Caribbean Family Grows Woodworking Business with Portable Sawmill

By Chase Warner, Wood-Mizer

Caribbean Family Grows Woodworking Business with Portable Sawmill

On a small Caribbean island, a family-owned sawmilling shop is providing handcrafted wood furniture, woodworking repairs, and lumber sales to customers as far away as the United States. Founded by Gerald Charles after World War II, Charles Brothers Joiner Shop is nestled on the 13-square-mile island of Carriacou – one of three inhabited islands that make up the Grenadines located in the southern part of the Caribbean. Today, the family logging, milling, and furniture shop is operated by Gerald’s grandson Ray and great grandson Raynael who are carrying on the proud woodworking tradition shared by the Charles family for more than half a century.

 

 

Until recently, the Charles Brothers were forced to rely on standard sized lumber material and unfavorable logistical needs in crafting their wood products. What started out as a logging and woodworking operation, the sawmilling part of the business grew out of the realization that it was the logical next step for the shop considering their isolated location. Charles Brothers purchased a Wood-Mizer LT35 portable sawmill in order to grow the business, improve efficiency, and gain full creative control from raw material to finished piece.

 

 

Before owning a sawmill, the Charles family would find a log and have it shipped to the main island of Grenada by ferry in order for it to be milled and processed. The finished lumber would then have to be shipped back to them, which was a very expensive and time consuming chore. Another advantage is that they have total control of each cutting decision meaning that Ray and Raynael can see the log as they break it down and decide what dimensions would best fit their needs depending on the project at hand. Not only has the family saved time and money by operating their own sawmill, but they have also been able to maximize their lumber grade yield and create custom sizes not offered by the main island mill.Like many small businesses, there is no such thing as a typical day. For the Charles family, one day could be spent felling and transporting a log and the next they could be using their sawmill to create woodworking material or putting the final touches on a piece of furniture. However, the process from log to mill to furniture is quite fluid for the shop.

 

 

First, island teakwood, white cedar, and mahogany logs are recovered from both public and private lands on the island. Trees are felled, bucked for grade, and then hauled out using nothing more than a weighted truck, cables and a snatch block. Once the logs are milled at the shop, a variety of finished furniture pieces are created including bed frames, tables, armoires, chairs, and more. The Charles family sells these finished items to Carriacou locals, main island Grenadians, residents of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Carriacouans who reside in the US that want furniture to remind them of home. Their customers value the real, solid, well-crafted and customized pieces along with the fact that they are part of the Charles long and proud family tradition.

 

 

The Charles family praises the versatility of their sawmill as it can be used in primary breakdown of logs, edging, and resawing of lumber. Other tools essential to the shop are a jointer, planer, lathe, and a variety of hand tools for creating all the intricate carving designs by hand.

 

 

Another vital piece of equipment the business uses is a Wood-Mizer BMS250 blade sharpener to maintain the sharpness and precision of their blades while cutting valuable wood species for furniture. Being able to sharpen blades on-site reduces downtime for the business and ensures the best quality cuts are performed for each piece of material.

 

 

Operating a small business faces similar difficulties no matter the location as Ray and Raynael place an emphasis on “communication, nothing more” as the driving factor in achieving success. For the father and son team, Charles Brothers Joiner Shop has always been an avenue for creative satisfaction. Their love for the craft and creativity of wood is their secret to being successful and enjoying every step along the way. “Creating never gets old,” said the Charles family.

On a small Caribbean island, a family-owned sawmilling shop is providing handcrafted wood furniture, woodworking repairs, and lumber sales to customers as far away as the United States. Founded by Gerald Charles after World War II, Charles Brothers Joiner Shop is nestled on the 13-square-mile island of Carriacou – one of three inhabited islands that make up the Grenadines located in the southern part of the Caribbean. Today, the family logging, milling, and furniture shop is operated by Gerald’s grandson Ray and great grandson Raynael who are carrying on the proud woodworking tradition shared by the Charles family for more than half a century.

Charles Sawmill Son

Until recently, the Charles Brothers were forced to rely on standard sized lumber material and unfavorable logistical needs in crafting their wood products. What started out as a logging and woodworking operation, the sawmilling part of the business grew out of the realization that it was the logical next step for the shop considering their isolated location. Charles Brothers purchased a Wood-Mizer LT35 portable sawmill in order to grow the business, improve efficiency, and gain full creative control from raw material to finished piece.

Charles Sawmill Family

Before owning a sawmill, the Charles family would find a log and have it shipped to the main island of Grenada by ferry in order for it to be milled and processed. The finished lumber would then have to be shipped back to them, which was a very expensive and time consuming chore. Another advantage is that they have total control of each cutting decision meaning that Ray and Raynael can see the log as they break it down and decide what dimensions would best fit their needs depending on the project at hand. Not only has the family saved time and money by operating their own sawmill, but they have also been able to maximize their lumber grade yield and create custom sizes not offered by the main island mill.Like many small businesses, there is no such thing as a typical day. For the Charles family, one day could be spent felling and transporting a log and the next they could be using their sawmill to create woodworking material or putting the final touches on a piece of furniture. However, the process from log to mill to furniture is quite fluid for the shop.

Charles Family Sawmill Sons

First, island teakwood, white cedar, and mahogany logs are recovered from both public and private lands on the island. Trees are felled, bucked for grade, and then hauled out using nothing more than a weighted truck, cables and a snatch block. Once the logs are milled at the shop, a variety of finished furniture pieces are created including bed frames, tables, armoires, chairs, and more. The Charles family sells these finished items to Carriacou locals, main island Grenadians, residents of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Carriacouans who reside in the US that want furniture to remind them of home. Their customers value the real, solid, well-crafted and customized pieces along with the fact that they are part of the Charles long and proud family tradition.

Charles Sawmill Ornaments

Charles Sawmill Chairs

The Charles family praises the versatility of their sawmill as it can be used in primary breakdown of logs, edging, and resawing of lumber. Other tools essential to the shop are a jointer, planer, lathe, and a variety of hand tools for creating all the intricate carving designs by hand.

Charles Sawmill Projects

Another vital piece of equipment the business uses is a Wood-Mizer BMS250 blade sharpener to maintain the sharpness and precision of their blades while cutting valuable wood species for furniture. Being able to sharpen blades on-site reduces downtime for the business and ensures the best quality cuts are performed for each piece of material.

Charles Sawmill Blade Sharpener

Operating a small business faces similar difficulties no matter the location as Ray and Raynael place an emphasis on “communication, nothing more” as the driving factor in achieving success. For the father and son team, Charles Brothers Joiner Shop has always been an avenue for creative satisfaction. Their love for the craft and creativity of wood is their secret to being successful and enjoying every step along the way. “Creating never gets old,” said the Charles family.

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