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I was told pine is the way to go for portions of my project but I'm also told framing pine is not the way to go because it's not square and is not dried. Can I just go to a big box store and get pine that's good for projects? What specifically should I be looking/asking for?

closed as too broad by mmathis, Tyson, Daniel Griscom, ThreePhaseEel, The Evil Greebo Jun 11 '18 at 16:48

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    You need to be much more specific. As is, this question is the very definition of overly broad (which makes it subject to closure). Start with the basics: What do you want and how are you trying to accomplish it? Attaching pictures of drawings or relevant material will also help. – Hari Ganti Jun 7 '18 at 18:52
  • Framing lumber is dried to the same level as project lumber. Whether it needs to be square is your prerogative. We can't tell you what to look for knowing nothing about your project. That said, I've used framing lumber for about everything from furniture to finished stair treads. There's nothing inherently wrong with it if you're selective. – isherwood Jun 7 '18 at 19:01
  • Sounds like which fuel to use in my truck diesel or gas. It depends on what is needed. – Ed Beal Jun 8 '18 at 6:06
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You need to look down the lumber to check it for straightness. I do it every time. Be picky if it's important. Also stack it like they do off the floor and, laying down. It will warp if you don't. Other types of lumber get pricey.

Also if the lumber feels heavy, it's wet, and will warp easier.

  • Also if the lumber feels heavy, it's wet, and will warp easier. – user86528 Jun 7 '18 at 22:41
  • Oak is heavy when dry and a 2x8 is heavier than a 2x4 ,,,, – Ed Beal Jun 8 '18 at 6:07
  • The topic was pine. Oak is very expensive to use instead of, recommended pine. Please do not add to my posts. You can comment to pass the info along. Thought I lost my mind and started talking about oak – user86528 Jun 8 '18 at 16:16
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Yes, you can use Pine for framing. There are many kinds of pine, 1) Lodgepole Pine, 2) Ponderosa Pine, 3) Idaho White Pine. Which is available, will depend on where you are located.

However, Pine is a “soft” wood. That’s why you’re hearing from folks talking about different species.

So, depending on what you are doing, I’d recommend: 1) for general framing, Pine is fine. 2) For large structural jobs we usually use a denser wood like Fir, Spruce, etc. 3) for wood that’s exposed to the weather, we use Cedar, Redwood, but they are a “soft” wood too. 4) for trim, Pine is fine and is usually very economical. 5) for boards to walk on, we use oak, alder.

To get wood that will hold its shape best, I’d use wood that has been “dried”. They do that two ways: 1) kiln dried, and 2) air dried. “Green” lumber (lumber freshly cut from a tree) will twist and warp as it dries out. Lumber is graded on its “moisture content”. (The weight of the water in wood.) Green lumber is usually in the 22%-19% moisture content range. If it’s air dried it’s in the 15%-12% range. Kiln dried is in the 12%-9% for framing and 8%-5% for trim, furniture, etc. Of course the cost goes up the more it’s dried and it all varies based on the relative humidity where you live. When they dry it, they bind the stacks of lumber together so they don’t twist so much. Sometimes better than others.

So, to answer your question, if you are framing, I’d use the driest, straightest, Pine available without large knots, etc. Usually, the lumberyards will let you pick through the stack if you don’t need many boards. If you’re building a fence or an outdoor trellis, I’d use cedar or redwood. (Pine will rot very quickly outdoors.)

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