Grading System

Grading System

We source timber from all over the world.  Depending on where timber is sourced, mills use different grading systems and some producers use no system at all.  Wherever possible, we use grades that the South African timber industry has become familiar with.  These include:

For North American hardwoods (e.g. Oak, Ash, Walnut):

“PRIME”Higher grade. Equivalent to Select & better from US NLHA rules. Find a copy of the NLHA rules here.
“COMSELS” Medium grade. More knots and defects than PRIME. Equivalent to Number 1 Common from the US Hardwood Grading rules.
“2 COMMON”Lower grade, per the US Hardwood Grading rules.. More knots and defects than COMSELS.

For North American softwoods (e.g. Oregon, Western Red Cedar):

“CLEAR”Higher grade, virtually clear of knots.
“MERCH” Medium grade, contains knots – “Merchantable” grade.

For other timbers there are a range of other grading terms which may be used on an ad-hoc basis, for example:

“FAS”Or “First and Seconds”. This is a high grade applying to West African timbers (e.g. Iroko, Sapele, Afrormosia) amongst others.
“SUPERIOR”Higher grade – Applicable to Knysna Blackwood, Yellowwood, Cottonwood amongst others.
“STANDARD & BETTER”Applicable to Malaysian hardwoods (e.g. Meranti, Balau), consistent with the Malaysian Grading Rules. It is a medium grade with few knots, but permitting some colour inconsistency, pin-holes and resin pockets.
“RUSTIC”Lower grade permitting frequent knots, end cracks, colour variation, surface checks. Applicable to French Oak for example.
“SAWFALLING”Ungraded – Applicable primarily to Siberian Larch. Boards will range from clear to knotty.
“MILL-RUN”Ungraded – Applicable primarily to Knysna Blackwood. Boards will range from clear to knotty, with frequent end-cracks, presence of sapwood, wane and other defects.

In an effort to standardize our grading of individually priced boards sold through this website, we have introduced our own proprietary grading system for those boards as follows:

“AAA”4 sides clear (some wane permitted).
“A”Better face clear, worse face may include minor defects (surface checks, knots, color variation, some sapwood).
“AB”Better face includes some limited defects (surface checks, knots, color variation, some sapwood).
“B”Significant defects on better face, but with good clear sections.
“C”Significant defects both faces, rustic grade.

While we endeavour to be as consistent as possible in our grading, it can be rather subjective, especially across the different species we offer. Please read descriptions and check all images as closely as possible before making a purchase decision. If you require any further details on a specific piece or grade, please don’t hesitate to ask us.