Hardwood dimension components are normally kiln-dried and have been processed to a point where maximum waste is left at the dimension mill, and the user achieves the maximum yield. These components are manufactured from rough boards, bolts, cants or logs to the specific requirements of the particular product or use. Dimension products are specified by thickness, width and length or multiples thereof. They may be solid or glued-up as specified.

Dimension products are classified as rough dimension, semi-machined dimension or fully mechanized dimension. Rough dimension stock consists of blanks cut and ripped to specific sizes, normally rough surfaced two sides or more to a nominal size.

Semi-machined dimension components are rough dimension parts that have been carried further in the manufacturing process. These processes may include one or more of several woodworking operations including: edge or face gluing, surfacing, moulding, tenoning, turning, sanding, equalizing, trimming, mitering, boring, embossing, shaping, routing, carving, etc.

Fully machined dimension parts are completely machined with no additional machining to be done prior to assembly except for a final polish sanding operation before finishing or painting.

Product uses and applications

Most hardwood dimension wood products are used for household and office furniture, kitchen and bath cabinets, building materials and a wide variety of other decorative wood products. Typical dimensioned wood products include: cut-to-size blanks, edge-glued panels, solid or laminated squares, mouldings, turnings, bendings, upholstered frame stock, interior trim, millwork, staircase parts and a wide variety of component parts for cabinets, such as cabinet doors, face frames, and drawer sides and fronts.

How to buy dimension products

The secret to buying dimension products is to communicate with your suppliers. Tell your dimension suppliers exactly how the part is going to be used in your finished product. The better informed both buyer and seller are, the better the chance of developing a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.

Discuss tolerances, specifications and quantities with your dimension suppliers. Ask them for suggestions to improve lumber yields, production efficiencies, product quality and ways to reduce costs – especially material costs. Since material costs account for over half of the total cost of producing dimension, the use of lower grade materials and optional species can result in dramatic savings. Be sure to discuss alternative solutions to meet your needs.

Dimension buyers also should specify the minimum requirements possible in order to maximize the wood utilization and minimize their costs. To arrive at the most efficient cost, dimension buyers are encouraged to specify only those faces and tolerances necessary to produce a satisfactory wood component product suited to the end use. All too often, a higher grade of material is specified than is actually needed. When this happens, it means the dimension purchaser is paying more than is necessary for the product and results in wasting our nation’s valuable forest resources.

The wood advantage

Wood is a very versatile raw material that can be shaped into almost any size or form and can be stained or painted to achieve a variety of attractive finishes. These characteristics make any product made from wood look more appealing.

This is especially true for products made from American hardwoods. American hardwoods are noted for their distinctive grains and colors that set them apart from other hardwood materials found around the world. American hardwood dimension products can be produced from several commercially available species including: alder, ash, beech, birch, cherry, hackberry, hickory, gum, hard and soft maple, pecan, red and white oak, poplar, sycamore and walnut, to name a few.

Wood is also a renewable resource and is managed for sustained growth to meet the needs of future generations. According to the latest U.S. Forest Service data, hardwood growth significantly exceeds harvests and the quantity and quality of the U.S. hardwood resource continues to improve. Because of this, there is an adequate supply of a wide variety of American hardwoods that can be machined into almost any size or shape as required. For a list of WCMA members that can produce the dimension parts you need, visit www.WCMA.com.

Top 10 reasons to outsource

1.    Outsourced components can cost less than producing in-house.
2.    You do not have the manufacturing capabilities or space.
3.    Allows you to take advantage of  others’ expertise.
4.    It can increase your productivity and efficiency.
5.    Saves you time to focus on more important things.
6.    Reduces your capital expenditures.
7.    Obtain better quality and consistency.
8.    Reduces your inventory and overhead.
9.    Allows you to concentrate on product development.
10.  Enables you to offer an expanded variety of products.