Trees for profit

Larry Caldwell larryc at
Sat Apr 26 13:38:04 EST 1997

In article <01bc498b$d5b4a9c0$3a544dcf at>,
"Ron Wenrich" <woodtick at> wrote:

>     I don't know of any outlets for dimension
> stock in pine.  Usually pine gets sold to locals for construction.  Pine
> gets cut the same way as oak - a 2x4 is 2" by 4" not cut on 6/4 scale like
> in other sections of the country.  Less yield makes the resource more
> expensive.

I have a hard time understanding this.  Is there something about eastern
pine that makes it unsuitable for construction?  Western Red Cedar is
rarely used for construction because it is not dimensionally stable on
the end grain.  As the wood dries out, a 2 x 4 will actually shorten.
Over the length of a 20' board, you can get 1/2" shrinkage, which can
really screw up a drywall finish.  Most western firs and pines are
stable on the end grain, though they shrink mightily on the cross grain.
Drywall nail pops are a real problem in projects that use wet lumber.

The traditional 2 x 4 was cut a full 2 x 4 through the rough mill, then
planed to 1 5/8 x 3 5/8 for a smooth surface.  Drying shrunk the final
dimension to 1 1/2 x 3 1/2.  Nowdays they mill a little closer than 2 x 4,
but they still have to leave enough for the planer.

I would suppose your minimum wall insulation on the east coast would be
R-19, which means 5 1/2" of fiberglass.  Your standard construction 
lumber would be nominal 2 x 6, with 2 x 4 for interior partitions.  For
2 x 6 you're looking at a board foot/lineal foot, and the contractor being
able to save a couple thousand bucks framing the average house by using
pine instead of oak. That is material cost alone, plus the advantage that 
pine is so much easier to work, so labor costs are also lower.

My copy of the UBC is from 1979, but it doesn't even give rafter and
studwall tables for oak.  The first UBC was 1973, and maybe the east 
coast was late signing on to the standard, but what you are saying 
sounds really strange from the viewpoint of someone who spent 25 years 
as a contractor.  I suppose the Oregon edition of the UBC might not
have printed all the wood tables, but there is a section for Eastern
White Pine, a wood I've never seen here on the west coast except in
specialty items like window frames.

I also watch "This Old House" on TV, and have never seen carpenters
using an oak 2 x 4 for framing.  Right now they're remodeling Bob
Vila's house in Massachusetts, too.  I suppose they could be shipping
southern pine in from North Carolina.

I am totally baffled by what you are saying.

-- Larry

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