Day after day we receive inquiries for the price of fence boards. Unlike traditional lumber yards and box home improvement stores, when a call like that is received at our shop, our staff provides a price for a Western Red Cedar fence board as well as the grade. In many cases, the person who is inquiring about the price does not have a clear understanding of what the grading means and maybe comparing pricing of products from various sources that are not equal.
Imagine calling around to different restaurants and asking for the price of “cheeseburger”. While it is called the same thing at a fast food restaurant as well as a nice family restaurant, the “cheeseburger” at each location will be different quality and the pricing would reflect that. You would not purchase a cheeseburger based solely on price while not taking into consideration the quality, so therefore, you should not select a fence board based solely on price either.
While there is no regulation or standards for “cheeseburgers”, there are established standards for fence boards that have been developed by the National Lumber Grades Authority, as well as the West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau. It is important to note, that “fence grade” is below Knotty or Clear grades of Western Red Cedar and should not be compared to the quality or held at the same standard as lumber in those grades.
The West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau divides Western Red Cedar Fence Boards into three basic categories. Any grade may be rough or surfaced, Air Dried, Kiln Dried or “green”. Grade is determined by the best face.
No. 1 Fencing “Select”
- Checks and Pinholes are not limited
- Shakes are “Fine”
- Skips are “hit and miss”, splits are “short”
- Knots are sound and tight
- Spike Knots can be approximately 1/2 face width or equivalent
- Tolerance of 1/16″ over or under in thickness, width may vary along the piece of 1/8″, but not to exceed 20% of the pieces
No. 2 Fencing “Quality”
- Checks and Pinholes are not limited
- Shakes are “fine”
- Skips are “hit and miss”, splits are “medium”
- Wane can be 1/2 thickness as well as 1/3 width
- There can be small spots or streaks of unsound wood
- White speck not limited
- There maybe some knots that are not firmly fixed or are unsound but may not exceed 1/3 the width of the board
- Spike Knots can be 3/4 of the face width
- Maximum 1″ holes with 4 per foot allowed, unless “No Hole” is specified
- Same tolerance of thickness and width as Select Fencing
No. 3 Fencing “Rustic”
- Lumber of this grade is suitable for low grade and permits all characteristics which do not interfere with the use of the piece
- Thickness can be 3/16″ over or under invoiced thickness
- Edge skips can not exceed 1/4″
- Variation on width should not exceed 1/2″
We do not generally carry any No 3 fencing or any fencing that allows for holes. On the off chance we have some or order in for a particular customer, we do not allow returns or exchanges on ANY No.3 fencing, as the pricing reflects the quality of the the material of the whole order.
GLOSSARY as provided by The West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau
Shake – A lengthwise separation of the wood that occurs between or through the annual growth rings
- “Light” or “Fine” Shake is not over 1/32″ wide
- “Medium” Shake is not over 1/8″ wide
- “Surface” Shake occurs on only one surface of the piece
- Shake should not be confused with bark seams
Split – A separation of the wood through the piece of the opposite surface or to an adjoining surface due to the tearing apart of the wood cells.
- “Very Short” is equal in length to 1/2 of the width of the piece
- “Short” is equal in length to the width of the piece and does not exceed 1/6 the length
- “Medium” is equal in length to twice the width of the piece and does not exceed 1/6 thelength
- “Long” is longer than a medium
Skips – Occurs during milling when the board is too thin in an area to reach the planer blades, thus resulting in rough spot
Wane – Bark or lack of wood from any cause, except eased edges, on the edge or corner of a piece of lumber
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