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Forum topic by Shannon posted 01-06-2013 10:20 AM 1155 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Shannon's profile


2 posts in 1937 days

01-06-2013 10:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood buying nw indiana beginner pine question

So I started my first project. I am building out of cheap pine because I don’t want to mess up with hardwood. Eager to get started I purchased my wood at HD (#2 common)with the kids in tow. I checked for straightness and knots, but didn’t check thickness. I assumed that a 1×12 and a 1×3 would both be 3/4” thick however I find that the 1×4 and 1×3 are more like 5/8” thick, a problem when I need all of the boards to to be flat when butted next to each other. My question is did I not look hard enough for better boards? Do they have pine in better than #2 common(I didn’t see any)? Or is there someplace else I can go for pine or other non hardwood wood than HD? I’m a little intimidated going to a lumber yard and right now I’m just looking for cheaper wood until I get the hang of it. Where do you buy your cheap wood from and get 3/4” thick 1xs?

-- --Shan

9 replies so far

View pmayer's profile


1026 posts in 3034 days

#1 posted 01-06-2013 12:10 PM

Normally these would be 3/4”. I would go back when you are on your own and ask. Bring your tape measure and look around a bit. If they don’t any 1×3 and 1×3 that are a full 3/4”, you could check at another home center. Yes, you can buy clear pine but it is a lot more expensive than #2; perhaps double. If you have a table saw you could rip 1×12s down to your desired width. If you don’t have one, perhaps you have a friend who does?

You could also look on Craiglist for deals on hardwood. Depending on where you live you might be able to decent hardwood for prices that are comparable to #2 pine. Also, if you have a friend who is into woodworking, ask them where they buy there lumber, and if they buy in bulk they might be willing to let you buy a small amount from them at their cost which will be a lot lower than you could buy small quantities.

-- PaulMayer,

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3254 days

#2 posted 01-06-2013 02:11 PM

Paul has a good idea. If you have a table saw or a friend with one, why not buy 1×12 pine and rip to the exact width you need. It may seem more expensive at first, but unless your project is designed with everything being 2 1/2” and 3 1/2” wide, then you will be ripping the 1×3’s and 1×4”s down anyway.

Shannon, I’m not going to try to change your way of thinking, because I know you feel the same way as most woodworkers do when they first start building projects, but I love to share a short story with you. I had a friend that wanted to learn woodworking and would hang out at my shop, in fact I would let him use my shop because he didn’t have any tools to start with. He started out wanting to build things with cheap lumber because he didn’t want to ruin good wood while learning.

His wife had seen a mantle clock I had built and told Jim that she would love to have him make a clock like that for their fire place mantle….... so he showed up one day at my shop with a couple pine boards and asked if he could copy my clock because he wanted to build one for his wife. So just to set the record straight,the one she saw and liked, I built with figured walnut!.

I told Jim the only way I would let him copy my design was he had to make it out of a beautiful hardwood (I was really just picking on him, because we had this conversation before about using cheap lumber). Well he took me seriously and broke down and bought some beautiful Curly Cherry. Talk about a nervous puppy!!!!!

He would measure and remeasure and then measure again!. He would ask me for help, but I told him he was on his own and that if he screwed it up, he would just have to go buy more Curly Cherry.

Bottom line; he finished the clock. It was absolutely stunning and his wife was totally blown away. He was so proud of that clock and they still have it displayed on their mantle some 15 years later. And we still laugh about it today.

I’m one of those “odd balls” that I felt from the very beginning; if I was going to build something out of cheap lumber then it must be I didn’t expect it to turn out very well.

Anyway; like I said, not trying to change your way of thinking, just food for thought. As long as we’re enjoying what we do, then it’s all good.

Good luck on your project and keep us posted.

-- John @

View FeralVermonter's profile


100 posts in 1940 days

#3 posted 01-06-2013 02:50 PM

I can certainly understand the impulse, Shannon, but I think huff has the right idea. Use the pine on this project, but make sure you really take the time to develop your skills. If this project comes together nicely, then you know you have the chops to move up a level. Be cautious–not scared.

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3772 days

#4 posted 01-06-2013 02:55 PM

Unless your project absolutely needs it, I would not be overly concerned about using 3/4”. Too many people fall into the trap of using it because it is available and doesn’t need to be ripped down. but it is more than is necessary for the vast majority of applications and often looks clunky and too thick.

