If you’re looking for African hardwoods in thicknesses like 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 thicknesses, you’ve probably received some bad news: It’s difficult to source, because it simply doesn’t make sense for African mills to saw those sizes. Ready for some good news? J. Gibson McIlvain has its own millworks operation! While we can’t legally import logs, we can re-cut already-milled boards to the sizes North American builders prefer.
Sourcing and Milling for Thinner Boards
Our fully-equipped millwork operation (take a virtual tour) includes a Resaw Bandsaw, which we use to cut thicker, imported boards to 4/4 and thinner sizes. We currently do this with Sapele, an attractive and increasingly popular Mahogany alternative.
At about half the price of the South American species, Sapele is prized in part for its lower cost. However, the waste and extra labor that comes with buying thicker boards and cutting them down to size mitigates some of that savings. An additional factor that impacts price is that in purchasing Sapele, we’re essentially forced to purchase non-clear grades, which amounts to more waste.
Presenting Additional Options
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we like to think outside the board, er, uh, box. You could, of course, purchase only FAS-quality boards, but then you’d end up absorbing the cost of the common grade lumber that we can’t sell but which was a byproduct of the lumber you ordered.
Alternatively, you could purchase thicker FAS boards for us to resaw to the dimensions you prefer. Of course, then you’ll have added turnaround time and labor costs to factor in.
Instead of paying more for 5/4 or 10/4 thicknesses than for 6/4 or 12/4 thicknesses, you could try to value engineer your job to accommodate the thicker sizes.
Making Decisions About Cost Absorption
Unless you decide to go completely against the grain of the North American market and accept the thicker boards, you’ll have to decide who’s going to do the extra labor and where costs will be absorbed. If you have millwork capabilities yourself, the added labor will probably impact your bottom line least if you do the re-sawing in house. The second-best option is to utilize the services of a trusted supplier such as J. Gibson McIlvain to do the milling for you.
If you need to cut costs elsewhere in order to accommodate the necessary re-sawing, please ask our lumber experts for recommendations. From shorter lumber to odd-length boards, there are certainly ways to cut corners without sacrificing quality or compromising industry-standard thicknesses. We’re here to serve you and to make your unique requirements a reality. We can also help you with value engineering and species alternatives that can save you — and your own valued customers — as much money and frustration as possible.