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  • Writer's pictureCasey Webster

Art of Lumber Grading in the #LumberIndustry at #HartzellHardwoods for #woodworkingprojects

Updated: Jun 29

Mastering Lumber Selection: A Guide to Choosing the Finest Hardwood for Your Woodworking Projects

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Lumber Grades and Quality Control

Stacks of Hardwoods Lumber in a Warehouse with blue edges
Stacks of Hardwoods Lumber

Welcome to "The Art of Lumber Grading," an informative journey into the meticulous process of lumber grading at Hartzell Hardwoods. This blog post aims to shed light on a crucial part of the lumber industry that often goes unnoticed yet significantly impacts the quality of the final product - the grading of lumber.

Understanding lumber grading is crucial to appreciating the value of high-quality hardwood products. The wood's beauty, durability, and individual character come to light through this detailed and labor-intensive process. The grading process involves assessing each board for its unique properties, such as color, texture, and clear wood, which ultimately dictate its grade and, thus, its usage.

At Hartzell Hardwoods, a company with a legacy of nearly 150 years in the hardwood industry, lumber grading is more than just a process; it is an art form. Our dedicated team of expert graders meticulously examines each piece of lumber, ensuring that only the highest quality wood is selected for processing and reaches our customers. This blog post will guide you through Hartzell Hardwoods' proprietary process for grading lumber, providing insights into the unique characteristics determining lumber quality. By the end, you'll have a deeper understanding of the art and science that goes into every board of Hartzell Hardwoods lumber.

The Importance of Lumber Grading at #HartzellHardwoods

Lumber grading stands at the heart of Hartzell Hardwoods' commitment to quality. It is a step in the process that we hold with great importance, and it serves as a fundamental differentiator between us and other hardwood manufacturers. But why is it so crucial?

Firstly, grading ensures the consistency and reliability of our products. It allows us to assign each piece of lumber a specific grade based on a comprehensive evaluation of its unique characteristics. These characteristics include the amount of clear wood, color, texture, and figure. The grade, in turn, signals the potential uses of the wood, helping customers choose the right type of lumber for our specific needs. By maintaining rigorous grading standards, we can ensure that our customers receive exactly what they expect when they purchase our products.

Moreover, grading plays a pivotal role in optimizing the value of the wood. It allows us to separate lumber into categories based on quality, ensuring that every part of the log is used to its fullest potential. This meticulous grading process reduces waste and ensures we deliver the best possible value to our customers.

Finally, our emphasis on top-quality grading ensures that Hartzell Hardwoods' products stand out in the market. It's not just about the physical properties of the wood; it's about the story each piece of lumber tells. Whether it's the rich, dark hues of our walnut or our oak's bold, robust nature, each board's character comes alive through our grading process. This commitment to showcasing our lumber's natural beauty and strength has helped us build a reputation as a leading premium walnut and thick oak lumber provider.

In summary, the importance of lumber grading at Hartzell Hardwoods must be balanced. It's crucial to our dedication to quality, consistency, and customer satisfaction. Through this process, we can honor the natural beauty of the wood, celebrate its unique characteristics, and deliver a product that truly stands out in the global hardwood industry.

Understanding the Basics of Lumber Grading #HardwoodsIndustry

Grading lumber is both an art and a science. It involves assessing various characteristics and features of the wood to determine its quality and potential uses. Here at Hartzell Hardwoods, we adhere to the industry-standard NHLA Oak Grading Rules, which consider several key factors: clear wood, color, texture, and figure. Let's delve into these criteria to understand lumber grading basics better.

Clear Wood: This refers to the board's portions free from defects such as knots, splits, or wormholes. The greater the amount of clear wood, the higher the grade of the lumber. High-quality, clear lumber is often used when appearance matters, such as furniture, cabinetry, or high-end flooring.

Color: The color of the wood can vary greatly within a species and even within a single log, depending on factors such as the tree's age and the part of the tree from which the wood was cut. Color consistency is often desirable, particularly for applications where a uniform look is essential. For instance, our walnut lumber's deep, rich colors are a defining feature that sets it apart.

