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Thread: I would not want to be a carpenter today

  1. #1
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    I would not want to be a carpenter today

    I’m in the process of rebuilding a shed which is about 8’ off the side of the house. 12’ away from the far corner of the shed is a 48” black walnut and it drops an enormous amount of material. I built the 16’, 8/12 rafters and we put them up yesterday and skinned it today. It was pretty funny as the junior of the 3 is 66 and trying to get around 16oc rafters had us all groaning. 5 hr days. Anyway the quality of the framing wood is just awful. I pulled the old low pitch 2x4 fir rafters and it was all nice tight straight grain wood. I saved as much of it as I could. They may be short pieces, but it is real wood. That kind of wood no longer exists, and to have to do a quality framing job with what is available today would about break your heat. I’ll soon be off the wooden portion and on to the Hardi panel and metal roof so I hope I can keep my fire insurance here in the foothills. Anyway, the quality of wood might turn everyone into metal stud guys.

  2. #2
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    I had an old carpenter (younger than I am now), that had been working for me for a decade, quit in 1994. The last of the small, family owned mill/ supplier went out of business, and framing lumber became about as bad as it it now, in 1992. Jack spent the rest of his days building cabinets in his shop in his back yard. He said he never wanted to use any of this &^%$$ new framing lumber again.

    Not only are saw logs grown for maximum tonnage per acre, instead of timberland owners taking pride in growing good saw logs, but instead of air drying it before kiln drying it, they now kiln dry it immediately, as in overnight, as soon as it's sawn.

    Framer Series lumber is the last good framing lumber I know of, these days.

  3. #3
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    It definitely would make me want to consider "alternative" materials to straight-from-the-tree framing lumber if I were going to build a structure...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    It's pretty terrible. I was actually shocked to find that the load of 2x10's I ordered for rafters yesterday turned up beautiful. Such a rare occurrence, generally you order 30% over and have to explain to the customers that the crooked stack is actually junk when you are done sorting.

    Did get four excellent bunks of 2x6x16s from Idaho this spring to though, so it does still exist. I suspect the culprit is the supply chain, someone in it is making a better margin by selling crap at full price.

  5. #5
    When I was in business, used to order quite a bit extra, so we could sort it. The lumber yard would take it back, they could always sell it to people who do not sort through the stuff, or cut it up for stakes. They did also start building storage sheds to get rid of some of the bad stuff.

  6. #6
    The wood isn't available at home depot but it does exist. From a hardwood lumber company you can purchase 8/4 rough cut lumber in random widths and lengths. You would just have to rip it to 4" widths. It's what a person might buy to make an entry door for a house and pine is available like that. You work with rough lumber on a door because it gives you an opportunity to flatten the lumber on a jointer before you surface it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Frederick View Post
    I’m in the process of rebuilding a shed which is about 8’ off the side of the house. 12’ away from the far corner of the shed is a 48” black walnut and it drops an enormous amount of material. I built the 16’, 8/12 rafters and we put them up yesterday and skinned it today. It was pretty funny as the junior of the 3 is 66 and trying to get around 16oc rafters had us all groaning. 5 hr days. Anyway the quality of the framing wood is just awful. I pulled the old low pitch 2x4 fir rafters and it was all nice tight straight grain wood. I saved as much of it as I could. They may be short pieces, but it is real wood. That kind of wood no longer exists, and to have to do a quality framing job with what is available today would about break your heat. I’ll soon be off the wooden portion and on to the Hardi panel and metal roof so I hope I can keep my fire insurance here in the foothills. Anyway, the quality of wood might turn everyone into metal stud guys.
    It is not only in the US.

    Brazil has much lower demand for wood as construction is made mainly of concrete, masonry and ceramic blocks. Wood is common for ceiling structure but we also cannot find our "traditional woods" for that application: peroba and ipe.

    Bigger construction shops offer only crap pine and eucalyptus, wood that traditionally Brazilians would not use for anything considered serious.

    Several species are heavely controlled or even prohibited. Mahogany was abundant 30 years ago when I look for them for furniture, but for a couple of decades it is prohibited and our alternative is African pseudo-mahogany.
    All the best.

    Osvaldo.

  8. #8
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    I will say that the local independent yard has much better material than the box stores do, so it must be possible to source reasonably acceptable lumber if one wants to.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    I see that everyone replying is from the East, or Southeast. Here is the Northwest one can still get good framing lumber as long as the big box stores are avoided. Local lumber yards are the way to go.
    Bracken's Pond Woodworks

  10. #10
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    Any time I build something with framing lumber, we hand pick every piece. I think I've done that since about 1993, as mentioned earlier. For that reason, I avoid the stacks in the hard to get to racks in the big box stores, unless I happen to see some clear boards on the top of some stacks when I'm walking by. Those get bought, and saved for later projects.

