Tuesday, 19 April 2016 18:03

Do We Always Need 9’ and Longer Walnut?

Walnut is one of the most expensive North American hardwood lumber species in the market.  Because of this, hardwood lumber buyers are very sensitive to ensuring they reduce or eliminate as much potential lumber waste as possible.  They will request specific custom sorts that benefit their operations on a regular basis.  Whether it be a specific width sort or a certain heartwood specification, manufacturers like to purchase the walnut they need as close to how they’ll use it as possible.

walnut forkliftOne of the frequent special sort requests we receive is walnut in 9’ and longer lengths.  It is one of the more difficult custom sorts to provide.  Unlike other hardwood lumber species like red oak, hard maple, or poplar, walnut logs usually yield 50-60% of its grade lumber in the 7’ and 8’ lengths.  This is due to the way the trees grow, the way it is harvested and the way the lumber is sawn in the mill.

The limited 9’ and longer lengths are highly sought after for applications that require them.  Companies that use walnut to manufacturer base mouldings, hand rails, stair stringers or even specialty table tops are regularly looking for walnut in longer lengths and many times have managed inventory programs with their suppliers to make sure they receive the material they need.

What that means is the remaining walnut lumber that is available for general consumption is therefore heavily weighted to lengths 8’ and less.

At Baillie, we have found that when we proactively work with our customers to understand exactly how they are using the walnut they purchase we can find them the appropriate amount of the longer lengths they need, or determine ways to have 7’ and 8’ boards work for them.  For example, many times when walnut is used in flooring, furniture, stair parts or even specialty items it is cross cut to lengths less than 6’ long.  What causes concerns for some are the location of defects or character marks which they try to cut out.  By implementing a proprietary grade sort on standard 7’ and 8’ inventory we can ensure customers with these type of applications receive lumber usable in their manufacturing process. It all comes down to better understanding the application. When we do we have also found that 6’ walnut lumber sorts, which we can provide on a regular basis, also can work for our customers which is usually more readily available.

If you look for certain length sorts for walnut contact us.  Maybe we can work something out for you as well.

Tony Cimorelli
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