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NELMA’s Grader Academy is Officially Open!

The Association is pleased to announce its new online program, the NELMA Grader Academy. We are excited about the overall lumber grading outreach that this multi-faceted, online program offers to the Association membership. For NELMA’s Inspection staff, the Academy supplements their ongoing training services provided at member mills. For Grader Academy LogoNELMA’s members, this program will be a 24/7/365 instrument available to all company employees as an educational conduit to better understand lumber grades. And for customers and individuals beyond the Association’s membership, the easy accessibility to learn more about northeastern softwoods is a web link and fingertips away.

The program parallels the two most important softwood lumber species and species grouping in the Northeastern and Great Lakes regions, namely Eastern White Pine and the Spruce-Pine-Fir grouping. Knowing that the typical process of understanding lumber grading rules can be a daunting and boring task, the Academy was developed to incorporate two learning modules to help overcome this challenge:

Grader Training: The courseware follows a natural learning approach that uses visual imagery to reinforce the important elements of grading. A total of 4 series of courses is planned for this module:

Level 100: Lumber Characteristics

101: Knots and Wane

102: Fiber Failures

103: Discoloration Defects

104: Voids and Distortions

105 Manufacturing Defects

Level 200: Applying Characteristics to Lumber Grades (Late Spring 2014)

Level 300: Grading Rule Exceptions and Applying Interpretations (Fall 2014)

Level 400: Advanced Learning: Making the Grade (Early 2015)

At this time, only Eastern White Pine 100 series is available within the program.

Above Board LogoAbove Board: The use of games is a well-known vehicle to speed up the learning process, and lumber grading is no exception. The Academy incorporates an interactive game that simulates real-time lumber grading at a mill setting and includes variable lug speeds from beginner level to more advanced settings.

This program is available for use by anyone interesting in lumber grading. An individual will need to create a login account (a quick process) to access the Grader Training module, however the Above Board game may be played without a login (but your score will not be counted in the High Score list). Creating a login will also provide an individual with a complete record of their grader training progress and a game score history, under the “User Profile” tab.

And as a value-added feature to the Game, companies may set-up an Above Board grader tournament for their personnel at any time by notifying NELMA via email ( or call 207-829-6901. All we need is the start and finish dates and we’ll do the rest!

We encourage everyone to go to and enjoy a new way to learn about lumber grading!



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