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Lumber quality comparison

Old 01-10-2019, 03:02 PM
  #21  
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Here, both Lowes and HD have lumber that has less knots, less wanes, and less splits than lumberyards. But their wood is often soaking wet.
Originally Posted by jkapl001 View Post
Good luck, I find that unless you go to a hi end premium lumber supplier that is way more expensive, the small guys buy lumber from the same place the big guys do, they just buy less of it. It all sucks. It has sucked my entire life of 35 years old and I have heard the entire time "lumber now days is terrible" I often wonder if that has been said for the last 100 years.

I'm just barely old enough to remember when lumber was better. I was a kid but my grandfather was a contractor and I spent a lot of time on construction sites and at lumber yards. I think it all went downhill in the very early 80's. Until then, #1 pine was absolutely clear with no knots. Regular lumber was straight. We used cypress boards as picks on scaffolding. I haven't seen cypress in our area in a long, long time.
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Old 01-10-2019, 03:04 PM
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Most framing lumber is visually graded. Some lumber mills employ Stevie Wonder as a grader, some have higher standards. It's the mill which determines the actual quality, but the better mills are usually a little more expensive. Professional yards often buy from the better mills.
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Old 01-10-2019, 03:17 PM
  #23  
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If you have to have straight wood buy from a mill or buy a jointer.

Back when I had the cabinet shop I only purchased from a mill.

Only time I buy from HD or Lowe’s if it’s a minor amount of wood and even then I dig through the pile.

Side Note: HD nor Lowe’s carries true cabinet grade lumber.

For you fellas in FLorida, there’s a mill owned by a really nice gentleman north east of Orlando.

If memory serves me correctly the owner’s name is Bob.

He and his partner are also well known for recovering cypress from the river beds up around that area.
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:19 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Kamper View Post
I noticed a big improvement in my nearest Home Depot after a Lowe's opened 2 miles away. But, they are slipping again.
My HD store is run very well. Did I mention it is within a 10th of a mile from HD's HQ?
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:29 PM
  #25  
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They all suck. If I need good lumber I go to the amish building supply place near my house. They are a little cheaper and have AA quality lumber, but their hours kinda suck.

I bought deck boards at Menards 2 years ago when I built a front deck on my house. I had to take back half of them, they were full of gouges or holes which made them completely unusable for a deck board. The return people gave me a huge hassle telling me there was nothing wrong with them and I had to raise hell to get them to replace them.
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:59 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by popeyeiii View Post
I'd ask what you're planning to build that makes you give a shit..
Damn!!! This made me laugh and he has it right.
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:36 PM
  #27  
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When I built my cabin I found that the local lumber yard was actually slightly cheaper than Lowe's premium. Its actually a small 2 story house about 1550 sq. ft. and dealing with them was great. I did mention to their Mgr. that their lumber was better than the best at Lowe's.

He replied that they have been in business for over 50 years and when they find good suppliers they keep them. Based on that I would look for a local yard that has been around awhile.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:56 AM
  #28  
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Where does all the hardwood saw timber go that gets cut in the southeast? To corporate furniture makers and other manufacturers? Seems pretty stupid of the big box stores not to sell some higher quality wood besides pine, and maybe even some live edge stuff, with all the chip and jo inspired rustic looks many want to do now. I would think it would be a huge money maker
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:11 AM
  #29  
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the stores dont cull out the junk sent to them by the mills, so it piles up.
There is no reverse flow of bad lumber back to the mills.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:59 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Sonya13131 View Post
Thanks so much for all the advice! We do have a few small lumber stores around here, I'll check them out.

The reason small lumber stores still exist is due to quality, product and knowledge. Contractors keep them in business. If you go there often enough and get to know the guys they are a wealth of information. They will also carry lumber that you will not find in big box stores. The one I go to is much more user friendly as you can back right up to the stacks or into the building and load directly into my pick up or trailer with they crew helping out without having to load onto and off of one of those pita carts.
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Old 01-11-2019, 05:36 AM
  #31  
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There's 2 aspects to lumber..grading for strength, and appearance grade. Homeowners expect appearance grade lumber at the big box stores, and don't understand the grading system in the first place. Basically, anything under 4/4 is appearance...they're called "boards", and not structurally rated. Anything 2X and bigger is lumber, and is ONLY structurally graded.

