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Buffalo Lumber's CLEAR Grade

CLEAR Cedar Grade

We created Buffalo Lumber's four interpreted grade categories to describe cedar and redwood softwood grades in terms a layman can understand. Buffalo Lumber guarantees honest communication of wood appearance and performance applied to your project's priorities. We guarantee no surprises!

CLEAR is the top of the line in any wood. 

This is an architect's grade - the rarest part of the tree, the hardest to get, the most expensive option. Clear and Clear Vertical Grain (CVG) are the Highest appearance grades we have.

But even CLEAR grades rules allow knots. They may be tiny, they may be few but they are allowed in grade rules. In Buffalo Lumber Layman Terms - If we were talking about a 1x8" board 12' long, the AYE&BTR Clears will allow 2 knots per board no bigger than 1 inch.

Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade image
Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade image

Where's Waldo? You have to really strain but here they are there ...

These grade rules represent the maximum to expect per single board - NOT all boards. The majority of boards should be completely clear or with one small knott per 12' length.

The picture above is perfect in demonstrating the subtleties we are talking about. At first glance the image looks completely clear.  But if you take some time you can see there are at least 4 knots visible.


YES - there are knots allowable in a clear cedar grade rule description!

I found this out the hard way when we sourced from a mill who used the grade rule as a "what can we get away with per board" rather than a worst case scenario. 

The result was 1 to 2 knots on every board and we had no recourse with a grade dispute.

Grade rules are intended to be the worst case allowable on a board - but NOT the entire order. 

When interpreting grade rules this is where the integrity of the mill really comes into play. We do not expect every board in Clears to have 2 knots. We expect some to have that but almost all will have one or none.



When you buy Clear Cedar you are thinking absolutely clear with zero knots. The truth is a little different. 

YOUR expectation should be a look that is "virtually" free of knots 

Note the use of the word VIRTUALLY. 

A good builder will make sure to "create" a look that is Clear. When WE say "CLEAR" we expect the look to be so clear you would have to really search to find a knot.

The reason we go to this extreme is to demonstrate the expectation we want to create in our Buffalo definition of CLEAR. There are knots allowable in our clear grade but they are so few and so small you need to really get serious to find them. 

For ultra modern, contemporary design

This is the grade to use for ultra modern, contemporary design where the aesthetic desired is very clean.

Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade image 2

Demonstrating customer expectations

We break into a unit of clear grade western red cedar to help us demonstrate the expectation we want our customers to have. 

The unit shown shows many rows of boards with no knots and one board on the end which has two.

The deeper we get we see the same thing. Also note the naturally occurring difference between dark and light we see on new milled cedar. Some even on the same stick.

Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade CVG mill unit image 1
Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade CVG mill unit image 1

Consistently clear wood

To the very last row of the unit- the wood is consistently clear with so few knots that a good builder can utilize it so his customer does not see anything but CLEAR on the most visible faces.

Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade CVG mill unit image 1
Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade CVG mill unit image 1


One thing to warn people about with cedar is the naturally occuring light and dark sticks. Those who want a very uniform look will need their installers to sort on the jobsite to blend the light and dark sticks to create that uniformity.

Naturally occuring light and dark sticks

Our Pennsylvannia installer went to great lengths to blend his dark and light sticks to create an even flow throughout the project. He pre-sorted the wood and did not put one dark board in the middle of several light boards. He used dark on dark and light on light to create this effect in a vertical installation!

Contrast that installation style with the one below where the installers did not sort which created a more staccato/checkerboard look.

Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR CVG WRC Grade image 2

Both looks can be desirable depending on the customer tastes. The point we are making is that wood siding including cedar and redwood is not graded for the shades of the wood. So it falls to the installer which effect they achieve based on what the customer wants.

Many customers have also used a "cedar" or "redwood" pigmented semi-transparent stain to smooth the contrast between boards.

Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR CVG WRC Grade image 1
Office Sided with 1x6 Tongue & Groove Clear Verticle Grain (CVG) Western Red Cedar

The New Jersey Customer (below) selected our A&BTR 1x6" Clear Inland Red Cedar stained with TWP 1516 Rustic Semi-transparent, Oil Based stain.

This pattern is a 1x6 "Shadow" profile custom milled to show a 3/8 inch reveal "gap" when installed.

Note how the darker Rustic stain color helps to blend the dark and light cedar boards.

Buffalo Lumber - Clear Grade image 2

Same house. The point we are making here is that our expectation of clear is the same as yours- a beautiful outcome.

We can't say "NO knots" but we can say that we use a grade rule as a worst case scenario and that we stay on the higher end of "AND Better" so your project can achieve results like this.




This Chicago customer used our A&BTR Clear Cedar milled to 1x6 T&G (V Groove) stained with Olympic 717 "Redwood" Semi-transparent, Oil Based Stain.

Buffalo Lumber - Clear Grade image 2

This was the back of his garage where he utilized the boards that had more knots than in the more visible areas. This is our worst case scenario!!

These pictures also help to emphasize the importance your installer has on the equation. Since wood is not a perfect medium the installer must take the time to sort and make decisions that help you to achieve your goals.

Here is the face of the same building where the customer did not want any knots to show. He even did the garage door in the same wood!

Buffalo Lumber - WRC Clear Grade image 1

Our next Long Island New York customer used Timber Ox "Walnut" Semi-transparent Eco-Friendly Oil Based Stain on our A&BTR Clear Vertical Grain (VG) Western Red Cedar.

Buffalo Lumber - WRC Clear Grade image 2

The pattern is custom milled to a modified channel lap meant to show 1/4 inch reveal "Shadow Gap" when installed.

customer before image
Buffalo Lumber - CLEAR Grade CVG Shadow Gap - after image

Buffalo Lumber CLEAR - when the highest possible appearance grade is desired.

Buffalo Lumber - WRC Clear Grade image 2

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