by Gene Wengert
email@example.com WOOD DOCTOR’S Rx
QI was looking at historic yield data for our company and see a slow trend toward
lower yield. Without visit-
ing our facility, can you guess what it
is? I have a suspicion that the lumber
grades have changed.
AIt is indeed true that the grade of lumber is perhaps the greatest factor affecting yield. However, there has
been no change in the grades for many
decades that would affect yield.
Appreciate however that any one
grade contains a range of quality in
that grade. So, it is possible that the
company selling you their lumber has
another customer that has special
needs or requirements, like wide pieces
or no pith.
So, you end up getting the lumber
of a particular grade, but the best yielding pieces have been taken out and
sold to another customer.
Another possibility is that in the
past the supplier was generous and
included some upper grade pieces in
your order. These upper grade pieces,
even though they graded higher, were
at the low end of this higher grade.
Being a little generous would keep you
In fact, maybe now you are getting
a few pieces of lower grade within your
purchase. Is that percentage increasing?
Or maybe the sawmill has started
sawing more RR ties, so that only the
logs that do not have the quality for RR
ties are the ones that get sawn into the
middle and lower grades of lumber.
What can you do? Have your grader,
if you have one, give you an opinion
about the trend of quality within the
grade. Talk to your supplier about your
concerns. A good supplier should be
willing to work with you.
Of course, there could be equipment or employee issues in your facility
too that are causing this loss you are
seeing. An outside consultant should
be able to analyze your operation.
QCan you suggest a reliable, quality supplier of walnut lumber? Right now, some
loads are good and some
are not. Someone commented that all
the good lumber is going for export.
AI cannot suggest a spe- cific supplier, as I do not purchase lumber myself, so what I know is second hand
info. (It is also like asking “Which
full-size pickup truck is better...Ford or
Chevy?” My answer, based on personal
experience, gets Chevy, Toyota, and
Dodge dealers and owners up in arms.)
However, the concerns and questions
about a consistent, reliable, supply of
walnut point to a more serious lumber
supply issue within our industry.
Many companies in our industry do
not have a lumber buyer, full or part
time, that works closely with lumber
producers and suppliers to get exactly
the material that their company needs
See more at the Wood
Dr. Knowledge Center
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Sponsored by Northwest Hardwoods.
Looking at lumber grade and yield data
The role of the lumber buyer.
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Wood Doctor’s Rx question and answers, go to
Gene Wengert, “The Wood Doctor,” has been training
people in efficient use of wood for 35 years. He is
extension specialist emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.