Any good rough-mill owner knows how important consistent lumber is to the success of their finished products. From color, grain, grade, and quality, if the lumber you receive from one order to the next is inconsistent, it will create huge headaches for you (and seriously affect the quality of your products). Why is lumber consistency important? And how does it impact a woodworking plants’ work? Let’s take a look:
Consistent Color and Grain
Consistent color and grain can oftentimes get overlooked. The same species of trees can grow in different locations. The different locations mean different growing conditions. These growing conditions directly affect what the lumber looks like. For example, red oak grows in the eastern half of the US. But the northern states have much slower growing conditions than the southern states. The faster the growing conditions, the more open grain you will have. This is why southern red oak has much more open grain compared to northern red oak. Southern and northern red oaks are sold separately for this reason.
Cherry is an example of how location affects color. Normally, the best cherry lumber comes from the Appalachian region, and more specifically near the Allegheny Mountains. This region produces cherry of consistent color and growth with minimal gum streaking, making the cherry very desirable.
Kiln drying can also affect the color of wood. Drying lumber at high temperatures can cause the lumber to darken. White maple is a great example of this. If white maple is dried at too high of a temperature, the white can turn caramel white. Most people want white hard maple as white (aka “bright”) as it can be, not a caramel white.
Consistent Grade and Quality
Grade and quality are both different concepts, but, in this case, work hand in hand. Using the same lumber supplier will also mean you should receive consistent grade and quality. When you order from the same supplier, the lumber is cut, dried, and graded by the same people. This will normally produce consistent grade and quality.
How does this impact your projects?
Color, grain, grade, and quality affect different areas of woodworking. Most woodworkers will practice some sort of color and grain matching. They match grain and color to give the piece smooth transitions and make the piece look more uniform. Color and grain matching are also very important if you are trying to make a uniform set (bedroom, living room, etc.). Color and grain matching are not required, but it can take a great looking piece for a customer.
In addition, most suppliers will get their lumber from the same region. By using the same supplier, there is a high chance that the color will stay relatively consistent. And it’s also important to point out the kiln drying temperatures as we mentioned earlier. If a supplier buys from the same company, that company probably used the same kiln schedule as before. This means you should expect the same “brightness” in the wood as before.
Both grade and quality will affect your yield. Yield is a term that refers to the actual amount of lumber used. The opposite of yield would be the amount of waste. The lower the grade of lumber means the lower the yield and the higher the waste. If lumber isn’t cut and dried properly, it will cause stress. Stress also affects yield. If a board has stress, it will move, bow, or cup after it’s been machined. This means you have to cut the bow and cup out of the lumber before using it in your project. Stressed lumber will have more waste and will take more time to machine. You pay for the whole board, so you want to have as little waste as possible. At the end of the day, you will most likely save money by buying high quality lumber. If you want to read more about quality and grade and how it affects you, make sure to check out our blog on The Dangers of Buying Low Quality Material.
Not only does working with low quality lumber take time, but so does souring your material. Using the same lumber supplier can save you time. It can be very difficult to find certain species and a supplier that will service small quantities of lumber. This means you can invest a ton of time in just finding the lumber. And if we are anything like other woodworkers, we would rather spend more time in our shop rather than sourcing material. These are all reasons why we, Kretz Lumber, exist. We want to provide availability and the highest quality lumber available. Our team understands that color, grain, quality, and grade are huge priorities and we are committed to keeping these aspects consistent across all orders. If you ever have any questions about us or our products, don’t hesitate to call at 1-800-350-1438 or email us at [email protected]. We are happy to answer any of your questions!