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Lumber! By God! Lumber!


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Guys, I just cut and pasted a post I wrote in response to another member. Not everybody follows my shop underway topic and I don't know that I've seen any storage information or how to determine board feet here for us aspiring Woodworkers on this knuckle dragging, burping, farting, man site about tools. 
Amyways....this is the way I DO IT! There are a lot of members on this forum. Everybody has a way of doing the same thing in a different way or vice versa.
I remember the first time I went to a lumber dealer. I was really intimidated. Now? I'd rather go there then Woodcraft! Well....maybe not ENTIRELY true.
>>>Cut and pasted from my ongoing saga<<<

@PROTOOLNUT THIS IS JUST THE WAY I DO IT! Other members may have a different way of doing it! For me? I just leave wood in my shop to get acclimated to the temperature and humidity levels so it doesn't warp too much. I have some lumber racks that I use, and some saw horses. This process takes a long time in my case.  I've got some hardwoods that I've had in the basemeant for over two years! I try not to let wood sit on the floor. When I mill the wood down with jointer and planer, prior to my project (Thanks Matt Cremona!) I let the oversized milled stock sit for a day or two again to re acclimate before building my project. I don't mill them down to final size at this point, just closer to it. This is especially important for cabinets or furniture. Once the wood has moved (if it does) I can then do the final milling process.


On wood that I've had for some time, drying and getting acclimated I don't have to be quite as careful, but I use this process for new wood that I've gotten from lumber yard.  A lot of the hardwoods I have, have been curing for quite some time These pieces are ready to rock and roll but oversized milling and letting the lumber sit for a day or two isn't a bad idea regardless and I still do this part.  This allows the fibers to move however they may. This is also why it's so important to leave things a little oversized before the final mill. Movement will mean you will have to re mill and having some extra wood to shave off is very helpful!


As as far as pine stock from big box lumber goes, I'd give yourself a few days or a week in the shop to let it do whatever it's going to do. Remember, your home may be climatized a lot differently from the Home Depot or lowes and the wood will still move if there is a big difference. In my case, it's New England. Super humid, then bone dry. Hot then super cold. Then the wood gets dropped in my basement.  So for me, this is really important.


Also, if you get super green wood, you should stack the wood outside to dry and sticker it (put sticks in between each level) to allow the wood to dry. Think about when you go to Home Depot (if you can't get good hardwoods or soft woods from a good lumber yard). Your often checking through stacks of wet wood. For framing it's not as big a deal (especially if it's kiln dried. The wood has been baked and the moisture is mostly gone so warping isn't really an issue) but if your going to mill that lumber into a super nice book case (yeah, pine still makes nice furniture) I'd let that wood cure for a while. 


Also, I'm talking about woodworking. Not building a house, or a shed or a garage or a deck... When you go an buy stacks of PT pine, I have no idea what the process is. I still check boards for true at HD when I buy construction grade sticks. I have built quite a few walls out of PT and kiln dried and letting it sit for days or weeks ain't happening! But....Even PT wood will potato chip! Look at that completely warped piece of crap in every PT lumber stack at HD. That's why I always check the boards to see if they're mostly true. All of this information is relative tomaking furniture. Maybe cabinet faces. And it's just the way I DO things! Everybody has a different way of doing things. I learned these steps from my Dad to watching you're tube videos, to taking classes and the big one...spending cash and watching as I didn't do it right and end up having some wood potato chips.


Plywood! Super thin laminates and sometimes MDF, all glued together and into a wood orgy of cabinet / furniture making happiness....super stable. Try to get your plywood from reliable sources. I've had pure crap at Home Depot and then had some luck. The best comes from a lumber yard.  Keeping the plywood flat is most important. Plywood can potato chip but it is a very stable surface. I've got some plywood sheets in my shop that have been leaning on a wall for over a year and they are just fine.


I am going to start a separate post because this one does not always get a lot of hits but the following is important if you want to get into purchasing wood from a dealer....


Also, if you go to a lumber yard and you don't know what your doing, JUST ASK!!!  Wood is normally counted in board feet at these places unless they have finished lumber in which case they may have a flats rate but pretty much everything els follows the board feet rule.  I always bring a tape. And my cell phone (or as I like to call it, my video making calculator that lets me price check, watch YouTube and call my Wife). And a hat. It's cold up here.  


How to Measure Board Feet


Thickness x Width x Length (in inches) divided by 144. 



A 4"x8"x10' Long would equate as follows...

4"t x 8"w x 10'l (120") = 3,840"

divided by 144 = 26.6' or 27 board feet (yeah, they like to round up).


Dont even ask how to measure a burl or live edge....WAY above my pay grade! 


If that was black walnut at my local dealer that's at a rate of $12.40 per board foot or..... $334.80 for that sweet stick!!!!! Gasp, cough echh..... ;)


What is 4/4???? 


Lumber at the yard is often described as 4/4 or 6/4 or in the above case 16/4!!!!! 


What at the heck does that mean????? 


How do you pronounce that????


Inches are are dived into many things including quarters. Therefore a 1" thick piece of wood has 4 quarters. Therefore.....a 1" thick piece of cherry for instance is a 4/4 piece of wood. 


In the black walnut example, an 4" (thanks Ricky!) thick piece of wood is 16/4. Simple as that guys!


A piece of wood described as 5/4? 1-1/4" thick :)


And in the black walnut example it's pronounced as this....


"hey pal, whaddya getting for that 16 quarter stick of black walnut and how'm I gonna get it in my cah?".


What are all those friggin letters next to the 16 quarter piece of Black Walnut I want????


So....this is confusing but it boils down to the milling process. In a nut shell, there is a lot of terminology but these are the ones that matter to me that I try to remember when looking at the price sheet..... 



S2S two faces surfaced $+

S3S two faces surfaced, one side straight ripped$$+

S4S two faces surfaced, both sides straight ripped $$$

RGH unsurfaced, rough cut $




A lot of information but....I hope this helps!

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Awesome, I did indeed wonder about a few points of terminology you brought up.

If the numerator is the number of 1/4" 'sections' in the thickness of a board, wouldn't 16/4 make it 4" thick and not 8" as you put above?

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

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awesome write up Chrisk, one thing you didn't mention was when BF turns to LF

BF is usually one side rough or more

LF usually complete planed and cost is obviously higher

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Is there a chance we could get this stickied? When turning, the usual method for curing is to leave in a paper sack after rough cutting for a few months. I've heard of impatient guys having luck actually microwaving the wood with a cup of water in there with it. More extreme guys are known to boil the bowl blanks in alcohol.

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If I'm following your correctly, I've only turned one bowl and haven't actually finished it. It's in a brown bag covered in some type of liquid wax I applied. It's going to end up sitting for quite some time as it cures. I've never heard of the microwave thing though. That's pretty interesting. 

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