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When choosing craft wood consider the following


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 wood for your project. This step is just as important as having a set of plans. By choosing craft wood before getting 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 teak.

Desired Finish

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 that 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.

Alternatively, poplar or spruce may be a poor choice if you are planning to use a stain or clear finish. These craft woods tend to blotch and don't finish as well as oak would.

lumber size needed

Finished Size vs. Rough Size
Rough Finished

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 with 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 project.

Visible component

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 for it.

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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