I am building a fence with hardwood facing. The lumber yard (not a big box store) selected the lumber, batu decking boards, and delivered it. These are fairly expensive, 1x6 x 8' and 1x4 x 8' boards.

I know that a certain percent of boards have issues. In the past I have hand picked, avoiding less good boards.

What are good enough reasons that might cause me to justifiably return a board? I am ignorant on this point and don't want to be unreasonable about it. End split (N inches or more inches)? Packing strap damage? Through fractures at a crushed spot? Dull planer, so rough board? Splits / splintering on the machined edges?

I am talking a few hundred linear feet of hardwood lumber.

  • 1
    I don't think it will be possible to get an accurate value. That could depend on too many factors. Expect that it will be flawed if purchased from a large box store as they use lower grade lumber. If it is a concern that pick the lumber yourself, avoid pith, and check the length of the board for obvious defects like warping and abundance of knots. If it looks good it can still change as it normalizes.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 17:05
  • related: woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/385/…
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 20:42
  • If you have a large percentage that are junk, I would take them back to the yard and demand replacements. If they're that expensive, it would be ridiculous not to expect them to provide a quality product.
    – grfrazee
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 3:35
  • 2
    The percentage will vary by the lumber grade and supplier, among other things, but I think you could salvage this question by reframing it in terms of general guidelines for ordering bulk lumber and/or how to deal with flawed lumber.
    – rob
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 3:45
  • 2
    Hardwood grading is pretty well defined as far as how many defects, how large, and how spaced are concerned. If the board meets the specs for the grade you paid for, I don't think you can justify returning it. Of course if too many just barely meet that grade, you might want to either go back to hand-selecting (which does let you cheat upward) or try another supplier.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 3:35

1 Answer 1


If the lumberyard selected and delivered it, I would feel comfortable returning for exchange any pieces that I could not use due to either straightness or cosmetic defects. Some yard workers will use their discretion to dump otherwise un-sellable boards on a delivery knowing that an average contractor over-buys and will sort through the pieces to find boards that work.

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