High school students along with community partners in Fort St. James built a portable sawmill in December for the school’s woodworking program.
Fort St. James Secondary principal Craig Houghton says their shop teacher wanted to help kids understand how the lumber they use in class is processed and how they can custom cut wood to suit their needs.
“Developing a functioning sawmill program at a high school, as Gary Soles began to realize, is no easy task,” Houghton said.
There are safety considerations, a wood source, experienced portable mill trainers, yard space and other obstacles that had to be overcome.
The KDL Group became the school’s first community partner and provided wood supply.
KDL also donated logging, hauling and storage services for a load of birch trees, Houghton said, that had been air-dried for a season and will be the first wood processed through the new mill.
The company also promised a second delivery of fir trees later this winter, he added.
Nextech Forestry Services Ltd., another local company, gave Soles safety training, and owner Chad Lantz taught him how to cut straight lumber.
“The long-term plans for the lumber cut are to build a covered area for the mill, student projects, and outdoor class gazebos for other schools in the school district,” Houghton said.
“Working together with community partners helps deepen the learning experience for all students at FSJSS.”