Kreg Tool Tips: Wood Buying by
Kreg Tool Company
In lumberyards, buying pine is fairly straightforward because the boards will be labeled by their grade, such as “Select,” “#2 Common,” “C & Better,” and “Clear.” These grades define the nominal sizes, moisture content, and the nature and number of defects in the boards.
In home centers, buying pine can be a bit more challenging because many of the boards that look like pine may actually be another type of wood. You’ll often find boards labeled as “whitewood” that may be pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, or another similar species. You’ll also see studs and construction lumber labeled as “SPF,” which means they could be spruce, pine, or fir.
This may all seem confusing, but the bottom line is that these boards will all have a similar appearance, and will work fine for most projects. There are a couple of exceptions. First, if you’re building a structure, such as a wall or shed, make sure you select from the construction grades. Second, if you’re building an outdoor project, pine or whitewood isn’t a great choice (unless it’s pressure-treated pine) because it will rot quickly. Otherwise, for projects such as tables, benches, bookcases, etc., you can generally use pine and any of the “whitewood” boards interchangeably.