Take a Video Tour of Moss Sawmills
Employees visually inspect each board before transport to GF Hardwoods’ kilns.
An average of 60,000 BF of hardwood lumber is processed each day at Moss Sawmills.
How We Began
The late Doug Smith, GF Hardwoods’ founder, developed an appreciation for wood products from his father, Lemuel, who operated a sawmill to supplement income from the family farm.
“Dad put the sawmill in during the 1940s,” recalled Doug, who grew up not too far away from the wood industry complex the Smith companies now occupy in Clay County, Tennessee. “It wasn’t much but just enough to keep some money coming in during the off-season. By the time I was 11, I found myself in the mill, working with dad and the few people we had on-hand to mill the lumber.”
By the time Doug earned a degree in engineering from nearby Tennessee Technological University, his father had stopped operating the mill. After a few years in the professional world, Doug decided to return home to start up the sawmill again. Moss Sawmills was founded in 1968. Additionally, Green Forest Wood Products, a service company, started with only a handful of employees, focusing on supplying milled products for area businesses.
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“Something about working with the wood just appealed to me,” Doug said. “It was like I was being called to discover how I could combine that appreciation with what I learned in school.”
It took a few years, but eventually, Doug found the answer to that burning call. In 1974, Doug and his father decided to use some of the mill’s larger logs to build a log home for Doug and wife Janie. That was the first of what would become many over the next four decades with the founding of Honest Abe Log homes in 1979. GF Hardwoods was also founded that year to process lumber for shipment across the country and the globe.
Since Doug’s passing in 2011, Janie and their children, Shane Smith and April Smith Patterson, have been at the helm of the group of Smith family-owned companies. These include wood industry related businesses such as GF Hardwoods, Moss Sawmills, Honest Abe Log Homes, Southern Timbercraft, Barky Beaver Mulch & Soil Mix and several other enterprises and farms.
Moss Sawmills Supplies GF Hardwoods’ Raw Lumber
Tucked onto the campus of GF Hardwoods is the Moss Sawmills. It is the close collaboration of these businesses that assures that GF Hardwoods lumber has the characteristics you’ve come to expect from when you purchase lumber from GF Hardwoods’ inventory. Sizes produced are 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 8/4 with lengths between 6’ – 14’ long. Occasionally, 16’ lengths are available.
Moss Sawmills was established in 1968, and across five decades has made a practice of training and fostering expertise in its employees, most of whom are area residents who have grown up in the very region from which the logs they process were harvested.
Moss Sawmills owns obtains logs from company-owned tracks of timber and also leases standing timber from other landowners in a 30-50 mile radius of its facility. Over time, it has also developed relationships with area loggers who are committed to the same sustainable logging practices as Moss Sawmills’ employees. Logs area selected for Moss Sawmills that are at least 16″ in diameter at an average person’s chest height. Harvesting these trees allows the smaller saplings to grow, creating a sustainable supply of hardwood timber.
The grading staff at Moss Sawmills is trained in the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) grading system, and continuing education is provided. An onsite visual grade is assigned to each and every cut of wood as it leaves Moss Sawmills for GF Hardwoods. Once at GF Hardwoods, the wood is placed in the dry kiln and then each piece of lumber is once again assigned a grade by the GF Hardwoods NHLA-certified grading staff after drying and before packaging for shipping.
The sawdust from Moss Sawmills is used to fire the kiln, and the bark is collected for transport to the sister company, Barky Beaver, for use in mulch, playground chips and other landscaping materials. This zero waste policy is part of a commitment to by sustainability Moss Sawmills and all its companion companies.
Logs are debarked and then processed into four thicknesses using a precision cutting technique to assure a high rating of quality.
Customers are invited to visit our operations for a guided tour. Arrange a tour by calling GF Hardwoods at (931) 258-3944
By Claudia Johnson The Smith Companies’ first true employee, Tim Smith, celebrated his 48th work anniversary in 2018. That’s a lifetime spent in one job, but Tim says he has no plans to retire. After all, he’s been there as the vision in the mind of his first cousin,...
I'm sure some of you when thinking the word “sawmill” think of a 2x4 and 2x6 to build your house with, but here at Moss we run a different kind of sawmill than most would think. We process 4/4, 5/4 and 6/4 mainly for the flooring, furniture and cabinet markets. The...