I'm not an expert carpenter by any means, but sometimes it seems to me
that lumber one finds at home depot is to bowed and twisty for most
things such as building a wall. Yesterday I went to hd to by some
2x10's to replace a few joists in kitchen floor and once again, the
lumber is a little bowed a litte twisted a little chipped and a little
banged. But for joists (with plywood and hardwood to go on top), does
it really matter? Should I stick with HD or go to a lumber yard and
pay double or triple? How about lowe's?
Many thanks in advance,
Have you actually called your local lumber yards and gotten a price? In
my experience, the price isn't usually much higher, and the quality is
better. They deal with working carpenters, and a working carpenter
doesn't have time to pick through the pile looking for stuff that MAY
work. Don't expect much hand-holding from the clerk, though. If it is
more than a pickup load, most real lumberyards will deliver as part of
the price, though.
Big-boxes are mass-market, and are open other than 6:30 am to 4 pm M-F,
so that is where DIYs go. For a while, real lumberyards were trying to
soften their 'trade only' image, but since the big boxes came along,
most of the ones around here don't even advertise, and are back to short
hours. The more marginal ones have been driven out of business. The ones
that are left don't really even want to deal with civilians- they want
customers who know what they want, get in and get out, and don't come
back later crying that they got the wrong thing. They are supply houses,
not retail stores.
And they are often cooperative on small loads if you work with them such
as waiting a day or two until they are making a delivery in your area.
As you said the nice part about real lumber yards is that there is no
picking etc because they buy better quality wood so even if you have
them deliver it sight unseen you get good stuff.
Not at my local lumberyard. They are very cooperative and will let
you pick and choose but if you take it 'run of the stack' you will get
bowed, cupped, waned, etc. I have seen them unband a lift of just
delivered 2x4 and watched it expand by a good 10 percent. The quality
may be better but if you expect perfect, flat, etc., lumber it ain't
gonna happen unless you hand pick.
I meant "no picking" in the sense that you don't have to so when you get
a delivery you get good stuff. If you go into the yard yourself to pick
up your order they don't care if you select the lumber but they buy good
quality so there isn't any particular reason to do it since there will
be minimal difference in quality.
You obviously haven't done much building. If you take 'run of the
bin' out of a big box or a lumberyard you _will_ discard at least some
of it. I have 'picked' a freshly opened lift and rejected 25% of the
studs...of course I was building interior walls so I wanted pretty
Oh, if you go into a traditional supply house with the right attitude,
and at the right time of day (like not when the doors first open, and
the lot is full of beat-up pickup trucks, and the line at the counter is
3 deep), you can usually find someone who will take the time to work
with you. But you can't pretend to be an expert there- they will see
right through you. Big advantage of a place that caters to the trade, is
that they have or can quickly get the weird stuff the Borg will never carry.
I usually go to the Borg, but that is just because I would have to take
time off work to go to a real place. The real places, around here, don't
have late afternoon/evening/Saturday hours. The couple of times I went
looking for something the Borg didn't have, they treated me well enough.
But I grew up in the business, so I hopefully didn't smell like a total
clueless newbie to them.
In my case, it's the hours. There's a "real plumbing store" that's
open saturday mornings for a few hours, but the big plumbing
wholesaler is not - so I end up relying on the Borgs for plumbing
parts, for example, unless I'm able to plan ahead. The same is true
for the electrical supply.
I agree, my local builders supply (Raymond) was a buck a sheet
cheaper on 12mm plywood and 6-7 cents a foot cheaper on SYP 2x4s ...
delivered. I phoned in my order first thing in the morning and they
dropped it right after lunch. You just need an order big enough to be
worth their while. With lumber, it doesn't take much to be a couple
hundred bucks tho.
I probably end up in a big box store once a week. But when I need
decent lumber I go to a lumber yard. Better quality- sometimes even
lower prices- and knowledgeable salesfolks.
Sometimes my local borg has decent 4x4''s- I've found some decent
lumber on occasion. But for more than a piece or two I go to the
On Sun, 19 Oct 2008 05:37:41 -0700 (PDT), Aaron Fude
A perfect 2x10, square and flat, will warp, twist, bow, wane, cup and
split with changes in humidity. I have made fine furniture from HD
wood. Understanding wood movement can be critical for some
applications, but should be fine for a joist. Construction adhesive
and good long screws will help prevent floor squeaks.
What you get is what's there when you happen to be by.
Despite the other stories, it's not likely there's much (if any) real
difference between the comparable construction lumber at any of the
yards--they're all buying graded material in bulk.
The major difference is usually that at the Borg what you see is almost
always only the culls because when you get there it's already been
picked over by tens if not hundreds of others ahead of you and they
don't empty the bins except when they're actually empty.
Construction framers have the luxury of being able to select the pieces
for where it matters to a certain extent and most also cull and simply
return the truly unusable.
But, for construction, appearance isn't all that critical (once it's in
the wall or floor and covered up, what's to see, anyway?) and it's "tied
down" when installed. For wall studs it's nice if they're at least
reasonably straight so walls aren't terribly bowed, but as others have
noted, unless it is kiln dried, there's a reasonable chance it's going
to warp as it dries further, anyway, even if it's straight going home.
"Tight" growth rings have less to do w/ age, but to conditions --
closer-spaced growth rings means less annual growth which comes from
poorer growing conditions, not better.
There's little actual difference structurally afaict from USFPA data on
"new" vs "old" as far as measured properties. What's complained of
generally is owing to using all the available tree and cutting
construction lumber from marginally-sized trees to make better use of
the material (as in less waste) than when a 30+ -incher was sawn up into
tubafores and the rest simply left for waste.
From what I have seen they can specify what grade they want. If you go
to the local real lumber yard in my area and watch when they open a new
bundle there isn't really anything to cull out. I asked about that some
time ago and their buyer happened to be up by the counter and he showed
me how many grades of the same lumber he could order and that it is
their policy to order better grades.
I agree totally...Both HD and the yards around here BOTH buy Canandian
crap...Unless you pick it YOURSELF you ALWAYS have culls. I usually cut them
up for cripples or use them where it doesn't matter. I ALWAYS pick the best
ones out of the pile the yard delivers to the jobsite for critical areas
like window , door openings , stairs,ect,. FIRST and set them aside under a
tarp or lumber cover....I've seen lumber curl and twist in just a few days
stored outside in the sun so keep that in mind as well.....
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