WOODWORKING: World’s Cheapest Furniture Lumber


Okay. Construction grade lumber like you see here is made and sold for building house frames mostly, but few woodworkers realize that it’s a great material for making fine woodworking projects. The trick is choosing your boards from the right pile and then also choosing the correct boards from within that file. So let’s take a look. I’ll give you a tour of how to get the most out of construction grade lumber for your next woodworking project. The first thing to look for is the kind of lumber and this sign on the side of the bundle tells you everything you need to know. This is a two by 10 lumber. The boards are 12 feet long, but most importantly it’s kiln dried, which means it’s been heat treated. In order to reduce the moisture content, you definitely don’t want to go with green construction grade lumber, it’s usually abbreviated, s, g, e, r, n, and that’s just simply too wet for what we want.

The wood is mold prone and it’ll almost certainly be covered in staining. Also the grade is important to look at this as number one and number two so you know that in this pile are the kind of boards that you can turn into beautiful furniture. I always like to get wider boards because they’re cut from larger trees. These two by tens are a good example of a pile of wood that’s got some real potential to it. Oh, this board here that just happens to be on top is an excellent hole. If I was buying lumber to build a coffee table or a cabinet or or a bed or anything like that, this would be one of the boards I would choose yet some fairly clear lane and if you look here at the end, you’ll see that there are sections of this board where the grain is getting closer to being perpendicular with the surface of the board. That this tight grain pattern that you see on either side of the ports, you can split this board in half and then you can resort to thinner sicknesses and bookmatch that green pattern together. So it looks really good. Looking further through the pile.

These next boards don’t look great to me. I mean there’s the obvious problem of the Whaney edge, so you’re not getting the full value for the width of board you buy. But more importantly, you’ve got these big knots here, which might look okay, but they’re almost certain to cause distortion as the wood drives further. One of the best ways to home in on great boards for fine furniture is just to simply look at the end grain. Um, as I said before, one of the nicest grain patterns you can get with construction grade lumber happens when the growth rings are as nearly vertical to the surface of the board as possible. And this board down here looks like one of those. So let’s take a look.

Okay, yeah. as I suspected by just looking at the end grain of the globe, this one’s a keeper. The growth rings are nearly vertical to the surface and that yields a whole lot of Nice green along the whole length of this board. Now one thing that you don’t want is to use the middle of the board. That goes for any kind of lumber you’re using, but especially when you get into kiln dried wood like this, it’s unstable. The growth rings are very curved, and so when I process this into wood for furniture projects, I’ll probably remove the center section, maybe an inch and inch and a half, maybe at the most, two inches wide from the center, and then just use the boards on the outside for whatever I want. The nice thing about construction grade lumber is that it’s so inexpensive, it’s less than a dollar a board foot, which is as cheap as the furniture grade wood gets a, it’s indigenous to a lot of parts of Canada and it’ll help you to create some wonderful things in your homework shop.

bruinjoe - September 21, 2010

Thanks for this great video. What type of construction grade lumber (fir, pine) do you use for furniture and cabinet making? Thanks.

I Plumridge - July 13, 2015

Taking your time and adding a great deal of patience – results give you great lumber for a much cheaper price.  Thanks for the tips.

diggydaz2007 - February 6, 2017

Great video. Good advice. Good demeanour and tone. Subbed.

    Bailey Line Road - February 14, 2017

    Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your kind words.

    Drop by my website https://baileylineroad.com for a visit sometime. You’ll find lots of stuff there, including tool giveaways, articles and the chance to ask me questions directly. 
    Bye for now and thanks for watching!

    Wade Patton - April 18, 2017

    Yes, very nice video is a world of overdone, overhyped, and overrated vids. Keep up the easily digested work. Will look at the rest of your stuff.

M Sandoval - March 29, 2017

probably the best video out there on how to use construction grade lumber for hobbyists. you sir, are a star! thank you.

Chance Bralley - April 3, 2017

That is great information to know. Thank you for sharing your knowledge God Bless

Slap Stuff Together - April 6, 2017

Good advice! Thanks for sharing. Easy to follow and understand, very clear audio too.

Red Beard Carpentry & Woodworks - April 8, 2017

Great tips , thx for sharing!

deezynar - April 8, 2017

It is possible to get worthwhile lumber from construction wood.  The sorting is time consuming, but it is possible.  I’ve found that quarter sawn pieces are almost impossible to find where I’m at because the logs are sawn to get boards from the outside, and they get a post, or beam from the center.  And to the question of whether soft woods are appropriate for high quality furniture, there are lots of colonial pieces made of pine that are highly cherished and sought after.  On to a completley different aspect of getting wood from a lumber yard, the wildy bent pieces of lumber that get tossed to the side.  Those things can be great if you ever do a project needing bent wood.  Buy those water ski shaped pieces, and ask for a discount on them.  Collect a bunch over time and let them dry for a year or more.  Pick the ones with similar arcs and cut them on the band saw to get the exact curve you want.  Make a bow front chest with them, or something with curved sides.  The grain runs all the way through the pieces, making them very strong.  Leave them exposed, or veneer them.

John Doe - April 16, 2017


angela sheppard - April 16, 2017

thank you for the explanation of cutting out the center.

    Wade Patton - April 18, 2017

    Just watched another fellow show how he gets full “quarter sawn” lumber by purchasing center-sawn boards and then resaws the pith out. IOW takes 2×12 or greater saws both sides away from the pith and then, if necessary, laminates the boards into the width needed.

    I’m not much on softwoods, but the makes them much more appealing.

orcasea59 - January 27, 2018

I was once looking for some 1 X 2 vertical grain DougFir pieces for a boat project and running into some serious sticker shock. I went outside to the 2 X 10 pile and found several with the vertical grain I needed on the edges for 1/4 the price, and they still let me with plenty of usable material for other work.

Bill Knight - February 27, 2018

Good to see someone else doing this too. Now I know that I am not the only one standing in the Home Depot reading end grain on boards. Another good source is rough cut oak fence post. A 1 X 6 8ft long cost me $5 and is actually larger than those dimensions. It would cost me $28 at the store and still need to be reworked. It’s a little wet but I already keep 2 dehumidifiers running in the basement. 5 weeks down there and its so dry that it won’t register on the moisture meter.

Joseph Robbins - March 1, 2018

Thank you sir, this was a great video and very simple useful knowledge to help out people like me who are just beginning in woodworking. Great video!

Monte Glover - April 9, 2018

In the southern part of the US they sell southern yellow pine it in harder and more stable. It also has a beautiful colour and grain pattern.

Yunghan Ma - May 1, 2018

Steve: This is a great video! Really enjoy and appreciate your sharing your knowledge. For those who criticize, please make a video of your own knowledge, so that we can show you our appreciation as well.

andtastic1 - November 28, 2018

JPT. thanks. informative.

TopSaw - January 5, 2019

Love this, I’ll show it to my high school woodshop classes. I do tree work on the weekends, bring the wood in to mill and we build projects from the logs we mill.

Ted Puckett - March 21, 2019

Very informative video. Thank you.

Ezra Wilson - March 27, 2019

By far the best video i have seen on this topic. Many thanks.

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