Even if you’re generally skeptical about downgrading, hopefully you’re starting to understand why it makes sense to treat Walnut different than other lumber species. For those who desire top-grade Walnut, you need to know that it will require careful consideration and, quite possibly, more money than you’d really like to spend. Let us explain.
Why Better-than-Grade Walnut Is the Exception
We want to be clear: it’s not that better-than-grade Walnut doesn’t exist. If it weren’t for the unique grading scale used for Walnut, there would be some boards that would meet the typical grading criteria for FAS. (If you would like to review the typical grading standards, check out this post.) Besides that, lumber grades aren’t the be-all, end-all, when it comes to finding lumber that suits your particular needs; but that’s another story, altogether.
If your application truly demands above-grade Walnut, we can probably source it for you; however, realize that you will have to pay a premium for it, especially since such boards will require plenty of pulling and sorting, and your price will reflect that added overhead expense. Not only will the added time and labor add into the equation, but so will the devalued remainder of the picked-through packs (we detail in this earlier series about how lumber pricing is determined).
Whether Price-versus-Quality Issues Exist with Walnut
The general perception about the state of Walnut is that pricing is exceptionally high while quality is at all-time lows. But here’s the question which we want you to carefully consider: does that perception reflect reality? No matter how grading standards are set, Walnut will simply never reflect the same quality as other domestic species, such as Cherry, Maple, or Oak. Sure, some boards will compare, but in applying the typical grading standards to Walnut that are regularly used for other types of wood, not nearly as many Walnut boards will fit into the better grading categories.
How Walnut Downgrading Is Helpful
By allowing the grading standards for Walnut to reflect what’s reasonable for that species, we can allow approximately the same breakdown per NHLA grading category as other species do. And that does far more to help customers know what they’re getting than it would to have, let’s say, only 5% of Walnut boards fall into the FAS category while over 50% were designated as Common. Hopefully, this is starting to make sense. Let’s face it: not many Walnut boards have two clear faces; one clear face is far more reasonable (and affordable).
Regardless of many customers’ impressions, there is plenty of great quality Walnut available; it’s just that great quality means something a little different for Walnut than it does for other lumber species; that’s not our fault, it’s just how Nature has designed this particular species. Now don’t misunderstand us: we can secure above-grade Walnut if needed, the kind of stuff that would rate as FAS within the NHLA grading scheme for most lumber species. However, you’d benefit by requesting such lumber only when it’s actually necessary.
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J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has become one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods. As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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