Nailing Down Lumber Purchases

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Spring often brings with it a list of household projects that have been accumulating all winter. Whether you're planning on building a flower box or an addition to your home, you'll want to make sure the materials you use are of the highest quality.

Our Rent-A-Husband, Kaile Warren, recently visited AJO Lumber and Woodworking in New York City to show us how to select premium lumber.

"The problem with selecting lumber is that inferior product can be buried in some premium bundles," says Warren. "I'm going to tell you how to pick the best from the rest."

Three things to look for are: knots, crowns and delamination.

"A knot is a growth where the branch stems off from the base of the tree," explains Warren. A knot on the edge of the wood is bad because if you needed to rout or sand the edge, you would have a difficult time.

You'll also want to avoid purchasing lumber containing black knots, or black rings around brown knots. "Whenever you see a black knot or blackness around a knot, that means the tree was dead when it was cut and you'll want to stay away from that situation," says Warren.

Over time, black knots or loose knots will fall and are not worth purchasing.

Good knots are brown in color with fiber all around the perimeter of the board. This is what you look for when buying premium-grade lumber.

"So if you need to rout or sand, you've got some wood fiber to do that with," explains Warren. "So this is a good situation."

Warren also recommends looking for crown, or curvature, of the wood. He says to test it, take the board to a flat surface and lay it down to see whether it rocks.

"The general allowance is no more than a quarter of an inch for every 10 linear feet," Warren says.

The way wood is stored by the merchant can produce warping. Warren says the boards should be placed horizontally, as they are at AJO.

Plywood should also be stored horizontally to prevent delamination . Plywood is made of wood veneers that are laminated together.

"Delamination is the separation of the veneers of wood," says Warren. "The biggest cause is what's called 'bandage bruising.' When plywood is shipped it is wrapped in bands, and you can see it makes an impression on the wood."

These bruises are typically found on the top and bottom sheet of the bundle. So Warren recommends that you select plywood from the center of the bundle.

After choosing your lumber, Warren suggests you make sure that the material is well secured to your vehicle.

"Most lumber yards will provide you with the materials and the assistance to do so," he says.

Warren says when you get your wood home, be sure to store it in the area where it's going to be used for at leat three days. He says this acclimation period will also help you make sure the lumber you've purhased is free from defects.

On his next visit to the Saturday Early Show, Kaile Warren will show us how to build a brick barbecue in the backyard just in time for summer.
  • Rome Neal

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