Felder walks the talk with new headquarter

The important, and growing, trade in US hardwood lumber to India (and anywhere else in the world, for that matter) relies totally on the established grading rules for hardwood lumber.

The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) grading rules provide both the buyer and seller with a consistent language to use in specifying hardwood lumber transactions.

While the NHLA rules were originally intended for the US marketplace, a reasonable knowledge is essential for buyers worldwide in order to attain their expected degree of quality and the grade of lumber purchased by a manufacturer.

Here, experts from the American Hardwoods Export Council (AHEC) explain the importance of understanding the NHLA rules for grading American hardwood lumber, and answer frequently asked questions received during the past few months:

We buy FAS Red oak that is sold to us 80/20. Can you explain what these numbers mean?

Normally these numbers represent the percentage of FAS grade and Selects or FAS-1F grade in the shipment. In this case, 80% of the lumber is FAS and 20% is Selects, or FAS-1F.

Quite often I am quoted prices based on grades that I cannot find in the NHLA Rule Book, such as Prime and Comsel. Can you explain these?

First, we’d like to compliment you for trying to read and apply the NHLA Rule Book. This is no easy task and your efforts will surely be rewarded in the quality of the lumber you purchase!

Prime and Comsel are grade names that have evolved over the years primarily for export shipments. They each represent levels of quality in the same regards as the NHLA grades of FAS and No.1 Common.

The confusion in receiving pricing for these and all grade names other than the NHLA grades is that they may vary from one supplier to the next. A simple way to deal with these quoted grades is to ask the supplier how they relate to the written grades from the NHLA.

Prime may be a 5-inch and wider allowance for one supplier and a colour sort for another. A good solid relationship between you and your supplier is essential in maintaining the level of price and quality that both parties will be satisfied and successful with.

Why are there no export grades in the NHLA Rule Book?

The NHLA has a set of standard grades which are widely taught, published and readily available. If buyer and seller prefer to deviate from these standards, they can use a common language and virtually write their own grade specifications.

It may be as simple as allowing a 7-foot-long or a 4-inch-wide FAS board. This is done by numerous companies both in the US market and the export markets worldwide.

In fact, the NHLA encourages its members to use the framework of the rules in this way. This promotes the entrepreneurial spirit of the industry while providing a common language to refer to.

Can you give some easy conversions for moving between the metric system and the US system of inches and board feet?

Yes, it can be confusing. Fortunately, almost all exporters are willing to quote prices in cubic metres or even cubic feet, so the quantities of an entire shipment should be no problem.

When it comes to calculating the grade of individual boards, a good guesstimate for FAS is 80% and better clear, for No.1 Com 60% and better clear, and No. 2 Com use 50% and better clear.

In determining if a board with slight cupping will surface two sides (S2S) to standard surface thickness, a 1-inch (25.4 mm) board must be S2S at 13/16 inch (20.6 mm) and a 2-inch board (50.8 mm) must S2S to 44.5 mm.

All other thicknesses must surface proportionately. Here are some other useful conversion factors:

•        1 inch= 25.4 mm

•        1 metre= 3.281 feet

•        1,000 board feet (1MBF)= 2.36 cubic metres

•        1 cubic metre= 424 board feet (BF)

•        1 cubic metre= 35.315 cubic feet (cu ft)

•        One lineal foot= 0.3048 metre

You can fit approximately 12,000 board feet of kiln-dried lumber into a typical 40-foot container. This would convert to around 30 cubic metres, depending on the species, thickness and length distribution.

For more information on American hardwoods and to learn more about different species and grades, please visit: www.americanhardwood.org



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