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HQ 960312

February 5, 1998
CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 960312 jb


TARIFF NO.: 4421.90.9840

Port Director
United States Customs
610 S. Canal Street
Chicago, IL 60607-4523

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 3901-96-102471; classification of wooden poles and related drapery hardware

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on application for further review of a protest timely filed by Wasserman, Schneider & Babb, on behalf of Kirsch Inc., on October 18, 1996, against your decision regarding the classification of wooden poles and related drapery hardware. All entries were liquidated on July 26, 1996. No samples were received by this office for examination.


The submitted merchandise consists of wooden poles and related wooden hardware such as brackets and finials, for hanging curtains and drapery in homes. The poles comes in two styles, smooth and fluted, and are available in diameters of 7/8 inch, 1-3/8 inches, and 2 inches, and in lengths of 4, 6, 8, and 12 feet. The Protestant claims that in their imported condition the ends of the poles have small pre-drilled holes to facilitate attachment of finials; the poles are cut to standard lengths corresponding to standard window widths. The Protestant states that the poles are not designed or intended to be cut by the consumer after purchase. The poles are packaged in shrink-wrap plastic with labels depicting assembly of the poles with finials, brackets and curtain rings.

In addition to the wooden poles, the remaining hardware includes three styles of finials, brackets, curtain rings, sockets, swivels and elbows; these items are available in the same diameters as the poles. These items were classified in heading 4421, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as other articles of wood, and their classification is not disputed by the Protestant. As such, this letter will only address the wooden poles.

At the time these wooden poles were classified, no samples were made available to Customs. Additionally, although the wooden poles were described as featuring "small pre-drilled holes at the ends of the poles" the accompanying literature stating that the poles "may be cut to fit the window" left some confusion with respect to the function of the holes if they could later be cut by the consumer. Accordingly, as the presence of the holes could not be substantiated, Customs classified the poles in heading 4409, HTSUS. The Protestant disagrees with this classification determination and argues that the correct classification for this merchandise is in one of the following headings: 4418 (providing for, among other things, builder's joinery and carpentry of wood), 4420 (providing for, among other things, wooden articles of furniture not falling within chapter 94), or 4421 (providing for, among other things, other articles of wood), HTSUS.


What is the proper classification for the subject merchandise?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's taken in order.

Chapter 44, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, wood and articles of wood. This chapter is structured so that less processed wood appears at the beginning of the chapter followed by more advanced wood in later headings within the same chapter. Thus, for example, heading 4407, HTSUS, is a general provision for wood that has not been processed in any way, other than provided for under that heading, and heading 4421, HTSUS, is a basket provision for articles of wood that cannot be classified elsewhere in the chapter.

Heading 4409, HTSUS, provides for wood (including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, not assembled) continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, molded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to heading 4409, HTSUS, state in relevant part:

This heading covers timber, particularly in the form of boards, planks, etc., which after sawing or squaring, has been continuously shaped along any of its edges or faces either to facilitate subsequent assembly or to obtain the mouldings or beadings described in Item (4)
below, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, e.g. finger-jointed (see the General Explanatory Note to this Chapter). Continuously shaped wood covers both products with a uniform cross-section throughout the length and products having a repetitive design in relief.

(5) Rounded woods such as drawn woods, which are very thin rods, generally of round section, of a kind used in the manufacture of certain types of match splints, pegs for footwear, certain types of wooden sun-blinds (pinoleum blinds), toothpicks, cheese-making screens, etc. Dowelling in the length, being round wooden rods or poles of a uniform cross-section, generally ranging in diameter from 2mm to 75mm and in length from 45cm to 250cm, of a kind used, e.g., for joining parts of wooden furniture, is also classified in this heading.

In his submission the Protestant makes reference to a number of lexicographic sources defining a "dowel" as akin to a pin of wood serving to fasten two pieces of wood together. Although this is the correct definition of a "dowel pin", it is not a comprehensive definition of the term dowel. Additionally, although the EN to heading 4409, HTSUS, also make reference to dowelling of the kind used to "join parts", this is only one example of a dowel, and does not preclude other forms of dowels from being classified in that same provision. In a circumstance such as the present, where some background history of the classification treatment of a commodity is necessary, it is helpful to refer to the former Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). Therein, dowels, classified in either item 200.90 or 200.95, were defined as follows:

Dowel rods and pins, referred to collectively as dowels or dowelling, are cylindrical pieces of wood usually made in diameters ranging from 1/8 inch to 1 inch and in lengths varying from 1 inch to 6 feet. Dowel pins or pegs are ordinarily only a few inches in length in contrast with dowel rods or sticks, which are generally a foot or more in length.

Dowel rods are typically of uniform diameter throughout their lengths and are made of softwoods, such as pine and fir, and hardwoods, such as oak, ash and hickory. Softwood rods are produced as a step in the manufacture of broom and mop handles, shade rollers and similar products. Rods are also used as component parts in the manufacture of such articles as clothes-drying racks, ladders, containers, and furniture, and as stock in the making of dowel pins.

