Timbermark hammers

Timber mark hammers. Photo credit: Wellington Foundry

Welcome to the final post in our harvesting planning series.

In the first and second post we looked at some important steps to consider in the initial planning stages of your harvesting activities. The third post provided an overview of the steps involved in the logging phase of harvesting.

This fourth and final post outlines some important information about the scaling, grading and timber marking phase of harvesting.

What is Scaling?

Scaling is the term used to describe the measurement of the volume and grade of all timber and forest products harvested.

In British Columbia, all timber cut from private and Crown lands must be scaled and marked.

Scaling requirements for small woodlands can vary depending on regional or individual circumstances, as well as the volumes and types of products involved.

The district manager of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is the scaling authority. The best way to determine the requirements for your property is to contact the district manager or scaling staff of your local forest district.

In some cases, minor volumes (less than 3000 cubic meters) may be exempted from scaling, and instead, the woodland operator may be required to submit a monthly statement to the district office summarizing the volume cut.

The best idea is to check with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations before you harvest.

How Is Scaling Done?

Scaling is carried out by independent scaling firms or licensed individuals authorized by the district manager.

The Forest Act and Regulations set the standards and procedures for scaling, and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations carries out monthly checks of all scalers and establishes the conditions under which scaling is done.

Piece Scaling

In British Columbia, piece scaling uses the BC Cubic Metric Scale to measure the firm-wood content of a log.

The calculation is done by measuring the length of the log and its top and butt diameters (inside bark). The gross volume is measured and calculated using a detailed formula.

Licensed scalers use a scaling stick, which is marked with volumes enabling the scaler to calculate log volumes as cylinders, based on measurements of the length and radius of the log.

The scaling regulations and procedures are set out in the Provincial Scaling Manual.

Weight Scaling

Weight scaling is another form of log scaling in British Columbia.

Weight scaling is a quick and convenient way to measure wood quantity, but what you gain in efficiency you loose in accuracy. In other words, weight scaling is slightly less accurate than volume scaling.

Weight scaling is well suited to homogeneous log profiles and pulp logs and is commonly used by mills in the interior at the point of delivery. As a rough guideline, a standard highway logging truck (maximum 2.6 metre bunk) holds approximately 30 cubic metres of wood.

How Are Logs Graded?

Scaling can provide you with a measure of the volume of wood logged from a stand, but you’ll also want to know the value of the wood removed.

The value of logs is determined through a process called grading. Grading assigns value according to the species, size and condition of logs.

On the coast, all logs are graded when scaled, and are bought or sold by grade category for each species. Interior mills also grade logs by species and size and there are different grade rules for coast and interior scaling.

Both the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Council of Forest Industries prepare monthly, quarterly and annual summaries of log sales by grade.

Many factors affect the grade of a log: growth rate, the form or shape of the log, the presence and size of knots, rot or insect damage, and the size of the log.

A set of scaling rules sets out, by species, the characteristics of logs in each of the grade categories. For each category there is a ‘grade rule’ that describes the characteristics of logs and a specific listing of the log requirements to make the grade.

Because grade is associated with the presence, or absence, of criteria and the actual size of the log (length and top diameter), it’s possible to modify the grade of any given log by bucking it into separate log segments before delivery to the place of scaling.

Whether you plan to buck the logs yourself or sell the stand to a contractor it’s important to know about log grades to make sure you get the best value from your logs.

What’s A Timber Mark?

Timber marks, like cattle brands, are registered symbols that indicate where a log comes from, who holds the mark, whether or not the timber may be exported in log form, and whether the wood will be charged stumpage or royalty fees.

Registered timber marks are required for all timber cut from Crown and private land, and are issued upon application and payment to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

After an application is approved, the operator will receive a timber mark certificate with an assigned timber mark. You then contact a local foundry to make the hammer with the mark.

Timber marks are hammered into each end of a log.

Woodlot licencees are usually marked with the letter ‘W,’ followed by four numbers and a letter that identifies the licensee.

As always, thanks to the Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale Forestry in British Columbia for the information excerpted above. We’ve condensed the information from their chapter on harvesting trees. You can find the complete online resource here.