Recognizing Common Defects with Lumber in Seattle

Buying lumber usually means making an investment in a building material that will end up supporting the final structure of your creation. The last thing you want to do is to build something using lumber in Seattle that’s defective or malformed in any way!

The best thing you can do for yourself and ultimately your project is to thoroughly inspect any lumber you buy, to make sure it’s free of defects and in optimal condition. To do this, you’ll need to know exactly what you should be looking for in terms of defects! Let’s explore some of the most common defects and how you can recognize them before it’s too late:

  • Warping: Warped lumber has a wavy appearance to it and can quickly be seen by looking at a board laid horizontally on the ground. If any part of the board isn’t touching the ground and is bowing upwards, it’s a sign of warping. Warping usually spans end to end, invalidating the entire piece of lumber.
  • Checks: If you notice “scarring” that cuts into the wood along growth lines, but doesn’t cut through the entire width of the board, this is a sign of checking. Checks are a form of stress fractures. Many times, they signal weak wood, however sometimes they can be sanded down if they’re shallow.
  • Cupping: Cupping is the inverse of warping. If wood is suffering from cupping, it tends to curl inward towards itself across the face of the board. Like warping, cupping is hard to resolve and usually means that a board is rendered ineffective.
  • Knots or knot holes: Wood naturally has knots in it, which can lend character and personality to lumber. If knots are tight, they’re usually not a problem and will simply show up as a dark circle on the face of the board. If they’re loose, however, they can turn into knot holes when the knot itself falls out. Knots can also be an epicenter for weakness in the board if they’re larger.
  • Shakes: If there’s separation or grooving where the growth lines are, you’re likely dealing with shakes. Shakes tend to be widespread and can cause brittleness and frailty because the wood isn’t as cohesive across the entire face.
  • Split: If there’s a crack in your board that can be seen on both sides, extending in from one end of the board, you’re dealing with a split. Splits can be sawed off if they’re not too protruding from the end.
  • Twists: If you have multiple bends in a board, such as warping and cupping, it’s generally called a twist. Twists are a major problem and usually render lumber in Seattle useless for most projects.

Do yourself a favor and thoroughly inspect any lumber before you make an investment. If you uncover any of the issues listed above, it’s a good idea to consider their severity, to make sure they’re not going to impact the structural integrity or aesthetics of your final woodworking project.

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