buying hardwoods

When to Use 2 Common Lumber

What is 2 Common Lumber?

The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) sets the standards for hardwood lumber grades, which indicate the amount of clear, defect-free wood in a board. The best grade you’ll find in most lumberyards is Select and Better (S/B), followed by 1 Common, 2 Common, and 3 Common. Lumber is graded not by its general appearance, but by the actual measurements of its clear sections and its specific defects. According to the NHLA, “The Number 2A Common grade includes boards that are a minimum of 3″ wide and 4′ long that yield from 50% up to, but not including, the minimum requirement for Number 1 Common. The smallest clear cutting allowed is 3″ by 2′ and the number of these cuttings depends on the size of the board.” In other words, the good sections of a 2 Common board will be of the same quality as a Select and Better board, and they will be at least 3 inches wide and 2 feet long. 

Is 2 Common Lumber Worth Considering for My Project?

2 Common lumber works well for many projects. The main advantage to 2 Common lumber is its cost, which can be up to 50% less than that of Select and Better. The disadvantage is that 2 Common lumber generally has more defects than S/B and contains more waste per board. Remember that, once re-sawn, the cuttings from 2 Common lumber will be the same clear wood as the more expensive S/B lumber; they will just be shorter and/or narrower. Grades indicate the percentage of clear wood in the board, not its general appearance.

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What are Good Uses for 2 Common Lumber?

Depending on the project, 2 Common lumber may allow you to create a high quality result on a much smaller budget.

2 Common lumber works well for small projects, and also for larger projects that require lots of small pieces. Additionally, you can use higher grades of lumber for the small parts of your project that require larger cuts, while saving money by using 2 Common for the rest. Of course, 2 Common is also good for projects where its rustic character would be an asset. 2 Common is often used in manufacturing for flooring, furniture parts, and cabinets.

Is 2 Common Right for my Project?

If the largest solid cuts for your project fall within the parameters of clear cuts from 2 Common, or if you are expecting to glue up wood, then 2 Common is well worth considering. For smaller projects or larger projects with small pieces, using 2 Common can be a good way to stretch your budget.

What Factors Affect Hardwood Lumber Prices?

 

The price of hardwood lumber can vary based on many factors. The answer to a question that seems straight-forward (e.g., “how much is a board of ipe?”) actually depends on a number of variables, some of which we’ll go over here.

How much are you buying?

Most of the labor involved in filling an order is in finding it, pulling it, and transporting it around the warehouse. That combined labor takes about the same amount of time regardless of how much you buy. Therefore, you’ll typically get a better price on a large order compared to a small one.

What size do you need?

Obviously, standard size boards are going to be cheaper. Since lumber is a natural product, its size is going to be limited by the size and shape of the trees it comes from. Longer or wider boards may cost you more, depending on the species. For example, wide walnut is very hard to come by and you can expect to pay a premium for it, but wide poplar or oak are more readily available and won’t cost you much more.

Where does it come from?

Transportation is a major cost in the lumber industry. Domestic woods that grow in your local area are going to incur much less transportation cost than exotics shipped halfway around the world. If the lumber has to cross several national borders, you’ll probably be paying for inspection and fees at each border as well. The political climate in the countries the lumber is sourced from also affects the price. For instance, if you’re buying an African species, it may have to be transported through countries that are undergoing civil wars, making transportation risky and more expensive.

When do you want it?

Some hardwoods are more in demand during certain seasons.  For instance, any kind of hardwood decking is going to be expensive in summer, when everyone wants to build a deck.  Buying in the off-season can save you money, although you have to factor in lower availability.  

What’s the weather? 

Species that come from places with rainy seasons are generally harvested during the drier parts of the year, not year-round, so supply can vary throughout the year and the time of year that you buy them affects the price. If there has been an unseasonably long wet season, this can affect both the availability and price of the product. As responsible stewards of the land being harvested, operations typically work around the rainy season. Cypress lumber is harvested from very wet areas and is especially dependent on a dry season for harvesting. 

What quality do you need?

Lumber is a natural product, with knots, defects and natural characteristics that influence the grade of each piece of lumber. Each log is produces a combination of higher and lower grade lumber. If you want to buy only the part of the lumber that is only the highest quality and grade, this increases the price. If you are able to use a product with knots and defects, the lumber price will be lower. 

This is when it is important to know what lumber grade best suits your project.  Learn more about lumber grades. 

How is the lumber price being quoted?

As we’ve discussed in the past, lumber pricing can be quoted either net tally or gross tally. The price per board foot is different for net and gross because each counts the volume of lumber differently.  

Learn more about net tally and gross tally. 

Hardwood Lumber Pricing is Influenced by Many Factors

The price of hardwood lumber varies by the size of your order, the length and width you require, the country of origin, the season in which you’re purchasing it, the grade you need, and even the weather. If you’re not sure what you need, talk to your trusted supplier. 

Contact a trusted hardwood distributor is your area. 

 

 

 

What is the Difference Between Gross Tally and Net Tally?

One of the most confounding measurements to understand if you haven’t been around the sawmill and lumber business for a long time is gross tally and net tally. What exactly is the difference between gross tally and net tally? And why is lumber sold both net tally and gross tally? How do you convert from gross tally to net tally? We’ll take you through the basics.

What is the Difference Between Gross Tally and Net Tally?

