New guy at the lumber yard

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Forum topic by prestonZ posted 05-06-2010 02:45 PM 3200 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 2911 days

05-06-2010 02:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I was wanting to buy some solid cherry wood for trim on my new workbench. I need wood that is 3/4” thick and close to 5” wide. I called a local lumber yard inquiring about prices/availablility. They have cherry in FAS grade. Being my first trip to real lumber yard, will I want to ask for 3/4 wood? Does FAS grade need to be planed? If it FAS is too rough and needs to planed, I will need to purchase a planer and buy the wood at 4/4 to allow room for planing? I evenutually want a planer, but I was trying to avoid it on this first project as I just dropped close to a grand on a table saw.

Thanks for all the help.. It’s a long drive to the lumber yard, and i’d like to be a bit more educated before showing up to buy wood.

18 replies so far

View BobG's profile


172 posts in 2930 days

#1 posted 05-06-2010 03:21 PM

If I’m not mistaken FAS stands for “Finished All Surfaces”. I could be way off base but that is what I have a read it as. Anyone else know for certain?

Bob G.

-- BobG, Lowell, Arkansas--------My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am! Make more saw dust!!

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3696 days

#2 posted 05-06-2010 03:25 PM

I think you will want 4/4. That means it is 1 inch thick before planing. you can buy 4/4 that is s2s (surfaced two sides) for a slight premium. This will already be sent through a planer for a relatively smooth surface. It may or may not be worth the extra price per board foot to save you a little labor.

After being surfaced, it will be between 3/4 and 4/4 thick. The exact thickness depends. The boards may or may not be straight so you will need to check carefully if you don’t have a jointer. Even if you do check them closely, they may bend/warp when you move them from the yard to your home.

As many people on here will tell you, running a board through a planer will ensure that you have two parallel faces. It won’t ensure that those two faces are flat. Flatness comes from jointing a board. Does this help?

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3696 days

#3 posted 05-06-2010 03:26 PM

FAS stands for Firsts and Seconds (high grade lumber). Bob, I think you are thinking of S4S (surfaced four sides).

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3529 days

#4 posted 05-06-2010 03:30 PM

Here is a link to the definition of FAS. FAS has to do with the quality (knots, defects) of the board, not how it’s planed.

I doubt that they will have cherry planed down to 3/4 inch. (If they do, it will be expensive.)

If you need a small quantity you can surf the web and buy preplaned cherry and have it shipped to your home. If you are going to get a planer someday – and if you can afford it, take the plunge and get a planer now.

-- Joe

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10371 posts in 3397 days

#5 posted 05-06-2010 03:37 PM

Most hardwood lumber’s thickness is classed by the quarter.
A little history: Saw mills had detents on their saws that were set in 1/4”. from 1/4” up to 12/4 and larger. So, thicknesses were, and still are, identified in quarters. 4/4 rough is 1”.

“Dimensioned” lumber is surfaced 2 sides to 3/4, or whatever thickness requested, and both edges have been straightened. The BORG sells dimensioned lumber. It is not cheap!

S2S, surfaced two sides, will be around 13/16”. S2S 1SE is surfaced two sides with one straight edge.

Skip planed is thicker because the wood is sent through the planer to just skim the rough surface, making it somewhat flat and easier to work for the end user.

FAS, (first and seconds) refers to the appearance quality of the wood. “Firsts” will be largely free of knots and checks and “seconds” may have some tight knots and maybe light checking.

Without a planer, you may be able to have the wood planed to 3/4 at the yard, for a fee. Do you have method of straightening the edges? A jointer or hand plane? If not, you’ll need the yard to sell you S2S/1SE. You’ll need to specify the thickness you want. Again, NOT cheap!

If you envision using a lot of 4/4, and gluing up panels (edge to edge) a planer and jointer will pay for themselves in short order.

Woodworking can get a little expensive!


-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View prestonZ's profile


11 posts in 2911 days

#6 posted 05-06-2010 03:56 PM

This is all great info.. I suppose i’ll go to the lumber yard and take a look around/inquire about S2S availability/prices. Between a planer and a jointer, which would be most useful first?

I do have a hand planer and recently spent some time tuning it. I haven’t had a chance to put it through it’s paces yet. I’m hoping try making a nice maple cutting board after the workbench project.

