Nominal Lumber Sizes Land Home Depot And Menards In Hot Water

Hard times indeed must have fallen upon the lawyers of the American mid-west, for news reaches us of a possible class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago that stretches the bounds of what people in more gainful employment might consider actionable. It seems our legal eagles have a concern over the insufficient dimensions of their wood, and this in turn has caused them to apply for a class action against Home Depot and Menards with respect to their use of so-called nominal sizing in the sale of lumber.

If you have ever bought commercial lumber you will no doubt understand where this is going. The sawmill takes a piece of green wood straight from the forest, and cuts it to a particular size. It is then seasoned, either left to dry out and mature in the open air or placed in a kiln to achieve the same effect at a more rapid pace. This renders it into the workable lumber you expect to use, but causes a shrinkage of the wood that since it depends on variables such as moisture can not be accurately quantified. Thus a piece of wood cut by the sawmill at 4 inches square could produce a piece of seasoned lumber somewhere near 3.5 inches square. It would thus be sold as having only a nominal size of 4 inches This has been the case as long as commercial lumber has been produced, we’d guess for something in the region of a couple of centuries, and is thus unlikely to be a surprise to anyone in the market for lumber.

So, back to the prospective lawsuit. Once the hoots of laughter from the entire lumber, building, and woodworking industries have died down, is their contention that a customer being sold a material of dimension 3.5 inches as 4 inches is being defrauded a valid one? We are not lawyers here at Hackaday, but we’d expect the long-established nature of nominal lumber sizing to present a tough obstacle to their claim, as well as the existence of other nominally sized products in the building industry such as rolled steel joists. Is it uncharitable of us to characterise the whole escapade as a frivolous fishing exercise with the sole purpose of securing cash payouts? Probably not, and we hope the judges in front of whom this is likely to land agree with us.

If you have any thoughts on this case, especially if you have a legal background, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Sawn lumber image: By Bureau of Land Management (Oregon_BLM_Forestry_10) [CC BY 2.0].

Mechanized One-Man Sawmill

The title of ‘maker’ is conventionally applied to the young-adult age group. In the case of 84 year-old Ralph Affleck, a lifelong sawmiller, ‘maker’ perhaps undersells the accomplishment of building a fully functioning sawmill that can be operated by a single individual.

Starting in the trade at the age of 16 under his father’s tutelage, fifty years of working in sawmills saw him still loving what he did as retirement loomed. So, with pen, paper, and a simple school ruler he designed the entire shop from scratch. Decades of expertise working with wood allowed him to design the machines to account for warping and abnormalities in the timber resulting in incredibly accurate cuts.

With no other examples to guide his design — aside from perhaps old style steam-powered sawmills, and newer portable ones that he feels are inadequate for the job — much of the shop is built from scratch with scavenged parts. And, that list is impressive: four hydraulic cylinders from a Canberra bomber, levers from an old locomotive, differentials and gearboxes from a MAC and 1912 Republic trucks, a Leyland engine that operated for 13 years without the need for maintenance, and an assortment of old military and air force vehicle parts. This is complimented by his log skidder — also custom — that would look at home in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Built from two tractors, it combines three gearboxes for 12 forward and 8 reverse gears(what!?), and can hit 42mph in reverse!

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Field Expedient Bandsaw Mill Deals with Leftover Logs

When a questionable tree threatened his house, [John Heisz] did the sensible thing and called in a professional to bring it down. But with a flair for homebrew tools, [John] followed up with a seemingly non-sensible act and built a quick and dirty DIY bandsaw mill to turn the resulting pile of maple logs into usable lumber.

A proper bandsaw mill is an expensive tool. Prices start in the mid-four figures for a stripped down version and can easily head into the multiple tens of thousands for the serious mills. [John] makes it clear that his mill is purpose-built to deal with his leftover logs, and so he made no attempt at essentials like a way to index the blade vertically. His intention was to shim the logs up an inch after each cut, or trim the legs to move the blade down. He also acknowledges that the 2-HP electric motor is too anemic for the hard maple logs – you can clearly see the blade bogging down in the video below. But the important point here is that [John] was able to hack a quick tool together to deal with an issue, and in the process he learned a lot about the limitations of his design and his choice of materials. That’s not to say that wood is never the right choice for tooling – get a load of all the shop-built tools and jigs in his build videos. A wooden vise? We’d like to see the build log on that.

We’ve featured a surprising number of wooden bandsaws before, from benchtop to full size. We’re pretty sure this is the first one purpose built to mill logs that we’ve featured, although there is this chainsaw mill that looks pretty handy too.

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Scratch-built bottle cap coffee table pulses to the music

scratch-build-bottlecap-coffe-table

This isn’t a thrift-store coffee table modified as a craft project. [Dandujmich] built it from the ground-up using framing lumber, bottle caps, plastic resin, and some electronics for bling.

The first step was to see if he had enough caps on hand for the project. It’s hard to grasp how many were used just by looking at it, but the gallery description tells us there’s about 1700 which went into the design! From there he grabbed some 2x4s and began construction. The table legs started with two end assemblies built by doweling the legs to the end cross pieces. From there he cut a rabbit on the side rails and screwed them to the leg assemblies from the inside.

The tabletop includes a frame with a recessed area deep enough to keep the caps below the surface. After spending about ten hours super gluing all of the caps in place he mixed and poured two gallons of the resin to arrive at a glass-like finish. The final touch is some custom hardware which pulses two rows of embedded LEDs to music being played in the room. The video after the break isn’t fantastic, but it gives you some idea of how that light rig works.

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PC case using CNC router and home building products

[Reinventing Science] needed a project that he could use to test out his skills on a new CNC routing machine he recently acquire. He settled on building a PC case using easily obtained materials. What he ended up with is the clean-looking case seen above that was machined from materials you can pick up at the home store.

The bulk of the case is made from extruded PVC which is designed to perform like solid wood trim. He picked up one piece of the ‘lumber’ and cut out the front, back, top, bottom, and drive bay bezel. We expected the joints between the horizontal and vertical pieces to either be butt joints, or rabbits. But [Reinventing Science] wanted a cleaner look and managed to mill mortise and tenon joints. These are strong joints that leave a very nice finished look. Since the material is designed as a lumber replacement it shouldn’t be too surprising to see drywall screws used as the fasteners.

In addition to joinery, some other CNC tricks were used. The sides of the case were cut from clear acrylic, with a decorative bead milled in the surface. There’s also fan ports cut in the top and vents on the bottom, as well as some engraving with the name of the project just above the optical drive. The wood-grain embossing makes for an interesting final look; we’d like to see how this takes a few careful coats of paint.

If you’re interested in the CNC hardware used, take a look at the unboxing post that shares a few details.