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HQ 965952

October 3, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965592 RH


TARIFF NO.: 4407.10.0001

Mr. Ned Marshak, Esq.
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C. Seventy-five Broad Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: Modification of HQ 965549; Request for tariff classification ruling on behalf of Jackpine Forest Products, Ltd.; Rafters; Structural Engineered Wood; Heading 4418; Finger-Jointed Lumber; Heading 4407

Dear Mr. Marshak:

On August 28, 2002, Customs issued Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 965549 to you, on behalf of Jackpine Forest Products, Ltd., regarding the classification of merchandise referred to by you as “finger-jointed wood rafters.”

In HQ 965549, Customs inadvertently classified the finger-jointed lumber under subheading 4407.10.0015 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The correct classification of finger-jointed lumber is under subheading 4407.10.0001, HTSUS. This ruling modifies HQ 965549 by correctly classifying the finger-jointed lumber under that tariff provision.


The wood in question is Canadian spruce, pine and/or fir (“S-P-F”). In most instances, it is machine stress rated (“MSR”) 1650 and 2100, while in some cases the grade will be number 2 and better. The original ruling request states that the wood will be imported in 3”, 4”, 6”, 8”, 10” and 12” widths and most commonly in lengths of 26’, 28’, 30’ and 32’. During the telephone conference, you advised us that Jackpine no longer imports 3" or 4” boards of the lengths in question. The thickness of the wood ranges from 1-7/16” to 4”.

You state that the wood will be manufactured to customer’s specifications, with respect to length, width, depth, species, quality and grade. Further, you state that the wood will be imported in the precise dimension in which it will be used, and that it is ready for installation as rafters in roofs in its condition as imported.


Is the finger-jointed wood classifiable under heading 4407, HTSUS, as general sawn lumber, or under heading 4418, HTSUS, as builder’s carpentry and joinery of wood?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS 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 4403, HTSUS, is a general provision for wood in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood or roughly squared, and heading 4421, HTSUS, is a basket provision for more advanced articles of wood that cannot be classified elsewhere in the chapter.

As heading 4407 resides at the beginning of Chapter 44, HTSUS, it reflects coverage of a relatively basic category of lumber products in relation to heading 4418, which, residing closer to the end of Chapter 44, HTSUS, reflects coverage of a relatively more advanced category of products.

Heading 4407, HTSUS, provides for wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or finger-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6mm. Heading 4418 provides for, among other things, builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood.

Additionally, the Explanatory Notes (EN’s) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. The EN’s are not legally binding. However, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the

Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN’s when interpreting the HTSUS.

The EN to heading 4418, HTSUS, state in pertinent 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 recognizable 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. Emphasis added.

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. However, plywood panels, even if surface treated for the purposes of concrete shuttering, are classified in heading 44.12. Bold in original.

Thus, while we agree with you that rafters are “carpentry”, we note that they must be “recognizable.” With that in mind, on April 30, 2001, that the merchandise will be “ready for installation as rafters in roofs in their condition as imported.” However, that statement is contradictory to Jackpine replied to Customs Request for Information (Customs Form 28), stating:

[T[T]he NGJ invoices do not specify whether the rafters have been cut on one or both ends, or the degree of the cut. In this regard, while we offer to angle cut the ends of these rafters, the vast majority of our customers have chosen to angle cut the rafters (if necessary) at the building site. Thus, for purposes of your RFI, please assume that all the imported rafters have 90 degree angle cuts on each end. Emphasis added.

Admittedly, the “vast majority” of the wood in question in square-cut and undergoes further processing after importation. Accordingly, contrary to your statement, the merchandise is not “ready for installation as rafters in roofs in its condition as imported.”

We also disagree with your argument that the presence or absence of angle cut ends is not relevant to the classification of rafters because, unlike truss components which are imported in lengths that can be used for a wide variety of applications, the exceptionally long length of the rafters, the lumber grade, quality of the finger-jointing and the premium price, dedicates them for use as rafters.

The terms of heading 4407, HTSUS, do not limit the classification of lumber by grade, price, size or length. The EN to heading 4407, HTSUS, read, in pertinent part:

With few exceptions, this heading covers all wood and timber, of any length but of a thickness exceeding 6 mm. Such wood and timber includes sawn beams, planks, flitches, boards, laths, etc.

The products of this heading may be planedsanded or end-jointed, e.g., finger-jointed. Emphasis added.

All the physical characteristics and the manufacturing process described, e.g., the length of the boards and producing longer boards by finger-jointing shorter boards, do not prepare the subject merchandise into a recognizable product of heading 4418, HTSUS. Otherwise, any 2 x 4 x 8 would be classifiable in headng 4418, HTSUS, as builder’s joinery and carpentry of wood since it would have the precise length of studs used for building a wall.

See NY 873209, dated May 4, 1992 (The operation of cutting wood strips or boards to certain specific sizes and easing the edges does not remove the products from the sawn wood of heading 4407, HTSUS).

Accordingly, we find that the wood in question falls squarely within the terms of heading 4407, HTSUS, and there is no evidence that the wood is ready, in its condition as imported, to be assembled into a particular structure. The fact that the lumber may be of a certain size, grade or quality suitable for ultimate use as rafters is irrelevant. See HQ 963876, dated February 12, 2001 (If a board being imported is a component of a truss of heading 4418, HTSUS, the importer must be able to establish to the satisfaction of Customs that it was manufactured and, in the condition in which it was imported, was a constituent member ready to be assembled into a truss). Otherwise, general sawn lumber (2” x 4” x 8’stud grade) could arguable be classifiable in heading 4418, HTSUS, as it has the dimensions of lumber used for studs for framing walls.

More specifically, Customs recently ruled that “S-P-F” lumber measuring 2” by 6” or 2” by 8”, which was finger-jointed together to form continuous pieces 26 to 40 feet in length, were classifiable under heading 4407, HTSUS. See HQ 965375, dated August 23, 2002. The protestant in that case made the same arguments presented in your submissions, i.e., that the wood was made to individual customer specifications, and that the long length, the structural grade, the quality of the finger-jointing and the higher cost of the wood dedicated the subject merchandise for use as rafters.

Finally, you cited New York Ruling Letter (NY) 812223, dated August 3, 1995, in which Customs classified rafters in heading 4418, HTSUS. Unlike the instant square cut lumber, the “radial” rafters in NY 812223 were fully fabricated, shaped pieces of wood and were, therefore, properly classified in heading 4418, HTSUS.


HQ 965549 is MODIFIED. The subject finger-jointed lumber is classified in subheading 4407.10.0001, HTSUS, which provides for “Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6mm: Coniferous: Finger-jointed.” The applicable general column one rate of duty is “Free”.

Currently, the merchandise may be subject to antidumpting duties and/or countervailing duties. A list of AD/CVD proceedings at the Department of Commerce (DOC) and their product coverage can be obtained from the DOC website at: http://ia.ita.doc.gov, or you may write to them at the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Antidumping Compliance, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20203.

Written decisions regarding the scope of AD/CVD orders are issued by the Import Administration in the Department of Commerce and are separate from tariff classification and origin rulings issued by Customs.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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