If you read the first post in this series, you realize that 4/4 lumber is essentially a U.S. product. As a result, most mills around the world saw 8/4 and thicker boards. Adding an extra bump in the road, U.S. window and door manufacturers don’t like using 4/4 or 8/4 lumber. Like Goldilocks, they find one to be too thin but the other, too thick. As a result, a market for 7/4, 6/4, and 5/4 lumber has been created.
The same dilemma that comes with sourcing 4/4 lumber affects this niche market, too: wasted lumber and increased costs as well as decreased availability. The situation is looking pretty grim. But don’t worry. Keep reading.
How Can We Fix the Situation?
Let’s think about it: The lumber is in plentiful supply. Larger thicknesses than the U.S. market requires are easy to come by. Okay, maybe you’re not thinking like we do, but keep in mind that we have a full millworks operation at our disposal. Instead of insisting on purchasing only the thicknesses and high quality that our customers require (which would result in our paying a premium for that selection in order to cover the mill’s cost for the lower quality boards that are produced as a by-product), we buy only FAS lumber but aren’t as picky about size. Once we receive this premium-quality thick lumber, we re-saw it ourselves according to customer requests.
This does make FAS 5/4 or 10/4 Sapele cost more than FAS 6/4 or 12/4 Sapele (which might seem odd if you didn’t know what had to happen in order for us to offer 5/4 FAS Sapele in the first place: the cost of the extra labor has to be absorbed somewhere).
How Can You Avoid the Added Cost?
If you have your own re-sawing abilities, in house, you’d probably be better off to absorb the extra cost yourself. If you have uses for Common grades, you might be better off dealing with another supplier.
Now, you may or may not be able to find another supplier with as rich of a history that’s able to provide for all your lumber needs in a single shipment, all while assuring you of top-quality products that are responsibly sourced, every single time. (And in the days of Lacey Act legislation, that’s no small feat.) But if you want all that and require only FAS lumber that’s already milled to the sizes you require, then what we have to offer is honestly your best bet.
If the U.S. market continues to demand lumber specifications different from the rest of the world, we’re going to have to figure in the extra costs. It’s simply a matter of deciding where that cost is incurred. If you don’t like it, you do have other options: Either buy only domestic species or move to Europe. Or Asia. It’s your call.