Sawmill Lumber Grade Shortcourse

Joseph Zorzin redoak at
Thu Sep 25 04:31:30 EST 1997

Ron Wenrich wrote:

> Here's a novel idea:  Why not actually teach foresters while they are in
> school!

Good point, but how could the ivory tower teach what it doesn't know.
When I got out of forestry school with good grades I was totaly useless
as a forester- didn't have a clue. But I knew a lot about chemistry,
microscopes, Fortran and some other things I won't mention here. <G>
Those subjects are fine, but most foresters students really need much
more trade oriented education.

> Consultants do not estimate log grades.  Mostly, because they can't.  Usual
> timber grade discription would be "average for the area".  It's up to the
> buyers to determine quality and base their bid on experience of timber in
> the area.   Buyers from outside the area can get burned pretty quick, by
> not knowing timber quality in a given area.

I agree on this point too. Here in Mass. every few years there's a push
on for field foresters to grade their trees while marking for a harvest.
But if we did attempt this and we were off by a small amount, the timber
buying foresters would crucify us. Best to keep my opinions on the
quality to a minimum; the timber buying foresters usually do get some
experience around the lumber yards and/or sawing so they do have a
better sense of grade. My grading system consists of "good, bad, and
ugly". My goal is to be consistent on my board foot estimate.
Consistent, not accurate. It's impossible to be accurate because i'll
never have access to the truth of the mill yield. But if I'm consistant
from one project to the next, then the timber buyers know what their
yield will be and can safely make a bid on my timber showings. As to
quality, that's their problem. They won't yell at me if the quality is
low, but I'll hear from them if they run 10 board feet short of my
estimate. Of course if they run 20% over they'll tell me "your estimate
was right on the money". <G>

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