23 November, 2023
A cut above: Caboolture saw doctor claims top gong
Caboolture saw doctoring apprentice Daniel McNabb has earned a prestigious TAFE NSW national award.
While many are born into the timber industry, Mr McNabb took an unusual path to saw doctoring, getting a glimpse of the profession during work experience at AKD Caboolture Sawmill, while still at Morayfield State High.
He doesn’t regret his decision, now working his dream job as an apprentice saw doctor at the same sawmill.
Saw doctors are an irreplaceable part of the timber industry, repairing, setting and sharpening saw blades for timber production.
The 20-year-old’s passion and ability saw him honoured with the 2023 TAFE NSW Best Teamwork and Communication Award at the TAFE NSW Saw Technology Awards.
TAFE NSW Tumut is one of only two forestry training providers in Australia, giving apprentice saw doctors from across the nation the skills and experience to forge long careers in the industry.
Captured by the precision and artistry of saw doctoring, Mr McNabb successfully applied for an apprenticeship with AKD after leaving school and enrolled in a Certificate III in Saw Technology at TAFE NSW Tumut.
“Not many people know about saw doctoring but they’re fascinated when I explain what we do,” he said.
“I loved that it was hands-on, whether it’s manually hammering a saw, tig welding a crack on a saw or programming a CNC machine.
“I get so much pride out of the fact that my work is helping keep the mill running. I also like the fact saw doctors are in such demand, I’ve got pretty much guaranteed work for life.”
Caboolture is one of the major hubs for Queensland’s forestry industry, a sector that employs about 10,000 people and delivers an annual economic contribution of around $3.2 billion.
Mr McNabb said he was honoured to win the award, and he praised the quality of his TAFE NSW training.
“There were so many good operators in my class, I feel privileged to be singled out like this,” he said.
“My TAFE NSW training was exceptional and the teachers were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about passing on their knowledge.”
TAFE NSW Tumut forestry teacher Adam Farquharson said sawmills across the nation were crying out for TAFE NSW trained saw doctors.
“There is so much ongoing demand for saw doctors because it’s highly specialised work and there are so few around,” he said.
“TAFE NSW really gives students the in-demand skills and industry connections to forge a career in forestry.”