Texture: This refers to the size and arrangement of the wood cells, which can affect the wood's appearance and how it feels to the touch. Some woods have a fine texture, while others are coarser. The surface can influence how the wood absorbs stains and finishes, affecting the product's final appearance.

Figure: This term describes the pattern produced in the wood due to its growth characteristics. The figure can include features such as grain patterns, swirls, and waves, and it can significantly influence the aesthetic appeal of the wood. Some figures are highly sought after for their unique and beautiful patterns.

These factors combine in a complex interplay determining a piece of lumber's grade, value, and potential uses. By understanding these basics, you can appreciate the care and expertise that goes into Hartzell Hardwoods' grading process – and the exceptional quality of the lumber we produce.

The #HartzellHardwoods Grading Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

At Hartzell Hardwoods, the grading process is a meticulous and essential part of ensuring the quality of our lumber products. Each step is carefully executed to guarantee that only the finest hardwoods make it into our inventory. Let's explore the step-by-step guide to the Hartzell Hardwoods grading process:

Initial Inspection and Selection:

The process begins with a thorough initial inspection of the lumber. Skilled experts at Hartzell Hardwoods evaluate each piece's appearance, size, and overall quality. They meticulously examine the wood for defects, such as knots, splits, or irregularities. Only the highest-grade lumber passes this initial selection phase.

Sorting and Grading:

Once the initial inspection is complete, the lumber undergoes sorting and grading. This involves categorizing the wood into different grades based on its quality, appearance, and suitability for specific applications. Hartzell Hardwoods follows industry-standard grading guidelines, meticulously assigning each piece to the appropriate grade category. The expertise of the graders plays a crucial role in ensuring accuracy during this process.

Quality Assurance and Final Inspection:

After the sorting and grading stage, the lumber goes through a comprehensive quality assurance process. This involves a final inspection to verify that the wood meets Hartzell Hardwoods' stringent standards. The inspectors pay close attention to the characteristics that define the company's commitment to quality, such as color consistency, grain pattern, and overall aesthetic appeal. Any pieces that do not meet the desired quality standards are rejected, ensuring that only the best lumber reaches customers.

Throughout the grading process, Hartzell Hardwoods maintains meticulous records and documentation, allowing them to trace the quality of each piece of lumber. This level of detail ensures transparency and accountability in the grading process, giving customers confidence in the wood quality they purchase.

Hartzell Hardwoods can consistently deliver premium lumber to its customers by following this step-by-step grading process. The dedication and expertise of the Hartzell Hardwoods team, combined with our commitment to quality control, resulting in the production of exceptional hardwood products.

Interpreting the Grading System in the #lumberindustry

Understanding the grading system established by NHLA and used by Hartzell Hardwoods is essential for customers who want to select the best lumber. Hartzell Hardwoods follows industry-standard grading guidelines, providing customers with a clear and reliable framework for evaluating and choosing our desired lumber. Let's delve into Hartzell Hardwoods' grading system and explore how customers can interpret it:


FAS is the highest grade of hardwood lumber. It represents the finest quality wood available, characterized by a high proportion of clear wood with minimal defects. FAS lumber is suitable for applications where both strength and aesthetics are important, such as fine furniture, cabinetry, and architectural millwork.

1 Common:

1 Common grade includes lumber with more natural characteristics, such as knots, mineral streaks, and color variations. Despite these characteristics, 1 Common wood is structurally sound and suitable for applications with a desired rustic or natural appearance. It is often used in flooring, cabinetry, and architectural accents.

2 Common:

2 Common grade encompasses lumber with more pronounced natural characteristics, including larger knots, mineral streaks, and other visual features. While it may have a more rustic or characterful appearance, 2 Common wood still possesses structural integrity. It can be used in various applications where a more relaxed or informal aesthetic is desired.

Customers can select the lumber best aligned with our project requirements and desired aesthetic by understanding the different grades offered by Hartzell Hardwoods. It is important to note that the grading system considers the unique characteristics we discussed earlier, such as clear wood, color, texture, and figure.

Customers can work closely with our knowledgeable staff to interpret the grading system and make informed choices. Our experienced team can provide guidance and recommendations based on the specific needs of each customer's project, ensuring they find the most suitable lumber grade for our intended application.