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3431 days

#7 posted 05-06-2010 04:04 PM

The jointer. You will need to flatten one face prior to the thickness planer. The 2 tools go hand in hand. You will need BOTH if you are goning to start working with rough lumber.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3696 days

#8 posted 05-06-2010 04:18 PM

BOTH is probably the best answer but if you can’t afford both, here are some thoughts. the right handplane can flatten just about any normal board. the wider the board, the more work it will be. If you primarily work with narrower boards, a handplane isn’t so bad, but you will need a dent bench to work on if you don’t want to make yourself crazy. Once one side is flat, you send the other side through the planer.

If you get a jointer, you can quickly get a flat surface and square edge. you could then use a router sled or some other creative jigs to get a parallel face. Then clean up that face with one pass on the jointer or with a handplane (or sanding).

All that being said, I don’t know that I’d want to work without the planer. I can pick relatively straight boards from the yard and flatten with handplanes, but trying to shave a 4/4 board down to 2/4 (just an example) would be very tedious. Others opinions will certainly very. I just bought my first jointer used and have yet to restore it. I’ve gotten by till now, but I’ll be excited to have both a planer and jointer. I built the blanket chest below without either, so it can be done, but it would have been a lot easier with a jointer and planer.

Click for details

View poroskywood's profile


618 posts in 3333 days

#9 posted 05-06-2010 04:57 PM

As always LJ’s has answered your question with good advice. If I were to add a bit to it: You may only need some 1common Cherry FAS will be basically defect free on both faces however if you can deal with one or two sound knots or a gum pocket (in Cherry) then the grade of 1 Common will be much more cost effective.

Example: I’m currently selling GREEN Cherry lumber rough.

FAS $1.85
1 Common $.85
2 Common $.50
This price difference (basically) should transend up thru manufacture to S4S KD Cherry.


-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View CyBorge's profile


79 posts in 3143 days

#10 posted 05-06-2010 05:19 PM

What about jointer/planer combo machines, like Jet’s JJP-8BT?

Reviews seem mixed, but those who manage to get it tuned up right seem pleased enough. The 8 inch is going for around $300, and the 10 inch (with a stand) is around $400. If it can be made to work right, that’s a whole lot smaller investment than full-size, independent units. It would take up a whole lot less space, too, though it would probably require external infeed/outfeed supports for longer boards. Just a thought.

-- "How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?"

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2927 days

#11 posted 05-06-2010 06:07 PM

Gene up there has good information. The only thing I would add is that when you purchase 4/4 (thought to be 1”) it probably won’t be one inch; it’s just that it starts out that way from the mill. After that it often gets cleaned up, making it thinner. If you want to get your end product at 3/4”, make sure you have enough to work with when you buy it; take your own tape measure to the store, and snoop thru what they have for the best stuff.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3250 days

#12 posted 05-06-2010 07:35 PM

When the end user buys wood FAS is “first and seconds,” when the small saw mill sells lumber to a dealer/distributor FAS is “fancy and select.” It’s just one way the commodities market found to make money for inserting themselves in the middle of everything while contributing nothing. I had been hoping the recent collapse of the economy would take the commodities markets down a notch or two. It didn’t seem to do that.

View prestonZ's profile


11 posts in 2911 days

#13 posted 05-06-2010 07:38 PM

With all the extra knowledge, I was able to call my local lumber yard and ask the right questions. They stated all their wood is planed on 2 sides (4/4 to 3/4”) and 1 straight line edge cut. The cherry is $2.32 bd ft – Common and $4.15 Stain Grade. So, I still plan to get a jointer and planer, but for now ‘ll just buy the surfaced lumber and shop for the tools leisurely.

Thanks all for the info!

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3696 days

#14 posted 05-06-2010 09:08 PM

that yard has some excellent retail prices. I’m not sure where you are located, but here in central VA, I pay over $6 a bf for FAS.

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 3396 days

#15 posted 05-08-2010 03:00 AM

why do you want cherry for your first project
the big box store has nice oak, etc. finished to exactly 3/4
find out if you even like woodworking before buying jointers and planers
I made alot of stuff for years before I had a jointer or planer
Just my opinon

-- Emmett, from Georgia

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