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Author Topic: Lumber Grade  (Read 2027 times)

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Offline surfsupinhawaii

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Lumber Grade
« on: January 13, 2007, 12:58:40 PM »
Hi everyone, I just put together my Lumbermate 2000 and have been cutting a few logs. I have a question about dimensional lumber grading. I am a General Contractor, but only for a few years now, my Uncle lives in Montana and has been a Carpenter in the Union for 30 years. I bought my lumber mill so that someday when I buy a piece of property I can mill the lumber and use it to build a home. My Uncle was telling me I might have a problem with the building inspector about the grading of the lumber. I would be using the wood for basic 2x framing. Anyone have any suggestions or can explain how I can get my own personal lumber graded to be used for construction. I live in the Sierras on the California Nevada border. Thanks in advance :)

Offline beenthere

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2007, 01:08:30 PM »
May depend upon which side of that border.  :)

Best to talk to the building inspector, IMO. If he (she) has confidence in your knowledge of grades that are minimums, then he could say not a problem. But, their easy way out of giving you a 'no-risk' answer, is to require the lumber be stamped by a certified grading agency, which will be way too expensive for you to get on your own lumber.

Other threads here have discussed putting your own stamp on it, and wing it. At least the inspector can see it is 'stamped' and may not go beyond that point.
south central Wisconsin
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Offline Tom

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2007, 01:32:33 PM »
Your Uncle was correct.  In some areas the local inspectors take their book very seriously and don't look beyond the written words that protect their tails.  California is one of those states where Governments seem to be very controlling and leave little in the way of citizen decision.

Some States say the lumber must be inspected by an approved inspection agency.   Some say that the lumber must be stamped as being equal to or better than approved grades for the application.  Some areas have no restrictions.  Some States are allowing landowners to build their own structures with their own wood.  Some States are beginning to allow self-inspection with rules written such that the lumber must be as good as a known grade rather than each piece be inspected by a certified grader.

An Engineer's approval is supposed to over shadow the grading requirement.  Some people are using engineers to stamp their plans for this purpose.

The grading is supposed to be an industry control rather than a government control.  But, like many plans, the effort has gone so far that it can restrict an owner of trees from producing and using his own wood without paying an industry approved grader to stamp it.

The restrictions are generally written to inhibit the use of self-produced wood from being used in weight bearing or construction areas.  Studs, plates, beams, trusses and things that will be hidden are generally required to carry a stamp.  Sheeting, paneling, decks and outside structures, ornamental work, and finish work like mouldings generally don't carry that restriction.

In our industry we are more of the mind that a fellow should be able to build his own abode from his own trees without government envolvement.  So far we haven't made many in-roads.  Much has to do with Governments inate desire to control.  Much has to do with the population's desire to lay blame and sue.  I'm sure there are better ways of writing the  laws to allow individual freedoms, but, there aren't many efforts on the books yet.

The first thing to do would be to talk with your Building Department Inspector and determine where you stand.  There are ways around the "rules" if you feel capable of identifying the grades yourself.  You could even become a grader, though, even that is a convuluted procedure.

The Grading organizations have inspectors who will grade your lumber for a fee.  This has proven to be fairly cost prohibitive to the one time user.

Sometimes the methods of construction will keep you out from under the building inspector's rule book. Unfortunately they are more apt to say "no" if they their book doesn't provide them with guidance.

Sometimes you find an inspector who really knows his stuff and will accept the respnsibility of approving lumber that he can see is grade or better.   If you find one of these, keep him in coffee and feed him steaks.  :D
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Offline surfsupinhawaii

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2007, 03:56:58 PM »
Thanks beenthere and Tom for your very informative responses. I can't see much of a reason to own a mill and not be able to build my own home. So I will continue to look further into this question. I am building a log home at the moment so when the inspector comes out next time I might throw this question to him and show him my mill setup. I hope there is a way around it, since the reason I got the ok to buy the mill from my wife was that I would build her a house with the wood I would cut. :o. Thanks again.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2007, 04:26:51 PM »
Another thing is, the graded timber rules normaly only apply to the structural framing of the house. The wall studs and rafters. There is nothing to stop you using your own timber for cladding (inside and out), floorboards, general trim, kitchen fittings and furniture.
On a modern house much of this would be done with manufactured sheet material because its quicker and cheaper. But it's doesn't have to be if you own a sawmill and have your own logs. Cedar weatherboards and hardwood floors aren't expensive then ;)
Also if need be you can likely sell some of your high grade home sawn timber to local woodworkers, log home builders etc and use that money to buy cheap structural 'graded' stuff. ::)

Cheers

Ian
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline fencerowphil (Phil L.)

