Saturday 27 October 2012


Homesteading means building.
This is still the "New World" and development continues.
Even if you are on an old farm, there will be repairs and improvements.
So you will need to buy some lumber at one point or another.

Buying the wood that you need is simple enough.
You go to the store, tell them what you're doing, and they will sell you what you need.
The lumber stores are usually pretty helpful and honest.
But when it comes to shopping around and knowing that you're getting your money's worth,
you need to know a little before you start.


First of all, wood is sold by different denominations.
Sometimes by item; like a spruce 2x6x8 costs $6.00.
Also by lineal foot; like v-joint pine at $1.00 per foot.
Wood flooring can be sold by area; $3.50 per square foot.
But the basic unit of measurement is the board foot.
A board foot is one inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches long.
Understanding and converting into board feet helps you compare different products or gives you a better idea of how the wood product is being priced.

Here's an example.
You would like to buy some building lumber.
One store is selling by unit. An 8' 2"x6" is priced at $5.60.
Another is selling by board foot. All wood is $.55 per board foot.
Each lineal foot of a 2x6 is a board foot. (1x12x12=144, 2x6x12=144)
At $5.60 divided by eight equals $.70. That means a difference of $.15 per board foot.
If you don't know the conversion, you could pay more than necessary.


Keep in mind that as wood is processed, there is value added to it.
Processing means a portion of the lumber is removed through planing and that a one inch thick piece of finished wood won't actually measure a full one inch, but it is still identified as being one inch.
So don't try to haggle someone down because the wood is thinner than it's called.
You may notice that if you buy wood that has only been milled into a board and has not been smoothed by a planer, that the dimensions are usually the nominal measurement.
That is, a 2x6 is actually two inches thick and six inches wide.
Normal store bought lumber has been planed and so a 2x6 will really measure 1.5"x5.5".

Often there is simply no haggling when it comes to the lumber stores.
But it helps to know when someone is gouging the unsuspecting public especially when it comes to high demand woods like red cedar.


Another helpful bit of info is that lumber stores will usually accept returned lumber.
This is not unusual if you have over bought, but you can also ensure that you aren't sold really poor quality lumber.
If you don't like what you bought then send it back.
Just because the lumber has been graded and stamped doesn't mean there is an implied quality
I just bought 2x4s from the lumber store and found that half of them are really poor.
I'll keep them because of their intended use, but had I bought them for making furniture or for building an precision product, I would have sent them back.
Ideally, find a local mill and buy local.
I ended up in a bind so I used the lumber store instead of my neighbour.

One last tip.
When your wood arrives from the lumber store, it will be stacked together.
That's how they store and ship the wood.
It's not ideal however.
Lumber is best stored with spacers called stickers.
The stickers helps keep the wood dry and aid in keeping the wood stable and straight.
My lumber from my neighbour Paul always comes stickered and is as straight as an arrow.
The store bought stuff comes in a pile and if you let it dry out like that,
it will twist and warp.
When your wood arrives, stack it with the stickers if you plan on holding it for any length of time.
You can find stickering instructions online.


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