National Hardwood Lumber Association
Hardwood Lumber Grading at a glance
Hardwood grades are based on the size and
number of clear pieces that can be obtained from a board when it is cut
up to be used to make a product. Grades are not determined by gut
reactions to what a person thinks the grade should be, but actual
measurements of clear sections and definitions for defects.
In practice, some of the above grades are rarely used in the
commercial trade and others are typically combined. For example,
lumber graded SEL & BTR “Select & Better” would include FAS, F1F, and Select
boards. No. 2A Common and No. 2B Common may be combined as "No. 2
Common". In addition there are special rules for some species and
special designations for special selections or agreements between the
buyer and seller.
When selecting wood for a woodworking project, consider the
size of the boards required. In many situations, smaller boards or
lower grades are a more economical choice than the higher grades if
small, clear pieces are required.
Face side is FAS, back side is No. 1 Common. Boards are 4" and wider, 6' and longer. Yields 83-1/3 percent clear face cuttings with minimum sizes of 4" x 5', or 3" x 7'. A cost effective substitute for FAS when only one good face is required or smaller cuttings are acceptable.
No. 1 Common
A typical thrift or "shop" grade. Boards are 3" and wider, 4' and longer. Yields 66-2/3 percent clear face cuttings with minimum sizes of 4" x 2', or 3" x 3'. Provides good value, especially if relatively small pieces can be used.
No. 2A & 2B Common
Boards are 3" and wider, 4' and longer. Yields 50 percent clear face cuttings 3" and wider by 2' and longer. Suitable for some paneling and flooring applications.
No. 3A Common
Boards are 3" and wider, 4' and longer. Yields 33-1/3 percent clear face cuttings 3" and wider by 2' and longer. Economical choice for rough utility applications:, crates, palettes, fencing, etc.
No. 3B Common
Boards are 3" and wider, 4' and longer. Yields 25 percent clear face cuttings 1-1/2" and wider by 2' and longer. Applications same as No. 3A Common.