|Home » Forums » Architectural Woodworking » Message||Login|
You are not logged in. Consider these WOODWEB Member advantages:
30 years ago, i was taught to make 1 pc stiles and rails for exterior and interior doors. we had straight grained fir, thick honduran mahogany, walnut and cherry with little sap. the quality has slipped dramatically. i am considering going to a laminated core and veneer face, and yeas i understand the advantages of it, but my customers still seem to want 1 pc stiles and rails. is everyone having the same problem? has anyone used red grandis? any suggestions?
When I make doors now it takes a few days to make the stiles. Find the few straightest boards in the batch. Then joint them straight and plane them so you are thicker then needed.
Put them on edge for overnight. Look at them again and if they have a slight crook in them joint it again and plane it. Usually about 3 days worth and you have a stable board. If not, you need to find another board to try again.
When I do this I get stable boards that stay straight.
One factor other than more people, less trees that plays a role is the export trade.
I live in the middle of the finest Black Walnut in the world, and can get very little of it. Same with W Oak and Cherry.
Meanwhile, lumber dealers are filling out container loads that have the widest, clearest and best lumber, sealing the container, and then seeing the money in their account a day later. This lumber is to the buyer's spec, mostly well above the NHLA regs, and takes all the cream off the top. This leaves what you and I get: not the best.
I know the global trade will pay more, but so will I. I just never get a chance at it unless it is a small dealer that may or may not have the best drying methods. I can't afford to take chances.
For me it is the opposite. The company we supply doors to requires that doors seven feet or over have stave core stiles. This works out better for both of us. We were finding it hard to get straight 1 3/4" stiles out of 8/4 lumber. When we go to a 2 1/4" door it is always stave core.
Remember the basic concept that wood does not change its size or shape unless its MC changes. We do know that the movement you see overnight is a moisture-related factor, not wood quality. So, the issue is the kiln drying operation.
The trees today are not too much different than in the old days. The grades are roughly the same today as fifty years ago, so if you are buying a specific grade, it should have the same quality as in the past.
So, why do ,you think the quality has dropped? Are you buying a lower grade? Are you buying a grade like "No. 1 and Better" and the amount of "better" has dropped? Are you using "mill run" so that you are using all the lumber produced?
The issue can indeed be that someone has taken the best of the lumber within a grade and shipped it to someone else within the USA or overseas.
The issue can indeed be that with mill run, the somewhat smaller logs means lower grades percentage wise. It can be the fact that the sawmill saws the entire log into lumber rather than lumber and a center cant or RR tie. It can be that the sawmill is making upper grade 2" lumber now and so the amount of 4/4 upper grade of is dropped. All in all, log sizes and quality of most species have not changed much over the past decades, but the sawing and marketing procedures have.
Finally, the moisture content coming from kilns has changed, especially with low temperature dehumidifier kilns, that often produce higher final MCs. This means more lumber movement in a shop or in use. Also, in the past we used to,have larger inventories, so during storage the lumber that was a bit wet could dry a little more.
I believe with every fiber in my body that the grading has changed. They let more crap into a quality range now. I don't doubt this for a second as I see it on every order I place. And it matters not where I buy it.
Yes, the grading has changed. Once upon a time a grader was to grade on the B side of the board - the lesser side. Now they grade by the best side, and the back ("You'll never see it") can be butt ugly with sap and "allowables". If your product is one sided, you can do OK, but cabinet doors? They will be hard to get looking right.
Yes, cellulose is cellulose, what's the difference? Slower growth, larger logs, grading changes all add up. Sometimes,
The NHLA rules were developed to help everyone in the industry know what was discussed. The prevalent buyers were furniture plants, so "cuttings" we're what was needed. Small parts, even for Firsts and Seconds, much less the now rarely heard First One Face.
As a result, I can buy 20,000 b/f of 8/4 Walnut in top grade, and get not one 8' door stile out of it, with every board in the load on grade. If I go to thick commercial veneer, it is nice, but so different in appearance, that I cannot use much of the solid Walnut to make doors, or the two materials will not look correct.
The NHLA rules have not changed in the 50 years I have known them. I have taught grading. We still grade from the poorer face, unless the wood is planed. This has been true forever.
FAS is still the same.
The cutting size and percent required is the same. Defects are the same.