Agree with the comments above about alternatives, HD/Lowes are seldom good value for good lumber.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2159 days

#5 posted 01-06-2013 03:08 PM

i’m in the same boat as you are shannon,i use pine cause it’s cheap and when i mess up a piece it don’t hurt my feelings to bad.which i’ve used oak on a project and am starting to move towards hardwoods some.

for lumber i use to buy at a big box store,but now i get mine from a local lumberyard they are normally a lot reason to be intimidated though just look at your lumber and get the best you can.

most important thing is to learn at your own pace and what makes you comfortable.i’ve been to hesitant but i think that huff and feral are making very good points.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View fuigb's profile


477 posts in 2926 days

#6 posted 01-07-2013 02:14 AM

First project? First off lemme say congratulations. Very cool that you’re starting out. Chances are you’ll have fun, learn some things and then be back for more.

I think some guys have selective memory when it comes to “when I got started” stories, which is why you’re hearing about highly figured wood, etc. Is it safe to assume that you’re a true newb, meaning more enthusiasm than skill and tools? If so, go cheap so that you don’t piss yourself off when you short cut a board or find that matched parts don’t. Time will come for the good stuff, but for now your output will be, well, developmental, no matter the grade of your material.

If you insist upon hard wood then hit Lowes or the Depot for poplar. Menards will put theirs on sale, but you might have to wait for it.

Back to the #2 at the big box stores… Do this to minimize your pain:

-eyeball each piece for twists, cupping, and splitting. If it looks like hell at the store then it won’t be any better when at home. Get a small square from the tool section to confirm your eye

-no matter what, you will be buying a load of knots, so cultivate an eye that finds the the good smaller board buried in the knot-ridden bigger piece.

-be patient because most of this stuff is still too wet. If you can, buy, sticker, and store today the wood you’ll use in a few months. Pretty cold where I am now, so this is a nice project for the cabin-fever days of January.

-gravitate toward projects suitable for the material , your tools, and your skill. Nothing, I repeat nothing wrong with making shelves for the garage or boxes for attic storage. One day when you’re all Norm Abrams’ed up you’ll be proud to look on these early projects and marvel at how far you’ve progressed.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2833 days

#7 posted 01-07-2013 03:05 AM

#1 Common is typically a hardwood grade. Maybe the pine was mistakenly in the wrong place . I don’t know.

Here are the typical lumber grades from best on down for


FAS and F1F Firsts and Seconds. Represents premium and finest grade from the log.

S&B Select and Better. Almost as good as FAS.

#1 Common Economical choice Typical uses. Workbenches,hardwood flooring,kitchen cabinets.

#2 Common More defects than #1 Common. Used in hardwood flooring and parts.

Softwoods. Best to worse.

No. 1 Construction Grade
No. 2 Standard
No. 3 Utility
No. 4 Economy
No. 5 Economy

View runswithscissors's profile


2725 posts in 1994 days

#8 posted 01-07-2013 04:24 AM

My dad usually used pine, because it was cheap. So did I, for a while. But pine isn’t as easy a wood to work with as you might think. It’s so soft that only the sharpest tools cut it without crushing or tearing it. Even on a table saw, you won’t get as crisp and even a cut as you would with a hardwood. Poplar is probably the closest thing to pine as far a cost is concerned. It’s not much harder, yet cuts with edged tools much better. Around here (Pacific N.W.) it’s not particularly cheap, especially at Home Depot or Lowes. True lumber yards, if you have such, are way better, and all you have to do is ask for help and advice from the staff. Unlike the drones in the big box stores, they usually actually know something about what they are selling, and in this dicey economy, don’t blow off the customer they way the Box store guys do (if they disappear when going to check something out for you, they probably went on break or went home). I’ve had big box guys do a 180 when they see me coming, and vanish from sight. Come on, I’m not that cranky a customer (though maybe it sounds that way).
Anyhow, good luck getting into your project, and many more to come.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Shannon's profile


2 posts in 1937 days

#9 posted 01-07-2013 06:40 PM

Wow thanks to everyone for posting. I don’t think I’ve ever received so many great responses from a forum post before. I will be continuing to use this site and your great advise. I found out that I don’t know that much about wood. # 1 the answer to my question above is that I bought construction grade furring strips for my 1×2, 1×3, and 1×4s duh, how’d I mess that one up. I realize now that I’m using very very cheap white wood not pine as pine is not much cheaper than poplar at my Lowes. I’m ok with that for this project I’m halfway done with my hall tree and have learned allot like where to line the saw up with my pencil mark, how to cut a straight line with a circular saw, and how not to overdrive a screw, which I didn’t expect that to be a problem, but it was. Anyway it’s been fun takes awhile when you can’t devote a whole day to it and your taking two steps foward and one step back, but I’m looking forward to making things myself vs. spending my hard earned dollars on cheap fall apart stuff made in China.

-- --Shan

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