Few species have stood the test of time as being a luxury, high valued item like walnut. With a mix of straight and irregular grain, and a nice dark colour, walnut is a beautiful species. Walnut, however, is known as being difficult to work with due to the defects that are allowed in its grade. One walnut mill commented that if regular walnut was graded like a normal hardwood, it would grade 1 Common at best.

     Walnut is in a league of its own when it comes to grading. Knots and cracks are allowed in the face-and-better grade that we stock. We do carry another option, a “superior” grade, or “red oak rules” as some may know it, but only in a few thicknesses. The superior grade means the walnut is graded as if it were any other hardwood. Superior grade does come with a premium price, but the defects are fewer.

     So why does walnut allow for more defects? To start, there is a limited supply of furniture grade walnut. Walnut trees tend to have quite a few wild, twisted branches, and the trunks don’t always yield long lengths. If all the walnut lumber was held to the “higher” grading standard, there would be barely any walnut available in the market. Also, most walnut logs that are high quality are sent off for veneers, leaving less options for lumber.

     Another notable attribute of walnut is its dark color. Before drying, the sapwood is white and the heartwood is dark, giving a very distinct contrast. In some species this color contrast is desirable, however the majority of consumers prefer more consistent color when it comes to walnut. To minimize the contrast, walnut goes through a steaming process. Steaming draws out moisture from the green lumber and the chemicals in the lumber oxidize, which darkens the sapwood.

     As mentioned before, working with walnut may be frustrating. Due to the number of defects allowed, the waste may be higher in walnut than other species. Most shops we deal with figure in a higher waste factor when ordering walnut, some 30%, a few up to 75%, and even the odd shop that just doubles the order right away. If you are wanting to work with walnut, please know that defects are a part of the grade. If you are willing to pay for the superior grade, your waste may not be as high. If price is a factor and the budget does not allow for walnut, poplar could be a good alternative depending on the application. While poplar is not a dense as walnut, it does have a similar grain pattern, and with a few more steps in the finishing process, it can be stained to appear very close to walnut.

     Craftsmen Hardwoods does also carry walnut sheet stock, as well as walnut edge banding. If you are needing to glue a walnut panel, we also offer Titebond Dark glue, which will hide your glue lines and blend right into the walnut. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or to place an order!

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Sheet Goods Part 3- MDF

     The final installment of our sheet goods posts is focused on MDF, medium-density fiberboard.

In 1925, an inventor named William Mason was searching for a way to use leftover wood chips and sawdust. As with most great inventions, a mistake was made! He forgot to turn off his machinery, and in the morning found the wood chips and sawdust had formed into a thin sheet. By adding resin, heat, and pressure, MDF was conceived!

     It wasn’t until the mid 1980’s that MDF gained popularity. Today, MDF is found in almost all products that you would find solid wood. Cabinetry, trim, doors, and furniture are just a few products where manufacturers have incorporated MDF.

     Since MDF is a by-product, its price, availability, and versatility make it attractive to use. There are varying grades, or densities, that allow the manufacturer a wide range of options depending on their application.

     We stock products like Roseburg or Ranger, which offer MDF sheets on the lower range of density. Higher densities are produced by Trupan (which we stock), Ranger Platinum and Plum Creek.

     If you are needing an MDF that will be easy to finish, a denser product would be best suited. If weight and price are more of a factor, the less dense options tend to be lighter and more economically priced.          

     There are a few downsides to MDF. One would be the possible exposure to moisture. If not sealed well enough, MDF will expand and bubble. MDF is offered in a moisture resistant option such as Extira for exterior applications, or where moisture cannot be avoided. When painted and sealed well, moisture should not be a concern. Another downside is MDF has the tendency for its fibers to fuzz up in the sanding and finishing process. This is where the denser sheets have the upper hand, but a slight possibility is still present.

     Here are some benefits to MDF. First, using MDF in place of solid wood should result in more stability.

