When you are going to buy lumber for a project you are either buying rough cut or dimensional lumber. Knowing the difference between the two, knowing what to look for and how to figure how much you need for your project is one of the things we are going to discuss in this article. Rough-cut lumber is sold by the foot. Dimensional is like going and buying a 2x4. Dimensional lumber is cut and sold by size.
Pros on Buying Dimensional Lumber
One of the good things about buys dimensional lumber is you can actually have it cut for you at the store and not have to cut it anymore. If you know for instance, that you need an 8" x 12' board that is 1/2 thick, you can usually get these already cut and laying on the shelf. If you need that same board but a little smaller, you can get them to cut it for you while you wait. There are most common sizes in boards and framing pieces cut to standard sized ready to be picked up with you just having to know how many you are going to need to handle the job you are doing. Makes it very handy not having to saw the boards into the sizes you need before you start the project.
Cons of Buying Dimensional Lumber
Okay, we looked at the pros now we can look at the cons. One is that the dimensions are not always accurate. Check the size of a 2x4 in the store. You will probably find it is actually 1-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches. So when you buy a 2x4 is not really a 2x4. If you want true size you need to buy the rough cut from a mill and cut them yourself. The other is a poor grade of lumber being sold. Most of the precut lumber is sold for framing or rough construction so it is made up of pine or softer woods. So it will probably have lots of knots. Lumber is graded by the number of knots, chips, and blemishes in the wood. If you have a lot of knots in the wood it is not going to be strong if you are using it for framework etc. So check the lumber before you buy it for cracks, knots, and splinters. Also, look at the straightness of the lumber. Depending on the way the boards were dried or kilned will affect the quality of the board also. You don't want bowed boards or crooked lengths of 2x4s or 1x2s.
Overall you want to spend a little time researching the quality of the wood before buying. If you have a sawmill in the near go check them out. It may cost a little more to get your wood directly from the source. But if they are reliable and honest you will end up with a better product that will make a better quality end result.