Local Lumber Fact Sheet

Things to keep in mind when using local lumber:

  1. Plan ahead! Contact the local mill in advance to find out what wood species are available, and to allow them ample time to prepare your order especially if you are ordering large amounts or sizes of material or need it to be kiln dried. See below for notations and more information.
  2. Decide whether you are going to air-dry, kiln-dry, or use your wood green (fresh cut) when you are making construction plans. Some local mills have air dried lumber available or can kiln dry your lumber. If you plan on framing with green (fresh-cut) lumber, be sure to allow for shrinkage and time for moisture to escape. The 2010 New York State Building Code (NYSBC) specifies that non-kiln dried lumber must have an 18% or lower moisture content.
  3. If you are going to air dry your lumber yourself, stack it on two level bunks in a dry shed or garage. You can also dry lumber under sheets of metal roofing outdoors on level bunks. Do not use tarps! Sticker with 1x1 strips of dry wood between each layer to allow a 1" air gap. Keep the stickers in line over the bunks and leave another inch between the edges of lumber in each layer.
  4. All lumber used in a structural capacity needs to have a lumber grading stamp; however, there is a special provision for locally milled lumber. You can obtain a certification form for unmarked structural lumber from your town code official (or download a lumber certification form here). Talk to your sawyer before placing your order about having them provide the written certification. Smaller, family owned mills typically do not have a certified grader, but if the sawyer certifies that the lumber is Grade 2 or better using the above form, the NYSBC allows for the unstamped wood to be used.
  5. Be specific when ordering, such as: "(20) 1x6x8 - S4S ¾ x 5 ½ x 8 KD (pine)", which in plain english means: "I need 20 1" by 6" kiln dried pine planks, 8 feet long, surfaced (planed) on four sides down to 3/4" thick by 5 1/2" wide by 8' long".
  6. Conventional lumberyards use nominal dimensions, but the wood has actually been dried and planed down to a smaller dimension (so a "2x4" is really only 1 ½ by 3 ½"). At local mills, however, lumber will come "rough cut" unless a specified otherwise (so a "2x4" will be a rough cut board that actually is 2 by 4 inches). In order to get the actual dimensions you are looking for, here are some useful notations to be familiar with:

T&G = tongue and groove (V matched = chamfer to be cut at T&G joint)
KD = kiln dried

S4S = surfaced 4 sides

S2S = surfaced 2 sides

SF = square feet

BF = board feet

LF = lineal feet

Last updated July 26, 2019