For instance, when making 5-piece cabinet doors with solid wood, the center panel needs to be built with a loose fit to allow expansion and contraction from relative humidity. This loose panel will then shake and rattle. (Rubber spaceballs are a good solution to help with that!). If using MDF for the center panel, you will have minimal movement.

     Another benefit of MDF is due to the manufacturing process, it will not have core voids or the potentially wavey core as sometimes seen with veneer core sheets. Also, because MDF is made from finely ground wood fibres, it is great for machining and routering as it leaves a nice smooth finish and ready for paint or stain.

     I hope these sheet goods blogs have helped in your search for the right product for your application. As always, if you have any questions, or want to know what we have, feel free to scan the website and submit your quote, or give us a call. We look forward to serving you!

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Sheet Goods Part 2- Particle Core

     In the last post we discussed the pros and cons of veneer core. This post we will focus on particle core. What does particle core consist of? Essentially, particle core is wood chips ground into small wood particles and mixed with glue or resin, formed and pressed into a sheet.

     The manufacturing process enables a more consistent thickness than veneer core and because of the refined wood fibres, it is also more stable and less prone to warp from relative humidity.

     Particle core is heavier than veneer core. For example, a ¾” white melamine with a particle core will weigh around 95 -100 pounds. A sheet of ¾” veneer core maple will weigh around 70 - 75 pounds. Another downside is its reaction to moisture. Sealing the edges well will increase resistance to moisture damage. If moisture does happen to seep into the core, the particle core will swell up and fail.

     Particle core sheets will not be as strong as veneer core. If you are building a shelf to span a distance greater then 30” it will be prone to sagging over time, where a solid wood installed on the edge will help reduce that. Particle sheets will not hold the amount of weight that veneer core sheets. If you are needing an economically priced sheet, with stability and consistency, this is your sheet of choice!

     There are several great colors and textures of melamine that are adhered to particle core sheets which makes melamine a great option for someone price conscience and looking to achieve a specific colour or unique grain design.

     Particle cores with a melamine on the front and back also relieve the shop from the extra labour of sanding and finishing the sheet. Once the panels are cut to size, all that is needed is edging applied, and the panels assembled. Just remember, we stock matching colours and textures in edge banding and even have a Benjamin Moore edge tape program!

     Melamine is not the only option for particle core sheets. For example, Craftsmen Hardwoods stocks domestic maple veneers on a particle core. The benefits to this option, as opposed to veneer core, are a less expensive sheet, greater stability and will tend to have a slightly higher quality of veneer.

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Sheet Goods- Part 1

“What kind of plywood do you recommend I use?” While it is a difficult question to answer it is my hope in the next few blogs to break down the pros and cons to help you decide which option is best for you. These blogs will address the core only, not the specific veneer wood species.

     We will first discuss veneer core sheets. Some shops may refer to veneer core sheets as plywood or plywood core. Sheet stock with a veneer core will have layers of thin sheets glued together. These sheets are often thought of as the best option for sheet stock. Because they are thin sheets of layered wood, they will have greater stability then solid wood and reasonable strength. The domestic made cores will have thicker “ply’s” (layers that make up the core) than their imported counterparts and will manufacture it with the ply’s grain direction alternating, for stability and strength. Our domestic supplier, Rockshield, makes the veneer layers out of aspen as it is light weight, stable, and creates a smooth veneer resulting in a great core to work with.

     There are some obstacles that can come with veneer core, such as the uneven thickness of the sheet. Because the ply’s are layered and glued, and being a more natural wood product, veneer core thicknesses come with a variance. The sheets should not be thicker than it’s stated size but may be down by 40 thousandths of an inch, or roughly 1 mm. We understand that may bring headaches in the shop if the sheet is not a consistent thickness, but they should be fairly even overall.

