Episode No. 16 Heading to the Lumber Pile

May 25, 2006

In episode 15 we started our talk about lumber. As I mentioned in that episode, the choice of material is an important aspect of the design process.

Understanding the basics of choosing the lumber we’ll be using is very vital and that’s why we covered some of the pitfalls to look out for, when looking at the stock you’ll being using in your project and now in this episode we’ll cover even more aspects of choosing lumber for your project.

Most of the talk in this episode pertains to choosing rough sawn lumber, but I realize that many of you probably won’t be buying your lumber rough sawn, still many of the issues I’ll talk about will apply to pre-dimensioned lumber also.

The first thing we should always do before we head out is to have a cutlist. By having a cutlist we have a check list that helps guarantee we account for all the lumber needed. I’ve posted a PDF file that contains a cutlist I created and use for all my projects, you’re welcome to use it for your next project.

Second, remember that rough sawn lumber has a little play in the thickness, so keep that in mind when choosing crucial boards for important components. If you’re concerned that a certain board won’t have enough thickness to it, move up to the next increment to be sure.

Third, always plan on having to buy a little more lumber than you’ll actually need. As a good rule of thumb, I always add a minimum of about 20% more bdft to my order then what the project originally calls for. This takes into account the essential oops factor.

This leads into number four which is to buy long. Especially when buying lumber rough, never plan on getting all the wood out of a length of lumber.

Fifth, as I mentioned in episode 15 there are numerous grading scales for the appearance of the lumber itself. In rough lumber the boards are graded on the total yield of clear wood per board, the actual dimensions, grains and color differences within a single board are less important.

And the last things to keep in mind is more about the actual appearance of the boards. Ideally we want all our boards to have both an uniform color and grain appearance, but in reality that doesn’t happen to often.

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