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  • LCHIEN
    Internet Fact Checker
    • Dec 2002
    • 21082
    • Katy, TX, USA.
    • BT3000 vintage 1999

    Found on Quora

    Click image for larger version

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    Top is some 1905 Farmhouse 2x4
    Bottom current lumber product. Apparently a fast growing tree made for sustainable logging, it is only a few years old, compared to the old growth lumber that took hundreds of years to replace.

    What is the effect on the lumber quality?

    https://www.quora.com/Is-todays-wood...__=67987800211
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions
  • Slik Geek
    Senior Member
    • Dec 2006
    • 676
    • Lake County, Illinois
    • Ryobi BT-3000

    #2
    Given the closer growth rings, I would expect that the old one would be harder (assuming they are of the same type of tree).
    The new one certainly would be less dimensionally stable with moisture changes (the old one is rift sawn).
    What is puzzling to me is that I have found 2x4s from 70 years ago tend to be closer to an actual 2" x 4" dimension (larger than today's 1.5" x 3.5" "2x4s").. I would expect something which was about 120 years old to be even closer to an actual 2" x 4" dimension, or at least as large as the 70 year old 2x4s I have seen - yet the photo indicates both boards have roughly identical dimensions.

    Comment

    • leehljp
      Just me
      • Dec 2002
      • 8469
      • Tunica, MS
      • BT3000/3100

      #3
      Originally posted by Slik Geek
      What is puzzling to me is that I have found 2x4s from 70 years ago tend to be closer to an actual 2" x 4" dimension (larger than today's 1.5" x 3.5" "2x4s").. I would expect something which was about 120 years old to be even closer to an actual 2" x 4" dimension, or at least as large as the 70 year old 2x4s I have seen - yet the photo indicates both boards have roughly identical dimensions.
      I remember when the change took place - 1964. (I looked it up) I didn't get the "memo" but remember purchasing a few 2x4 for a project as a teenager while in high school. I looked at the 2x4s and my mind noticed something different. I measured and thought they sure were small. Then when I got home, I measured a few shorts/ends that dad had on hand, and there was a difference. I don't remember the size of the shorts dad had but do remember specifically that instance because it caused some confusion on my part. I never forgot that.
      Hank Lee

      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

      Comment

      • LCHIEN
        Internet Fact Checker
        • Dec 2002
        • 21082
        • Katy, TX, USA.
        • BT3000 vintage 1999

        #4
        That was also a question I had about that picture... how is it that the 1805 lumber is the same dimension as modern 2x4? Coincidence? Modified? 2x4 were shrunk from literally 2" x 4" finished size in the 20th century to today's 1.5x3.5 inches.

        But the original point was the relative size of the annual growth rings was astounding. Presumably the newer lumber is a result of managed forestry practice, planting fast growing trees for sustainable harvest in a handful of years (as opposed to 200 years).
        Last edited by LCHIEN; 04-05-2024, 11:31 AM.
        Loring in Katy, TX USA
        If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
        BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

        Comment

        • twistsol
          Veteran Member
          • Dec 2002
          • 2912
          • Cottage Grove, MN, USA.
          • Ridgid R4512, 2x ShopSmith Mark V 520, 1951 Shopsmith 10ER

          #5
          It also depends on where this lumber was harvested. My brother has an 1858 house nearby and the 2x4's are all oak and I would bet look very much like to top example and likely harvested very nearby. The bottom example also has the heart in it and the first few years of a tree's life have very rapid growth which tends to slow each year as the tree gets older. I can't tell how close to the heart the top example is, but there isn't a lot of curve to the grain.

          Also, 2x4's aren't used horizontally in framing (other than top plates with a 16" span) and their strength needs to be compressive along its length.
          Chr's
          __________
          An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
          A moral man does it.

          Comment

          • leehljp
            Just me
            • Dec 2002
            • 8469
            • Tunica, MS
            • BT3000/3100

            #6
            The 2x4s in the walls of our nearly 100 year old house are larger.

            The PROBLEM is that the current size 2x4s were in existence WAY before 1964. There just wasn't a "Standardized" size before then. Many full size 2x4s were not planed - which is what I have seen in many old houses, and what we used in our barn and storage buildings on our farm when I was growing up. We did have some planed 2x4s but they were larger, than the current standard.
            Last edited by leehljp; 04-05-2024, 07:42 PM.
            Hank Lee

            Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

            Comment

            • LCHIEN
              Internet Fact Checker
              • Dec 2002
              • 21082
              • Katy, TX, USA.
              • BT3000 vintage 1999

              #7
              Just counting it looks like there are more than 6 times as many rings per length in the old growth lumber... Means the managed lumber grows 6 times as fast.
              Loring in Katy, TX USA
              If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
              BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

              Comment

              • dbhost
                Slow and steady
                • Apr 2008
                • 9253
                • League City, Texas
                • Ryobi BT3100

                #8
                And all I ever see on quora are escapees from the sanitarium... I wonder what that says about me?
                Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.

                Comment

                • capncarl
                  Veteran Member
                  • Jan 2007
                  • 3575
                  • Leesburg Georgia USA
                  • SawStop CTS

                  #9
                  I think the old saying that something grows like a weed should be replaced with something grows like a pine. When we bought our property and built our house it was in a planted pine forest, Loblolly pines. The trees were maybe 20 feet tall, perfect for harvesting pine straw. Growing 2 feet per year, 10: yrs old, and would have made a decent size fence pole. Now the trees are about 30 years old the 20 trees that were cut down were nearly 75 feet tall and would produced some nice long lumber. They were carried to a sawmill rather than a pulp paper mill. This pine warps, splits and twists so bad that even Lowes and Home Depot won’t sell it! It’s also know to attack houses when blown down by hurricanes and tornadoes.

                  Comment

                  • twistsol
                    Veteran Member
                    • Dec 2002
                    • 2912
                    • Cottage Grove, MN, USA.
                    • Ridgid R4512, 2x ShopSmith Mark V 520, 1951 Shopsmith 10ER

                    #10
                    This is a random sampling of the offcuts from last summer's shed project that was still in the burn pile in my daughter's garage.. This lumber all came from Home Depot June of 23.

                    Click image for larger version

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                    Chr's
                    __________
                    An ethical man knows the right thing to do.
                    A moral man does it.

                    Comment

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