Top-grade boards aren’t always pretty
Spectacular boards cost no more than ordinary ones,because lumber
grades depend on yield, not aesthetics. The presence of off-color
sapwood and funny-looking figure isn’t a factor.The four boards at left
all came from the same top-grade stack. In the eyes of the grader, the
trio of slender boards is identical to the single wide one, because
they contain the same amount of usable material.Three boards or one,
they’ll cost the same.How would you spend your money?
Buy more than enough
It’s a big mistake to buy the exact amount of
wood your project requires. If you do, you’re
gonna come up short, because rough lumber
isn’t perfect, not even top-grade boards.
A common rule of thumb is to buy 15 to 20
percent more than you need. Some species, like
red oak, consistently contain few defects, so you
don’t have to over-buy as much. Other species,
like black walnut, require more insurance than
I usually don’t bother with percentages, I
just buy extra pieces. For example, if I’m going
to build a table, I’ll choose enough stock to
make an extra leg. If the top requires seven
boards, I’ll buy eight.