    When we hand pick lumber, I take two helpers, and a low decked gooseneck trailer. I pull the trailer up to the stack, one helper on each end, and I sit where I can pick up the end of a board, and look at it. If I hand it over, and up, they put it on the trailer. If I hand it over, and down, they stack them on the ground. When we're finished, they restack the rejects, while I'm tying down the load. The stacks are left as neat, or neater than how we found them, and those suppliers never say anything to me about it. They don't even ask that I get a ticket first, because often, I'll change my mind on what we get as we go along. It's easier for both of us to figure out what I'm getting, after I get it.

    Anyone that orders lumber gets what we left.

  11. #11
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    That was one reason my last framing job (2000 sf basement) was done with metal channels and studs. It is a joy to find an old stud with tight grain. Especially one with a turpentine smell.
    NOW you tell me...

  12. #12
    I've worked on a few of houses built around 1910. I have to say, the wood they were framed out of, though tigher grained, was as bad as the lumber today. Big knots, checks, cracks, on top of being chock full of slivers due to not being planed. There has always been low grade lumber, and people willing to use it. That said, the houses have stood for over a hundred years, so apparently low grade lumber worked just fine.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    Any time I build something with framing lumber, we hand pick every piece. I think I've done that since about 1993, as mentioned earlier. For that reason, I avoid the stacks in the hard to get to racks in the big box stores, unless I happen to see some clear boards on the top of some stacks when I'm walking by. Those get bought, and saved for later projects.

    When we hand pick lumber, I take two helpers, and a low decked gooseneck trailer. I pull the trailer up to the stack, one helper on each end, and I sit where I can pick up the end of a board, and look at it. If I hand it over, and up, they put it on the trailer. If I hand it over, and down, they stack them on the ground. When we're finished, they restack the rejects, while I'm tying down the load. The stacks are left as neat, or neater than how we found them, and those suppliers never say anything to me about it. They don't even ask that I get a ticket first, because often, I'll change my mind on what we get as we go along. It's easier for both of us to figure out what I'm getting, after I get it.

    Anyone that orders lumber gets what we left.
    Maybe they are banking on people like me not going through the stack. I absolutely hate wasting time at the yard. Judging by the constant crowd there, I'm probably in the minority on that. Forklifts and bands were invented for a reason is my approach...

  14. #14
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    My son is a residential general contractor in Central Oregon. He said he typically ends up with about 5% scrap on a delivered unit of #2 DF dimensional lumber, and that some of the scrap is used as disposable bracing when building walls and roofs. His supplier is Miller Lumber in Bend, OR; the majority of their DF is milled in western Oregon, along the I5 corridor. Miller is a very old and very high volume supplier to the construction business. Their lumber turnover rate is high and I rarely see anyone picking through units at their yard. Even at a 5-10% scrap rate, it's not worth a contractor's time to hand pick thousands of feet of lumber and re-stack the leftovers.
    Scott Vroom

    If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Bernard Baruch

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by scott vroom View Post
    My son is a residential general contractor in Central Oregon. He said he typically ends up with about 5% scrap on a delivered unit of #2 DF dimensional lumber, and that some of the scrap is used as disposable bracing when building walls and roofs. His supplier is Miller Lumber in Bend, OR; the majority of their DF is milled in western Oregon, along the I5 corridor. Miller is a very old and very high volume supplier to the construction business. Their lumber turnover rate is high and I rarely see anyone picking through units at their yard. Even at a 5-10% scrap rate, it's not worth a contractor's time to hand pick thousands of feet of lumber and re-stack the leftovers.
    Id agree with you there. If you have to hand pick material youve either got a really bad supplier, or other issues of your own. 5-10% is more than acceptable and the hourly rate to pick through material far outweighs any waste factor. Blocking, bracing, and a bunch of other uses it gets used up. I'd guess many of the people that have issues with shoddy framing lumber are dealing with yards where they have the misfortune of following the guys who cherry picked several units. Best to deal with a yard that either doesnt allow or pretty aggressively limits such nonsense. If a yard is feeding any contractor of any quality and shipping sub standard lumber they will without a doubt be getting an ear full shortly after the bands are cut which will then be followed by eating a second delivery to replace the junk in hopes they dont get cut off the vendor list.

    I never had much issue with framing material (which is nearly always going to be #2 common if your shopping on competitive price) or we could pay a touch more and get #1 common that would have to be brought-in and we had to take full units. The stuff looked like it came out of a cabinet shop with barely a pin knot, 4 crisp edges. You get what you pay for. No different than bringing in 2MBF of #1 Common Hard Maple. There is going to be curly in there, there is going to be flame, going to be all sorts of wild figure scattered through the pack. And there is going to be some junk. If you were to come into my yard and want to pick through that pack to cherry pick only the figure you'd be sent out the door hopefully offended and never to return.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

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