Need help deciphering printed plan

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Forum topic by Bruce Rasmussen posted 02-28-2021 06:19 PM 304 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bruce Rasmussen

1 post in 49 days

02-28-2021 06:19 PM

Hi all…
I am a beginning woodworker, and I am currently trying to set up a new shop.
I have found a plan (bought it actually) to build the workbench I would like to have, but have encountered some problems. First, the plan calls for Douglas Fir, which I have found is expensive and hard to come by where I live in North Carolina. I have heard that yellow pine, which is a lot more prevalent here, is a good substitute, any thoughts?
The main issue I have, though, is that the plans call for 1 3/4” lumber for much of the build. I know little, but I do know (or have found out) that dimensional lumber isn’t made in this thickness. Am I just not looking in the right places? Do I have to find thicker pieces and mill them down to size? I’m a little frustrated.

-- Bruce R., NC

5 replies so far

View cebfish's profile


177 posts in 3741 days

#1 posted 03-01-2021 02:39 AM

There are several places near you that sell hardwood lumber. Google it for your area. I can’t remember their names. They will have pine. There are plenty of options instead of pine. Welcome to Lumber Jocks. They can surface the wood for you

View SMP's profile


3798 posts in 959 days

#2 posted 03-01-2021 02:49 AM

They probably say doug fir as thats generally one of the cheapest woods you can buy in many locations and used for construction lumber (2×4s etc). If you measure a 2×4 in most places they are actually 1.5×3.5”

A lot of times construction lumber will be labeled SPF, which means it is either spruce, pine, or fir, basically whatever is cheapest in that region. If you have SYP then that would be better that fir in my opinion

View dphmeyer's profile


13 posts in 47 days

#3 posted 03-01-2021 05:16 PM

I live near Portland, OR. I can’t even get yellow pine except in 4’ lengths from HD and it’s expensive.

A helpful book that I’ve found, it’s free on is The Anarchist’s Workbench by Chris Schwarz. Really high quality writing IMO, the first half of the book is his philosophy behind workbenches and the mistakes he’s made and then the last half of the book is about the workbench that he recommends.

You can buy a paper copy on that website as well for $25 or something, but he offers the PDF free for his own reasons.

-- -daniel, Washington,

View DBwoods's profile


27 posts in 452 days

#4 posted 03-03-2021 01:12 AM

I would guess the plans can for 1.75” lumber because you can safely get that after milking rough 8/4 boards. It is probably relatively easy to substitute 1.5” construction lumber for most or all of the parts called for in your plan with a little tinkering.

Since you bought plans you’re probably set on the bench you plan on building, but there are a number of good books on the subject with included plans. I borrowed several from my library, and Chris Schwarz mentioned above has written numerous books on the topic.

With a bit more of a description of the bench you are planning to build I suspect you would get plenty of helpful advice.

-- At some point in your life you will use everyone of your tools as a hammer.

View 987Ron's profile


799 posts in 369 days

#5 posted 03-03-2021 01:18 AM

Try Wall Lumber in Mayodan NC for lumber and guidance on what would be a good species to use.

-- Ron

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