Thursday, 17 March 2016 20:03

5 Key Considerations When Buying Hardwood Lumber

In the course of a single day thousands of hardwood lumber purchases take place. The transactional nature of our industry lends itself to fast and frequent transactions with suppliers we know, trust and usually have experience doing business with.

However, if you are new to the industry, or if you are trying to work with a new hardwood lumber supplier, we believe it is always good to make sure you review at least these five key additional considerations, over and above species, grade, thickness & price, before you complete your hardwood lumber deal.baillie-bundles-vertical-OU7A1170

  1. Understand the region the lumber is from. Hardwood trees grow all across America. However, the majority of the hardwood forests are found across the eastern United States.  Throughout that area three primary growing regions have been identified. Northern, Appalachian, and Southern.  Lumber form one region is not necessarily better than the other, but  depending on the region the tree was grown in, the lumber could have different characteristics. So it is important to understand the region the lumber was harvested from. Learn more here.
  2. Verify if the tally is measured in gross or net measure. Since hardwood lumber invoices are based on measured board footage it is important to know if the price you are being quoted and paying is based on a gross, (before kiln drying), or net, (after kiln drying), tally.  Since lumber shrinks in the kiln drying process getting an accurate measure of footage for pricing is important.   Be sure you clarify if the transaction you are conducting is measured on gross measure, which is green lumber, or net measure, which is kiln dried lumber.
  3. Indicate if the order includes special services. Hardwood lumber suppliers today offer several different services when it comes to preparing a load of lumber.  Upon request, hardwood lumber can be surfaced to a specific thickness such as 15/16” for 4/4” boards, it can be straight line ripped on one edge, (SLR1E), or it can be ripped to an exact width such as 2.78” by ripping both edges, (SLR2E). These type of services can add costs to the lumber so identifying the need and cost up front is important.
  4. Communicate if the lumber requires any special characteristics.   Certain species will include certain attributes that can make it more desirable. For example,90/50 Cherry, Hard Maple 1&2 White, Wormy Soft Maple, Figured Sapele, or 90/90 Walnut are all special hardwood lumber products that have been separated from the random lot and usually packaged and sold as individual products. If something like that is important to you it is best to discuss that with your supplier up front.
  5. Discuss any special packaging requirements.   Typically, hardwood lumber is packaged in units or bundles 48” wide and 48” tall. They consist of random width boards and boards with lengths ranging from 4’ to 16’. However, suppliers are regularly ask to package lumber a certain way to better suit a customer’s needs.  For example, short packs, those maybe 24” tall can be helpful to a hardwood distributor looking to resell smaller quantities.  Bundles with only one or two specific lengths can be helpful for moulding or door manufactures.  Or special width sorts are commonly requested by flooring manufactures because it helps them reduce lumber waste.  All of these special packaging requirements should be discussed prior to confirming an order.

If you have questions about ordering hardwood lumber let us know. We would be happy to help any way we can.

Tony Cimorelli
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