The Life of a Log: HWM Production Process from Start to Finish

At Heartwood Mills, we harvest most of the wood we use to produce quality wood building products right from our back yard (or close to it) in Boyne Falls, Michigan. Our sawmill is busy year-round sawing, kiln drying and machining freshly harvested logs into a wide range of wood building products including log siding, log paneling and wood flooring. In fact, we’ve been so busy lately that we’ve undertaken a mill expansion that will enable us to keep pace with demand.

Take a peek into the mill process and you’ll see how Heartwood Mills combines handcrafting with 21st century technology to efficiently produce superior wood materials for all your building needs.


The first stage in preparing logs for our customers is sawing, which has two steps. First, through a process called canting, we cut the logs into a square and remove the first layer of sapwood. We remove the sapwood because it contains a great deal of moisture, will shrink over time, and is more susceptible to blue stain from fungus. After the logs have been canted, we re-saw the logs to produce the rough dimensions and sizes needed to produce profiled products.

Kiln Drying

The process of kiln drying is the best way to remove natural moisture within the wood, which is critical to avoid checking, warping, and shrinkage after installation. We insist that our materials are dried to very specific moisture contents, and for that reason we use the same kind of kilns used in the furniture business. Because our products are dried under controlled conditions, we avoid the problems commonly associated with “air drying.” We are also able to reduce the amount of defects that occur during the process. Once the siding products are dried to specific moisture levels consistent with their end use, we visually inspect the wood and remove any defects that may have occurred during this stage.

Heartwood Mills has two large kilns. Each can dry approximately 70,000 bd ft of material. The kiln drying process takes from four days to three weeks, depending on the size of the logs we are drying and how much moisture is contained in the wood when it is loaded into the kiln. We are careful to take the time to dry the logs properly so any defects occur in our mill, rather than on your building project.


Mill Worker cutting White CedarThe machining process is where all the previous efforts of harvesting, sawing and kiln-drying come together. We’ve created a custom one-of-a-kind production line that enables us to provide error-free milled wood building products at the lowest possible cost. During this stage, the wood is shaped according to the exact standards you require.


Once the logs have been machined into the desired log siding or log paneling profiles, the next stage is defecting. During this stage we scan the logs and remove any unwanted imperfections. This process is done by a trained workman to make sure each piece of finished log siding meets our grading standards.


The next stage in our process is end-matching the wood and shaping tongue-and-grooves on the ends of each piece. This stage ensures that our customers receive 100% usable material. End-matched log siding makes installation faster and easier, and it has the additional benefit of creating a tight seal that protects against inclement weather. Builders have found that end-matched log siding saves them approximately 20% in labor and ensures a superior finished product.


If we are running log siding, the next stage is to pass our end-matched product through our peeling line. We have three large custom peeling machines with multiple settings, so no matter what size of log siding we are running we can achieve the best hand hewn look available in the industry as cost efficiently as possible.

Grading, Review and Stacking

The last step in the production process is a final grading, review and stacking. All of our log siding product inventory is computer controlled with an electronic bar code system to ensure that a sufficient amount of stock is maintained to meet customer and production needs. Our logs are now ready to ship to our customers for their building needs!

Want to see our mill process first hand? Our mill and production facilities are open for personal tours. Contact us to schedule your guided tour, or click here to view our virtual mill tour. We know that once you get a glimpse into the care we put into producing our wood building products, you will be completely confident in using Heartwood Mills for all your building projects.