Episode No. 15 The Basics of Lumber

May 14, 2006

Another important aspect of the entire design process is the choice of material or materials we’ll use in our projects. So for this episode let’s start talking about lumber.

The first question to ask about the lumber you’ll use for your project is what are you looking for? Is the piece we’re building in need of a material that helps it stand out, or do we want the exact opposite, are we looking for a material that allows our piece to blend into the background, one where the material is less important than the overall design itself.

Regardless of which direction your design goes in, there are so many different wood species that will fill the need of your project’s final look that the hard part really is deciding which one to use. A few things to take into consideration when buying lumber already dimensioned from a retailer include many of the same things you’ll want to think about when buying rough sawn lumber.

These include checking the moisture content of the stock, how long has the stock been sitting around and last but not least is how much warping is there in each board? All these questions are important when picking the appropriate stock for your project so we’ll cover the things you should know when picking your stock.

Terms to remember:
Moisture content – a measure of the percentage of moisture remaining in a board during and after the drying period.
Kiln dried – a method of drying lumber inwhich lumber is dried using a kiln under controlled circumstances and is completed in a matter of weeks vs months or years like in air drying of lumber.
Cupping – warping across the width of a board’s face.
Bowing – warping down the length of the board’s face.
Crook – warping down the length of a board’s edge.
Twist – warping down the length of a board’s face in which the board’s corners twist out of position.

Thanks to Johnson’s Lumber for the use of their catalog as a reference in making this episode possible. Thanks for listening and coming back.

Straight Grains and Sharp Blades, Matt

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