Finding a Use for Low-Grade Poplar

A sawmiller has buyers for his clear poplar, but needs an outlet for the knotty material that's left over. April 24, 2014

Question
I have a market for 25mbf of fas, 1F and Select of poplar monthly, but my problem is I do not have the market for the lower grade. I am ending up with a big pile of low grade lumber that I wish to get rid of. What can I do with it?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Contributor S:
When I saw grade poplar I sell the low grade in cant form to pallet manufacturing facilities.



From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
It sounds like you have No.1 Common and that is not low grade. It is widely sold and used for many items and uses. Have you contacted a broker or wholesaler? The potential markets for No.1 and also No.2 Common increase if you kiln dry the lumber.

Is the yellow poplar you have stacked for air drying? Otherwise, it would stain quickly and become useful for nothing more than inexpensive pallets. Inexpensive because the more expensive pallets use stronger woods like oak. In today's economy, you will have to work to find markets indeed? Why not consider drying it and then making molding or molding blanks? Or house siding? Or unexposed furniture and cabinet pieces? These are all active markets.



From the original questioner:
Well what I do is I buy butt logs and saw them into 4/4, 6/4 and 8/4 and kiln dry it, then I ship it overseas. The only lumber they use is with no knots for staining and painting for furniture use, especially doors. They always bought 8 footers and up, so I am trying to introduce 7 footers for door jams and 6 and 3 footers for the headers (6/4 and 8/4 ) with a lower price (the 3 footers with lower price), but I still end up with a percentage of knotty boards that I canít use because they told me that the knots will outline after a while if it will be used for painting. All my not usable lumber is stickered and well kept. Thanks for the prompt answers and I will start looking for a broker.



From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Or, consider looking for an inexpensive finger jointing machine so you can make clear pieces of any length. Before you buy one, go to someone that has one and have them make a short run of pieces and see if your customer is happy - they should be. If they are not, look for a local person that needs the same product. At Home Depot, etc., you will find nearly 100% finger jointed stock for handrails, molding, etc. Or maybe you have a neighbor that is looking for more business, so put the bug in their ear and maybe go into business together.