RALEIGH, N.C. -- There is one man on the Granite State Lumberjack Shows deck crew whose job is valued more by STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® athletes than the casual fan might expect.
That man is Ed Naile and he's held the job title of "trimmer" for the last 21 seasons of competition for the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series presented by Ram Trucks.
Naile's job is important because he's responsible for making necessary final preparations for the milled logs used in the competition.
A typical workday begins a few hours prior to the event start time. That's when he picks up his most valuable tool, a STIHL 066 chainsaw called "WB" by the deck crew. Naile says the saw has provided reliable service for a decade, maybe longer. "WB" stands by on the deck for the entire competition, ready for use when the time comes for a trim job.
Naile uses "WB" to skillfully make a straight vertical downcut along the open front of a wood block used in hot saw and stock saw competition. To watch Naile in action appears to be nothing more than a guy running a saw under load while taking a slice from a log.
What really is happening is perfection in motion. Most of the time it's a perfect cut.
"Last season I didn't have to re-trim anything, it was all good on the first cut," said Naile, referring to the slate of six events in 2011.
There's no tool for measuring straightness of a cut. After eyeballing his work, Naile gives the nod and the STIHL logo is stenciled in black across the wood. Only then is the block deemed ready by a judge for competition.
After harvest, the logs are sized up and cut at a mill operated by Granite State Lumberjack Shows. Final prep work of the logs is saved for the venue, where one more trim is necessary.
"The reason we trim just before the competition begins is we want a fresh, moist cutting area," explained Naile, also an arborist for the last 40 years. "The end of an untrimmed log is hard. Dry wood is difficult and slow to cut and that's not what you want in a saw competition. Trimming the log exposes moisture along the cutting surface."
Preserving moisture in the log is one reason for the onsite trim job. Another is similar to giving the log a manicure of sorts before the big show.
"The center of a log is like a bundle of straws. They are perfectly straight and the wood cells are hollow there in the middle," he continued. "But at each end of the log they start to twist and turn with knots. Taking out those knots provides a smooth, moist block for sawing."
Precision trimming is also key because sawyers expect to come out of wood with a completely round cookie landing on the deck. Uneven cuts can cause a cutout, a partially sliced cookie that can lead to a DQ. That's not good job security for a guy like Naile.
"My goal is consistency," he explained. "The athletes have come to trust me to get the trim flat the first time. They want nothing else to cross their mind except competing, making a straight smooth cookie in the fastest time possible."
Naile should know. He's also been on the competition side, although that happened literally by accident.
"I was watching a competition in Pennsylvania as a spectator and one of the competitors got hurt," he recalled. "The announcer called for somebody in the audience to fill in, so I climbed over the fence and the next thing you know I'm competing."
That was back in 1991, when Naile's day job as an arborist and tree surgeon provided the skills needed to chop and saw like a pro. He was invited to return the following year and did so, competing alongside the likes of Mel Lentz and members of the famous Cogar family.
Several years passed when Granite State Lumberjack Shows invited Naile to join the deck crew.
"Our main goal is consistency," he continued. "We have the same crew at every venue and the guys competing don't have to worry about anything being out of place on the deck."
"I really enjoy it the same now as 21 years ago," he said. "Everybody travels together and the main thing I work for and appreciate the most is the trust and respect I've gained over the years from the competitors."