December Rules Corner

In this month’s article, I would like to continue with questions that were presented in our monthly Live with the Chief on Facebook.

The first question was: “When grading lumber, and there is a specified color sort, can the amount of sapwood/heartwood be changed by surfacing to Standard Rough Thickness?”

The answer to this question is in two separate Rules in the Rules Book. In the 2019 version of the NHLA Rules Book on page 8, paragraph 23 under the title “Sapwood – Heartwood” it states:

“Unlimited sapwood or heartwood is admitted unless otherwise specified. Contracts for special grades under a heartwood or sapwood specification shall state the maximum or minimum percentage of heartwood or sapwood desired and how it shall be calculated, whether in width, length, girth, facial or surface area.”

As is stated in the Rule above, the measurement method needs to be clearly stated on the Purchase Order/Agreement in order for the Inspector to measure correctly, whether it is the entire face or Cuttings required, as an example.

The second part of the answer can be found on page 4, paragraph 4, “General Instructions” and it states:

“Lumber shall be inspected and measured as the inspector finds it, of full length, width, and thickness. No allowance shall be made for the purpose of raising the grade, except that in rough stock, wane, and other defects which can be removed by surfacing to standard rough thickness shall not be considered.”

As is stated in the Rule, “wane, and other defects which can be removed by surfacing to standard rough thickness shall not be considered.” Sapwood and Heartwood are not considered defects. So, the answer to the question is: No, you cannot surface a board simply to change the color sort to remove Sapwood or Heartwood.

The second question for this month’s article is “Are there specific rules you go by when grading kiln dried lumber & how can I find/learn them?”

The NHLA Rules Book was originally written for green and air dried grading of hardwoods, and then we added a Kiln Dried Rule on page 56 of the 2019 version, under the heading of “INSPECTION OF KILN DRIED LUMBER.” Under the paragraph of “Standard Kiln Dried Rule” it states:

“Kiln dried lumber will be graded and measured as such, the grading rules for air dried lumber to be applied in all respects, unless otherwise specified. Rough kiln dried lumber specified 3/8″ to 1-3/4″ thick may be 1/16″ scant of the nominal thickness; 2″ and thicker may be 1/8″ scant and the 10% of scant quartered lumber admitted by Paragraph 36, may be 3/32″ scant on one edge in 1″ to 1-1/2″ lumber and 3/16″ on one edge in 2″ and thicker. The minimum widths mentioned in all grades may be 1/4″ scant in width and the 10% admitted by Paragraph 10 may be 1/2″ scant in width. In other respects, the rules for grading air dried lumber shall apply.”

The major difference between grading kiln dried and green or air dried lumber is simply the minimum widths in all grades can be ¼” scant (narrower) than the grades allow and the thicknesses can be under thickness by the amount listed in the Rule: 3/8” to 1 ¾” thick can be 1/16” scant and 2” and thicker can be 1/8” scant in thickness.

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