Are purchased boards really the dimensions they say?
Issue: Issue 126
Posted Date: 6/14/2005
Q: How much faith can I place in a board I buy at a home improvement store in regards to the dimensions listed, and how square and straight it is? What about sheet goods?
John Brock: Faith is for church. Save it for religion. Your home improvement store is a for-profit, capitalist enterprise. Take a discerning eye and a full measure of skepticism with you to either establishment, but include a hand tape and a pair of leather work gloves when you go to the home improvement store. Trust, but verify, is the order of the day. Most of us know that two-by-sixes aren't, 3/4" plywood isn't, and wood studs are rarely straight. Keep in mind that the same unit of wood you are picking through has been picked through by dozens of other well-meaning DIY'ers, leaving the culls on top. BTW - If your hand tape looks new, take your receipt with you so you aren't asked to pay for it a second time.
Greg Williams: Take a tape measure and square, and hand select the boards.
Carol Reed: You may confidently have faith that the dimensions are nominal, meaning measure for actual measurements. Narrow and straight is something the woodworker does once the wood arrives in the shop. Plan quantities accordingly. This is normal no matter the source. That said, you will probably find the quality of wood from the borg to be less than from a lumberyard that serves cabinet shops.
("Borg" is a common online term for "large home improvement store." It derives from a fictional race of cyborgs on Star Trek that absorb everything in their path. - Editor )