Choosing and buying cabinet quality lumber - How Cabinet Quality LumberIs Graded

Unlike dimension lumber, which manufacturers grade according to its use in construction as full width and length members, hardwood is graded according to the expected number of clear face cuts a board will yield. And, since most hardwood is expected to be made into furniture, these cuts will be from 2 to 7 feet long. For more information on the hardwood grading system, which was developed by the National Hardwood Lumber Association, see the chart above. This same chart also discusses the grading system for white pine, which was formulated by the Western Wood Products Association. In cabinet lumber there are great differences in quality, just as there are in construction lumber, so use the chart as a guide.

Remember, too, that in building a large project such as a table or desk top, you'll generally need the higher grades of lumber because they have fewer defects and are available in greater widths and lengths than lower-grade boards.

Many retail hardwood dealers carry only the highest grades possible to avoid customer complaints and discount requests.