Wood You Have Guessed?

And to think, all this time I’ve been referring to wood and lumber synonymously, when they are not the same thing at all.

Wood refers to the raw material that comes from a tree. Lumber refers to boards, timbers and other building products produced from wood.

A stick is wood, but a 2 x 4 is lumber.

The distinction, which I learned recently in my first trimester of construction school, came in handy after the recent removal of our family’s beloved sugar maple tree. Without knowing the difference between wood and lumber, I might have tried willy-nilly to build a tiny house from the massive branches lying across the lawn.

(Instead, we saved three discs from septuagenarian tree. See photo above, and if you have any recommendations for how we could use them, please add them in the comments. Thank you!)

Here are a few other timely tidbits about wood and lumber:

1. Deciduous, or leaf-bearing, trees—such as sugar maples—produce hardwood lumber. This has nothing to do with the hardness of the wood. Conifers—such as pines and firs— produce softwood lumber, which can be really hard, despite the rather tender title.

2. Trees contain a lot of water, so the process of turning wood into building lumber involves drying. Wood can be dried in a kiln for a few days or air-dried for up to three months.

3. A newly cut 10-foot length of 2 x 10 lumber can contain more than four gallons of water.

4. Building with lumber that has not been properly dried can result in all kinds of problems, including squeaky floors and cracked ceilings.

5. A house can lose 3,200 gallons of water in the first year.

And, of course, my favorite fact about lumber…

6. A 2 x 4 actually measures 1.5 x 3.5. Go figure.

8 thoughts on “Wood You Have Guessed?

  1. Love everything about this post as I am
    a tree lover. Not so much a hugger, though. Also, I love wood. Thanks for sharing the six facts. My fave is #3 – who knew trees held so much water? So PMS’y.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sand those beautiful discs and make a wonderful lazy susan or a small table!! Gorgeous….I love wood…more than lumber….


  3. That oddly shaped piece is the front is fabulous! It would make the top of a unique end table. Or a wall hanging. Think outside the [wooden] box!

    The southern pine boards we intended for the floor in a room in our addition sat in the pole barn for a month or three before the floor was actually laid. Tragically, we did not let them re-dry for whatever length of time was needed; there are permanent gaps between the boards where they shrunk. We.Are.Dumb.com R us.

    Finding full dimension lumber in a house is one way of dating its construction. Not that we have ever had that experience.


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