In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of DIY magazines, television shows and online tutorials available. This increase has led to more and more people embarking on their own projects. While these tools can offer valuable project instruction, they leave out one critical step – how to shop for materials. Particularly when it comes to lumbar, knowing how to shop for materials can help save you money and stress.

Wood Types

Make certain you're familiar with the different wood types available, specifically hardwood and softwood. Hardwoods, like oak and beech, are considered a more durable material and of a higher-quality than softwoods, like western red cedar and pine. For this reason, hardwoods often come with a greater cost than softwoods.

The type of project you are trying to complete will be indicative of the type of wood that would be better suited for you to purchase. For example, if you're building a chair, a hardwood option would be more appropriate. For a decorative wall cabinet, you could use a softwood.

Wood Grades

Wood grade refers to the amount and severity of defects a piece of wood has. The scale is different for both hardwood and softwood; however, the concept is the same. Understanding what the grades mean can help you determine how you can use the wood. The highest grade level will be awarded to wood that is nearly perfect. Within the middle grade, you will find wood that only has minor imperfections, such as a few knots.

At the bottom of the spectrum is where the quality of the wood declines. Wood in this category will have a considerable number of defects. If you're building furniture, you want to stick with a higher grade level. Choosing a lower grade will only make the process harder because you will have to cut around the imperfections.


Lastly, you want to understand the cut of the wood. The cut of a piece of wood will also have an effect on its level of quality. Quarter sawn, rift sawn and plain sawn are the three cuts available. Quarter sawn wood has been cut with growth rings that have a ribbon-like grain pattern. They are considered of the highest quality and the most expensive.

Rift sawn wood has been cut with a straight grain pattern. Wood cut with this style also has a high quality, but it is less expensive than quarter sawn wood. Lastly, plain sawn is cut with a circular grain pattern and is considered the lowest of quality. For furniture building, quarter sawn and rift sawn will be the best options.

Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the different characteristics of lumbar can help ensure you're purchasing materials (from companies like The Cedar Shop Building Materials) that you can actually use, instead of wasting your money.