Warped lumber - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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Warped lumber

Greetings,

I've noticed that almost all of the lumber I see at big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes is terribly warped. The lumber itself would meet my needs, but I simply cannot deal with how bent and out of shape thier lengths are. Is this from all the weight pressing down during shipping? I can't imagine them coming out of the mill like this. If I go to a REAL lumber yard, will I be able to get good lengths that aren't so badly warped? Thanks.
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 03:05 PM
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The warping is from moisture getting on the stock during storage or shipment or both. If you go to a real lumber yard you will get what you request so be specific.

Spilling wine on oak does not make it purpleheart!
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 03:15 PM
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When I go to a big box store, I always find myself sorting through and stacking bad wood of to the side for about 10 minutes so I can find my 4 or 5 boards that are workable.

I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks.
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post #4 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 05:51 PM
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It's the source of the wood...the big boxes are buying fast rotation planted in tree farms. The faster the growth rate on the trees, obviously more profit. Unfortunately these fast growth hybrids and harvesting them young makes for less stable lumber. One way to understand this in a tactile way is look at the end of and "old" 2"x4" scrap if you can find one (20 years should be old enough) and compare it to a new one from the big box. The growth rings on the older wood will be much closer together .
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post #5 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 06:12 PM
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just for my "fyi"

so, darren, hypothetically speaking...if i get a "good" non-warped board from a big box , aka new growth, and i use it for something...lets say a stud....and i install it right away, do i still stand a greater chance of it warping ? julie
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post #6 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 06:12 PM
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I find the same thing at the box stores. Always end up sorting the lumber to find the best pieces and often end up going from HD to LOWES and back again to find stuff worth paying for. When I'm working with Pine I'll bite the bullet and get it.

The lumber yards around here have a warping problem also because they are storing their wood outside in pole barns (covered but no walls) in the Florida weather. Lots of rain and humidity. They let me search through it to find the pieces that I want, but its still a hassle and usually more expensive when they plane it to the thickness I want. However, they are the only ones who carry Cherry or Ash.

One of these days I'll wake up and the planner fairy will have left that nice Dewalt 12 1/2 thickness planner in my shop and things will be wonderful.

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post #7 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 06:19 PM
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Yes Julie, the chances are greater for future failure...not significantly if it was straight when you bought it, but inherently the lumber available today at the big box is inferior simple as that.
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post #8 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creative novice View Post
so, darren, hypothetically speaking...if i get a "good" non-warped board from a big box , aka new growth, and i use it for something...lets say a stud....and i install it right away, do i still stand a greater chance of it warping ? julie
If the moisture content is below 10% and the board doesn't get wet it should be stable even if it has wide growth rings.

Spilling wine on oak does not make it purpleheart!
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-02-2009, 08:13 PM
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Try finding some that is actually 10%. I had some in the house for a month before using it. Picked it for straghtness. Only needed 3 and figured I could at least get those at the box store. I don't think it was anywhere near 'kiln dry' like it was stamped, twisted up like pretzels and surface checked.

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post #10 of 23 Old 03-03-2009, 12:32 AM
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warped boards seem to be the norm out here. Anytime I work with anything other then Oak I have to cut it into narrow pieces and then put it back together again. So almost anything that I build any more I do that with, it is one way of knowing that your pieces are not going to warp or twist some time in the future.

Steve
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-03-2009, 06:22 AM
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I really hate trying to find good straight non warped boards. You can spend so much time trying to sort through and find it that it gets frustrating to do. Sometimes I'll just figure that for what I need I will be cutting off the bad part anyway so I take it. But I don't buy too much in advance simply because I have found that when I put it in the garage it seems that when I take it down it is warped enough to be worthless or almost worthless.
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post #12 of 23 Old 03-03-2009, 09:22 AM
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Bowed (concave on the flat) or whipped (curved to left or right on the flat) is frustrating enough. If it has both, which to me is a twisted board, it is rarely worth salvaging, especially if it is just a piece of common lumber. Save yourself the time and frustration and find a straighter board.

Even with dried lumber I've bought from a reputable mill I've created my own problems in the past depending on the shop's climate. I make most of my paint grade cabinet door frames from poplar or maple. I can mill up my stiles and rails till they are flat on all four sides and come back to them in a couple days and sure as rain one or two of the pieces will be slightly concave. Usually right after flattening my pieces I will hit the ends and all four flat sides with a fast drying primer or lacquer to retard any increase in moisture content.

I'm not going to knock the big box stores too bad, they're a great place to grab a short piece of hardwood in a pinch when it's Sunday and you're on a roll and don't want to wait.

Also, don't be too discouraged by the sight of a ten foot board with a slight curve to it. Unless you need the entire length in tact, you're probably going to cut it up into shorter lengths anyway, in which case then you only need to straighten a bunch of short boards one at a time instead of one long one. Much easier.

But yeah, running out to one of these store and dropping a couple hundred dollars on hardwood and thinking you can just let the dust fly with no repercussions is an expensive gamble.

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post #13 of 23 Old 03-04-2009, 12:22 PM
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Because of you guys digging through it I have to dig even further.
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post #14 of 23 Old 03-04-2009, 10:12 PM
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Some of us are more fortunate than others.

