The Kirby Lumber Corporation has a fine combination at Call, Texas, that means a whole lot to its business at that point. It has one of the very best hardwood sawmills in the country, operated by one of the very best hardwood specialists in the country. The hardwood lumber business is a specialist's game, and it requires both the above to do a successful job of making hardwood lumber in these modernized times.
John Pritchard is the Kirby manager at Call. He is a nationally known hardwood figure. Before the depression he was manager of the Kirby hardwood department, with offices at Beaumont. Seven years ago he went to Call to take charge of the Call mill, and has been there ever since, doing a mighty fine job of it. Before he went with Kirby, Mr. Pritchard was secretary-manager of the Hardwood Manufacturers Institute for many years, and previous to that time he had been in the hardwood business in Illinois and Indiana since early manhood.
The Call mill is one of which a good hardwood man can well be proud. It was built just for a hardwood mill in the days when the hardwood game was swinging high, and nothing was spared to make it efficient and economical. The sawmill contains two bands and a resaw, and can turn out a world of well-manufactured hardwood lumber every hour when the steam is on, and the raw material it has to work on is of very superior type. When THE GULF COAST LUMBERMAN visitors were at Call, the log end of the sawmill was heaped high with most beautiful logs, waiting to be lifted by the big steel crane and sent upward to the saws. Big, sound oak was piled high. Likewise unusually big gum and cypress logs were stacked high, as well as the various other woods that come through that mill every day, such as ash, hickory, magnolia, tupelo, beech, etc. The cypress they cut comes from Louisiana, and is the genuine Louisiana Red Cypress.
Both the band mills cut cants for the resaw, which in turn reduces the cants to the thinner lumber desired. The lumber comes out of the sawmill on a very long take-off chain, where it is removed by hand and piled on dollies, which are then hauled to the tremendous lumber yard for either partial or complete air drying. Here it is either completely dried and shipped to market in that fashion, or it is partially air dried and then put through the kilns. They dry a world of oak for their flooring department, using only their own oak, which is of a very fine, and very uniform texture, color, and grain. They operate at Call four progressive type steam kilns built especially for hardwood drying, and they are prepared to furnish kiln dried hardwoods containing any degree of commercial moisture content desired by the purchaser.
The planing mill at Call is a very powerful unit. It's main equipment is a flooring unit. Here they can turn out twenty thousand feet of oak flooring a day, and an even greater amount of pine flooring. It is used for both purposes. The Call mill does not manufacture any pine lumber, but the flooring unit is used by the various pine mills of the Kirby Lumber Corporation as an end-matching service department. The three pine mills save all their three to eight foot clear lumber and ship it to Call to be made into end-matched flooring. They make this stock into end-matched flooring from three to six inches in width, which is then sent back to the pine mills as bundled stock to be sold in either straight or mixed cars to the retail trade.
The planer at Call is likewise equipped to make cut-up hardwood stock of great variety, and before 1930 this mill turned out tremendous quantities of hardwood specially prepared for the big furniture factories of the North and East, principally radio stock. This market has been very dull for the past eight years.
The Call mill is very substantially built throughout, a practical mixture of timbers, steel, and concrete having been used in its construction. It is about as clean and shipshape a sawmill plant as could be found in a long journey, and is the pride and joy of John Pritchard, who knows his hardwood as do few other men.
The output is sold through the general sales offices of The Kirby Lumber Corporation, in Houston, E. F. Horan being head of hardwood sales.