You can always ask for an official reins pectin. That has been in the Rule Book too. Of course, if you do not, then your supplier can cheat. Finally, walnut grading rules are different than for other species which use the clear cutting basis.
Then why is it that I have been ordering the same grade of wood for decades and now receive wood that is of inferior specs? When I ordered clear grade it use to be limited to pin knots. Now one side can be knot free and the other is so riddled with knots the board is unusable for two sided objects.
As to the OP's question, unfortunately, it's going to take you longer to find good stable material than it used to, that's for certain. For appearance and stability, engineered core with veneer is the safer bet,
I agree with Leo and David, lumber is not at all the same, and I feel grading has changed with it. I have materials stashed from 20-25 years ago (as I'm sure others here do) and the difference is noticeable; growth rings are tighter, material is denser and heavier in general. I think grading is done by comparing what is in front of them, not by what used to be.
Response to Leo G's comments: There is no grade in the 110 year old NHLA grading rules called "clear grade." The best grade is FAS and that has a minimum clearness of 83% or 10/12. This is on the worst side. Now, the clear cuttings on the worst side cannot have pin knots on their reverse..."you cannot [when grading] cut over pin knots" is a quote from the Chief NHLA Inspector. So, if the lumber that you have is FAS as you described, it fails the NHLA Grading Rules and you are being cheated big time. Further, if there are all these pin knots, it is more likely that the worst side is the pin knots side and so it is the grading side and will be No.2 C common. We always grade from the worst side unless the lumber has been planed. Even with planed lumber, the good side can be clear, but clear cuttings cannot have pin knots on the reverse.
Also, note that growth ring tightness is not a grading factor and never has been for hardwoods. Likewise, density is not. Color is seldom a grading property either, although sapwood content, and witness can be included in a purchase order or with a special color grade. The NHLA has always encouraged firms to add special requirements to their purchase orders.
When I first started grading, we had lots of 16' lengths and 10" and wider material. When grading such material, the upper grades due to their size allowed three clear areas (cuttings) to achieve 83%. At the same time, we had a large number of RR ties being cut and these mills produced jacket boards (tie siding) which was 8' and 6 to 8" wide. This size requires 83% in just one cutting.
We do not see this long length size as much any more in the North, but I do see it still at many mills in the South. However, the grading rules have not changed.
When teaching grading at the NHLA grading school, much of the lumber used for grading is many decades old.
Back to the OP...I do believe we have many more kilns today than years ago, and with these kilns comes more carelessness in final MC. Movement of wood is always caused by change in MC. Some of the kiln operations today do not monitor final MC very well at all. I took a sample a few years ago of 50 kilns in and near WI drying hardwoods. I measured final MCs from 4% to 11% (but all said its was 6 to 8%). So today, it is now critical for the user of lumber to check the MC with a meter---I like the pin meter because you can measure the core MC separate from the average or shell. (Note: MC is not part of the grading rules.)
In my area of Michigan, the largest suppliers of hardwood lumber are also in the mill work business. As a result they break open the bunks of lumber and rob what they need to fill their orders. As a result what I receive will be mostly seconds. I can only assume this happens in other distribution yards as well
I see the decline largely from the use of more fast growth big ring material. I think this also translates to less dense material. Agree that the quality of drying has gone down as well.
With hardwood lumber, most species have the same density, whether fast grown or slow. For the ones like oak and ash with large pores in the rings, slow grow is actually lower density than fast growth.
In contrast, softwoods are less dense and weaker if faster grown.
Most of the previous postings are referring to hardwoods, so growth rate is not an issue for density or strength.
i agree with david and leo. i have yet to speak to a sales rep in the office or the field who knows or cares what the grading rules are or mean. they buy a bundle thats what they have to sell. the lumber pullers can pick for width and then charge for it. but understanding what a doormaker needs is beyond their comprehension. i posted this because i asked rep for 7s and 8s with at least 8ft straight enough for door stiles . i n african mahogany. i received 80 percent of load 5 1/2 inches and rest 12inch .20 percent was sapele. none of the color,weight ,or grain matched well enough to even glue up stiles.over 12 feet i had humps in the middle that were 1 1/2 off a line. i rejected load and they sent same load back again 3 days later. another supplier delivered a load that i cant even tell what species it is. there is no experience, or knowledge in my area just order takers. always cracks me up when experts talk about the rules. you can only get what they have to sell, and you will pay 7 to 17 %shrinkage and they may or may not tell you when they quote or bill. just getting worse. dhm
Not all sales people or companies are the same. If you want better service, three to try are Bailey Lumber, Bingaman Lumber, and Mann and Parker Lumber. There are more.
