...the following was included in a scaling pamphlet that a friend and fellow log scaler, Jack Poytress (who at that time worked for William Beatty and Associates) showed to me while we were scaling in Burney, CA in the mid 1970's. I guessed the date it was written as being from the 1930's but this is only a guess. I Xeroxed a copy of it at the time Jack showed it to me and it is to date the only work I have seen about log scalers as people and the scaling philosophy...I find it truly wonderful and have reproduced most of it here for others to enjoy. If anyone has any information on the author, R.W. McIntyre or any of his other works please let me know via my e-mail address. The blue text and underlining have all been done by me and represent my favorite passages.

Log Scaling in the Douglas Fir Region

by R.W.McIntyre

There are those who believe that scaling logs is to a great extent guess work. That inference I endeavor to correct and clarify in this treatise. A guess is to form an opinion without knowledge or means of knowledge; or to judge at random.

It is true that a log scaler is constantly dealing with problems which are beyond the government of fixed and exact rules or regulations. His work is to solve these problems and make decisions which will be accepted as final and which will be fair and just to all concerned. His decisions reflect directly on the profit and loss account of the owners of the logs as well as the buyers of them.

The log scaler does not guess at these problems, he estimates. To estimate is to form an opinion well fortified with experience, knowledge and integrity, balanced with equanimity.

Besides giving an analysis of figures and facts concerning this work I have, in my effort to explain the operation of the fundamental principles, included the moral, philosophical, and psychological factors by which the log scaler might be sustained or influenced. After over 20 years of actual practice and experience I deem these elements of great importance, just as great as any connected with the work.

Frequently, in log scaling, estimates are made on the same quantity of logs by two or more scalers and under entirely separate and diverse conditions. When such, uniform results are obtainable only through co-operation and mutual understanding and application of the fundamental principles by which they are governed. It requires years of experience to fit a log scaler for his work, and also sound principles to sustain him when he is fitted. The late Francis M. Duggan, who was a veteran in this field, once said: "Log scalers are born, not made."

In the commercial transfer of raw material from the time that it is extracted from its natural source until it is milled, melted, shaped or moulded into a finished product, there is ever the problem of uncertain quality and quantity to be reckoned with, and there is also the margin of loss and recovery in the manufacturing which reflects directly on the quantity.

The problem of determining the quantity and quality of standing timber and of logs and lumber, whereby a fixed value for commercial purposes may be ascertained, has ever been and still is a difficult one and is probably the most speculative factor in the entire industry.

When a cruiser goes out to estimate a tract of timber he has practically no basic facts from which to draw his conclusions. He may go into a territory where boundary lines are indistinct and almost untraceable. There stands a mass of trees of all sizes and of various species. Here a ridge covered with fine large trees, apparently perfect; on another slope of the same kind of timber the cruiser finds signs of defects. He investigates and assures himself that there are some defective trees. In various ways he fathoms as near as possible the extent and penetration of the blemish and the latitude over which it spreads. Down in a swale the timber is rough and scrubby, and so on. He may know the estimate of the adjoining and boundary tracts, but this information is of no value to him as the tract he may be cruising might be in no way comparable to the others. He may have a pretty good idea of what the estimate should be, but his business is to find out what it is. Finally he summarizes the average number of trees of the several species; their size, quality, and soundness and with this information, augmented by his general knowledge--which when well developed becomes instinct--he bases his estimate and with due respect to the cruiser's vocation, and considering the many disadvantages with which he contends while at work, he, as a rule hits the mark well within due bounds.

A considerable quantity of the standing timber is bought and sold on the cruiser's estimate although sometimes it is exchanged by the acre and the operator is the owner of the timber before he logs it. In other cases the stumpage is paid for in the log scale after the logs have been put in the water. Whatever the system the result is always somewhat speculative, but of later years the water scale is generally considered the most accurate way of ascertaining the value.

The log scaler has the advantage of the cruiser in that the logs are in a horizontal position when he scales them instead of perpendicular as when cruised and he can examine them more thoroughly. In addition the logs are cut into lengths usually from 24 to 40 feet and although they are partially submerged in the water when scaled a considerable portion of each of the logs are visible, exposing many of the defects and rendering it possible for a close examination of their quality.

The log scaler must form his conclusions from the round logs assembled in a raft or boom and lying in the water and the timber cruiser form his from a mass of trees of all species and sizes, scattered promiscuously over a given scope or territory and all three of them are aiming at the same target and the outcome is eventually reflected in the actual lumber production.

Qualifications of a Log Scaler

For those who choose to practice log scaling as a vocation, there are three indispensible supernatural virtues upon which he must establish the foundation of his future if he is to stand the storms and disapprobations which he will encounter in the regular performance of his duties. The are: Integrity, perspicacity, and equanimity.