Quality Control at #HartzellHardwoods

At Hartzell Hardwoods, maintaining consistently high standards of quality is paramount. The company employs rigorous quality control measures throughout our operations to achieve this. Let's explore the key aspects of Hartzell Hardwoods' quality control processes:

Experienced Graders:

One of the foundations of Hartzell Hardwoods' quality control is the expertise and experience of our graders. These skilled professionals deeply understand wood characteristics, grading guidelines, and the company's specific quality standards. Our keen eye for detail allows them to accurately assess and assign the appropriate grades to the lumber, ensuring consistency and precision.

Technological Tools and Techniques:

While the knowledge and expertise of the graders are paramount, Hartzell Hardwoods also leverages technological tools and techniques to enhance our quality control processes. Advanced scanning technologies and imaging systems are utilized to analyze the characteristics of the wood, providing additional insights and supporting the grading decisions. These tools complement human expertise, enabling more precise assessments and ensuring that the quality control measures are thorough and accurate.

Internal Audits and Inspections:

Hartzell Hardwoods conducts regular internal audits and inspections to maintain our high standards. These audits assess various stages of the production process, including the grading process, to identify any areas for improvement or deviations from the established quality protocols. By proactively monitoring and addressing potential issues, Hartzell Hardwoods ensures that our products meet or exceed customer expectations.

Customer Feedback and Satisfaction:

Hartzell Hardwoods values customer feedback as an integral part of our quality control efforts. We actively seek customer input, listening to our needs, preferences, and suggestions. By understanding customer expectations, Hartzell Hardwoods can continuously refine our processes and adjust to deliver the highest quality lumber products. We strive to achieve customer satisfaction, from grading to the final product.

Hartzell Hardwoods maintains stringent quality control measures by combining experienced graders, advanced technological tools, internal audits, and customer feedback. These measures ensure that every piece of lumber that leaves our facility meets the highest standards of quality, consistency, and craftsmanship.

By prioritizing quality control, Hartzell Hardwoods instills confidence in our customers, who can rely on the consistency and reliability of our lumber products. Whether a small woodworking project or a large-scale commercial application, customers can trust that Hartzell Hardwoods' commitment to quality will result in exceptional outcomes.


Throughout this blog post, we have explored the art of lumber grading at Hartzell Hardwoods and its significant role in ensuring the company's commitment to quality. Hartzell Hardwoods' dedication to excellence is evident in every step of our grading process, from the initial inspection to the final quality assurance measures. Let's recap the key points discussed:

  • Hartzell Hardwoods' grading process follows a step-by-step guide, including initial inspection and selection, sorting and grading, and quality assurance and final inspection.

  • We focus on unique characteristics such as clear wood, color, texture, and figure to determine the quality of our lumber.

  • Understanding the industry's grading system, from FAS to 2 Common, empowers customers to make informed choices based on our project requirements and aesthetic preferences.

  • Hartzell Hardwoods maintains strict quality control measures, including the expertise of experienced graders, utilization of technological tools, internal audits and inspections, and customer feedback and satisfaction.

  • Hartzell Hardwoods' commitment to quality control ensures that our customers receive consistently high-quality lumber products for various applications.

By upholding these principles of quality and precision in our grading process, Hartzell Hardwoods has established a reputation as a trusted provider of premium hardwood products. Our emphasis on quality extends beyond the grading process and encompasses our commitment to customer relationships, employee well-being, and community engagement.

As a customer, when you choose Hartzell Hardwoods, you can have confidence that you are working with a company that values craftsmanship, integrity, and innovation. The art of lumber grading practiced at Hartzell Hardwoods is a testament to our dedication to excellence and desire to provide customers with the best materials for our woodworking projects.

This blog post has shed light on the intricacies of the lumber grading process at Hartzell Hardwoods and its importance in delivering outstanding hardwood products. Please contact our sales team if you have further questions or want to learn more.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the art of lumber grading at Hartzell Hardwoods. We invite you to experience the beauty and quality of our premium hardwood products and witness firsthand the meticulous craftsmanship that sets them apart in the industry.

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