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the two by four dimension, a history question

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  • #16
    Re: the two by four dimension, a history question

    I am renovating a home that was built in 1887. At the time, the local lumber business was flourishing and I'm pretty sure most of the lumber in this house came from the surrounding area. "Two-by-fours" even after a hundred and twenty years still measure just about 2 by 5 inches. Some variation is apparent, but they are a far sight bigger than today's 1-1/2 x 3-1/5 stuff. So the argument about "allowing for shrinkage", in my mind anyway, is more consumer-hype than anything else.

    But beyond that, the dimensional changes don't bother me as much as the extremely poor quality of a lot of today's lumber. Number 2 grade studs don't seem to qualify even for the poorest grade of twenty years ago. I have a workbench that I built for my son (at the time, five) and I used economy grade studs for the legs. Hey, I figure he was just going to beat the heck out of it as he learned to use a hammer. Well, that was 33 years ago and I look at those legs and wonder where such quality lumber could have ever come from. Today's "select" is so full of knots, I can't imagine how you grow a pine tree that so "branched". I wander in the forests around here and about the only thing that I see with branches close enough to leave that many knots is the "Christmas Tree" size.

    I wonder if we are sending all of our best lumber to Asia and we Americans are left with the poorest quality junk wood.

    CWS

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    • #17
      Re: the two by four dimension, a history question

      Anymore it comes down to growing trees, cutting them down, hauling to small custom sawmill (or have it brought to your place), bring home and dry carefully and later do the final machining yourself. What a PITA that can be.

      I'm not that old but I sort of remember some not too bad fir and spruce at the smaller lumber yard that's long gone now. Way to go big box dumps. You ran the good places out.

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      • #18
        Re: the two by four dimension, a history question

        Originally posted by NailBanger View Post
        Let me take this question one step further. Why are 2x4-2x6 precut studs actually 3 1/2" and 5 1/2" but 2x4-2x6 plates are 3 5/8 and 5 5/8. Has anyone else noticed this or is this just a local oddity in my region.

        The 2X4 clean (not PT) boards I get at HD are not as wide as the 2x4 PT boards. Same for 2X6, 2X8, etc....)

        DWC

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        • #19
          Re: the two by four dimension, a history question

          Originally posted by CWSmith View Post
          I wonder if we are sending all of our best lumber to Asia and we Americans are left with the poorest quality junk wood.CWS
          Ya think!

          Tuna, beef, grain, jobs and many other things are sent to Japan and other Asian countries leaving us with the leftovers.

          A few years ago, Japan would not allow American grown rice to be imported as it "was not considered as good or as nutritional as the local grown rice. Then they had a very poor harvest and allowed U.S. grown rice to be imported. Guess what, they couldn't tell the difference. Importing U. S. rice now allows then to use some of the rice paddys for other uses such as housing.

          Have you ever gone fishing and caught a tuna? The boat captain radios in and guess who is waiting on the pier when the boat docks, A Japanese tuna buyer with a large wad of bills or a checkbook. You have your picture taken with the tuna and quick as a wink it is flash frozen and flown to Japan for Sushi. The canned tuna we get is the scrapings from the bones.

          The Japanese have developed a huge taste for American style and sized houses. Guess where the land (rice paddys) and building materials come from. Japans few forests are protected, so they import the logs from, guess who.

          I could go on but I think you get the point.

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          • #20
            Re: the two by four dimension, a history question

            As if this was'nt odd enough, when ya get to 2x8 = 1.5x7.25, 2x10 = 1.5x9.25 and 2x12 = 1.5x9.25. Whats up with that?

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            • #21
              Re: the two by four dimension, a history question

              Listen you guys, I aint never heard a good carpenter, instaler complane abut a 1/16" let alone a 1/32". That aint poo to me. Now your 1/8" inch to 5" is just the way things are sometimes. Make it work so it stands the time is what I do.
              Maby thats why I still have a job and they give out a ten year warenty on my work.
              =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
              Be safe out there folks
              Bob B
              =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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