SPFs Strength Properties Monitoring Underway

As required by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC), all approved species or species grouping must be tested every 5 years by their rules-writing agency to ensure that the assigned strength values are accurate as published. For NELMA that includes the species within the Spruce-Pine-Fir south (SPFs) grouping grown in the Northeast and Great Lakes region. Commonly referred to as aIMG_1625 “monitoring” program, the testing typically includes only 2×4 lumber of No.2 grade for each individual species. Sample lumber is then destructively-tested for its bending properties. In the case of SPFs, data for the northeastern species will be incorporated with results from testing of species grown in the Great Lakes and West Coast to give a snapshot comparison of the current published values.

The process for this round of monitoring by NELMA began last winter with the submission of “A Sampling and Testing Plan for the Monitoring of Northeastern Species Within the SPF(s) Grouping” to the ALSC Board of Review. Working closely with the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composite Center in Orono and the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, the plan was approved on April 25. The commercial species components of SPFs in the Northeast are the Eastern Spruces and Balsam Fir. In addition to the required No.2 2×4 samples, NELMA added No.2 2×6 and 2×8 material at the request of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory to supplement existing minimal data for these widths that could prove useful for future analysis purposes. A total of around 500 total samples, half Eastern Spruce and half Balsam Fir, were selected from 6 NELMA mills.  The grading and selection process by NELMA’s grading staff was completed by the first week of May, and all material delivered to the UMaine Laboratory for conditioning prior to testing as prescribed in the ASTM Standard.

lumber numbered webActual testing will commence the first week of August and continue throughout the month, with final analysis of the data anticipated by the end of the year. “This is an important due-diligence duty of each rules-writing agency and one that NELMA always finds as an added internal benefit for its inspection staff to enhance their grading knowledge”, reported Jeff Easterling, NELMA President. “Being able to continue our lumber testing cooperative partnership with UMaine’s Composite Center is an incredible benefit to the Association, especially on the heels of the very successful Norway Spruce testing project completed last fall.”

Selection of lumber from SPFs species in the Great Lakes Region (Jack Pine, Red Pine, Eastern Spruces, and Balsam Fir) will begin mid-2018.


Eastern Softwood Spotlight & NELMA Close-up

An added feature debuted in the March issue of Building Products Digest magazine, with the front-page headline spotlighting Eastern Softwoods. This special feature provided an opportunity for NELMA to zero in on the Association’s “other” half, namely Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF) lumber.  “We don’t often get a chance to fully discuss this important March 2015 SPF Article-webconstruction species grouping to the retailer/wholesaler audience,” stated Jeff Easterling, President of NELMA. “Confusion and 25 year-old misconceptions still exist with customer groups regarding lumber stamped SPF (produced from Canadian logs) and product stamped SPFs (produced from U.S. grown logs).”

The full page article goes into comparative information on the origins of the SPF nomenclature and how for most general “repetitive use” construction applications, lumber stamped with either designation provide adequate strength properties. Readers are also prompted to research more details on the SPFs-specific website developed by NELMA, www.sprucepinefir.com (under revision), including the LEED point advantage for buildings that use regionally-produced softwood lumber in construction. Good news for architects and builders from Maine to Pennsylvania!

The Digest’s Special Feature continues with another full page that details the ongoing additions within NELMA’s Grader Academy since its introduction to the masses in May of 2014.  The 100 Series Courseware for learning the grades of Spruce-Pine-Fir made its debut in March, available online 24/7/365 at www.graderacademy.org.   Meanwhile, the 300 Series Level for Eastern White Pine is also described as the latest, higher level to further the learning experience.

To view the NELMA Close-up articles in the March 2015 issue of Building Products Digest, follow this link and turn to pages 12-14.

Total Lumber Shipments for 2014 Highest Since 2007

Final shipment data reported to NELMA from its member lumber manufacturers indicate that totals for the calendar year Lumber stickered & stacked web2014 reached the highest levels since 2007, when combining shipments of Eastern White Pine and Dimension lumber products. Just over 853 million board feet was shipped for the year, compared with around 847 million in 2013, the previous high mark since 2007.

