Personally, I always felt this was the better place to ask. After
all, your not dealing with someone who has a financial interested in
whether you buy from them or not.
I also felt there was some pretty smart people in this group, who had
been around long enough to actually know if there was a difference in
the terminology. Not to mention some useful and valuable tid bit's
and comments that usually get thrown into various answers.
If you think about it. The staff in the big box stores who deal in
S4S material, usually haven't got a clue as to what a local mill means
by dressed - because as George explained it could mean several things.
In the case of Home Depot all their S4S hardwood comes from one
manufacturer "up here". Sure, the staff knows what that manufacturer
can provide but thats it. No point in asking them what the
As for the mill - they have a financial interest in selling the
product. And they all claim to have the finest product, the finest
veneers, and the finest toilet paper in their washrooms etc.
Either way, George answered my question and filled in several blanks.
If interested see my response to George for the details.
Thanks for the response... and I do agree with you. We should ask the
folks in rec.woodworking too. If not, what's the point of the
I went to askalgore.com and came up with this.
and just in case you suffer from insomnia.
Ain't the Web wunnerful?
Yep, now to answer HIS question - they're not grades.
S4S is indeed as Anthony says, surfaced 4 sides. Implies parallel, and
"Dressed" is a bit more difficult to pin down, but a lot of commercial
customers use automated equipment and scanners to determine the cuts
required. The mills run the boards through on a greater than finished
thickness basis to reveal faults to the scanner. Other terms used are
"skip" planing and "hit and miss." This might be your mill's definition of
dressed, or it might be dressed normally, or S2S, leaving the edges as they
are, so you normally get extra wood, and can cut even a curved board into
shorter full-width pieces.
With most mills making their money from commercial customers, I would expect
either of the above to be considered "dressed." Retail lumber would be S4S
or, as I have seen, S4S/S - surfaced four sides sanded. Careful mixing
these retail products, as the thicknesses will differ.
Now if you're speaking of softwood....
Problem here - the two companies I've spoken with are basically using
the same terms interchangeably. Both are the same S4S or Dressed.
I wasn't sure whether they were the same or whether there was a
communication problem some where.
I've purchased S4S locally. But I have never purchased dressed stock.
Thus, the reason for my question.
The S4S /S designation I haven't seen locally. The last batch of
S4S Red Oak I bought, could have used a visit with the sander first.
That's one reason why I'm looking for a better source.
Thanks for your input...
True, but at my age, your not allowed to have Cherry anymore....
So I have to settle for any nice piece of ash that I can get...
On Thu, 12 Aug 2004 07:30:31 GMT, email@example.com (Dave Mundt) wrote:
The problem with terminology in the wood business is that there is no
single governing body to provide unified definitions for common
The same terms can be used differently by different mills, yards,
lumber trade associations, etc. They can also vary by region.
You aren't really talking about a "grade", as grading standards
address issues of appearance, color, inclusions (knots, sap, mineral
streaks, etc.) strength, length and width, yield, grain orientation,
Raw lumber is slabbed out in the "rough" and can be "dressed" in
various ways. All S4S lumber is "dressed' but not all "dressed"
lumber is S4S.
Any lumber that has been surfaced in any way may be called "dressed",
although it usually is taken to mean dressing to dimension.
This would include:
S2S Surfaced Two Sides.
S4S Surfaced Four Sides.
S2SSLR1E Surfaced Two Sides, Straight Line Ripped One Edge.
You can also order rough boards that are SLR1E and this will give you
a more or less straight edge to begin your stock prep.
Softwood dimension lumber (tubafours and such) can be "Surfaced"
(which means that it is dimensioned but you don't have a clue about
moisture content), "Surfaced Dry" (which can have various definitions,
depending on the governing regs of the folks who stamp the lumber) and
"KD-19" (which means that the moisture content was at or less than
19% at the time of surfacing, which is the usual cutoff point for mold
Home builders often try to save money by purchasing non-KD stock and
then push to close the building up so fast that the moisture in the
dimension lumber creates mold problems in the house - bad practice.
I mostly ordered stock that was Skip Planed to 13/16 or 7/8, depending
on the species, and SLR1E. This allowed most of the hogging planing
work to be done at the mill for a pretty cheap price (but I would
never let them plane to finished dimension, because their feed rates
are too high and they let their knives get too dull, ripping little
chunks out of the wood surface).
Grading can be so damned confusing that I don't even have the strength
to go into it.
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
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