blade cross the rollers at an angle, eliminating most of the vibration from the ridges. We can also leave the molder ready for flooring to reduce set-up time. As the blanks come from the planer, they are sorted by widths before going to the molding machine.
Pre planing our blanks at an angle makes our Logosol 4 head molder perform even better than a 5 head machine. I set up the machine to make symmetrical tongue and groove flooring with no relief cut on the back side. Both sides are good, eliminating another traditional source of waste. We run the blanks in as long a piece as possible, trimming out the unusable sections later. Since we install the wood ourselves, we can often use boards with partial tongues or no tongue at all (the last board against the wall always has the tongue trimmed off as the piece is fitted into place). You could never sell those boards to a wholesale market. We can also use boards that are bowed or have some bark on the back side, where a commercial market would reject these too. Since our lumber is dried to 6% MC in our solar cycle kilns, there is no need to end match the flooring, saving another step.
Molding flooring is very relaxing for me. Once the machine is set up and running smoothly, it becomes routine placing the wood into the infeed opening. I look over the blank, placing the good side down and the best edge to the right, then stack a few finished planks from the outfeed end. A molding machine makes a soothing sound - I know it is the sound of MONEY!
Secret To Success: Work the complete system. A friend in the business once told me, "This machine turns straw into gold!" EXACTLY!