The market for lumber and sawmill equipment mostly depends upon commodity prices and the strength of the construction industry. Over/under capacity in standing timber, as well as the export market for raw logs and milled lumber, also affects prices. The housing crash in 2008 severely impacted the industry for several years, driving smaller players out of business and allowing larger mills to buy out the competition. Recently, an influx of cheap Canadian softwoods and Chinese hardwood plywood depressed prices in the U.S. As a result, tariffs and anti-dumping duties have been enacted to level the playing field.
The majority of the machinery and equipment used in sawmills and lumber production consists of heavy mobile equipment used for log and lumber handling as well as production machinery which consists of saw lines, debarkers, planers, edgers, stackers, drying kilns and sawdust handling equipment. The industry comprises both manufacturers and retailers (Home Depot, Lowe’s), as well as lumberyards and distributors. Typical inventory includes hardwood and softwood lumber, along with plywood and engineered products (MDF, HDF). Large suppliers may also offer finished products, such as flooring and molding. Softwood (spruce, pine, fir) pricing is commonly listed in terms of 2x4s, though other dimensions up to 2×12 are cited. With hardwoods (Maple, Cherry, Oak, Walnut, etc.), the most common designations are first-and-seconds (FAS), #1 Common and #2A Common. Lumber is further segmented into green vs. kiln-dried.