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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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This month I would like to review a few questions that were asked during our Facebook “Live with the Chief” event.
Question: How big of a sound knot is allowed in a sound cutting?
Great question and a point that is quite often misunderstood, especially when grading 2B Common.
Answer: The answer is in the definition of a Sound Cutting, found on page 10, paragraph 31 of the 2019 NHLA Rules Book.
“A cutting free from rot, pith, shake and wane. The texture is not considered. It will admit sound knots, bird pecks, stain, streaks or their equivalent, season checks not materially impairing the strength of a cutting, pin, shot and spot wormholes. Other holes 1/4″ or larger are admitted but shall be limited as follows: one 1/4″ in average diameter in each cutting of less than 12 units; two 1/4″ or one 1/2″ to each 12 units and on one side only of a cutting.”
As the definition of a Sound Knot is written; there is no limit to the size, however, there is a limit on a hole as defined in the last sentence. When the Sound Knot has an unsound center larger than 1/4” in a Cutting less than 12 Units or larger than 1/2” in a Cutting that contains more than 12 Units, then the Sound Knot becomes an unsound knot, due to the size of the unsound portion. Also, as the definition states, this can only be on one side of the Cutting, so a hole larger than a wormhole would be considered unsound.
Question: When inspecting FAS lumber and you have two knots that are not in the first lineal foot and are both under 1/3 the SM but when added together are over 1/3 the SM, is it still an FAS board?
Answer: This question can be answered in the limitations area for FAS in the NHLA Rules Book, page 15, paragraph 60:
“The average diameter of any knot, or hole, shall not exceed in inches one-third the surface measure of the piece in feet, except when it lies entirely within the first lineal foot of a board and is covered by Paragraph 59.”
Read closely; the rule states, “the average diameter of any knot or hole,” which indicates that any single knot or hole cannot exceed the 1/3 Surface Measure limitation. There could be many knots or holes present on the board, providing that the board makes the grade of FAS first.
REMEMBER TO ALWAYS…grade the board first and then apply any limitations afterward.
I would like to invite you to join me for 30 minutes every month on Facebook Live with the Chief. This is your chance to ask questions live and get immediate answers to these types of hardwood lumber grading questions. Follow us on Facebook to see when our next event is!
Question: “Does the First Lineal Foot rule apply to the 1 Common side of an FAS One Face board?”
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the FAS One Face Rule found on page 16, paragraph 64 of the 2019 NHLA Rules Book, first paragraph:
“Shall grade not below FAS on the better face for the particular species, and not below No. 1 Common on the reverse side. The reverse side of the cuttings in both FAS and No. 1 Common are not required to be sound.”
If you look closely at the wording, it states that each face is graded independently from each other, indicating that each side of the board has its own requirements. For the FAS side, that would include all six defect limitations, including paragraph 59, as stated below:
“Within one lineal foot from the ends of the boards of standard lengths there must be 50% clear wood, and not less than 25% of sound wood in the aggregate.”
For the 1 Common side, there is only one defect limitation for the grade of 1 Common and this is listed on page 17, paragraph 72:
“No piece shall be admitted which contains pith, boxed or showing, exceeding in the aggregate one-half its length.”
This brings us to the last part of the explanation, the defect limitation specifically for FAS One Face.
“Wane on the No. 1 Common side is limited to the following: the width of wane from both edges, when added together, cannot exceed 1/3 the total width of the piece. The total length of wane on either edge cannot exceed 1/2 the length.” – second paragraph under the FAS One Face rule located on page 16, paragraph 64.
As you can see, the wane for the FAS One Face is limited only on the 1 Common side of the board, because it is already limited on the FAS side from the wane limitation listed under FAS as one of the six defect limitations.
“Wane shall not exceed on either edge of the piece over one-half the length in the aggregate.” – page 14, paragraph 57
One of the more confusing things about FAS One Face is that the board can have wane that exceeds 1/3 the width, as long as that face will cut FAS in clear face cuttings and that all six limitations are met.
I urge you to join me every month on Facebook for “Live with the Chief” where you can submit your hardwood lumber grading related questions to me in real-time. hold on a monthly basis. Who knows, you may even be able to stump me! Join us for our next Live with the Chief TOMORROW at 1 PM CST on our Facebook!
– Dana Spessert, NHLA Chief Inspector can be reached by email at [email protected] or at 901-399-7551.
Spring is here, and we may finally be able to put the wet weather behind us and tackle the many challenges that are a direct result of the winter weather. As a former logger and sawmill owner, I have lived through weather pitfalls. Let’s discuss.
As a logger, once the rain starts falling, you are restricted in many ways by nature and as a result, you adjust your process. One adjustment I always made was to never stop cutting trees. Instead, I simply stockpiled them in the woods and waited for a clear, dry day to haul them to the mill. This was the only way I could exist in the logging industry, but it does have its negative side effects – number one being STAIN.
After a very wet season, sawmills will notice a lot of logs that seem to be much older and show signs of degrading. This condition is directly related to the length of time since being cut and then the time spent stockpiled. It is critical to implement the practice of “first in – first out” inventory strategy, immediately after a long, wet season.
I have heard it said, on more than one occasion, that the lumber was “dead-piled” for too long and thus the reason for stain in the sapwood. The fact is, wood begins to dry immediately upon the first cut, so it should be processed immediately, and the drying process controlled to minimize the negative effects to the wood.
This brings me to my point for this month’s article, stain and its effect on grading. As we begin to cut lumber from the logs that were in a very bad environment for drying (piled at the landing), we start to see streaks and discoloration from the ends of the log and sometimes in areas where the bark was scraped off. This is considered stain, whether enzymatic or fungal and will cause degrade in the lumber.
I have witnessed several strategies over the years to try and combat staining and they all involve inventory management. Although cutting the oldest logs first may not coincide with your need to fill orders on quick turnaround species such as poplar or soft maple, it is the best method of combating stain.
Ultimately, I suggest shorter and smaller log piles at the mill and sorting by grade and age. This strategy will give sufficient runtimes at the mill to lessen the impact of species change-overs while maintaining a “first in – first out” inventory.
Dip chemicals are a very good tool to utilize when the time period from sawing to stacking or yarding, is an issue, it is not the solution for log stain. Log stain cannot be reversed once it has begun. Bottom line . . . saw the logs before they have an opportunity to stain, start the “controlled” drying process on the lumber as soon as possible and dip when needed to control the stain.
As always, I stand at the ready to answer your lumber grading questions. Contact me at [email protected] or at 901-399-7551 or send me your questions on Facebook during Live with the Chief.