It would be just too easy to sell wood at the same size as it is on the label. This is part of what you need to learn as a woodworker, though it’s easy to understand once you know the trick.
So, why does a piece of wood like a 2 x 4 not measure 2 inches by 4 inches?
Dimensional lumber is never going to be the same size it actually says on the sticker. Over time, you’ll learn how to distinguish what size the pieces of wood actually are based on what the sticker says.
Until then, take a tape measure with you.
In general, when it comes to the width of the piece you can just subtract half an inch from the measurement on the sticker and you’ll be really close.
For example something that measures by four is actually only 3 1/2 inches wide. The same was something that measures by six being only 5 1/2 inches wide.
Thicknesses are a little bit different, but the most common is a one by thickness which actually measures about 3/4 of an inch thick.
Again, all of the wood sizes are going to be just a little bit smaller than advertised, but that’s just the way that it’s manufactured and sold.
In the beginning, carry that tape measure with you, and you’ll always know how much wood you’re getting.
See Also: A Beginners Guide to Woodworking
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