One of these days I will learn to stay away from the pine lumber sold at the home center. I am talking about the 1x stuff which has become some pretty horrible lumber (as opposed to 2x material which is very handy for some projects).
I spent about 45 minutes in Lowes this past Friday buying material for the torsion box beams used on my workbench project. I really searched for the right material to fit my needs at this point. The beams are going to be six feet long and the sides are to be three inches deep (see the plans in this post). Buying a full sheet of plywood would leave too much waste, so I turned to dimensioned stock for the sides. After looking at alder, poplar, select pine and the really bad “Top Choice” lumber, this is what I settled on…
This pine panel was six feet long (no waste in length), was straight and flat. Since I am making a workbench, straight, flat wood is critical. But this is also pine and I held out hopes that the two panels I bought would stay that way and not warp (BTW – this is not stain grade lumber; way too many defects in this material for it to be stain grade).
My first cut from this panel was a three inch strip. I could tell I was going to have a problem before I completed the cut. I could see the saw kerf close up indicating that warping was occurring. If you look carefully down the length of lumber in the photo above, the wood crooks and twists – not acceptable for this project (one of the reasons I am replacing my current workbench is that the top has always had a twist in it). The box beams for my workbench must be flat.
The big irritation is that I should have seen this coming. This certainly isn’t the first time I have used this material. I had a similar problem with the face frame stiles on the massive bookcase. The problem created by this warping lumber is that I had to re-think the material to be used on my workbench and what made the most sense for me. Plus, I had to stop my project; I was through woodworking for the day. Note to self: stop using this material!
I have to give Lowes credit. I purchased two of these pine panels and was able to return both of them, including the one I cut. Money is tight right now and I simply can’t just use the cut material on a future project. So, thank you Lowes (it is normal policy at Lowes for no credit on cut lumber). I purchased a sheet of birch plywood which is what I should have purchased in the first place. With some luck, I will be able to do some woodworking before work tomorrow.
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