Consistency within the field of wholesale lumber is highly dependent on the standards created and maintained by the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA). J. Gibson McIlvain specializes in keeping a large inventory of FAS quality lumber in stock.
In order to ensure that we provide our customers with premium wholesale lumber, we work with both domestic and international lumber mills to make sure their quality standards are up to par. Knowing more about the meticulous process of grading lumber may help builders and other professionals in the market for wholesale lumber to better appreciate the value that they get when they buy premium grade lumber from us.
Even though professionally grading lumber requires study and plenty of practice, the basic steps are fairly foolproof. Trained professionals can produce more accurate and timely grading than amateurs, but anyone following these steps and understanding the terms used can determine the grade of a piece of lumber with reasonable certainty. For professional woodworkers, a general knowledge of these steps, along with the requirements of each grade, can help you to evaluate the grading of the lumber that you buy.
Step 1: Look up any special rules relating to that species.
Step 2: Find the surface measure (SM) of the lumber that you’re grading.
Step 3: Decide which face is the poor face, or the side with the lowest grade.
Step 4: Take an educated guess as to the grade, and check to see if the piece of lumber meets all the conditions for that grade.
Step 5: Check to see if the size requirements are met for the chosen grade.
Step 6: Look up how many clear cuttings or sound cuttings are allowed for the grade you are considering, according to yield.
Step 7: Figure out the required cutting yield by multiplying the SM, accordingly:
- By 10, for FAS
- By 8, for No. 1
- By 6, for No. 2
- By 4, for No. 3A
- By 3, for No. 3B
Step 8: Determine cuttings for maximum area and then figure out the area of cuttings, making sure that their sizes aren’t smaller than the minimum sizes for trial grading.
Step 9: Check the opposite side to determine its grade, and then re-evaluate the grade you originally thought the piece would be.
Step 10: Double check each qualification for the grade to which you’ve assigned the piece, including the amount of wane, pitch, etc.
For a detailed and illustrated discussion of how the NHLA grading system works, you can read this extensive article. For an in-person illustration, you can also visit the headquarters for wholesale lumber supplier J. Gibson McIlvain in White Marsh, Maryland, on the outskirts of Baltimore.
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