I have always lived an hour or less drive from a quality hardwood lumber supplier.
You can either spend more money and less time or less money and more time - usually lots more time - at a big box store.
Sometimes a quality lumber supplier may even be less expensive on oak and other hardwoods than Home Depot.
When I go to Houston Hardwoods I pick just about every board I look at. They all look good. The same held true for hardwood suppliers when I lived in Louisianna, Mississippi and Arkansas.

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post #15 of 23 Old 03-06-2009, 09:35 PM
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Is there anyway if a board has somewhat of a warp to it to make it unwarped? Like if you lay it on a flat surface and put weight on it? I mostly just use Alder and Maple and it seems like if I leave boards in the shop too long and then if I bring the project into the house it will usually warp. Is that because the climate is so different? Would putting a finish on before help out too so the moisture leaving and entering the wood is more regulated?
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post #16 of 23 Old 03-07-2009, 07:26 AM
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I am finding reading this thread very interesting. I assume that you are all talking about hardwood/furniture grade woods.

The woods that I see at my local Lowes (I have never looked at Home Depot) are all first class woods and very expensive. All are very well finished, no blemishes and straight with absolutely no sign of a warp. They offer a very limited selection.

Here in our small area we have a local lumber/hardware store that keeps more normal quality of hardwoods. Their selection is larger than Lowes but still limited to about 8 or so selections. Even though these are more normal quality, they are still good wood that is well finished and has very limited warp.

Just what kind of woods are you all buying that you find so bad? And in what price range?

George
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post #17 of 23 Old 03-07-2009, 09:51 AM
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Tony B, I am with you. If I need to buy hardwoods, I will take the 30 minute drive to a hardwood supplier before I will take the five minute drive to the bix box store. The big box store charges over 7$ a board foot for oak!! That's highway robbery if you ask me.

If I have the time, I will even drive 100 miles to a retired farmer/sawer who charges $2 a foot for whatever he has in stock. The material is superior to what the BORGS sell with much less internal stress(air dried vs fast kiln dried) and tighter grain due to the fact that the trees aren't plantation grown.

If I need pine for a furniture project, I will throw it in my solar kiln for a while to get the high MC down to an acceptable level. If I need pine for a construction project, I just sight it and if it's straight I will use it. If it twists terribly, I just fix it or replace it before the drywall goes up.
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post #18 of 23 Old 03-07-2009, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daren View Post
It's the source of the wood...the big boxes are buying fast rotation planted in tree farms. The faster the growth rate on the trees, obviously more profit. Unfortunately these fast growth hybrids and harvesting them young makes for less stable lumber. One way to understand this in a tactile way is look at the end of and "old" 2"x4" scrap if you can find one (20 years should be old enough) and compare it to a new one from the big box. The growth rings on the older wood will be much closer together .
When you thin hardwood, the new growth rings are larger. Does this mean that this part of the tree is more prone to warping and twisting? Or is this something with hybrid or fast rotation trees?

Rich (The Yooper)
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post #19 of 23 Old 03-07-2009, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by da Yooper View Post
When you thin hardwood, the new growth rings are larger. Does this mean that this part of the tree is more prone to warping and twisting? Or is this something with hybrid or fast rotation trees?
Mainly with the hybrids on fast rotation in tree farms...but as an extreme example since I mill "yard trees" I have seen trees standing alone with no competition with 1/2 or less the growth rings of the same species from the timber.
I happen to have a picture in my old gallery here of a freak walnut. It was in a guys yard that backed up to a farm field. He had lots of fertilizer run off for many acres where this tree grew. This tree came up volunteer after he bought the place and he just mowed around it. He had only lived in that house for 15 years...the tree was 20" diameter and nearly 50' tall. I have milled the same size trees that are a minimum of 50 years old.
Illinois walnut for slow growth has maybe an inch of white sapwood on a log this size, this tree is was 3"-4". It was shooting up like a weed.
The point of this story is I was sort of excited to get this tree when the guy said he felled it to make room for a new garage...I just wasted gas milling it. I was hoping for something unique since I like the contrast of walnut sapwood in my projects some times. What I got was a pile of lumber that cupped beyond belief, what did not cup simple busted right down the middle. It was very unstable due to it's fast growth rate.
I thought the original post was about softwood framing material, so that is why I jumped in with the plantation explanation. Most softwoods naturally grow faster than most hardwoods. I cannot speak on hardwood forestation/harvest because I am not familiar with any timber industry companies doing that. Sure cut out old growth and replant fast growth/one species (usually softwood), but not plant a managed long term hardwood crop.
I have to add thinning hardwoods like you mentioned is healthy for the forest overall and to weed out the lesser trees makes the stronger ones thrive. Not grow at an unhealthy fast rate, just grow well.
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post #20 of 23 Old 03-08-2009, 12:41 AM
 
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I agree with all the answers about big box stores. We have a local quality lumber company that deals in quality wood and it ain't cheap. It is top quality wood stored in a special area that is humidity controlled. If you must cut big box wood to specs and lose a lot of it, it may be more cost effective to buy the good stuff. I know what you are thinking, I can afford to buy a bunch of expensive wood. I only buy a board or two, because I only make small projects. You can see from my web site that I don't buy much.............I don't build big things.
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