Most lumber customers in the United States have grown accustomed to their lumber boards to starting out at sizes that are no shorter than eight feet in length. Anything less than eight feet is considered to be a “short” board. The demand for these “under par” boards is incredibly low as many contractors simply aren’t used to working with them.
Perhaps you can chalk this expectation up to the stereotype of Americans liking to have the “biggest and best” of everything. If you find a contractor who is open to using short boards, however, you should consider using that contractor if at all possible. Short boards may prove to be a great option for anyone seeking a way to purchase quality lumber at very affordable prices.
Large Import Orders Tend to Include Short Boards
In Europe and some other lumber markets around the world, short boards are used on a regular basis. In fact, they’re so common that the term doesn’t really even exist overseas. In fact, due to the smaller sizes of many European dwellings, the demand for extra long boards tends to be quite a bit lower in Europe than it is in the United States.
As a result of this discrepancy, lumber yards in locations around the world that export lumber to both the United States and Europe tend to produce plenty of these short boards while domestic sawmills in the U.S. don’t even offer them. As a result, these overseas mills will bundle a certain number of short boards into the shipments they make to both European and U.S. markets. This isn’t a problem for the European lumber dealers, of course, but it can prove challenging for lumber dealers in the U.S. Depending on the species of wood, the number of shorts included in various shipments will range from a few boards to a fairly significant number of boards.
Several Species Typically Offer Short Board Opportunities
For example, Genuine Mahogany that’s imported from overseas markets is drawn from mills throughout various regions of Central and South America. Years ago in the 18th century, large Mahogany trees were plentiful. Though it still has a large growing area, there aren’t as many large Mahogany trees as there once were due to past generations’ failure to implement sustainable harvesting practices early on. Since the Mahogany trees which are now sustainably harvested tend to be smaller than the old-growth trees, there are more short boards produced from the smaller trees. This can lead to up to 20% of an imported Genuine Mahogany load consisting of boards that would be considered short boards according to United States market standards.
Some other species that tend to include a few short boards would be Utile and Sapele. These trees tend to be pretty large, so they only tend to include about five percent of short boards per large import order. African Mahogany and Spanish Cedar can vary widely in the number of short boards per load that they have to offer, ranging anywhere from 5% to 20% per load on average.
Lumber dealers in the United States find almost no market for these shorter boards. They’re of perfectly good quality, but they simply aren’t the size which most people are used to working with for their lumber projects. As a result, they can sit around the lumber yard gathering dust.
If you specify that you want short lumber for your next project, your lumber dealer may jump at the chance to move some of that stagnant inventory. In fact, you could see between 10% and 30% savings compared to purchasing standard-sized boards. You’ll be doing both yourself and the lumber dealer a huge favor by putting those short boards to good use.