Lumber pricing is on the rise. Getting usable cuts from every cubic inch of lumber has never been more important to profit margins.

What is the perfect hardwood? It’s one that provides higher yield, increased productivity, and is flexible, durable, usable and readily available.

Some characteristics in lumber for getting higher yield are obvious, such as material with fewer defects. Lumber that has wider boards will also produce higher yields and better throughput, with labor savings and superior products. As a general rule, more productive lumber is: flatter, straighter, more stable and more uniform in color.

How do you select the grade?

Some businesses will choose the lowest-cost lumber, to keep costs down. But a comparison of yield from a higher grade to a lower grade of lumber can vary greatly. In a test done in Europe of three lumber grades cut to slats for width and length, the highest grade lumber yielded 75% usable material with 25% waste; a medium grade yielded 70%; and a lower grade yielded just 60%.

But the lowest cost grade in this case was not really the best value. The higher yield of the medium grade delivered more usable product, while the lower grade lumber had more waste. “The middle grade, when you analyzed the yield and throughput costs, actually produces components that are in equal cost to the lower cost grade,” said Pollmeier’s Doug Martin.

“The advantage of cutting the middle grade is longer length cutting and wider rip cutting. So in choosing the right grade, first analyze the cutting length and width needed,” Martin said.

If the need is for wider widths and longer lengths overall — for larger components, for example — choose the higher grade lumber. “Manufacturers of smaller components could get away with cutting the lower grade,” he added.

Once the grade and lumber quality is ascertained, the next step is choosing the right supplier. “Once you know the species’ cut, the region of species you are cutting and [have chosen] the right grade — given your length and width desired needs, finding a supplier that will give you the quality of flatness, straightness, accurate tally, on-grade, is very important,” Martin added.

Listen to the free webcast with TigerStop’s Mike Anderson and Pollmeier’s Doug Martin on Optimizing Lumber Yield: Cut Less, Get More at