Dimension lumber from the Northeast is typically grade-stamped with the SPFs designation and dominated by the species of the Eastern Spruces and Balsam Fir but also includes some Red Pine and Jack Pine.  Final end-use of this product is typically in 2×4, 2×6 and stud application in construction. Smaller quantities of Eastern Hemlock are also produced by NELMA’s Dimension lumber mills and added with the total shipments.  Lumber from this category accounted for 51% of the total shipments last year, or 437.2 million board feet.  This was just off (-1.6%) from last year’s shipments.

Eastern White Pine accounted for 49% of the total with an 8-year high mark of 415.8 million board feet of shipments, some 3.3% ahead of 2013’s reported data.  Lumber manufactured from this species is typically produced in 1” thickness and used for appearance applications in construction.

Monthly data for 2008 through 2014 for both Dimension lumber and Eastern White Pine are graphed below, along with a graphic of the total calendar year lumber shipments from 2007 to 2014.  Click on each graph to enlarge.

Dimension Table Q4EWP Table Q4Total Shipments 2007-2014

Stratton Lumber Takes 1st Place at Dimension Graders Competition

NELMA’s 12th annual Dimension Graders Competition was held Saturday, June 14 at first-time host mill, Milan Lumber Company at Milan, New Hampshire. Twenty-six graders representing four of NELMA’s Dimension lumber mills participated in this year’s event. The competition featured the typical grading of 50 stationary boards by each individual participant with a 5-minute time limit. The choice of grades included No.1, No.2, No.3, and Economy. Cash awards for the top 5 finishers totaled $750.00, with an additional $100 for the winner from the top group in the bonus round.

Winning the individual top award was Dominique Plourde of Fontaine Lumber, who improved on his 10th place finish from a year ago. Coming in 2nd place was Donnie Beedy of Stratton Lumber; 3rd place was earned by Tom Wellington of Pleasant River Lumber; Greg Silver of Stratton Lumber finished in 4th place; Marvin Gilbert of Stratton Lumber rounded out the award winners in 5th place. In the Bonus Round that included the Top 5 finishers, Tom Wellington scored a perfect 10 to take the added award.

In the Team standings, Stratton Lumber retained the coveted Bronze Hammer Trophy with a narrow one-point win over Fontaine, 62-61. This was Stratton Lumber’s 5th Team Championship in the 12 years of the competition.

NELMA congratulates all participants in this unique, fun and educational annual event, and wishes to express their sincere thank you to Milan Lumber’s management and staff for their wonderful hospitality in hosting the 2014 Competition.

Photos from the Competition:

Top 5 Winners-web
Top 5 Winners: Dominique Plourde (Fontaine), Greg Silver (Stratton Lumber), Marvin Gilbert (Stratton Lumber), Tom Wellington (Pleasant River Lumber), and Donnie Beedy (Stratton Lumber)








2014 Team Champions: Stratton Lumber
2014 Team Champions: Stratton Lumber








50 Samples-web
The Lumber Gauntlet!


NELMA Shipments of Lumber Sets Seven-Year High

Lumber shipments from NELMA’s member mills for the calendar year 2013 ended up the highest since detailed recordsShipments by YearShipments by Yearbecame available in 2007. A total of 847 million board feet (MMBF) was sent to the marketplace in 2013, eclipsing the 2007 shipment high-mark of 826 MMBF. Last year saw 444 MMBF of dimension lumber, primarily of the SPFs species grouping, and 403 MMBF of Eastern White Pine delivered to Total Shipments by Yearcustomers from January to December. This total was 6.2% more than the previous calendar year 2012, which included an increase of 4.8% for dimension lumber and 7.7% more for Eastern White Pine.

For details, click on the image thumbnail to the right to view graphics that include a summary for 2007-2013 along with detailed monthly volumes for Dimension Lumber and Eastern White Pine for the same time period.