Q: We are beginning an educational training program for our employees. Can you give me some of the subjects that you believe should be covered? Do you have any training guidance for employees who cannot read English very well?

A: In the training sessions that I provide for manufacturing facilities, I include the following topics:

Managing and improving a rough mill or cutup operation

  • Yield and yield improvement
  • 10 factors that affect yield
  • Raw material concerns
  • Analyzing rough mill performance

Moisture content

  • Measurement techniques, including portable electric meters
  • The best moisture meter
  • Control of lumber MC
  • Simple storage rules for lumber


  • Adhesive types and preferences
  • How glues work
  • Troubleshooting and curing gluing problems


  • Factors affecting machining
  • Knife angles
  • Identification of machining defects
  • Troubleshooting and curing machining problems

Composite products

  • Characteristics of major composites
  • Potential preferred uses
  • Machining and gluing tips for composites

One program for improving reading skills for native and non-native speakers that is done in part via telephone and that has been used in wood products facilities is offered by Read-Right (Shelton, Wash.). Check them out and see if their program will work for you and your employees. I have heard of great success within our industry. If nothing else, you can communicate safety issues much better; safety signs can be read and understood.

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