When the Fullers took over the Granville Manufacturing Company in 1981 they didn't make changes. After all, the mill had been operating in the same location for over 130 years.
The Granville Mill was conceived of and built by R. N. and Daniel Hemenway in 1857 for the purpose of producing butter tubs. For power it relied on the nearby White River. In 1860 the Hemenways decided to make wooden bowls and built lathes to do so. These same machines, of civil war vintage, are still the ones used to produce bowls in the present Fuller operation. In 1913 the Rice family took over the mill from the Hemenways, adding a new product. They helped design, and the Lane Company of Montpelier built, a special saw rig to make "quartersawn" clapboards. This saw is still in operation producing quality clapboards at the Granville Mill. In 1972 Pete Rice sold the mill to Bud Howlett and in 1981 Bob Fuller with his sons Jeff and Doug, and daughter Cindy took over the Granville Mill. The mill currently employs approximately thirty two people.
The production of pine and spruce clapboards at the Granville Mill continues as it has on site since 1913. Logs are mounted on a lathe to remove bark and even the diameter for better sawing. The log is then marked to show which way the grain is oriented. Trees can twist as they grow to the left or to the right. It is necessary to know this as it affects the smoothness in the planing operation.
The log is then mounted on a carriage that moves over a saw which makes a cut along its full length. By rotating the log 3/4" after every cut a tapered clapboard is produced. The process is continued until the log is rotated 360 degrees. A log with a 16" diameter will produce approximately 65 six-inch clapboards.
The clapboards are then stacked by alternately layering uniform sized clapboards into six foot by six foot stacks. These stacks are then left to air dry until they are ready for planing. The final drying is done in our dry kiln.
Leaning dutifully against a wall in the mill office is a clapboard stamped with the Granville Mill's logo of over 100 years ago. It was found on a house in Boston that was to be torn down and is still as straight and true as the day it was sawed
The clapboards are then moved to the planer mill where they are planed according to their grain orientation (left hand or right hand). The planer has been specially designed to accept the different grain orientations. Clapboards are planed on one face and one edge. The ends are then squared and ready for grading.
Grading is done by human eye. Boards are graded by two people into three categories. Clears have no knots and a smooth appearance in the exposed section of the board. Second clears have small tight knots and/or up to a 1/3 uneven texture in the exposed section. Rustics are graded on the rough side of the board. This grade has a circular sawn texture with no knots affecting the structural integrity of the board.
Clapboards are produced in four regular sizes. By the nature of the process,the size of the clapboard is determined by the size of the log. Clapboards are sorted by length and grade and strapped into bundles of 20-26 boards,depending on the size i.e. (6", 5 1/2", 5", 4 1/2").They are then stacked and palletized awaiting shipment or further processing i.e. (priming or staining.) The mill run stacks have bundles of boards varying in length from 2 feet to 6 feet. The majority of boards will be longer lengths.
Because clapboards are sawn with the grain vertical to the flat surface they tend not to warp or crack and hold paint and stain better. Leaning dutifully against a wall in the office is a clapboard stamped with the mills logo over a 100 years ago. It was found on a house in Boston. It is still as straight and true as the day it was sawn. In true Yankee fashion, clapboards have stood the test of time. In fact, the Pilgrims brought the idea of clapboards with them from Europe. The very first houses were built with hand rived vertical grain clapboards. Examples of these can still be found on many houses over 200 years old.