The hardwood forests of the eastern United States contain a wide range of temperate hardwood species, which have been managed for commercial and non-commercial purposes since the turn of the 20th century.
Their availability and characteristics vary according to growing regions but every American hardwood species is growing at a far greater rate than it is harvested. Few other countries can boast this level of success in the sustainability of its hardwood forests. The American hardwood forests support a vibrant, healthy and increasing stand of timber, as well as a large and diverse wildlife population.
Once harvested and milled, American hardwoods offer a great variety of colour, grain and character; from the warm, darker tones of red oak, cherry and alder to the lighter hues of maple, tulipwood and ash. Most of the species featured here can be used in a wide range of applications, from fine furniture to industrial sized structural panels.
Wood is a natural material and by its very nature may contain different characteristics. The grading of American hardwood into categories helps determine the value and potential use for each board of sawn lumber. The rules for this grading process were established over 100 years ago by the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) and are still the standard for the U.S. hardwood industry and the basis for international trade.
As a natural, dynamic material, American hardwoods vary greatly in character and properties from species to species; but trees of a single species can also vary from one region to another, depending on climate, soil and altitude, as well as forest management. Understanding these variations and how they affect the process of sourcing American hardwoods is crucial.