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Around the House 04.05.14

Selecting Lumber for Best Results

We all know to avoid lumber with large, loose knots, and twisted, warped, split, cupped or checked lumber... but how do you tell which boards will most likely do those bad things AFTER you buy them and use them? Here are some photos to show you what to look for and what to avoid. The pieces on the left are desirable and those on the right side of the photos are to be avoided. This is based on how wood behaves depending on ring shape, density and orientation. The last photo shows you what the pith looks like on the face rather than end of the board.
19 Comments Displaying 15 of 19 comments | See Previous
  • Hiline Builders Inc. Fair Oaks, CA
    Great post Brian. Very informative!
  • Nice dense rings are great if you can get them. Even without the most desirable ring density, you can look for these other desirable things, and avoid the pith, etc. The result will be straighter lumber, less checking, etc. I only find about 1/3 of the
  • Sharron W Memphis, TN
    Wow this is great information! I was proud I knew to look for straight and non-warped, and also about avoiding the pith, but had no idea about the growth rings going diagonally or about more is better....Really thank you for this, the quality of
  • Sharron W Quarter sawn (or vertical grain), lumber is the most stable, followed by flat sawn. Diagonal grain often results in twisting and warping.
  • Kelly S Bremerton, WA
    high standards on the materials increases the durability and strength of the end product and thus it lasts longer. Great info Brian.
  • Thanks, Brian! I really appreciate this information.
  • M A Keene, NH
    This is a great posting, but I had trouble reading the text. Can you make the font darker?
  • Hi ALL, Yeah the text looked fine on my computer, then I posted and the resolution and contrast is different. I will see if I can repost with better contrast.
  • I just tweaked the photos so the text is easier to read. I also plan on starting a blog at some point, where I can post higher resolution photos than these, that will be even easier to read.
  • Thanks for the info.
  • Kathleen Antioch, CA
    Thanks for the tutorial. this will help a lot. I didn't know what to look for, but now I do!
  • Laurie Anderson and Kathleen Good the hear that you got something out of this post. This information does help me a lot in my work.
  • thanks so much for the tips!
  • Jessica @ Dear Emmeline You are welcome. Simple, but often overlooked, keys to successful woodworking. :)
  • Cristie Evangelista Overland Park, KS
    Very informative... but is that blood on the floor??
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