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Tally Your Lumber!!!!


This is more a rant than anything but as I prepare to call upper management of a large hardwood distribution company I want to just warn/remind you all to tally inbound lumber. Doesn't matter if it's a large or small order, be sure you are receiving what you are paying for. I have been doing this for well over twenty years and I can count on one hand how many times a tally has gone in our favor, yet we at least once a week contest a tally on a delivery ticket of inbound lumber. Granted must of the time it's not huge but when raw materials make up such a large portion of job cost it can be significant by years end.

The latest phone call to unnamed company was prompted by the fact we noticed grinding marks on what are clearly mill banded units. First thought was they were trying to hide the source of material but soon discovered someone had been removing the mill tally painted on the units....with a grinder!. Of course their tally did not match what we had received, and we busted them again as we just received a unit that had the mill tally poorly painted over and we can read the original numbers. Just so happen to be a unit of walnut so that little twenty five board foot adjustment is fairly significant! Years ago we had another supplier who decided to arbitrarily add 15% to all their tallys for straight line and plane, even if it was in the rough. Needless to say that didn't work for us but think of how many shops probably didn't even know because they don't check.

I am not saying all lumber companies are evil and most discrepancies are probably attributed to sloppy block tallying, You still need to make sure you keep them on the straight and narrow and at the same time help your bottom line.

8/7/14       #2: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
red oaks lumber

why haven't you switched suppliers? if they did it more than once on you,shame on you for still buying from them.

8/7/14       #3: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
Mark Elliott Member


Without naming them, although we all wish you would, at least what state do you liven?


8/8/14       #4: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
D Brown

I usually do a quick block tally depending on the quantity and almost always come up very close , the few time there was a real shortage I called my sales rep and let him know he makes the adjustment and issues a credit .
We all have to make sure we understand the rules our suppliers go by as far as net tally , block tally minus 7% for SLR or whatever .

8/8/14       #6: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
door shop guy

I wont stand for the shortages they try to get by on me every week!! They usually short me 3-4% and every single time i call and get my credit! It gets old. I even try to short myself by rounding up when i tally and still come up short on footage. All my lumber comes to me in rough so no straitlining. Im in Kansas.

8/9/14       #7: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
D Brown

Door shop guy ,

Maybe you should ask them to show you how or who comes up with any given tally.
If this happened to me on a weekly basis I would talk directly to the owners or general manager and ask them why this keeps happening .Usually what happens is they send a bit more than I order and charge accordingly .

8/9/14       #8: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...

One of the problems is few shops understand the tally rules so can't do an accurate one. It makes it easy for some "adjustments." Mill tallies tend to be better because the distribution yards keep better track. We do block tally which gives the benefit of doubt to the yard. Not really accurate but ball park.

How many of you do a tally?

8/9/14       #9: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
Mark Elliott Member

One of the mills I deal with sends a tally listing the number of boards and the width distribution within each individual unit. I have found it to be accurate. These do come un-opened from the mill.

Of the others I deal with, I've never really had a problem. Knock on wood.

I'm in MI and deal with ITL, Banks Hardwoods and Devereaux primarily.


8/10/14       #10: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
door shop guy

D Brown...I have asked them and got two diffirent answers from the salesman and the rep...Basically they always round up and they might or might not measure each board. But i said i dont pay for air. So its a matter of do they want my business or not?

The more i think about the OP and what is happening to him...I find it very disturbing that a supplier would grind off the tally marks from the mill!! Thats just sick.

Im sort of a large dont mess with a fat guys lunch.

8/12/14       #11: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
D Brown

Door guy , do you have other sources ?
I not a huge guy but I'd make an appointment face to face with them and bring a few boards in and ask them to tally them .

Rounding up is not unusual as long as they are fair about it .

The sales rep will not have a clue of what happens in the warehouse even though he knows in general .

the individual who pulls our order and tallies it is the one to be concerned with the office gets a ticket with a number on it.
We tell our inside salesman what we want and if he does a good job of communicating we get what we ordered .

8/12/14       #12: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...

Interesting comments. Probably like "door guy", we buy from a lot of suppliers and the one thing I have learned is you need them all at one time or another no matter how bad they are. I can say however, we definitely take the path of least resistance, if my guys have to constantly call and complain about tallys that supplier is headed to the bottom of the call list.

8/28/14       #13: Tally Your Lumber!!!! ...
Verdis Upton  Member


Wholesaler dirty little secrets
Gross or net tally how do you buy? To many years in this business I see wholesaler play the game. Quote you a price that seems too good to believe, you buy it. It was sold on a gross tally (12% higher than net). When it comes in you donít tally it, think you just found youíre new best friend and they give you great deal (not). Bottom line I never in 25 years of planning and milling had a container load short by mill (tally). Before mills started scans tallying they would be long never short on BF. Now dead on.

Most buyers canít even grade lumber, let alone tally. If itís not NHLA graded, which are based on the percentage of clear-defect free wood on a board. The measurements of this percentage are referred to as clear-cuttings. Donít buy it!!!!! Made up grades like northwest hardwood are good for their bottom line not yours. And you have no recourse When your material comes in, and has different color ends on it, grade it you may find a blend (FAS 1 face and one common.)

Back to the tallying never trust anyone one. If it is an un-open unit from a mill (still in its 1 ĺĒ steel bands I would block tally it not hard. Anything less than a full unit by rules needs to be stick not blocked tally. If you buy your lumber in the rough it graded different then surfaced. One more thing if itís not over the foot mark itís measured down to the next foot (8í11Ē is 8 foot not 9 foot). I had a local wholesaler warehouseman try to measure to the inch of length on thick lumber (12/4) then argue with me about it. Just think of all their customers that over paid for their lumber since lumber comes over length by at least an inch.

Your best friend is yourself, teach your employees to not just sign for things. We would write subject to tally and grade inspection.

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