We bought some 1x6 Douglas Fir tongue and groove paneling recently to use as the ceiling of a timber frame house we're building. When we dug into it we were dismayed to find that most of it had significant problems - tearout, pits, and a lot of roller burn (a LOT!- 60-70% of sticks had it). Not something we could use as-is.

The grade we ostensibly bought was "Clear, D and Better". My understanding of that grade is that it's the lowest of the clear grades, and can have occasional knots and other issues. That's fine, but what we got was I think must worse than that. I've made a gallery of some of the things we saw as we went through:


I've not bought this grade of wood before, it's pretty spendy stuff - $2.35/lf. This was a significant expense, many thousands of dollars in total, plus a not insignificant shipping cost. Did we get some bad product or are my expectations too high?

  • Any price considerations are out the window right now. A common stud costs about four times what it did two years ago. Global supply chain disruptions and spiking demand....
    – isherwood
    Jun 23, 2021 at 16:34
  • @isherwood Yeah, it was crazy. Fortunately it appears prices coming down to Earth, but still much higher than a couple of years ago. Reminds me of the price of copper wiring (12/2) that went from $$120 for a 1,000' spool to $400. Home Depot got to the point of shelving only a few 250' rolls at a time due to theft. Link to article: archpaper.com/2021/06/… Jun 23, 2021 at 17:02
  • I haven't seen any reduction in local lumber prices, and I don't expect to until a year or more from now when demand eases a bit. There's a huge backlog of construction letting loose at the moment.
    – isherwood
    Jun 23, 2021 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


I work in a mill and I have talked to the graders to better understand how the wood is graded.

First is clear this is the toughest grade as any knots are usually small and tight. But then you chose D grade this is the bottom of the barrel grade but visual defects, boards with some edge defects from bark “wain” (not sure on spelling) are common in D so it is not unusual. All grades can have a certain amount that falls outside the stamped grade system in each grade.

Grade inspectors spot check our graders weekly and they randomly pull full units of finished wood and inspect every board if the grade falls outside the inspection we loose our stamps (a big deal).

In our plant a person completes a quick grade and what end to trim and a optical scanner provides a double checks the grade, finally the lumber is sorted by size and grade. Then is stacked the person running the stacker pulls out anything that may have snuck by.

So when purchasing specific grades although it is much more expensive go with higher grades this is the reason why.

I believe you got what you purchased in the D grade if I wanted something I wanted to use as is I would be getting B grade or better.

  • 1
    Great answer as usual, but I have a couple of questions: 1) I don't understand the burn marks from the planer. At first I thought maybe they were sticker marks, but in later pics, clearly they were burn marks...must be a pretty poorly adjusted planer. 2) the wood was obviously not stacked properly bc parts were exposed to UV (discoloring). If the OP wants to keep this "stuff" (nice word), I think the only answer is to get it to a dry place, sticker it properly, let it dry out over a few weeks, then get borrow, rent or steal a planer to take off a light cut to clean them up. Jun 23, 2021 at 14:26
  • George your suggestion to run through a planer is what I would do. When logs are cut to make a straight cut in some wood a curved profile is used it sounds strange but it works (not as much on older growth or clear) but deviations in the cut profile cause burns, some from the rollers some from the heads. So an entire unit of rough cuts get put together and no 2 boards are alike the edger may have had a wood chip in the gang of saws so 1 board was thick 1 was thin (changed with every cant or slab) now the planer is set for size these are the thin ones that may have been pushed by the next board
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 23, 2021 at 15:06
  • Remember mills have to stick to the size standards so a board or group of boards that were on the thin side going into the planer may spin out and a burn happens so fast it is on its way to the grader before it is even noticed. If there are an excessive number we will make “custom” this is what bargain lumber places purchase it may be a a bit thinner than the standard minimum. The board that the end was not cut is classic of a curved profile the rough cut was a bit thin so another round through a planer taking a 32nd off might bring this up to what the op wants, re-planning all fixes burns.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 23, 2021 at 15:19
  • Thanks for the reply. I get that mills have to reach high production, but I've also visited mills that had super high speed planers and the boards would just fly thru these things with chips sucked away to be directly deposited into waiting train cars. I'm just a serious hobbyist woodworker, but when I bought my planer, I searching high and low to make sure I got one with adjustable bed feed rollers (Woodbridge, 20" 3 hp planer). On my projects I always get rough cut or skip planed and take a very light cut (sometimes nothing) on all the boards until I get close .......continued.... Jun 23, 2021 at 16:51
  • The adjustable bed feed rollers really help for those first few passes to get the rough cut thru and to a relatively uniform thickness. Then I adjust them down to minimize snipe for the final planing. I know that's totally impractical for a mill. But it's the reason I buy rough cut or skip planed so I can get them to where I want 'em. Jun 23, 2021 at 16:55

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