With declining lumber quality even before pandemic shortages set in, they say LBM Journal, it’s more important than ever that you understand how to pick a good board from the stack at Lowe’s. Buying wood that is bent, crooked, kinked, shelled, twisted, checkered or cracked can increase your costs by creating more waste. You can eliminate much of the risk of warping by knowing how to choose wood at the store.
You can learn about wood grades with resources like this excellent primer Thomas publisherbut grades won’t necessarily tell you about default, and what you really need to do is look at the board, advises Brett McKay from The Art of Manhood. First inspect the board for cracks (cracks only halfway through a board), cracks (cracks all the way through a board), shaking (separation along growth rings), and unstable knots that could fall out. Consult the image above and look (or “see”) down the length of the board to look for any of these problems. Finally, examine the end grain and discard any boards where you can see a full circle growth ring, as avoiding the pith/heartwood is a good way to avoid future warping (via the Growit BuildIt blog).