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I <3 the smell of sawdust
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I also just got back into WWing and recently bought rough lumber for the first time in over a decade. I went to 2 different shops and had the same experience with both, although their prices were very different due to a few reasons which I understood.

I agree they are trying to screw you. You can measure length, width and thickness in inches, but after you multiply them, you have to divide by 144 (number of inches in a bd ft). Although I have found that defects don't seem to be taken into account. But I never really asked because the boards I was looking at, I could work around the defects.

I'd suggest either dealing with someone else that is more helpful at that store, or finding another lumber store.
 
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