SPF Design Values Being Tested

After a couple of contentious meetings of the American Lumber Standard Committee in recent months, parties to the change in lumber design values are generally satisfied with the Board of Review’s January 11 decision and anticipate a smoother process going forward.

The Southern Forest Products Association convened a mid-November forum to develop recommendations regarding design value changes proposed by the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau. More than 50 stakeholders participated, and many will continue to meet in person or by conference call in the coming months as the SPIB tests grades and sizes beyond #2 2x4. The changes for 2x4 #2 and lower grades were approved January 11 for implementation June 1.

In the meantime, western U.S. grading agencies are at work, continuing their sampling and testing plan that was approved by the ALSC in October. Samples of Douglas Fir #2 2x4 have been collected, and its testing will occur during the next couple of months. Officials remain uncertain if testing will be complete in time to compile results for the next ALSC meeting in late April.

After testing of that item is concluded, regardless of the result, testing will move on to #2 2x4 in Hem-Fir and S-P-F-South, not necessarily in that order. “If the testing shows no change, then we’ve done our due diligence,” a grading agency representative said. “I’m not going to make any predictions, but if there is an indication of significant downward shift (in design values), we’ll expand the program to test other sizes and grades.”

Canadian agencies also will start to test Fir&Larch and Hem-Fir in addition to their regular evaluations of S-P-F, mostly in 2x4s. “All of our tests have shown they match the design values they have published,” one Canadian agency representative said. “We still have work to do in other widths, and that’s the goal of monitoring beginning in 2012.”

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