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2007, 05:57:23 PM »
Surfsup,
It can be both good and bad, but your local inspector is definitely the key
to your future use of your own lumber.

Ian's point about selling more exotic or valuable furniture type lumber off
the mill is a good one, but then again, that depends upon actual costs there
for dimensional lumber.  If your logs are free, then 2X4s are worth it.  If
you have to buy the logs, it's hard to compete with the store bought prices.

Of course, if you want to "over-engineer," cutting things beefier, that may
impress an engineer, an inspector, or... even the wife.
[Listed in order of difficulty.]
 :D   :D      :D
Phil L.                    (Of course, I am assuming you are in the islands.) ???
                      OOps.
Bi-VacAtional:  Piano tuner and sawyer.  (Use one to take a vacation from the other.) Have two Stihl 090s, one Stihl 075, Echo CS8000, Echo 346,  two Homely-ite 27AVs, Peterson 10" Swingblade Winch Production Frame, 36" and 54"Alaskan mills, and a sore back.

Offline Don P

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2007, 06:04:52 PM »
Well, if you're standing in an ungraded log home while that conversation is going on, I'd say you either have some wiggle room, or the conversation is going to go downhill for your client fast, consider before you converse ;)

A laborer works with his hands
A craftsman uses his brain and his hands
An artist uses his brain, his hands, and his heart

Offline surfsupinhawaii

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2007, 08:13:45 PM »
I actually live in the Sierra Mountains of California, around 4000elev. Lot's of Douglas Fir, Pine, and Cedar. Everything in the log home is graded dimensional. I cut a lot of tree's clearing the property and wanted to use them in the house. My Question was for lumber that I would like to use when My wife and I buy property which will of course have tree's on it that I can cut and use. That was the selling point in being able to buy the mill, that I would be able to make my own dimensional lumber. I would not risk building a home out of un- graded wood for a customer and then ask a building inspector a question about lumber grading while I stood in the house. :o

Offline Faron

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2007, 08:45:24 PM »
I asked some questions before I added to my home.  My inspector told me that while technically he couldn't approve my home built and sawed trusses, we both knew what I had in mind was better than what I could buy.  He said he just wouldn't notice them. :)  Maybe you will have one with some common sense as well.
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.  Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote. - Ben Franklin

Offline Don P

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2007, 08:56:57 PM »
Whew, I was visualizing his porch light coming on and it wasn't pretty  :D

If you do end up needing one WWPA, WCLIB, or TP all have offices on your coast and they have travelling graders.
A laborer works with his hands
A craftsman uses his brain and his hands
An artist uses his brain, his hands, and his heart

Offline treenail

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Re: Lumber Grade
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2007, 09:50:25 PM »
Here in New Hampshire, things came to a head a few years ago on this same subject of certified lumber and the building inspector/codes. A farmer in a community north of me, applied for a building permit from the municipal government, with the intent of using his own lumber , harvested from his own property. The building inspector/code person said "no way". Had to be certified , stamped, structural lumber. The farmer said "fine", built his structure from the local supply outlet , and then promptly sent a bill to the town government for the cost difference of having to go that route. The town of course said that they wouldn't pay it. He sued and the courts sided with him. Created a real problem here.

The end of the story was that the legislature in a small , rural state like N.H. felt that many landowners were being deprived of their right to use their own lumber produced themselves. They did something about it by passing a law that allows the small sawmillers to take a test for grading, with the  state extension people so that they can stamp their own #2 and better building lumber for themselves or for others that they are selling to.  Perhaps other states have similar laws. It's called the New Hampshire Native Lumber Law.  Any native lumber that is sawed and stamped by the mill owner has to be accepted by any building inspector in the state.
Norwood Lumbermate 2000 sawmill , Ford 4wd tractor,Grimm/Leader maple sugaring equipment, Ford F-350 12' flatbed truck


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