Gross tally, also sometimes called green tally, is the volume of wood in board feet delivered to the mill after it is cut. This lumber hasn’t been dried yet and has a high amount of moisture in it. When lumber dries, water is removed from the wood resulting in a smaller overall volume of wood. That smaller volume of wood is known as net tally.

Gross Tally >> the lumber volume measured before kiln drying.

Net Tally >> the lumber volume measured after kiln drying.

Why is Net Tally versus Gross Tally a Big Deal?Stacked up wood

It is necessary to understand whether a lumber quote or price is based on gross tally or net tally. The issue isn’t always whether the tally is net or gross, but how that number was determined. Find out whether the tally was measured after coming out of the kiln or whether the gross tally was used to calculate net. This will make a difference in the actual volume of lumber.

Also ask what shrinkage rate was used for your lumber. Each sawmill may use a different shrinkage rate to determine net tally – usually between 7% and 9%. In addition, how a company calculates it also slightly changes the resulting volume numbers. If a company uses 8% but multiplies by 1.08 that will return a different volume number than if they divide by 0.92.

How Should I Buy Lumber – Gross Tally or Net Tally?

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 tally or net tally. Sometimes it may seem a deal is too good to be true and it may be. Sometimes the reason for that unbelievable price is hiding in the tally.

Be sure you clarify if the transaction you are conducting is measured on gross measure or net measure. Know what your price is per the type of tally. If you are ordering lumber with additional remanufacturing, be sure to find out how that is accounted for in the overall volume you will receive. A straight line rip will cause the volume of lumber to shrink again.

Buying net tally can reduce confusion and will give you the tools to accurately determine the volume of lumber you are receiving. However, either tally method can be used IF you have answers to all of the variables that affect the overall volume.

American Cherry: Stunning for Centuries

Cherry has long been used for traditional heirloom furniture and other collectables. And these days, you can see cherry used in a wide variety of other applications as well. It is often used in architectural joinery, furniture, cabinets, flooring and musical instruments.

American cherry has superior woodworking qualities. It is light, yet strong, relatively stiff, and rather hard. Dimensionally stable once dried, Cherry turns well, is easily machined and also works beautifully with hand tools. The wood can be easily glued and holds screws well.

The smooth texture and satiny grain stains beautifully with exceptional results. Cherry’s color darkens with age and exposure to direct sunlight. A newly completed project may often be mistakenly identified as another wood because it appears much lighter than expectations.

To see some more beautiful ways that American cherry is used, you can view all of the cherry photos in the gallery of wood.

 

 

Tips for Buying Hardwood Lumber through a Distributor or Lumberyard

 

Are you planning your first visit to buy lumber? Once you’ve decided to go beyond buying lumber at a home center, there’s some major differences to be aware of when buying lumber at a lumberyard or distributor.

Lumberyards and distribution centers have come a long way, offering a wide variety of wood species, thicknesses, grades and machining options. Here are some pointers for how to buy lumber at a distributor or lumberyard.

 

 

THICKNESS

When buying hardwoods, you won’t see lumber thickness marked in inches, but instead the convention is to use a measurement in quarters. For example, a 1 inch thick board is typically written as 4/4.

One thing to keep in mind is that lumber is sawn and then dried so the board that started out 4/4 inches will be closer to 7/8” (.875 inches) – and that thickness is before any type of surfacing is done.


BOARD FOOT

A board foot is the unit of volume used to measure hardwoods. Since hardwoods are sold in a variety of lengths, widths and thicknesses, it is simpler to have a kind of measure that can account for all of those variables at once, like volume.

12” long x 12” wide x 1” thick = 144 cubic inches

Calculate a Board Foot
   special thanks to American Woodworker for this image.

Armed with a tape measure, calculator and this knowledge, you can tackle any board foot calculation on the spot. But what happens the day you leave the shop and forget your calculator? Use this woodworker rule of thumb:  4/4 board, 8 ft. Long and 6” Wide = 4 Board Feet


GRADE

For someone just beginning to purchase hardwood lumber, lumber grades can be overwhelming. Most lumber companies use the generally accepted grading rules set by the National Hardwood Lumber Association. Grades are based on the amount of usable clear material in a board. The highest grade boards are FAS and Select, followed by #1 Common and #2 Common. What grade you choose depends on your project. Some projects, such as tabletops and high quality furniture, may dictate the highest grade available. Many other projects are just as easily adapted to #1 Common (often referred to as cabinet grade) – kitchen cabinet doors, smaller projects and items where some character is acceptable.

For a full illustrated guide to the various grades:
http://www.ahec.org/hardwoods/pdfs/IllustratedGradingGuide.pdf

MILLING SERVICES

Rough lumber is rarely flat or straight. Milling your own can save you some money but it will take time, equipment and a strong back. It can be beneficial to look into what milling options your distributor can offer.

Most yards will offer the following milling services:

–       Rip one edge of a rough board straight (called SL/E, Straight-Line Edge)

–       Plane both faces lightly by taking approx. 1/16” off the surface (called Hit-and-Miss)

–       Plane both faces, leaving no little wood with rough cut marks, removing approx.. 1/8” of thickness (called S2S, Surfaced Two Sides)

–       Mill both faces and edges (called S4S, Surfaced Four Sides).

There are typically varying costs added to the price of rough lumber to cover the additional milling. Depending on your situation, these added costs may save you money in the long run through saved labor, faster lead times and a reduction in equipment needs.

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