“I want 5,000 board feet of your top quality, grade A Teak.”
“Okay, we can do that and ship it this week.”
If you have recently placed a lumber order and the conversation was short, simple and only consisted of questions regarding the species type and board feet, you may find that your product arrives with a few unexpected surprises. The quality may be up to par, the price may be higher than expected, some wood may be wasted, and/or the product just won’t meet your or your customer’s expectations.
In order to ensure the proper product, you need to consider some important facts about the lumber grading system. In an ideal world, the grading system would fit and “grade” each type of wood species on an equal level. However, as we know, each species has its own unique characteristics that make a universal grading system problematic.
Some lumber suppliers will consider how the wood is cut (vertical grain, quarter sawn, or rift sawn) when contemplating quality and grade. Other times, pattern is considered to ensure a symmetrical grain appearance.
Add the term heartwood to the system, and it starts to get confusing. Some may say 90% heartwood, yet NHLA grading systems don’t take this into consideration, so those details may not be disclosed.
Another thing to consider with quality and grading is color matching. If your project is an aesthetic one that requires color matching and similar appearance throughout, it is essential that your lumber supplier knows that. While wood is organic and has its unique characteristics, if the supplier simply sends you a pallet of one species without considering its color match, you may find unmatched, wasted pieces stacking up quickly beside you, resulting in lost money and wasted product.
When considering color matching, you must also consider lead time. If you need the wood to all arrive color matched, your lead time will be longer as certain species, such as Teak, will take months in the sun to color match to their best colors.
The next time that you order your lumber, take into consideration the many variables that will affect grading including species, appearance, color match, and size. You will need to be very detailed with your supplier, and your supplier should be asking you many detailed questions. This will take some time initially, and chances are, if you have very specific, detailed lumber requirements, it could cost you more. However, the extra upfront money will save lost time, headache, and money when you are not forced to reorder more product because you have a pile of wasted, unmatched lumber.
The grading system of lumber is very complex, and you may find that you don’t necessarily need Top Grade A for a project, or you may find that you need something entirely impossible and an alternative species needs to be found quickly. By calling J. Gibson McIlvain Company, you can rest assured that their staff will certainly be asking multiple questions to find the best, most cost-effective solution to your next project, saving you time and money.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is 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, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums. Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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