Did you know that there are benefits to buying B grade lumber? No, we’re not just talking about saving money here. Buying lower grade lumber is actually related to sustainability and forestry health, and it’s something that’s important to consider. Don’t worry: we won’t force the issue. If you really want or need A grade lumber, we’re glad to supply that for you. But Bob Taylor, President of Taylor Guitars, has essentially done just that, when it comes to Ebony. Having acquired a virtual monopoly of that niche market, he has a unique amount of control over it. And we completely agree with and stand behind the premises on which he’s basing his policies. So let’s take a look at what’s going on with the Ebony industry and then expand that to gain a better understanding of the lumber industry at large.
The Heart of the Issue: Devalued Lumber
In his video “The Truth of the Forest,” Bob Taylor describes (YouTube link) how 9 perfectly good Ebony trees were formerly wasted in order to secure a single A grade Ebony tree. Because those harvesting the lumber realized that transporting and milling the B grade lumber had little economic return for them, they’d simply leave those lower value logs to rot on the forest floor. While the use of natural exotic lumber still has a benefit to the global ecology, thanks to biosequestration, such waste is not only unnecessary but also unhealthy for the forests as well as for the lumber industry. And it’s not limited to Ebony.
Bob Taylor’s Answer: Raising Awareness & Changing the Market
While J. Gibson McIlvain doesn’t carry Ebony, we applaud Bob Taylor’s passionate response to the issues plaguing this unique lumber species. First, he’s doing his part to raise awareness not only about the forests but also about the people who contribute to the harvesting of Ebony. In this preview video of “The Ebony Project” (YouTube link), he displays a leadership in humanitarian considerations that each of us would do well to follow not only in our professional lives but also in our personal lives.
Unlike the rest of us, Bob Taylor has the unique ability to control the Ebony market. He has decided to make fret boards for Taylor Guitars from B grade Ebony. Because of the well-earned reputation of Taylor Guitars, we’re guessing that as gutsy as that move may be, it won’t really hurt his business.
A Reasonable Response: Re-Evaluation
Even though we aren’t marketing Ebony or building guitars, the principles still apply. Once upon a time, Cherry without sapwood was standard, and clear, oversized Walnut boards were normal; neither is now the case. Instead of waiting until we’re forced to accept B grade lumber in any specific species, what if we started now, preserving more of the A grade stuff for years to come, when situations and applications truly warrant such cuts? The European and Asian markets already do this; North America is behind the times.
Learn More About the Lumber Industry
• Why Is Walnut Wood So Expensive?
• Wood: The Ultimate Environmentally Friendly Building Material
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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