Once the lumber is fully pre-dried we use solar energy to heat the kilns to dry the wood to 6%MC in one more month. Our three solar cycle kilns collect 1,500,000 BTUs of free heat on a sunny day, and can normally operate at 80 degrees F (45 C) over the outside temperature. Only a small amount of electricity is needed to circulate the hot air in the kiln chamber. The daily heating cycle naturally equalizes the MC of the lumber each night so steam conditioning is not needed at the end of the drying period. This produces superior quality lumber and makes the kiln very inexpensive and simple to build & operate. A solar cycle kiln has four main parts; a clear insulated window, a black metal collector surface to heat the air, fans to circulate the hot air, and an insulated wood chamber. Many local building materials can be used besides wood; greenhouse, concrete block, straw bale, etc. My unique design for the solar cycle kiln is now being used all over the globe.
Our 100 year old one hundred foot (30 m) long dairy barn has been remodeled for our business. Upstairs in the hay loft is insulated and humidity controlled lumber storage room. We store our wood right at 6%MC so it can be used immediately. Some excess kiln dry lumber is sold to area woodworkers, but our priority is to sell most of our wood as higher value manufactured products.
Downstairs is a workshop where we manufacture many wood products. Basic woodworking tools and a Swedish made 4 head molder are used to make high value merchandise. Flooring is our major source of income, but custom made glued-up wooden countertops, stairways, millwork, furniture, gifts, etc. add to our sales. When making flooring we can use pieces of wood as small as 1"X3"X12" (25 mm X 75 mm X 300 mm). When making wooden pens and glued-up cutting boards, etc. we use even smaller pieces. We control every aspect of wood manufacturing, keeping it as simple as possible. Our tools help us "turn straw into gold" right here.
We eliminate every broker and middlemen - selling direct to customers
The key to our success is direct marketing to customers. The retail sale is the largest profit of any of the steps and makes all the hard work of manufacturing wood products pay off well for us. The retail profit is about $2,000 per thousand square feet (100 square meters) of flooring. This is also the easiest and safest step of the entire process.
Every floor that we install becomes another showroom for us and the happy customer becomes voluntary sales staff. Our customers sell our next floor for us! New business comes to us with almost no cost for advertising or retailing.
Everybody uses wood products Everyday, Everywhere. We see every house as a potential project and every person is a potential customer. People prefer to buy from a local producer as compared to the BIG BOX store. Spread the word that good wood is available. Show off the wood - Good Wood Sells Itself.
One third of the retail cost of wood products is trucking/shipping. This is about $3,000 per thousand square feet (100 square meters) for flooring. We minimize hauling wood and keep all that money too. Our wood is trucked once, from the workshop to the customer's home, usually as we commute to work each day.