Abstract

This article documents how the hardwood industry, in the absence of a standardized, industry-wide log grading system, has gone about grading and scaling hardwood logs by surveying mills, primarily in the Appalachian region. In total, 135 surveys were completed by respondents and returned via mail, with only 110 of those surveys considered usable for further analysis, after a thorough review of the individual surveys. Survey responses were grouped around annual production level, with three defined levels; ≤2.5 million board feet (MMBF), >2.5 and ≤8.0 MMBF, and >8.0 MMBF. Responding mills used some variation of a log grading system based on the number of clear faces on the log and the small end diameter of the log. The most common log rule used by mills in this study was the Doyle log rule, with over 75 percent using Doyle for scaling logs. Nearly 90 percent of all mills sampled graded logs without rolling the log to examine all four sides/faces. Half of all the sawmills surveyed pay the same price per thousand board feet (MBF) for butt logs and uppers. When asked if they would support the development of a standard log grading system, about two-thirds of the respondents (66%) indicated they would indeed support a standardized system for Appalachian hardwoods. These findings can help guide the development of a set of log grading standards for buyers and sellers in the Appalachian region and other parts of the world where hardwood lumber is produced.

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