It is thus clear, that the submitted merchandise, which at the time of classification was not perceived to feature any pre-drilled holes, clearly fits into the description of dowel rods. Furthermore, when a member of this office contacted a number of local lumber yards inquiring into the trade understanding for "dowels", the response was clearly that merchandise fitting the description of the subject merchandise, without the pre-drilled holes, was understood to be "dowels". We also note that for classification purposes it makes no difference whether the rod is plain, sanded or grooved, or whether the market sees this as a reason to inflate prices; the merchandise remains classified in heading 4409, HTSUS.

However, as we now have information which substantiates the claims that the wooden poles feature pre-drilled holes, the classification of this merchandise in heading 4409, HTSUS, is no longer relevant. As such, we will proceed with an analysis for the wooden poles with the pre-drilled holes, taking into consideration the Protestant's suggested classifications, i.e., headings 4418, 4420 and 4421.

Heading 4418, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, builder's joinery and carpentry of wood. The EN to heading 4418 state, in part:

This heading applies to woodwork, including that of wood marquetry or inlaid wood, used in the construction of any kind of building, etc., in the form of assembled goods or as recognisable unassembled pieces (e.g., prepared with tenons, mortises, dovetails or other similar joints for assembly), whether or not with their metal fittings such as hinges, locks, etc.

The term "joinery" applies more particularly to builders' fittings (such as doors, windows, shutters, stairs, door or window frames), whereas the term "carpentry" refers to woodwork (such as beams, rafters and roof struts) used for structural purposes or in scaffoldings, arch supports, etc., and includes assembled shuttering for concrete constructional work. ...

Although the Protestant feels that this is a viable classification alternative for the subjective merchandise, we disagree. Heading 4418, HTSUS, is a provision for articles used in the construction of a building, that is, they become a permanent part of the structure of the building or property. The submitted wooden poles, which are moveable property for decorative use, do not become part of the existing structure like the window frames or fittings for stair railings to which the Protestant makes reference. As such, this is not a plausible classification for the subject merchandise.

Heading 4420, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, wooden articles of furniture not falling in chapter 94. The EN to that heading, states, in part:

This heading covers panels of wood marquetry and inlaid wood, including those partly of material other than wood.

It also covers a wide variety of articles of wood (including those of wood marquetry or inlaid wood), generally of careful manufacture and good finish, such as: small articles of cabinetwork (for example, caskets and jewel cases); small furnishing goods; decorative articles. Such articles are classified in this heading, even if fitted with mirrors, provided they remain essentially articles of the kind described in the heading. Similarly, the heading includes articles wholly or partly lined with natural or composition leather, paperboard, plastics, textile fabrics, etc., provided they are articles essentially of wood.

This heading provides for a variety of complete articles which are ready to function, per se, for their designed use. The function of these items is not contingent on the existence of other component pieces. For example, the items to which the Protestant refers, namely towel bars, wooden coat tree, wall mount coat-rack, wooden paper towel holder, wooden rack for video-game cartridges, wooden shelf corner, wooden curio shelf, and wooden shelving, are functional or decorative items which are ready to use independent of other pieces. The present wooden poles on the other hand, would serve no purpose if they could not be used in conjunction with the other drapery hardware, that is, the brackets by which they will be supported and the finials.

The remaining classification alternative is heading 4421, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of wood. The EN to heading 4421, HTSUS, state in relevant part:

This heading covers all articles of wood manufactured by turning or by any other method, or of wood marquetry or inlaid wood, other than those specified or included in the preceding headings and other than articles of a kind classified elsewhere irrespective of their constituent material (see, for example, Chapter Note 1).

(3) Theatrical scenery; joiners' benches; ladders and steps; trestles; letters, road signs, figures; signs; labels for horticulture, etc.; toothpicks; trellises and fencing panels; roller blinds, Venetian and other blinds; spigots; templates; rollers for spring blinds; coat or skirt hangers; washing boards; ironing boards; clothes pegs; dowel pins; oars, paddles; coffins. (Emphasis added)

The subject wooden poles are akin to the wooden rollers for spring blinds enumerated in the EN to heading 4421, HTSUS. Similar to the wooden poles at issue which are used to install curtains, the wooden rollers are necessary in the installation of roll-up blinds. Accordingly, the subject wooden poles with the pre-drilled holes are classified in heading 4421, HTSUS.

Accordingly, the protest is granted in full.


The subject wooden poles which feature functional pre-drilled holes, and which are stated to be packaged in shrink-wrap plastic with labels depicting assembly of the poles with finials, brackets and curtain rings, are classified in subheading 4421.90.9840, HTSUSA, which provides for, other articles of wood: other: other: other: other. The applicable rate of duty is 3.7 percent ad valorem. At the time of entry, that is, the 1996 rate of duty for this merchandise, was 4.4 percent ad valorem.

In the event it is determined that the imported goods are not being manufactured exactly as described in this ruling, the ruling will not be applicable to those goods. You should also be aware that the facts described in the foregoing ruling may be subject to periodic verification by the Customs Service.

The protest should be granted in full and a copy of this ruling should be appended to the CF 19 Notice of Action to satisfy the notice requirement of section 174.30(a) Customs Regulations.

In accordance with Section 3(A)(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed by your office to the Protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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