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Bv W. B. JUDSON.
The Sfecialty Publishing Comfany.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year A. D. 1881 by
• W. B. Judson,
in th»eAoe of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, I). C.
One of the most difficult tasks in the domain of lumber literature is the putting upon paper of a description of those various divisions or grades which are found to prevail in different localities. Surveying, as it is known in Maine and some other localities. Inspection, as it is termed in Albany and the West, consists of fixing a value to each individual piece of lumber. Inasmuch as no two are exactly alike, it is impossible to establish an arbitrary rule for the guidance of the Inspector, and as a consequence, the individual judgment must determine the value of each, from a consideration of its general character, and the uses to which it can be put in house building or manufacture.
As the judgment of men varies as much as each piece of lumber from its fellow, it becomes very difficult for one to see the value and character of a board exactly as it is seen by all others, and hence it is well nigh impossible to prescribe what shall constitute a board of any particular grade. If it be perfect in all other respects, it may not be of equal value with another equally, but no more, perfect board, in that it is of a more glassy, brash and tough texture, less straight and free in grain, and wholy unfit for the finer uses to which its fellow may be well suited. All these and many other considerations enter into the proper and judicious assorting and valuing of lumber, and must be determined according to the judgment and experience of the Inspector.
But while no arbitrary rule can be established, it was determined early in the history of the trade, that one could be applied to the general characteristics of lumber, which would guide both the buyer and seller in determining the value of a given piece. While these general characteristics applied to the distributions between the manufacturer and the consumer in the infancy of the trade, while but a comparatively small quantity was produced and consumption kept pace with production, when the demand increased and it was found necessary to build miHs in the forest at a distance from the consumer, middlemen became necessary, and at various points in the country immense depots were established, to which the mill product could be shipped, and whence it could be distributed. But the still increasing population moving further and further from the points of supply, necessitated another set of distributors, and the first began to confine their trade to selling, at wholesale, to the latter as retailers.
Now. the rules that had guided the mill-man in selling to his customers, required modification, and to prevent too great an advance in price, the retailer was compelled to obtain his compensation through a division into grades, and this system of grading has advanced to its present status, which may be almost classed among the fine arts, yet marked by as great a variance as there are individual judgments to determine it.
It is the purpose of this work to endeavor to point out the general laws governing the inspection of lumber, without expecting to wholly harmonize the ever conflicting opinions of the grand army of knights of the board rule. If, however, it succeeds in establishing a more generally uniform system of Inspection and yard-grading, the effort may well be called successful.
Albany. N. Y., after Bangor, Me., and Port Deposit, Pa., early became the most important center of the lumber trade of the country, and promulgated a system of Inspection, or sorting into qualities, which soon superceded the early rule of Surveying, which was simply straight measure, or the determining of the number of feet, regardless of quality. In this connection it may properly be said, that in the early days of lumber manufacture, it was the aim and custom of the producer to cut only the better class of trees, and it is within the memory of the writer, when the grades now known as Selects, Fine Common, or Picks, was the poorest which found its way to market as Common, and that which now comprises ~the bulk of the lumber handled, was considered an only fit to be sold at the mill, and such of it as by accident found its way to market was sold for what it would bring, otten not realizing the cost of transportation. The growth of the trade, however, soon admonished the manufacturer that he must be more conservative with his timber, and the shipments and sale of Coarse Common, which included all between the present grade of Selects and Culls, was undertaken.
The fast depleting forests and the increased consumption throughout the country, especially of the lower grades, soon demonstrated that consumers were utilizing the cheaper product for cutting-up lumber, and that doors, sash and other building material could be made equally well from this grade as from the higher priced qualities. Albany now began to select out the nicer Common below the Fine Common grade, and Pickings became a favorite in that district.
If the wholesaler could make Pickings out of the Common, the retailer, equally fertile in resources, could make other qualities, and so subdivisions, such as A and B Selects. B Box, B Stock. 8-inch Flooring, and a hundred other designations came in vogue. These are one and all but sub-divisions of the old and well-known Albany grades. Clear, Fourths,