You are currently viewing Butt Flare Reducer vs. Rosserhead Debarker

Butt Flare Reducer vs. Rosserhead Debarker

I recently came across a magazine ad in which a manufacturer promoted their rosserhead debarker as a tool to reduce butt flares. Using rosserheads to reduce flares is not a new concept. In 2019, however, you have better options—options you can’t afford to ignore. In a time when competition in the hardwood industry is fierce, you must consider ways to optimize your sawmill to increase production and lower costs so you can remain competitive. Using a rosserhead debarker to reduce root flares isn’t the best way to accomplish this.

Click on the image below and watch the video. It takes the operator more than eight minutes to reduce and debark this large oak. Maybe this sawmill can afford to process logs at this rate, but for most sawmills, this rate is unacceptable.

Butt reduction using rosserhead debarker

Problems with Using a Rosserhead Debarker as a Butt Reducer

It Takes Too Long

The video highlights the first problem with using a rosserhead debarker as a butt reducer: it takes too much time, a problem which gets worse if the cutterhead isn’t configured to remove large amounts of fiber. Sure, the debarker will do the job, but compared to a dedicated butt flare reducer—the proper machine for reducing butt flares—a debarker does the job slowly and therefore become a bottleneck to production.

Here is a less dramatic example than the one above. In this video, another manufacturer debarks and reduces the butt on a hardwood in two minutes (video link).

For comparison, watch our butt flare reducer remove a massive butt from a long log in about 4 seconds:

Wasted Fiber

The second problem with using a rosserhead debarker to reduce butt flares is waste. If the cutterheads are configured to remove fiber, they’ll remove not just the fiber at the root flare but down the entire log. Usable fiber should go to the mill with the log, not on the ground in a bark pile.

Of course, you can purchase rosserhead debarkers with multiple cutterheads. In this setup, one cutterhead could be configured for flare reduction and the second for removing bark. While this setup would help the issue of wasted fiber, the first problem—time—would remain, as you cannot debark and reduce at the same time.


The third problem is quality. Unless you opt for a double-head debarker, you’re stuck with suboptimal cutterhead choices: either your cutterhead will remove too little fiber, too much fiber, or will take off an unhappy medium and won’t produce the best possible finish.

Reliance on an Operator

The fourth problem is that a rosserhead debarker relies on a human operator to control the head. The operator can easily take too much fiber off the log and form gouges while controlling the machine. A butt reducer, on the other hand, is automated. The operator must simply click a control to set the machine in motion. He can then focus on debarking or moving logs while butt reduction takes place.

Benefits of Using a Dedicated Butt Reducer

Opting for a butt flare reducer over a rosserhead to reduce butt flares is a better choice. A dedicated butt flare reducer provides several advantages:

  1. It’s fast. A dedicated butt reducer can reduce 4-6 hardwood logs per minute or 6-10 softwood logs per minute.
  2. It’s designed for the job. Turning logs with flares puts a lot of stress on your equipment. That’s why we build our butt reducers with a heavy frame, knowing they’re going to take a beating. Our frame has large bull wheels and a hold-down arm to ensure logs won’t roll off.
  3. It has the right cutterhead for the job. The cutterhead is designed to remove fiber. They’re also reversable, so maintenance personnel can quickly turn them around for a sharper cut. Not that you have to worry about dull cutterheads—the machine’s computer controls the cut for consistent results.
  4. The geometry is correct. The butt reducer will remove only the flare, not usable fiber.

You use a hammer for nails and a screwdriver for screws because you know certain tools do certain jobs well. It’s the same with debarking and reduction equipment. Sure, the rosserhead debarker may be a convenient tool for reduction. After all, you already own one. But this doesn’t mean it’s going to do the job well or help your mill become more profitable.

Go with the best option. Order a butt flare reducer from Veneer Services®.

download article