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The instructions to a DIY project asks me to purchase something described as:

8-foot ¾-inch clear pine 1 x 8

What exactly does this mean. Here's my guess

  • 8-foot: the length of the board
  • ¾-inch: the actual height?
  • clear: no knots?
  • 1 x 8: in inches the common or rough height and width.

I'm also asked to get

4-foot 5/4-inch clear pine 1 x 8

Same idea? Is the "5/4-inch" a typo that should be "3/4-inch"?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Technically, the 1x8 is 3/4" THICK, not "high". That's nitpicking, though. A 1x8 is always specified as a "1x8", never by actual stock thickness in softwoods (ie pine). A nominal 1" plank will always be 3/4" thick after planing, a nominal 2" plank will always be 1-1/2" thick after planing. Width is a little different, but follows generally the same rules - an "N"x2 is always 1-1/2" wide, an "N"x4 is 3-1/2" wide, an "N"x6 is 5-1/2" wide, BUT an "N"x8 is only 7-1/4" wide. Wider planks than nominal 6" are narrower by 3/4" instead of 1/2".

The "5/4" (pronounced "five-quarters") is correct, very commonly used for hardwoods and occasionally for "presentation grade" softwoods. That's a plank that begins life rough-sawn at 1-1/4" (5/4") thickness and is planed to 1" thickness.

"Clear" - no knots or bark inclusions.

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Nitpick away! This is why I came to diy.stackexchange. Thanks for the thorough answer. – Michael J Swart Aug 15 '14 at 14:09

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