Friday, July 10, 2015
Dirk Jansen’s workshop is a woodworker’s
paradise. If he can imagine it, he can build it, right in his own workshop with
his own hands, and using his impressive collection of woodworking tools and
machinery. He specialises in making solid wood doors, window frames, stairs, and
outdoor wood decking. He has recently expanded into designing and building
traditional timber structures for his clients.
“I make all my products myself,” says Dirk.
“Most products you see in the store today are mass produced outside
Holland. Here, the client has full influence on what the product will be. We can
build anything they want if it’s technically possible to build.”
“To be successful in this business,” says Dirk, “You must work
hard, work honestly, only make promises you can keep, and give your client a good
price, quality workmanship, and fast delivery.” Dirk holds his entire
company to this high standard, only hiring the most skilled craftsmen whose
attention to quality is proven.
“The people that work for me act as one, and everyone knows how to play
their part, and how their skills fit into the whole. I can only use people that
really know their skill. That is what makes my company strong.”
Dirk’s father was a forester, and so Dirk was practically raised in the
woods. He got his education in forestry, and worked in forestry maintenance until
he was 28 years old. After that, he got a job in a carpentry shop, and after a
few years, set out to start his own company, Jansen Timmerwerken.
Initially finding his success with the production of high quality, custom solid
wood doors and windows, he has recently made expansions in the scope of his
business to diversify his products and services. One thing the crisis taught him
was that by spreading his risks, he would be able to withstand the fluctuations
of the industry better.
The new products that excite him the most are his traditional timber frame
buildings. Using the traditional building techniques, the frames are held
together with wooden pins and special Dovetail ('Swallowtail' in Dutch)
joints that are easy to make, but incredibly strong. Not a single nail or screw
is used in the construction of the frame.
On the weekends, he has started building his own small house next to his
workshop. The foundation is already finished. It will be a traditionally built
timber frame house, and he expects that the project will take him 4-5 years,
because he will do all the work himself.
“Designing and building your own house is very personal,” Dirk says.
“It is unique; it doesn’t come from anyone else.” He uses
Douglas fir for the large beams that make up the building frames, which is ideal
for long beam spans.
In order to process his own timber beams from raw logs, he has invested in a new
line of sawmilling equipment from Wood-Mizer, a company which specialises in
low-waste log processing machinery. The line includes an LT70 sawmill, a HR115
resaw, and an EG300 board edger. The LT70 sawmill uses a very narrow bandsaw
blade, so as little of the log is wasted as sawdust as possible, allowing Dirk to
recover more boards from every log.
After Dirk finalises a design with a client, he looks over his logs and hand
picks them for individual parts of the structure. He only uses the straightest
When the log is selected, he loads it onto the LT70 sawmill. The sawmill is
designed for complete control of the sawing process. Dirk can manipulate the log
precisely using the hydraulic functions so it is cut exactly right. The
sawmill’s computer system helps him measure for each cut quickly and
The log is first converted into a four-sided beam. Once he has cut the planks and
beams he needs for the project, side boards from the log are processed through
the resaw and edger. In many wood processing companies, sometimes only 50% of the
log is used for the intended product. But since Dirk is using Wood-Mizer’s
low-waste sawmilling technology, and because he has the edger and resaw, he is
able to convert almost all of the offcuts into smaller planks for flower boxes,
picnic tables and other smaller side projects. The HR115 also allows him to make
his own angled siding (cladding) for his buildings.
A smaller Wood-Mizer sawmill, the LT15, is used to produce outdoor planks for
decking. The LT15 has several bed extensions, which allow him to cut planks up to
10 metres long. Once a log or beam is loaded onto the LT15, he can cut the sizes
of boards he needs, and then use the MP100, a specialised moulder/planer
attachment, to create ridges and grooves in the boards.
“With the LT70 sawmill, I cut a log into a beam 150mm wide by 400mm
tall,” says Dirk, “And then I transfer the beam to the LT15 sawmill.
With the moulder attachment, I cut out a ridged, anti-slip profile in the top of
the beam. Then I use the LT15 sawmill to cut that moulded board from the rest of
the beam, resulting in a finished decking board 28mm tall.” Dirk repeats
this process until the entire beam has been converted into a stack of 15 finished
decking boards, which his customers use for outdoor porch areas and terraces.
“With the other machines in my workshop,” Dirk says, “The new
sawmills give me everything I need to produce any products.” Another very
specialised machine is his CNC stair production machine, which allows him to make
very precise and complicated staircases.
When I asked him what advice would he give to others interested in getting
involved in the wood and sawmilling business, he had a very clear word of advice:
“Focus on learning everything you can about wood – what it is and
what it does. You should be able to look at a log and know exactly what you can
get out of it and how you should cut it to get the required product. There are
ways to cut a log for maximum yield, but other ways to cut it for maximum quality
– knowing the difference can make a huge difference in the success of your
As far as marketing his business, Dirk does not advertise or even actively update
his company website. Word-of-mouth from his customers has always brought in work,
even during the crisis, and for now, it is more than enough to keep him busy.
Watch the LT70 sawmill video below:
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Here you will discover how Wood-Mizer sawmill owners in the UK and worldwide are actively growing local economies by processing wood more sustainably and profitably.
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