With its grading already different from most species, the rising cost of Walnut may seem perplexing, at best, and frustrating (or even infuriating?) at worst. Conventional wisdom says that a tree is a tree is a tree, and the closer its source, the less expensive it should be. Simple, isn’t it? Well, unless you’re a complete stranger to the lumber industry, you’ll realize that simplicity (in grading, sizing, or pricing) is not our industry’s forte!
Lumber Is a Natural Resource
Most of us realize that working with renewable resources like natural wood is best for the environment. (And yes, that extends even to imported lumber.) Whenever you’re working with natural resources, you’re going to deal with eccentricities. You can’t mold lumber into the exact shape of your preference, because we’re not dealing with plastic, here! As natural resources, trees will grow the way they will grow, and we have to work with what we have.
The best we can do is have it milled properly and graded according to standards that help categorize the wood. Remembering that lumber is a naturally occurring resource is significant. One area in which customers sometimes fail to realize the implications of that fact is regarding color matching. If you want something perfectly color matched, you really don’t want lumber. (Maybe Nucedar products would be a better option for you.)
Species Does (and Should!) Matter
Once you adjust your expectations to the reality that lumber is a natural resource, not a mass-produced plastic product, you should consider the fact that there’s sometimes significant variation among species. While here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber we’re absolutely committed to providing our customers with only the highest quality lumber available, what’s considered “high quality” in one species may look very different than the crème-de-la-crème of another lumber species. And the more (seemingly) imperfect board may be smaller and cost more. There are so many factors that influence lumber pricing and quality!
Sometimes, a lumber species is plagued with unnecessarily decreasing quality, not due to lack of availability, but to problematic milling practices; Genuine Mahogany is such an example. And the constant lowering-of-the-bar in the way of grading adjustments can be frustrating — and is, often, unnecessary.
Other times, though, we need to be willing to accept B grade, for the good of the environment and the long-term health of the lumber industry; this issue is especially poignant when it comes to all-but-extinct species such as Ebony.
Teak, for instance, is completely different from Walnut. If you design a project with Teak in view and then decide, “Hey, let’s go with Walnut instead,” it probably won’t work out too well. If you realize the unique aspects of Walnut, though, you can create a design that highlights its beauties and allows for its limitations.
Continue with Part 2.
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.