In Part 1, we looked at why thicker boards might occasionally be more accessible than 4/4 boards, which is the thickness typically regarded by the US lumber market as “normal” thickness. But the topic we alluded to in the title – how bigger (or, really, thicker) boards can be cheaper – hasn’t yet been covered. But don’t worry, this time, we’ll actually get to it.
Specifics for US Market Grade
We concluded Part 1 by saying that cutting a board to 4/4 thickness increases the likelihood that it will be assigned a Common grade. This brings us to another peculiarity of the American lumber market: FAS lumber is often the only type which builders will accept for higher end projects. Since 4/4 timber is only accepted in the US market and that thickness is more likely to be Common grade, saw mills have no incentive to saw 4/4 boards, because the majority of them won’t sell in the US and none will sell outside of the US. There would be significant waste and monetary loss as a result.
The Window & Door Industry’s Compromises
US window and door manufacturers have long struggled with thickness difficulties. Even when 4/4 boards are plentiful in a particular species, they nevertheless fall short of satisfying this industry’s needs, just as 8/4 did. They consequently established a new market for boards in 5/4, 6/4, and 7/4 thickness sizes. Many of the boards that are sawed to those other thicknesses, however, end up being discarded, because the majority of industries on the worldwide market prefer bigger thicknesses.
Securing 4/4 Boards
We’ve got to think beyond the box, because of the rising demand for these thinner sizes. We could ask for the thicknesses that our clients want, but doing so would force us to buy large quantities of low quality wood in the form of common grades that we cannot sell, forcing us to raise the price of FAS boards. Instead, we’ve chosen to use our facility’s equipment and personnel to meet the preferences of our clients. We can buy FAS boards that are thicker and resaw them to match US customer expectations. However, that results in longer turnaround times and increased labor costs, which raises the price for our consumers. As a result, 4/4 or 5/4 boards are more expensive than 6/4 boards.
It may potentially be more economical for you to buy thicker boards and do your own resawing if you have the ability to mill boards in-house. If you can use Common grade boards, consider getting lumber by the log (when possible) if you can mill the wood yourself.
The additional cost for 4/4 boards must appear somewhere throughout the supply chain and be covered. If your project is able to leverage thicker boards, the result may be that you are able to save money. Regardless of which route you choose to go, J. Gibson McIlvain can assist you in finding the greatest deal on the 4/4 or any other thickness lumber which you require.
Continue reading with Part 3.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the Capitol building, celebrity homes, Supreme Court, luxury boats, the White House, and Smithsonian museums. For more information on J. Gibson McIlvain’s lumber products and services, call toll free (800) 638-9100 Monday-Friday to speak with one of their lumber reps.