Log scalers use a variety of tools and tables to measure the size and quality
of logs and to decide if the wood is good enough to be sold to manufacturers.
They also note the amount of damage to logs caused by poor cutting practices.
That helps logging managers and timber cutters improve their methods. Scalers
reject logs that contain too much low-quality wood: those logs are usually
turned into chips used for making paper.
Scalers appraise standing and cut timber for usable volume and record data.
That's a big help to both forest and mill managers. They estimate marketable
contents of timber or pulpwood, including estimates of board footage loss
due to saw waste, defects and tree shape.
In addition, they grade logs at the booming ground, millpond or in the
woods. They mark the ends of logs to designate them for veneer, pulp or lumber
processing according to condition, size, species and owner.
The job is very important because there are laws requiring that all logs
be scaled. The government needs the information to keep track of how much
wood is being cut.
The log scaler's work takes place at so-called "dryland" sorting areas,
where trucks drop off logs being taken out of the forest, on floating log
"booms" and at mills. Using an ax, they cut a notch in the log to determine
the condition of the wood and mark the end of the log with paint to show its
grade. Log scaling also involves the use of measuring and surveying equipment.
Private companies, forest companies and government departments employ scalers.
They may also be self-employed. Good health and physical stamina are required
for fieldwork. The job involves lifting, climbing and other strenuous activities.
It may be necessary to walk long distances through densely wooded areas to
carry out the work, often in remote locations and in all kinds of weather.
A five-day, 40-hour workweek is normal and some overtime or weekend work
may be required.
Scalers work near heavy equipment and loud noise. They may work over water
or fly over coastal areas in light aircraft. This work is seasonal, with layoffs
common during spring breakup and with peak periods in the summer and fall.
Scalers may also work as logging waste surveyors or log buyers and sellers.
Students interested in becoming a log scaler should have numerical ability
and spatial perception to make calculations when estimating the marketable
content of logs. The ability to work in hazardous and extremely wet weather
conditions, a knowledge of automated and computerized machinery, and a strong
liking of the outdoors are all necessary as well. Good communications and
analytical skills are particularly valuable.
Log scalers must be able to work well as part of a team, but also be able
to work independently and take initiative when necessary. Comfort with computers
is also usually necessary. Initiative and managerial and business skills are
necessary for success as a self-employed log scaler.
Adaptability and flexibility are also important due to the instability
of such work. Weather can slow or stop logging operations during the muddy
spring season and cold winter months. Changes in the level of residential
construction also affect logging activities. In addition, logging operations
must be relocated when timber harvesting in a particular area has been completed.
Appraise timber and decide how it could best be used