     Another obstacle that can be frustrating is core voids. The ply’s may be butted together to make a full layer. Occasionally 2 pieces don’t line up exactly, so there is a void created in that layer. That can be frustrating if you are screwing into the edge of the panel and the screw hits a void and has nothing to hold on to, or if you are cutting the sheet on a table saw and a void shows up on the edge of the panel that you were planning to keep exposed. There is also edge-tape that many use to cover the edge of the core. Unfortunately, some voids are allowed in the process of making veneer core.

     Despite the obstacles, veneer core plywood is durable, holds screws well, and is great for spanning long distances. These cores should be suited to span up to 32” wide without sag depending on the weight put on them.* If you need a shelf 32” wide or more you may benefit from either doubling the sheet, or putting a support bar underneath the shelf, or simply add a facer strip along the edge that’s a little wider than the thickness of plywood being used.

     Veneer core overall is a great choice for many common projects! In the next few blogs, we will layout the pros and cons of particle core and MDF.

*Specs are opinion only, not from Rockshield or any grading rules

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Who WOOD have thought we’re this CRAFTY?

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad the days of side-by-side wood toilets are a thing of the past! Most, if not all, people enjoy privacy especially in the washroom.

     Now, accidents do happen, and because of the privacy in washrooms, we don’t always know who the culprit is unless someone fesses up. A few months back there was an accident in one of our washrooms. The individual was not hurt (except maybe their pride), but the poor toilet got the brunt of the damage. For quite some time the tank lid sat in shambles, a constant reminder of the excessive strength used by the guilty party.

     Do you know how difficult it is to find a replacement toilet tank lid? Apparently extremely difficult! After some time of searching and calling around, we were faced with the reality that this poor toilet tank could be lid-less for all eternity.

     But not for long. Gavin Martin, one of our outstanding warehouse team members, decided he would do something about the lid. Putting his head to the toilet, I mean grindstone, he was able to come up with a plan to make a lid out of maple. After all, we do have SOME lumber hanging around the warehouse. He expertly crafted this lid, bringing an end to the pitiful looking toilet. But the lid was not good enough. Caleb Martin, one of our expert truckers, took it one step further, and with his recently purchased laser machine added some personality to the toilet lid. Now that is a Crafty team!

     By the way, we do have more maple for sale. And you can use it for other things besides toilet lids, although I must say it worked quite well.    


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The past 2 years have been a roller coaster in a lot of ways, and product pricing has been a big part of that “ride”. It seemed like the rollercoaster was only going up, and everyone was waiting for the peak. It seems now we may be heading down the other side. Just in the past few weeks we have started to see red oak, soft maple, hickory, and cherry pricing start to lower.  White oak and hard maple are still in high demand. Ash demand is slow to steady, but with ever increasing lack of supply, ash pricing will remain up. Some have asked, how is ash in short supply with lots of trees and logs around? The issue is the quality of those logs. If the loggers can’t beat the emerald ash borer to the tree, it will only be usable as firewood.

     In the past 2 years labour has been a large factor in higher prices. One of our suppliers commented they hired 7 people on a Friday, 1 of them showed up Monday morning, and by 10 am that person quit.

The sawmills are finally getting caught up with log supply, but now they need to keep plugging away with few workers at the mill level. Once the logs are milled, the next hurdle is a lack of truck drivers. Some of our suppliers may have adequate supply of lumber, but there are few trucks available to transport it.

     Now in Canada, we are facing ever-increasing interest rate hikes. Because the interest rates were kept so low for the past few years, the Bank of Canada is sure making up for it this year! These hikes are keeping some from going forward on their building projects.

     To tie all this together, at this moment we are seeing some quieter demand, which is allowing the sawmills to catch up with inventory, and when supply is greater than demand, prices start to lower. That is how I interpret what I am hearing in the news and from suppliers. And that is just lumber. Plywood is a whole different ballgame, which we don’t have time for today!

