When to Use 2 Common Lumber

What is 2 Common Lumber?

The National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) sets the standards for hardwood lumber grades, which indicate the amount of clear, defect-free wood in a board. The best grade you’ll find in most lumberyards is Select and Better (S/B), followed by 1 Common, 2 Common, and 3 Common. Lumber is graded not by its general appearance, but by the actual measurements of its clear sections and its specific defects. According to the NHLA, “The Number 2A Common grade includes boards that are a minimum of 3″ wide and 4′ long that yield from 50% up to, but not including, the minimum requirement for Number 1 Common. The smallest clear cutting allowed is 3″ by 2′ and the number of these cuttings depends on the size of the board.” In other words, the good sections of a 2 Common board will be of the same quality as a Select and Better board, and they will be at least 3 inches wide and 2 feet long. 

Is 2 Common Lumber Worth Considering for My Project?

2 Common lumber works well for many projects. The main advantage to 2 Common lumber is its cost, which can be up to 50% less than that of Select and Better. The disadvantage is that 2 Common lumber generally has more defects than S/B and contains more waste per board. Remember that, once re-sawn, the cuttings from 2 Common lumber will be the same clear wood as the more expensive S/B lumber; they will just be shorter and/or narrower. Grades indicate the percentage of clear wood in the board, not its general appearance.

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What are Good Uses for 2 Common Lumber?

Depending on the project, 2 Common lumber may allow you to create a high quality result on a much smaller budget.

2 Common lumber works well for small projects, and also for larger projects that require lots of small pieces. Additionally, you can use higher grades of lumber for the small parts of your project that require larger cuts, while saving money by using 2 Common for the rest. Of course, 2 Common is also good for projects where its rustic character would be an asset. 2 Common is often used in manufacturing for flooring, furniture parts, and cabinets.

Is 2 Common Right for my Project?

If the largest solid cuts for your project fall within the parameters of clear cuts from 2 Common, or if you are expecting to glue up wood, then 2 Common is well worth considering. For smaller projects or larger projects with small pieces, using 2 Common can be a good way to stretch your budget.

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