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Hello all! First time post here. I'm stepping into the woodworking world more and more these days but an definitely a beginner.

I wanted to see if you all might be able to give me some tips on working with pine boards (ie. 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, etc.) from the box stores. Tips on choosing boards would help too. I know the basics: how to look for defects, straightness. but always seem to get a couple of twisted noodles in my pile after a couple days at home.

My wife wanted a farmhouse table made from plain old framing lumber so I built one. Turned out pretty good- I always find something I could have done better. And one of those things was trying to get the tabletop to stay flat after gluing and pocket hole screwing the 2×10 boards together. The tabletop had about a 1" bow in it from corner to opposite corner.

Tips on choosing boards would help too. I know the basics: how to look for defects, straightness. but always seem to get a couple of twisted noodles in my pile after a couple days at home.

Looks like I'm going to be making many more of these table because at least 5 other people now want one after seeing ours… I guess these things are all the rave right now.- Thank you Ana White-

Thank you for you time and knowledge.

Alex
 

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Stack and sticker your boards when you get them home and then again after you mill them. The moisture content in home depot lumber is pretty high (15-18%) and the boards will move around until the lose some of that water. Properly kiln dried lumber should be around 6-8%. There's a good bunch of reading out there on humidity, moisture content and preparing lumber for projects.
 

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Choose boards that do not have the pith in them, cause these are almost sure to split and otherwise misbehave. They keep the best wood for the widest boards, so you'll have better luck with 2×10s than you will with 2X4s (around here the 2X4s seem to be sawn from tiny trees, probably a single board or maximum of 3 per tree). The best wood is probably to be found by looking for wide boards that DO have the pith in them and then cutting them down into two narrower boards, without the pith. Both boards will be quartersawn and so will be about the stablest wood that the tree has to offer.
Sticker it in your shop, as chrisstef said, so air can flow around it and drying can occur evenly. In a heated home in winter in my neck of the woods it'll dry in a couple of weeks down to useble moisture content.
 

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As others have said:

  • Look at the 2×10 and 2×12s. They tend to be better quality than the 2×4s and 2×6s
  • On the 2×10s and 2×12s, the wood around the pith is quartersawn and more stable. Don't shy away from those boards.
  • Look for wood that is marked as kiln dried. They tend to be lower in moisture content but still need to be stickered to acclimate after getting them home.
  • When stickering, make sure there is good spacing between the boards for air flow
 

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Most construction framing lumber is kiln dried to only 19%. The reason for your board warping problem, like others have said, is that the wood is not dry enough to be used inside a heated and cooled home without additional drying.
 

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Look for another source for lumber. Look for a local lumber yard. They still exist. I go to mine all the time. They all know my name and i know theirs. The place i go has beautiful paint grade pine with easededges. You may find drier stuff there that has been sitting longer. I only go to home centers for stuff i cant get locally.
 

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Hi Alex
Welcome to LJs
There's more to keeping a table top flat then just using dry wood even though it's an important part of furniture and table building. You also have to make sure you have constructed your table with joinery that will allow for wood movement. This is an issue missed by many new woodworkers and even some who are not new to this adventure we call woodworking.This link should help with this subject,it's written by a very well know builder of shaker furniture and covers the subject very well. Anyone that chooses to ignore wood movement will end up with a piece of furniture that is likely to tear itself apart or at the least have big cracks in the middle of their table tops.

https://www.finewoodworking.com/media/TabletopsFlat.pdf
 

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Framing lumber wasn't grown, forested or milled to provide furniture. It was produced to provide strength through its length and width regarding gravity and weight bearing loads. One of the main reasons its so cheap compared to material grown and milled for furniture. The density and hardness levels are too soft, it'll mark easy.
 
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