- Species: Siberian Larch (Larix Sibirica)
- Grade: Fourths (IV)
- Grading body: GOST
- Reference: All-Union State Standard 26002-83
The purpose of this document is to provide a detailed, factual and accurate description of the material along with the officially published grade description where applicable. It goes without saying that reading this description is no substitute for seeing the actual material. We are always happy to send out hand samples, but they have very limited use in determining the overall quality - it is impossible to cram every feature and characteristic that you might encounter in a delivery of timber on a single 6” sample. For this reason we encourage you to visit our premises and take a closer at the product before you buy.
What is a timber grade?
The grading of timber can be defined as the sorting of wood sawn from a log into different qualities relating to classifications for appearance, end use or strength. The practice is essential to maintain consistency and to ensure reliability from order to order.
A timber grade is simply a minimum standard describing the extent and limitations of the characteristics permitted in a piece of timber depending on its end use. Grading is explained in further detail in our document – ‘The Grading of Timber’
Silva ‘Fourths‘ Grade
Historically, the main commercial ‘appearance’ grades of timber from Northern Europe and Russia was available in six (in the case of Northern Europe) and five (in the case of Russia) distinct quality divisions. These grades have always been, and are even to this day assigned Roman Numerals going from I (‘Firsts’) - which denotes the best looking timber, down to VI (‘sixths’) in the case of Northern Europe, or V (‘fifths’) in the case of Russia, which denotes worst looking timber.
It is not possible to buy higher appearance grades of timber from any European or Russian producer in all ‘First’ grade for example. Higher grade timber from these regions is nowadays sold as a mixed assortment.
The highest commercially available ‘appearance’ grade of Siberian Larch is known confusingly as ‘Unsorted’ – an unfortunate name which has been used by the timber industry for well over 100 years. Although the name would suggest that the material has not been sorted, it actually means quite the opposite. In fact the timber has been sorted into the highest three appearance qualities - I,II & III or ‘firsts’, ‘seconds’ and ‘thirds’ (or simply described as I-III). ‘Unsorted’ grade Siberian Larch therefore consists of a mix of grade I – III.
The difference between the ‘Unsorted’ and ‘Sawfalling’ grades is that the latter also includes IV (‘fourth’) grade in the mix, therefore ‘Sawfalling’ consists of a mix of grades I – IV. The actual percentage of each quality division in any one shipment or pack of both ‘Unsorted’ and ‘Sawfalling’ grades correlates with the natural recovery of the timber while sawing. The major characteristic of Siberian Larch is the inclusion of live (intergrown) knots. They tend to be of a similar colour to the surrounding wood fibre and are therefore less prominent than they are in some species where the knot colour contrasts with the surrounding wood fibre.
Silva Timber stocks three grades of Siberian Larch: ‘Unsorted’ (I – III), ‘Sawfalling’ (I-IV) and ‘Fourth’ (IV) grades. ‘Fourths’ is an appropriate choice for an economical grade with the inclusion of a higher proportion of larger knots and other characteristics when compared to higher grades. The dimensional stability and integrity of the product is still of exceptional quality. We find a lot of customers prefer the aesthetic that Fourths grade provides so for these customers the grade offers tremendous value.
It is important to be aware that the same timber grades can vary in quality and appearance between different manufacturing mills, both within the same region and from different regions of Russia. Each manufacturer interprets the grading rules differently based on a number of factors. These include the quality of the saw logs that are available in different regions, the logs that are available for a particular sawmill to buy, the timber that the sawmill is able to cut and grade from those logs and the price that the sawmill wants to sell the timber for. The best policy is to personally examine the wood before you buy it unless you are familiar with and trust a specific supplier. It is not advisable to base the buying decision solely on price because the visual quality of timber can vary considerably, even when comparing grades that are ostensibly supposed to be the same.
This particular product is manufactured by one of the leading primary producers of Siberian Larch in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. With immediate access to a plentiful supply of old growth logs from this vast forest area, our supplier is able to provide us with Siberian Larch of an exceptional quality that exceeds grading standards.
The actual grading rules as they appear in the aforementioned publication are set out below, however you will find probably find our own description to be more useful and a more accurate representation of our actual product. This is because the grading rules describe the minimum standards for the grade.