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Core Values

     Integrity, Relationship, Service, Innovation. These 4 values are at the foundation of every decision we make and every interaction we have. Whether in business or personal life, our integrity shows by following through with the commitments we make and how we handle our mistakes.

     Having a high level of integrity will not only build solid relationships but will also show in the quality of service given. Strong relationships are built on trustworthiness and support. When integrity, relationships and service are in sync, we will naturally be motivated to look for ways to improve in any of those areas, which will lead to innovation. How can I provide better service? How can I be more efficient? How can I improve the customer experience?

     The Bible says we are made in the image of God. God for sure does what He says He will do. God created people to be in relationship with Him. Part of Christ’s life on earth was “not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many”. God was the original innovator, creating all things new and good. None of us will ever reach perfection this side of Heaven, but I’m sure there are areas we can all strive to make a better experience for those around us.

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Gross or Net Tally

    When customers are shopping around for lumber, they will inevitably be comparing prices. When there are price differences from one distributor to another, one of the first questions is about gross or net tally.

     Gross tally is the quantity of green lumber that goes into a kiln for kiln drying.

Net tally is the volume of lumber that comes out of the kiln after drying.

So, what is the difference? Roughly 8%. Hardwood lumber will loose approximately 8% of its volume once it has been kiln dried.

     Some distributors sell KD lumber at the pre-drying volume, or gross tally. Most distributors will sell KD lumber at the post-drying volume, or net tally. When a customer gets pricing of lumber in a gross tally, the price will be lower, but they will receive 8% less actual quantity of lumber than they are billed for.

     On the other side, net tally lumber will be priced higher, and the actual volume received will be what is billed.

 For example, if I buy a lift of lumber that has 1,000 board feet for $1 a board foot and it is being sold at a gross tally, I will pay $1,000 pre-tax for the lift, but will only receive 920 board feet, making the actual board foot price $1.08 ($1,000 divided by 920 bdft).

Sold at a net tally, that same 1,000 board foot will cost $1.08, but I will receive an actual full 1,000 board feet and the whole lift will cost me $1,080 pre-tax.

     If you want the appearance of low-cost lumber, you can possibly buy lumber at a gross tally, but you won’t receive what you are billed for. Or you can purchase lumber at net tally and get what you pay for. At Craftsmen, we prefer to keep things simpler and above board (pardon the pun!), that’s why we sell our lumber in net tally and you will get what you pay for!

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Do you ever feel stuck?


Depending on the situation, being stuck could be a good thing! Stuck in the mud, stuck in a rut, or stuck like a pig aren’t situations we want to find ourselves in. But for furniture or cabinet parts, we want those stuck in place!


To help with making things stuck, Craftsmen is proud to announce we are now a supplier of Helmitin glue products. We are still a supplier of Titebond products. We want to be able to offer more variety to our great customers. Helmitin has been in business for roughly 100 years and is also a great adhesive option for woodworkers.


Helmitin won’t be seen in Home Hardware or Lowes, so it may be an unfamiliar name to some. We look forward to the new relationship with Helmitin and look forward to offering more products to the Ontario market! By the way, we do also carry BladeCote and GlideCote, so your products and blades don’t get stuck!   

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Our vision- to become our customers preferred supplier. 


2020-2021 has really thrown a wrench in the works for most people. One of the biggest upsets has been the supply chain. Lack of product and high demand has paved the way for higher climbing markets, and not just in the wood manufacturing industries. You’ve more than likely seen your grocery bill increase, higher gas prices at the pump, and overall cost of living increase. When people used to ask my grandfather “Hey Harry, what’s up?”, he would always have the same reply, “everything but the rent!”, and now that is going up! We understand that possibly now more than ever, customers are shopping around, and price may not even be the main factor. One of the biggest questions we get daily is “do you have it?”. We understand you have options. At Craftsmen, we don’t take any order for granted, we want to earn the privilege to do business with you. 




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Matt Mullen
March 8, 2023
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