Industry News

NELMA Updates Grade Rule Book

As of August 2020, the most recent addition of Standard Grading Rules for Northeastern Lumber is available from the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA).

AS OF AUGUST 2020, the most recent addition of Standard Grading Rules for Northeastern Lumber is available from the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA).

As one of six rules-writing agencies in the U.S. and Canada accredited by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) to write grade rules certified as conforming to the American Softwood Lumber Standard PS20, NELMA releases an updated Grade Rule Book on average every three to four years.

Lumber grading rules have been around since the 1600s, and their beginnings can be traced all the way back to the history of the New England colonies. Population growth resulted in increased use of lumber as a building material, and the necessity for simple rules to be established became evident. Thus, lumber grading rules were first developed to establish the growing trade activity between the buyer and the manufacturer.

On the NELMA side, the first eastern white pine grading rules were published on January 1, 1937, shortly after the association was founded in 1933. The premier booklet was entitled Standard Grading Rules for Northern White Pine and Norway Pine; these were the then-common names for what we know today as Eastern White Pine and Red Pine.

Flash forward to 1938, and Standard Grading Rules for Eastern Spruce and Balsam Fir was published by NELMA for use within the northeastern lumber industry. Both of these were important construction species of the day, and are now part of what we know as the SPFs species grouping.

Why do we need a grade rule book, and why does it need to be updated? Standard Grading Rules for Northeastern Lumber is provided to the industry as a definitive guide to understanding the various grades of lumber and timbers produced from wood species grown in the northeast and Great Lakes regions of the United States. It’s the keystone to understanding and learning about each grade of lumber. Informative sections highlight species, moisture content, special board grades, National Grading Rules (NGR), design values, and much ore. A glossary provides easy explanation of terms and abbreviations used throughout the 250+ page book.

Updates provide for new information to be included—such as the addition of Norway spruce to the approved species list in 2016—so users are always completely up to date with needed information.

New for 2020:

  • A revised national grading rule section.
  • Revised interpretations for the national grading rule.
  • The continuation of the popular format of using color photographs to explain instructions for applying the rules to the grading of eastern white pine. “What was once a separate document is now included in the books to provide as much relevant, helpful information in one location as possible,” commented Jeff Easterling, president of NELMA. “Color photos highlight various wood characteristics important to the specific interpretations that determine the lumber grade; this is take information sharing to a completely new level, and our readers love it and want more!”

“While the Standard Grading Rules for Northeastern Lumber book is available online, it’s amazing how many people still want to use a hard copy… it’s barely been three years since the last edition, but we are completely out of stock!” concluded Easterling.

Kim Drew

The 2020 edition of Standard Grading Rules for Northeastern Lumber is available now from NELMA. A free download of each section is available online at www.nelma.org, or a print copy may be purchased by contacting NELMA at (207) 829-6901 or from the “Library” Publication Store section of the association website.

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