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From trash to treasure

(Above) Kyle Edwards maneuvers the swing arm saw mill to turn an old tree into usable lumber while his father, Bob Edwards, looks on. (Below) Edwards air dries pieces of lumber at his Iron Station mill. Jenny Walling / LTN Photo

IRON STATION — The clichй “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” could be the recycler’s motto.
Kyle Edwards thinks that saying can be both ecological and profitable.
The Iron Station native turns “trash trees” into usable wood products.
A gravel driveway leads to an open clearing. Cows wander by the little mill that Edwards has erected on his father’s 125 acres in Iron Station.
The clearing is surrounded by trees that Edwards has no intention of disturbing. Rather, he gets lumber from landfills and areas set for clearing.
The experienced sawyer also works directly with Pucket Tree Service. They do the cutting, and he does the clearing.
“It’s just a great symbiotic relationship,” he said.
Edwards also takes away trees for individuals. He can look at processed floor boards and tongue-and-groove and tell right where each piece came from — pointing to a piece of black walnut harvested from a yard in Davidson.
The experienced forester makes tongue-and-groove, air and kiln dried lumber, flooring, crown molding and log and stick furniture.
He first became interested in working with wood at a young age. He started with refinishing and hopes to become increasingly skilled at building furniture. Edwards has lofty goals for his business as well.
He wants to process more than 14,000 board feet of “throw away” wood this year. To help accomplish his goal, Edwards received a grant from North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources for urban forestry.
Edwards has spent more than $30,000 on equipment alone. His setup includes a large, walk-in kiln, areas for air-drying wood and a swing-arm saw mill.
Saw dust flies as he processes the wood, directing a carbide saw blade up and down tree trunks.
Edwards works with any tree that is usable and grown in North Carolina.
In 2003 he processed more than 6,000 board feet of oak, cherry and walnut. He gets trees from Mecklenburg and Lincoln counties.
For now his operation is only part-time. He and his brother, Ron Edwards, make pick-ups on Saturdays and Sundays.
He works full-time as supply chain manager at Selectron in Charlotte.
Evenings are spent prying nails out of wood and shaping the “trash trees” into usable lumber.
Edwards says he has an abundance of trees now and hopes his cause will blossom into a profitable, worthwhile business. He also hopes to start a “treecycling” organization to reduce the stress on the nation’s forest and point out the value of urban forests, he said.
“It’s just amazing how much waste there is. Trees are so important. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”by Diane Turbyfill

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