The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) sets out the standards for grading lumber. J. Gibson McIlvain Company uses these guidelines, along with others, to professionally grade each board in their yard. This attention to detail maintains high quality across a large inventory of lumber. The NHLA standards are widely accepted as the standard for lumber grades, but they are not the final authority. Most lumber suppliers follow these standards because of their world wide and historical use.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company originally grew from the furniture industry. They switched into lumber later on down the road and decided to rely on more than one grading system for the highest quality. Hardwood and exotic lumber are now used for more than just beautiful furniture. This myriad of applications calls for a flexible grading system that reflects the changing industry. Architecture millwork requires longer board lengths than most furniture applications, thus the grading system must fit them both. The NHLA does not accommodate all of the requirements, but it is a good starting place.
Despite these limitations, J. Gibson McIlvain continues using the NHLA standard because it is such a wide spread system. Most international hardwood suppliers follow the NHLA alongside of the domestic ones. The building and furniture industries both benefit from a basic understanding of this system. Eight basic grades exist for hardwoods in the NHLA system. Higher-grade lumber is clear and precise in length while lower grades present more imperfections. The basis for grading, regardless how thick, starts on the poorest face.
Grade 1. FAS
Historically “First and Seconds”, this grade is top quality for hardwood lumber. Kiln dried, U.S. FAS wholesale lumber goes for $2+ per board foot.
Grade 2. FAS 1-Face (F1F)
F1F has only one FAS grade face on a 6-inch + wide board. The southern U.S uses and exports this wood.
Grade 3. Select
Select grade lumber will always have one face at FAS and one face No. 1 Common. These first three grades tend to match in price because of their similarities.
Grade 4. No. 1 Common
Furniture artisans use Common or No. 1, as this grade is known.
Grade 5. No. 2A Common
Some furniture along with most millwork and cabinets comes from No.2 Common.
Grade 6. No. 2B Common
Color defects take the No. 2 common grade down one for the No. 2B Common. This lumber often ends up painted to hide the defects.
Grade 7. No. 3A Common
Storage pallets and flooring applications come from these last two grades.
Grade 8. No. 3B Common
Not clear cuttings, but sound cuttings are important in this last grade of lumber. Mostly used for storage and pallets.
Lumber prices, quality, and systems all become clear when a customer understands this system. J. Gibson McIlvain hopes to explain the intricacies of the lumber industry to their customers. Contact them for more information or to buy some of the best FAS quality hardwood on the east coast.
Want to learn more about the lumber industry?