We can get Sapelle here but it has issues and a lot of movement. Sipo is the best of the Africian but hard to source here in Colorado.
for a year i have good results with african mahogany.consistent quality, color,grain,texture and weight. specifically stayed away from sapele because of dark color and grain. sipo available here for half the cost of african mahogany but have never used it. only recently given sample by supplier? how is it for doors esp exterior?
wood pics latest batch, gate last batch african mahog frame ,sapele tongue groove.dhm
wood pics latest batch, gate last batch african mahog frame ,sapele tongue groove.dhm
Today, there are several different species sold as African mahogany. As a result, the color and density vary, compared tot he original wood sold as African mahogany. I think that the limited supplies of the good stuff forced the mills to include other species, but they often do not change the name.
i would just like most in a batch to match. typically i use straighter grained stock for verticals, and cathedrals or squirrelystock for horizontal. i am familiar with some woods being trademarked by characteristics, but when you tell your rep you have 3 doors side by side that have to be in the ballpark i expect a little more. in hindsight I could have resawn best stock for faces and staved the cores butmost of my customers want one piece frames. i expect i will have to resort to that in the future.
Well, I am learning a few things, as well as seeing that I'm not the only one grumbling.
Doug - It is not your fault, but I see three things wrong with what you are doing. It is the same thing most of us are doing:
First, lumber pickers selected that career because they had almost no other options open to them. They can't drive the truck, make the sale, grade lumber or saw it. So they pick it and load it. Therefore it will be whatever they pick, they will never be able to be selective about it. They are not capable.
Secondly, you are ordering a small batch of lumber, maybe 100 to 200 b/f of a species at a time, but expecting them to be selective about it. Once upon a time, I ordered truckloads (semi trailers) of a species in one thickness and got amazing quality. We did get a few ringers, but in a load of 20k b/f, it mattered little. Matching for color and grain, etc was as easy as can be.
Third, You and I are selective about the grain and color, but despite all the talk, the dealer, the grader, the technologist, the picker all look at the lumber and say "Yup that is White Oak, every bit of it" but all we see is wildly different boards that will never come together to help us make a living. I use the same pencils that Picasso used, but my drawings don't get attention like his - What is the difference? Paper, pencil, picture of a lady in a robe - no difference, eh? The big difference is the same that so many in the industry (hardwood lumber) miss - aesthetics.
Veneer dealers get it. Furniture makers get it. Lumber dealers are scratching there haid and claiming it is all White Oak - "I don't get it" they say.
Since this is all a rant, by definition, I have no solutions to offer. A couple of strategies are to buy (invest) large amounts of lumber and draw from it as you can. Or to find and use small sawyers and dryers that do not cherry pick except for you.
A comment about white oak, and the same idea applies to red oak, pecan and soft maple, as well as African mahogany and a few other species.
The white family includes 20 commercial white oak species. Any of the 20 might show up in the market place and be correctly called "white oak.". As might be expected, the color varies amongst these 20, as well as growth rate and density.
With hickory/pecan, we have four true hickories and four pecans, but the lumber is often lumped together hickory.
In soft maple, we have silver and red, which differ greatly in density and strength, but are both correctly called soft maple lumber.
Of course, we all know that the color of wood changes on exposure to light, so fresh wood is a different color than aged wood. In addition, the geographic location results in color changes...examples include walnut and cherry. That is why the "best' cherry comes from PA and the "best" walnut from MO.
The kiln temperatures used also change the color. Western alder has color variations due to kiln precess more than any other species, although hard maple is close.
The final MC and the kiln temperature used affects the brittleness and machining results.
true david , i am not ordering bundles. i am a custom maker. if i ordered a bundle of anything i might sit on it for a year or more. i do order 25 to 50 %more than necessary typically. i believe in just in time manufacturing. i dont want to stock bundles of 10 different species. no room , no money, no time. but i dont think its too much too ask to at least get the same species not three in a load. and if a supplier cant deliver 7s and 8s they should contact me before pulling they order to save us both time. not once have i quibbled about price with a supplier. as long as the quote i get is the quote i am billed.
