Siskiyou Forest Products Transforms Undesirable Wood into High-End Materials

Wood runs through Siskiyou’s Omega in-line moisture measurement system at 450 feet per minute enroute to the planer mill.

Siskiyou Forest Products in Anderson, Calif., is one company that disproves the old adage, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

General manager Darren Duchi explains, “We buy undesirable, industrial-type grades of wood from sawmills that need to be reworked. We then eliminate knots and other imperfections and cut them up into short, clear parts.

“Since these parts are too short for manufacturers, we finger joint and glue them together lengthwise. We also take that blank and edge glue it or sell it as is as siding or trim.

“We provide our customers with a wide-range of products from common industrial grade lumber to high-end finger-jointed and edge-glued material. Many of our products are transformed into upscale doors, windows, shutters, screen doors, outdoor furniture, and even wine cellars,” he adds.

Siskiyou Forest Products, a family-owned and -operated business, annually processes upwards of 25 million board feet. Since most of its wood products are used exteriorly, they typically process rot resistant species like redwood, western red cedar, and yellow cedar.

The company ships its products directly to wholesale distributors for customer distribution. Most of their customers are domestic, but they also have customers in New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, and Mexico.

Family-Run Business

A forklift loads lumber for Siskiyou’s dry kilns.

Fred Duchi started this family-run business in 1974 with the purchase of a wholesale remanufacturing facility in Woodland, Calif. Since then, three generations of Duchi’s have worked for the company, including Darren’s father Bill Duchi and cousins Aaron Duchi, Dean Duchi, Monte Acquistapace, and Larry Scott.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the company began acquiring industrial customers, who asked Siskiyou to make products for them. To satisfy their customers’ request, Siskiyou decided to switch from commodity-based lumber sales to industrial sales.

“We purchased our present facility in Anderson in the late ‘90s and sold our Woodland facility in early 2001. Since then, we’ve been here basically making engineered wood products,” Duchi remarks.

Siskiyou has continually expanded and developed its manufacturing and remanufacturing services over the years. More recently, it has added kilns, Weinig moulders, finger jointers, and saws, as well as a second processing facility in nearby Cottonwood, which enabled the company to double its production of inbound product.

Moisture Measurement Critical

Siskiyou Forest Products has long been committed to providing its customers with quality lumber products and service. A key part of its quality control process is making sure all wood products are properly dried before processing. This means carefully measuring for moisture content (MC).

“Since we use a radio frequency edge gluer to glue our products, it’s absolutely critical that our wood has low MC. If the average MC for each piece is above 12%, we kick it out. If not, we’ll put our equipment at risk as well as our finished products,” declares Duchi.

Normally, Siskiyou works with about 50,000 linear board feet per shift and then cuts that into 500,000 to 1 million smaller pieces. It is imperative then that they know the MC of each piece. They don’t want one small piece affecting a longer piece once they’ve engineered it back together.

Duchi explains, “Basically, the edge gluer is attracted to moisture, that is, the water in the glue. We don’t want it to be attracted to moisture in the wood. If there’s moisture in the wood, it takes all that power away from the glue line and we’ll get lots of delamination and a failed glue line.”

Siskiyou also paints some of its lumber. If they have boards with excessive moisture, the tannins will bleed through the paint causing yellow stripes to appear on them.

A kiln operator measures moisture with Wagner Meters’ L-722 stack probe.

To avoid moisture issues, Siskiyou uses a Wagner L622 Handheld Digital Moisture Meter and the L722 Stack Probe in its kilns to frequently check the wood for dryness. During the manufacturing process, they also use a Wagner Omega In-Line meter on the planer.

Aaron Duchi, who runs the kilns, says he initially checked the lumber’s MC with a handheld pin meter. “I had to record everything manually, so it was very time consuming.

“The nice thing about the Wagner digital meter is that it not only measures the lumber faster, but it does all the recording work for me. It calculates all the information for each sample I take and sends it to my computer screen so I can quickly print it out.

“Plus, I can periodically check the calibration on site using their calibration pad. That way I know I’m getting accurate readings,” he adds.

Both Darren and Aaron Duchi say that having accurate moisture measurement has been a godsend to their company.

“Since we included moisture measurement in our manufacturing process, we became a much better operation. It significantly diminished a number of issues and has been an important piece of our manufacturing and overall success.”

Last updated on November 8th, 2021

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