It doesn't matter what
you are going to build, choosing craft wood is a necessary
step. There are many things to consider when buying
for your project. This step is just as important as
having a set of plans. By choosing craft wood before
started you can avoid making costly errors or it can
prevent you from using expensive stock where a secondary
wood will be sufficient.
By using the points below you can be sure you will
be prepared to select lumber that will not only protect
your budget but will be exactly what you need and want
to complete your project.
Indoor vs. Outdoor projects
The first thing to consider is where your project
is going to be used. An indoor project is going to require
different craft wood then one meant for the yard.
Moisture is a big killer of wood. Any project that
is being planned for the outdoors needs to be built
using craft wood that will resist moisture. A good finish
will go a long way to protect the wood but using a
species like cedar or teak is a wise choice. The natural
oils and resins help resist moisture and decay.
Insects and UV are also enemies of any outdoor project.
If your project isn't going to be in contact with food
then pressure treated wood may be appropriate.
When choosing craft wood for an indoor project this
first point isn't as important but if you are building
something for the outdoors consider using a species
of wood with natural resistance like cedar, cypress or
The second thing to consider is how the wood is to
be finished. Some craft woods take a finish better
then others. If you intend to use paint it is unlikely
oak will be your first choice of lumber. Poplar or spruce
would be sufficient and the cost is a lot less then
a more visually pleasing wood like oak.
poplar or spruce may be a poor choice if you are
planning to use a stain or clear finish. These craft
to blotch and don't finish as well as oak would.
lumber size needed
|Finished Size vs. Rough Size
1 x 2
|3/4 x 1-1/2
|1 x 3
||3/4 x 2-1/2
|1 x 4
||3/4 x 3-1/2
|1 x 6
||3/4 x 5-1/2
|1 x 8
||3/4 x 7-1/4
|1 x 10
||3/4 x 9-1/4
|1 x 12
||3/4 x 11-1/4
|2 x 2
||1-1/2 x 1-1/2
|2 x 3
||1-1/2 x 2-1/2
|2 x 4
||1-1/2 x 3-1/2
|2 x 6
||1-1/2 x 5-1/2
|2 x 8
||1-1/2 x 7-1/4
|2 x 10
||1-1/2 x 9-1/4
|2 x 12
||1-1/2 x 11-1/4
Knowing what size of lumber you need is obvious, but
you need to consider if you can use craft wood that
is finished size or do you need lumber that is rough
size? For example: if the project you are working
on calls for 3/4 inch stock then you will need to go
1 inch rough stock. After machining the 3/4 inch
piece would be too thin.
Tools you have available
Buying rough craft wood is fine when you have he tools
to properly machine the stock. If you don't have a
jointer or thickness planer then you need to consider
using finished stock for your
It is obvious the you want the most desirable craft
wood for the most visible parts of your project. However
if the component is not visible on the finished product
then it doesn't make much sense to use premium stock
Using this technique you can save your budget for
craft wood that will be visible when finished.
There is no hard and fast rule about which craft wood
to use for your project. You can use an expensive hardwood
for any project but for most people your budget simply
won't allow it.
A budget will usually dictate exactly which craft
wood you are able to use. By employing techniques like
using lessor wood for non-visible components you can
still get the look you desire without spending more
money then you have planned for.
Choosing craft wood is really about knowing the project
you are starting. Only this way will you know when a
lessor wood will be sufficient, or when you should choose
the best exotic hardwood. By knowing all components of
your project you will be able to determine what materials
to use where.
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