Nobody sends lumber back to the mill. Professionals just cut bad lumber into shorter lengths and use it for blocking, deadwood, backers, etc.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:19 AM
  #32  
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Another thing is that most wood now comes from new growth and not old growth trees.

As for your question I have found that HD and lowes are hit and miss on lumber. 84 lumber might be a tad better but its left in the elements so you have to be picky.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:46 AM
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True. A 2x4 may have 10 or less growth rings across it. I counted 110 growth rings on a piece of 2x4 that was being salvaged from an old building.

There are criteria for grading lumber. I probably have an old handbook somewhere. Like most things it probably gets pushed to the max so the mill can move more of grade 2 vs grade 3. Most of us would probably do the same.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:20 AM
  #34  
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My recent experience.

I had a small project requiring 144 feet of 2x10's. I was going to use regular pine and went to HD. They had 3 twisted boards down and a full pallet up high. They refused to get the pallet down for me so I left. I went to a Lowe's and was looking at the boards when I decided to check the PT lumber. I found it was like 30 cents more per board and since it is an outside project I figured what the heck. I started eyeing each board and an employee walked by and said, "They're all straight.". And he was right. I was pleasantly surprised as I had never been able to just grab boards and not eye each one extensively. Even the good local lumber yard requires eyeing each board although it is only 1 out 10 that gets put back rather than 1 out of 2 at the big box stores, usually.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:30 AM
  #35  
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Frame with steel studs
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:33 AM
  #36  
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Having been in the building trades for close to 40 years selling lumber, manufacturing trusses, building houses and now as an inspector the surest answer is the wood is a natural product therefore you are bound to get twist, bend, wain, and warp in the individual piece regardless of grade. Assuming it is kiln dried it will change shape once it acclimates to the environment by either gaining or losing moisture. We purchased dimensional lumber and structural panels by the semi truck load. Some mills are just better than others quality wise. When purchasing we tried to specify which mills we wanted and who we wanted to avoid. We would on very rare occasion refuse a shipment. Generally what would happen is that a discount would be negotiated for us to accept the shipment.

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Old 01-12-2019, 06:12 AM
  #37  
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Im going to disagree. I believe Lowes framing lumber, At least in my area, is superb. Even the 12 footers are straight as an arrow and well dried. For small jobs where you can pick it up its nice to be able to go through the pile and hand pick what you want. When I have ordered from lumber yards because the quantity was just to much for me to pick up the lumber yards always sticks me with 10 % garbage. When its joists Im buying I then have to return the beat boards which is a PIA for me.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:42 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by barrell View Post
Im going to disagree. I believe Lowes framing lumber, At least in my area, is superb. Even the 12 footers are straight as an arrow and well dried. For small jobs where you can pick it up its nice to be able to go through the pile and hand pick what you want. When I have ordered from lumber yards because the quantity was just to much for me to pick up the lumber yards always sticks me with 10 % garbage. When its joists Im buying I then have to return the beat boards which is a PIA for me.
Crown up. Really unusable long lengths are blocking. I virtually never return lumber...there's always a place to use it.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:52 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by DocHoliday View Post
Where does all the hardwood saw timber go that gets cut in the southeast? To corporate furniture makers and other manufacturers? Seems pretty stupid of the big box stores not to sell some higher quality wood besides pine, and maybe even some live edge stuff, with all the chip and jo inspired rustic looks many want to do now. I would think it would be a huge money maker
Have a friend in that business and a lot of the good hardwood goes to Asia. My cabinet guy also does live edge shelving and live edge tables/desks. He has some really nice slabs of multiple kinds of wood. He did the live edge shelves in our farm house.
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