Sawmill machine operators (NOC 9431)

About this job

Sawmill machine operators run, monitor and control automated lumber mill equipment.

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Sawmill machine operators work in sawmills and planing mills to:

  • saw timber logs into rough lumber
  • saw, trim and plane rough lumber into dressed lumber of various sizes
  • saw or split shingles and shakes
Common job titles
  • operator, automatic edger
  • operator, canter
  • operator, chip reclaim
  • operator, Chip-N-Saw
  • operator, circular saw
  • operator, high-speed stud


Sawmill machine operators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • operate front-end loaders and stationary deck cranes to feed logs into the sawmill
  • examine logs and rough lumber to determine size, condition, quality and other characteristics to decide best lumber cuts to carry out, or use automated equipment to convey logs through laser scanners which determine the most productive and profitable cutting patterns
  • operate automated lumbermill equipment from control rooms or equipment consoles to saw logs into rough lumber; saw, trim and plane rough lumber into dressed lumber of various sizes; and saw or split shingles and shakes
  • start conveyor system to move logs and lumber to and from saws
  • set up and adjust saw equipment and replace blades or bands using wrenches, gauges and other hand tools
  • operate equipment to sort and stack lumber by length and thickness, move stacks to storage areas or drying kilns, and feed lumber through planers
  • monitor movement of lumber and computer screens to make sure cuts are made according to specifications, and print production reports
  • clean and oil sawmill equipment

Work environment

Key aspects of the work in this occupation:

  • Work takes place in a regular controlled indoor environment.
  • Working with equipment, instruments, machinery or power/hand tools may be a source of injury.
  • Flying particles and falling objects, such as logs may pose the risk of injury.
  • The workplace may contain strong or toxic odours.
  • Noise in the workplace may cause distraction or hearing loss.
  • Airborne particles such as sawdust may be present in the work environment

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.

There is some movement among jobs in this occupational group.

Additional resources