Thanks to the popularity of 2014's timber grading course, the Timber Frame Engineering Council is holding another course, April 13–15, 2015, at Heartwood School in Washington, Mass.

Shots from last year's course. NELMA's Don Pendergast on how to measure grade-determining characteristics.

The course includes two and a half days of instruction in the science behind the grading rules, use and interpretation of the grading rules, and hands-on training with full-size timbers. The course will be led by Ron Anthony, wood scientist, Anthony & Associates, with Dave Kretschmann of the Forest Products Lab and two grading instructors from the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association: Matt Pomeroy and Don Pendergast. Enrollment minimum is 15, maximum is 20 persons.

Here's a sample curriculum—

Day 1—introduction to the science behind the grading rules; how their interpretation can affect the performance of structural timber; use of reclaimed/reused timber.

Day 2—NELMA grading rules as they pertain to structural timber; applying those rules to full size samples. (Note—grading rules are nearly identical across grading agencies, so skills learned will apply beyond the species graded under NELMA rules.)

Day 3—grading full size samples; written and practical exam. On successful completion, participant will receive a certificate of course completion issued by the TFEC.

This course won't make you a certified lumber grader; you won't be grade stamping anything after graduation, since that would require a more time-consuming and expensive level of training than we offer here. But you will likely know more about the science and understand the grading rules better than many certified graders, especially as they relate to structural timber. This is a good way for all of us in the TF industry to raise the bar on what we are doing and provide better value to our clients.

Tuition cost: $600 per person, 20% deposit required to reserve a spot. All profits from this workshop go to support TFEC research and activities.

Here's what some people said who took the course last year.

"Participating in the 2014 timber grading course at Heartwood allowed me to gain insights from some of our industry's top engineers and scientists, as well as a look at structural wood from a professional grader's point of view. I have visually graded timber for specific projects in the past, but this year I was able to do that with more confidence, including a review of a historic timber frame roof system in an existing church."
—Tim Krahn, P. Eng., Building Alternatives Inc., Ontario,Canada

"“We put the information gained from this course to work immediately in several situations, including historic timber frame rehabs and a multi-million dollar makeover of a 100-plus-year-old warehouse and factory with heavy timber floor construction where visual grading enabled us to selectively strengthen a small number of beams but assign a higher apparent grade to the remainder of the timbers, and do so with some confidence! A very valuable course.”
—Tom Nehil, P. E., Nehil-Sivak Consulting Structural Engineers, Michigan

"I found the course very useful, interesting and, yes, even entertaining. From the FPL wood scientists to the NELMA graders, the course covered the range of the theoretical to the practical, and it opened my eyes to the important intricacies of assessing the effect of knots on the strength of timbers. Once fully understood, the logic of the grading rules is obvious and informs my decisions when grading a timber for structural use. This workshop made the information accessible to engineer, architect, and timber framer alike."
Mack Magee, M.S., Fire Tower Engineered Timber, Rhode Island

For more information go to the timber framers guild website.
Guild website; people can register at

Jim Rogers
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