New workshop aims to simplify American hardwood lumber grading

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has created a video workshop to provide an explanation of the grading rules for American hardwood lumber. 

The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) rules are still the national standard for the US hardwood industry and form the basis for grading of export lumber. They provide both buyer and seller with a consistent language to use in specifying hardwood lumber transactions. While the NHLA grading rules are targeted for the US marketplace, a reasonable knowledge is essential for buyers worldwide to attain their expected degree of quality. 

Wood is a natural material and may contain different characteristics and defects that need to be understood and allowed for in any given application. The grading of sawn wood into categories as it is processed helps to determine the value and potential use possible for each board of sawn lumber. 

Hardwood lumber is usually graded on the basis of the size and number of cuttings (pieces) that can be obtained from a board when it is cut up and used in the manufacture of a hardwood product. The rules were designed with the furniture trade in mind to provide a measurable percentage of clear, defect-free wood for each grade. The upper grades provide the user with long clear pieces, while the Common grades are designed to be re-sawn into shorter clear pieces. 

The workshop, presented by Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector of the NHLA, covers the following topics: 

  • Measurement: A guide to using surface measure, board feet, cuttings and cutting units 
  • Characteristics: marking and features found in lumber that are naturally occurring or are as a result of the process, with clear visual examples to help with identification. 
  • Defects: markings found within lumber that can affect the yield with visual examples. 
  • The Grades: FAS, No.1 Common, No.2 Common, F1F and Selects are recognised grades of lumber and their main uses within industry.

The full video workshop is available to view online here.