A Different Approach to Grading

Wood, Steel & Glas, Inc. 

How we grade

We don't see if there is a grade that achieves what the customer wants, we grade based on what the customer wants to achieve.

Because white cedar is harvested on such a limited scale compared to other, more common species, it has no universal grading standard.  We could use the grading standards of other softwood species, but these grades fall short of accomplishing various architectural and visual effects.  It is important to work to achieve a grade based on the idea the customer is choosing this wood to create a certain look, feeling and desired effect.  For this reason, we work with customers to select a lumber grade to their satisfaction.  Below is a list of three general grading specifications we recommend along with the effects achieved with each grade.


Wood, Steel & Glas specializes in clear white cedar.  We work with our suppliers and pay a premium to get the best and clearest lumber, often purchasing only the top three to fifteen percent of a mill run.

Few people in the lumber industry are aware white cedar is available as dimensioned lumber, and even fewer are aware a clear grade is available.  Because the wood is harvested on a limited scale, it is often difficult to locate enough material to specify a clear grade for anything other than the smallest applications.  Moreover, white cedar as a lumber tends to be relatively knotty, further reducing the availability of clear lumber.  We specialize in select grades because the effect clear white cedar siding creates architecturally is unmistakable.  The wood weathers naturally a light silver gray, drawing attention to itself and the forms it surrounds.  Though many stains attempt to emulate the look of weathered white cedar, no other wood weathers naturally or unnaturally to this soft pewter color.  A clear wood siding free of imperfections and knots generates a powerful form as the wood, simply, takes on the shape of the building. It is this natural simplicity of form that architects and home owners appreciate (PHOTO).

Pin Knot - Clear

Wood, Steel & Glas created this grade because not all knotty lumber is the same.  An elegant look, not rustic, is achieved with this grade.

Pin knot clear exposes some of the natural character of white cedar without sacrificing the elegace of a fine grade.  When first looking at a weathered siding of pin knot clear white cedar, one might not notice the knots.  Only after continued examination of the siding do the knots begin to appear.  However, because of their limited coverage, the knots do not dominate the visual appearance.  This effect is enhanced as the knots weather to the same soft pewter color as the rest of the board.  Unlike the name suggests, this grade has less to do with the size of the knots than with their character and prevalence.  While the knots can be up to the size of a quarter, they are all generally circular (slash knots running across the board will be culled out as these tend to form a visual obstruction even when weathered) and the overall prevalence of knots is far less than in the knotty grade.  For interior application, this grade creates a very elegant but warm look as the knots again tend not to dominate.


This grade of lumber is popular when rustic look with a lot of character is desired.  The knots in this grade stand out and dominate the surface.  Physically, knotty wood functions comparably to clearer grades, but has a lower cost.  Once again, we will work to meet the demands of the customer though for most knotty applications we recommend sound tight knot to ensure the wood forms a complete membrane.  Slash knots can either be removed or included at the request of the customer.

Custom Grading

We try to stock about half our material in a clear grade, and half in mill run grades.  This allows us to grade according to the customer's demands and fine tune the grades listed above.  For example, in addition to the clear grade, there is our very best grade - hand picked select clear.  In addition to being knot free, this material is also sorted to contain vertical grain from quarterswan lumber or tight grain from slower growth trees.  We do not stock this grade and because of extremely limited availability, we ask for a fair amount of lead time to pull and mill orders of this grade.
Wood, Steel & Glas, Inc.
9 Old Post Road
Madison, CT 06443
Tel  203 245 1781
Fax  203 245 0755
email: sales@whitecedar.com 
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Updated March 30, 1998
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