He needs integrity, the balance wheel of morality, to shield him from the influence of selfish or unfair practice: perspicacity to enable him to detect the frailties of nature, human and otherwise; equanimity to balance his judgement and to ward off fear, worry, and other evils which irritate and confuse the mind.

The scaler's position is that of an appraiser, consequently he must have sound judgment and must be negative to opinions or arguments that would influence his opinion or decision, except when accompanied by substantial evidence, then he should take steps to correct his error, if he has made one, and also, when called upon to do so, assist in making the proper adjustment. He as a judge is subject to harsh and severe criticism, just and otherwise, but in any case it is best not to argue the question, but rather to prove the decision.

In addition the scaler must know well the scale rule and the rules and regulations governing the scaling and grading of logs in the district in which he is working. He should know the different species of growing timber and the peculiar characteristics and diseases which might infest the trees and cause damage to the logs. A general knowledge of logging practices and methods is necessary in order to judge accurately the proper deductions to make for breakage and other damage that might result in falling, bucking, yarding, loading or unloading logs. He should also have a general knowledge of lumber grades and manufacturing methods and should never miss an opportunity to visit sawmills, lumber yards, or logging camps where there is always opportunity to learn more about logs and lumber.

It is not well for a scaler to experiment with theories while in the regular performance of his work or to be influenced by the theories of others. Scaling logs for a certain mill or a certain logger for check scale or for other information is different from scaling logs for strictly commercial purposes. In scaling logs for commercial use the scaler represents the buyer as well as the owner and he must be judicious in making his decisions.

Log Scaling Philosophy

Philosophically, log scaling is a science--a science intensely developed according to certain rules which must permit flexibility for the exercise of such natural faculties as logic, ethics, psychology, and instinct. The quality and quality under consideration being an irreparable uncertainty to be determined with a reasonable degree of exactness, the rules serve only as a guide to the exercise of these faculties.

The rules however are an essentially important factor in that they direct the natural faculties of the several minds within their jurisdiction into the same channel of thought.

If the minds of a group of people are directed by the same rules; if they reason with the same logic; if their ethical principles of human morals and duty are the same; if their psychological classifications and analysis are the same; and if they are governed by the same instinct, then the rules become a force which blends and unites the mental activities which come within its jurisdiction. Hence if the rules are uniformly understood they become a force, otherwise they lead to confusion. And to be forceful the rule must be practical. An impracticable rule is a barrier to the performance of the reasoning faculties, but it might be used as a persuader to force submission to a biased opinion; hence unless a rule can prove itself practical, better it be discarded. There are various natural and human propensities which might interfere with the operation of even the well trained mind and cause it to deviate from its regular channel, and these must be met and dealt with as they are encountered.

Today the sun is shining, the water clear and quiet and there is no wind or water currents of other natural elements to resist the efforts of the log scaler. The visibility is perfect and he can see below the water and detect defects which show only in the submerged part of the log and not visible above the water line. The relaxed position in which the logs are lying renders it possible to roll them over and examine them closely for grade qualifications and defects.

Tomorrow there is a strong wind, the logs are bobbing up and down with the waves and they are held together so tightly by the wind that it is impossible to roll them over for observation. The water is muddy and it is impossible to see below the surface. The scaler goes on with his work but the elements make it difficult. Every muscle is brought into play in order to protect himself from being blown or tossed into the water; but regardless of the confusion he must retain his composure. In spite of the physical strain the mental faculties must function with increased vigor because of the disadvantages caused by the elements.

Today the scaler is exalted, lauded, and petted, his work is appreciated and he is filling a man's place in the world and is loved and respected. Tomorrow, through no fault of his own, he is unmercifully criticised and his work condemned. He becomes the butt of an argument between trading parties and the lash of the whip destined to bring into submission the overpowering forces of the contestants. He is well aware of this and he realizes that the pure principles of his vocation are being strained and defaced, but he has no redress, he must take it and go on, but above all he must guard against fear, or resentment and allow nothing to sway or influence his actions or his judgment.

Regardless of the opposing forces physical or mental, he must at all times retain full possession of the virtues; integrity, perspicacity, and equanimity which through proper function induce the free and level operation of the faculties; logic, ethics, psychology, and instinct.

Of course human frailties, to some extent, are ever in evidence, but when the well developed reasoning faculties function under direction and control of the essential virtues the law of average will maintain a balance. When well established the equilibrium of these forces compels wise, just, and judicious decisions whereby individual rights are acknowledged and benefits equally distributed and the major problem of the log scaler is to maintain this balance in the face of the adverse conditions which he encounters.

...and so Mr. McIntyre goes on from here to describe "How To Scale Logs" which unfortunatly, I didn't make a copy of at the time I had the pamphlet in my hands so it is lost to us, for the time being at least.

Now, please whisk me back to: Dr. Gil's Main Scaling Page!