Choosing lumber from a big box retailer

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September 4, 2014 by twinoaksstudio

Happy September everyone!

Summer sure did fly by!   Its nice to have the kids back in school and have some time to finish up projects!

Over the summer, I built a farmhouse dining room table.   I have no formal carpentry training.  I’m just a determined mom who needed a table to fit into a narrow space, and seat 10 tushes around it 🙂   I did learn a couple of things during my temporary time as a furniture builder,  and will share with you some things I learned while choosing lumber from a big box retailer.

I had many criteria for my table.   One of them was cheap.   As in, as little cost as possible.   One other criteria was it had to have a casual, rustic feel to it.    The lumber I chose to work with was various width 1″ pine boards.

First off,  the sizing standards for lumber make no sense.   A 1″ board is really 3/4″.   My first bit of advice:  bring a tape measure (or borrow one from the store) so you can measure how wide the boards really are.   Base your calculations on the tape measure, not the sign by the boards.

I spent a lot of time selecting boards, and laying them out on the floor to see how they would look.   I was intentionally looking for the knotty, character boards for the table top.   A lot of the boards I was examining were damaged or warped.

table boards

To determine if the board was warped, I would lay it flat on the concrete floor of the store.   Then flip it over.  If the board laid flat, even after it was flipped, it passed.

wood warped

I also examined the boards for extreme checking.  Checking is when a crack goes through the board.    It may crack along the length of the board, or around the knotty areas. wood check

wood checked 2

Here is the finished product ready to sit around.   It was a lot of work but well worth it!

table done

If you have other lumber selecting tips feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by!

— Pauline

One thought on “Choosing lumber from a big box retailer

  1. […] I did a lot of measuring and sketching.   And more measuring!    I ended up with a “cut” list, which turned into a shopping list for a trip to my big box lumber store.   Once I got to the store, I realized I needed to change my shopping list as the width of the boards on hand for a table top were not adding up to 38-40″.   In the end, I varied the width of the boards, so the table would end up being 39″ wide.   I learned a lot picking out my lumber – read some of my tips in this post. […]

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