Solid Wood

It takes nearly three decades for a radiata pine tree to grow to maturity in the forest, so raw logs need to be processed with great care and accuracy to extract the maximum timber – and value – out of each one.

Careers information

Sawmill Operator and Manager

What do they do?

Sawmill operators and managers work in sawmills processing wood. They operate sawmill machinery, log loaders and forklifts. They sort, stack and grade timber, trim timber to standard lengths, and record timber size and grades. They understand timber characteristics as well as strict health and safety requirements.

A typical day

Typically, an eight-hour day or shift work.

A typical day on-the-job involves operating sawmill machinery, operating log loaders and forklifts, trimming timber, operating and monitoring kilns and treatment processing, grading timber and operating scanners.


Finger Jointer

What do they do?

Finger jointers set, operate and maintain finger jointing machinery. They also diagnose product and joint defects and put in place corrections to meet production quality requirements.

A typical day

Typically eight to ten-hour days. Weekend work may be required.

Finger jointers grade quality of wood arriving at the machine, assemble wood for processing, check glue specification and ratio, test and inspect finger jointer quality and maintain the machine.

Timber Machinist

What do they do?

Timber machinists are responsible for the safe and efficient operation of timber machining plants and equipment. They are also responsible for maintenance and are capable if troubleshooting and making decisions to maintain productivity.

A typical day

Typically, eight to ten-hour days. Weekend work may be required.

They grind knives to specification, operate specialised equipment, set up and operate planers and other timber machines. They also identify and diagnose machine defects.

Saw Doctor

What do they do?

Saw doctors align and maintain bandsaws and circular saws used in wood manufacturing operations, and calibrate saw benching machinery. They know the requirements of equipment used in wood manufacturing operations.

A typical day

Typically, eight to ten-hour days. Weekend work may be required.

They set and calibrate saw mill saw centres, monitor saw alignment, grind or sharpen saws and guards to specification.

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     Sound like you?

Study areas
Helpful experience
Preferred work environments
  • Maths or Accounting or Economics
  • Computing/ICT/Information Management
  • Confident communicator
  • Good literacy and numeracy
  • Confidence with IT, computers, technology
  • Good work habits/time management
  • Customer service or helping people
  • Working with machinery
  • Inside (workshop or plant)
  • Different places from time to time

Career pathway

SchoolEntry level jobsAdvancing jobsSenior jobs

NCEA Level 2 is recommended

  • Sawmill Operator
  • Finger Jointer
  • Saw Doctor
  • Timber Machinists
  • Team Leader
  • Supervisor
  • Sawmill Manager
  • Business Owner
  • Business Manager
 Unit/Achievement standards in schoolsTraineeship or apprenticeshipHigher learningHigher learning
Gateway programme available