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Reading grade rule books is like reading lawyer text. Every species has a different system using numbers and letters that can be quite confusing to the layman. We have created our layman definitions to span multiple grades and species of wood.

Our Buffalo Lumber “Customer Select” definition is a grade that is one notch below “Tight Knot” but a very usable grade for customers who don’t mind larger more frequent knots and minor flaws that do not prevent use of the wood within a standard 10% Jobsite Trim and Waste Margin.



Our Buffalo Budget Knotty Grade is a "No Prior Selection" tight knot grade. That means that the mill has not officially graded to be "Select Tight Knot" by the rule book as is done with "Mill Select" grades.

Buffalo "Customer Select" means you the customer spend the time selecting out defect from a higher grade saving the mill time and you dollars.  

You will get a few loose knots but nothing that would threaten a 10-15% job site trim and waste margin.  

It is usually green or partially air dried though some #3 and better Kiln Dried Wood makes this layman definition. We expect customers to not be too picky about slight flaws in the wood which would not be allowable in a tight knot grade rule but which do not prevent use of the wood.

1x8 Tongue & Groove Flush Joint Customer Select Red Cedar Paneling home in CA
Customer Select 1x8 Tongue & Groove Flush Joint Red Cedar Paneling

The picture above is  a #3 and better red cedar job we did. Here you are allowing for a larger knot size and frequency. This was milled to a 1x8 Flush Joint T&G and he installed without finishing the wood.

CUSTOMER SELECT CEDAR #3 or STD&BTR (Standard and Better) Mill Grades are the initial tier of appearance grade woods. The grade from which the Select Tight Knot (STK) grades are manually selected at the mill. Buffalo "Customer Select" means you the customer are selecting out defect from a higher grade. At this level the mill does not select the flaws - you do - but the grade of wood you are selecting from is higher to begin with.

Here is another great example of this grade. Our customer in Texas choose “Customer Select” PAD (Partially Air Dried) Run to a channel lap and stained with Olympic 716 “Cedar” Semi-transparent Oil Based Stain factory finished at the mill. 

“Customer Select” PAD (Partially Air Dried) channel lap cedar factory Finished with Olympic 716 “Cedar” Semi-transparent Oil Based Stain

Layman Terms- If we were talking about a 1x8" board 12' long- Customer Select would allow a knot every 6 inches no bigger than a silver dollar piece and a 50 cent piece sized loose knot every 3 or 4 boards. 80% should be usable off the top and with some creative cutting you should be able to use another 10%. The flaws that you encounter in this grade will fall within the 20% jobsite trim and waste every project should have.

CUSTOMER SELECT PAD (Partially Air Dried) - is our lowest cost option - see "Saving money with Green and Partially Air Dried Woods". It is for the rustic customer looking for the cheapest way to cover in cedar and still have something pretty nice. We can run BEVEL, Channel Lap, Shiplap, and Dutch Lap (Cove Lap) patterns. Note that Dutch lap is a little more prone to knots blowing out of the thinnest part of the lap, usually hidden when installed.

Here are some  more pictures of “Customer Select” in action. This was 1x8 Dutch/Cove Lap PAD (Partially Air Dried) Stained with Olympic 716 “Cedar Tone Semi-transparent stain.

CLOSE-UP of same dutch lap customer select house - note how lighting affects the colors!

 1x8 Dutch/Cove Lap PAD (Partially Air Dried) Stained with Olympic 716 Cedar Tone Semi-transparent stain
1x8 Dutch/Cove Lap PAD (Partially Air Dried) Stained with Olympic 716 “Cedar Tone Semi-transparent stain


Is CUSTOMER SELECT the right grade for YOU? 

In custom milling there are two types of mills. Stage one mills take the wood from tree to base products. Base products are turned into finished products by stage 2 mills or remanufacturing plants.

Our CUSTOMER SELECT Standard & Better mill grade comes from a stage one mill. It is graded in large volumes by machines and is not selected by human hands. It is considered to have mostly "tight knots" but more flaws are allowed at the volume production level. The wood is then sold as blocks of wood "slats" to the remanufacturing mills. The slats are graded "Standard and Better - NPS" (No Prior Selection).

At this point the grade is not STK (Select Tight Knot) because no one has selected out the flaws which fall below the STK grade description. This has to be done by human graders and adds cost to the wood. In our un-official grade description we figure this NPS grade will have an occasional loose knot. From our own experience - possibly one in 4 boards - but a very low percentage of faults that would prevent board use.

Saving Money with Green and Partially Air Dried Wood

When an order is received at the mill the wood "slats" are pulled and stickered to remove surface moisture and it becomes PAD (partially air dried). Partially means there will still be some residual moisture during the milling to pattern step. This causes some limitations and certain flaws.

PAD wood should only be used rough face out because during milling the saw can bind up in the moist wood and scar the smooth side. Rough sawn is the only surfacing option sold.

The saw will occasionally rip out a knot that is close to the edge during the run. This is not an allowable flaw in hand "Select" grades. It is true there are a few more blown knots but our mills are saying less than 10% loss due to defect. Get out your saw and cut around that knot hole and save a buck or two.

Our Green Partially Air Dried boards have over 30% classified STK (Select Tite Knot) with some boards containing knots that are larger in diameter than the STK grade allows. 

This means that you will have some big knots and some little knots (and a few loose knots) but it will go up on the wall and work for you.

If you can afford a flaw or two to save a buck or two this is the grade for you.

Wood Siding and Humidity

Wood Siding and Humidity

The fact is that all wood no matter the species, grade or how it is dried (seasoned) will expand and contract during the year due to moisture changes in the air.

Air Dried Seasoning

Air dried cedar logs are stacked and sit outside in the open air to dry naturally. This process allows the moisture content of the logs to naturally come down as the timber dries until the moisture content reaches the desired level.

Fully Air Dried (AD) cedar logs must reduce to a moisture content of 12 to 19 percent. This process can take months to years depending on the thickness of the stock and requires space to let the timber air out.

Partially Air Dried (PAD) cedar logs are still considered green. Moisture content is 20% or higher. Milled Green PAD (partially air dried) is a cedar grade that is designed to ease the high cost of cedar. The risks associated with green milling are minimized by careful selection of your pattern and surfacing. Some people say you can't use green woods. We have many happy customers who say otherwise. Here are some common sense tips for using green cedar and saving money.

How to plan for Seasonal Change

The fact is that all wood no matter how it is dried (seasoned) will expand and contract during the year due to moisture changes in the air. This means in climates with a lot of variation in humidty between seasons you should use wood siding patterns that allow for wood expansion and contraction in their design - cedar siding patterns that overlap allowing movement without compromising the overall appearance. 

Bevel, Channel, Ship Lap and Log Cabin patterns offer the maximum movement with the least visible change to your wall. 

Get your cedar siding pre-finished. It gives added protection and makes the mill do some of the drying work for you. Before they stain the wood they stack it with sticks in between to allow airflow and dry any residual surface moisture. A 2nd benefit of factory pre-finish is that all sides of the board are coated.

Also If your wood siding contracts in a dryer season an unfinished seam will not appear between the boards as it would when the stain is applied after the siding is installed on your wall.

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