Regardless of grading rules and suppliers' adherence to them, in some cases "you can't get that stuff no more".
When I was a babe in the woods 30 years ago I worked with my neighbor on a substantial door job. He got around 4000 board feet of pattern grade South American mahogany from a regional distributor, beautiful stuff- 10 and 12/4, very few pieces less than 12" wide or 12' long, almost completely clear and straight grained. Try getting that now- the shop I used to work for until recently is doing a comparable door and window job and resorted to Accoya for all the painted work because the mahogany they wanted was just not available. The "pattern grade" stuff we had been getting was a joke. The good stuff has been mined out. The African mahogany would often come mixed species, even if we ordered specifically Khaya or Sipo.
The circa 1890 meeting house in my village was clad in eastern white pine- clapboards, trim, sash, jambs. There is virtually no rot. I rebuilt two of the sash 10 years ago. I had to replace some of the sash bars because they had been left unpainted and had weathered away to the point that there was not enough there to back up the putty- but no rot. I guarantee that you couldn't build anything with the pine available here now and have it hold up like that- I've tried.
What to do? For one, patronize suppliers that at least represent their stock accurately. Irion Lumber in PA is one source, though small scale, for exceptional furniture lumber. They still have a stock of SA mahogany, but they are honest enough to say that they can't get the quality they want, and will not be buying more.
Second,use different species. Unfortunately, there are few good substitutes for clear finished mahogany, and little assurance that what is available, whether from the western or eastern hemispheres, is sustainably harvested. Some plantation grown stock is on the market, but what I have seen is not the equivalent of the good old stuff. For painted exterior work, Accoya and torrified wood may be viable alternatives (I have used the Accoya recently and it seems promising, but I will be watching to see how the project I mentioned holds up before I trust it completely)
For myself, I will be working on a smaller scale going forward, primarily interior work, and relying on locally sourced material and stuff from domestic suppliers that I know I can trust. Caveat emptor.
I think Khaya is a tough one even for the distributer to tell if it is good. The last unit we bought from Serria looked good from the outside till we started chopping on it. We have done a couple interior natural jobs with Khaya and the colors mellow and blend after a few months. It also bleaches out with much sun in a natural finish as do most mahoganies.
I was in a couple larger shops back East last year that were using Sipo and it looked good to me. Of course I am sure it depends on the supplier. We toured some UK shops last year and most of those were using Sapelle for window frames and Sipo for doors because Sipo has less movement. That makes sense as we had some problems with Sapelle on doors because of the movement.
It pays to stay close to your suppliers. Colorado loves rustic wood and they created a new grade for this in domestic hardwoods. (I do not know if it is a official grade) From mill to mill the quality can vary. Some use it to get rid of their junk lumber and other mills put out some quality material. My suppliers use several mills and they clued me in to the quality ones which we now spec.
We have had good luck with tight grained VG Fir for building solid stile doors. I am surprised we can still get this material. Interior doors can be any species for us and depending on size and thickness sometimes we go solid and sometimes skins with a core.
A couple thoughts...first I switched to laminated stiles and rails as I find it's 'safer' than going single piece. I however don't use a cheaper wood in the core. I mill all my stock from rough and then use the select pieces for the skins, and the 2nd or worse for the cores. More costly this way but once done, depending on the profile, it's difficult for the average person to tell whether it's a single piece of wood or a laminated stile.
Second, when it comes to door parts I usually go pick my lumber. I buy most of my lumber from a very large supplier, but once your established they will let you pick your stock. I've tried getting it delivered several times over the years when I was short on time, but it's really a gamble what I get and most often I regret that decision. Sometimes I'll even pick up when the stock is not as important just b/c I know as a small shop I'm not going to get the best quality when it's being delivered.
As an example.....I went through about 500 bf of rift white oak on two projects last year. The first delivery was almost sent back. Short lengths of 7-8' and some really squirrelly gnarly looking stock! Second delivery was a bit better but still not the best. I needed a bit extra for another small project that came in and drove to the yard. The bundle that came out held about 400+ bf and was the cleanest straightest stock you could ever want! If I had the extra cash I would have bought the full bundle on the spot!
Boy, I jinxed myself saying we have good luck with VG Fir.