I am planing to build a picture frame with walnut. Since I am still very new to woodworking, I need boards which are as close as possible to the final dimension. I found a 1 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. walnut board at Home Depot. This is a S4S board.


I went to Home Depot and their boards are not straight. They have 4 "smooth" surfaces but are almost twisted... I would have expected a S4S board to have 4 smooth surfaces and to be straight. Am I correct? Is there something that can be done to straighten those boards?

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    If you can't find (or afford) better sources of wood this sort of thing is a prime motivator for being able to surface and/or thickness your own stock, at least on a limited scale. This is an eventual goal for most aspiring woodworkers anyway, but few realise how soon you might be forced into doing it by the generally awful quality of wood in the big-box stores. Anyway don't lose heart, just be aware that you'll have to spend some more time than originally planned for searching out good stock to work with. And be sure to acclimate it once you get it home!
    – Graphus
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 22:01
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    Yea. Don’t buy that at a place like HD. Find a specialty store. In your case, find one that will rip and plane the board you choose, while you wait, like just like buying deli meat!
    – JDługosz
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


The boards did have 4 smooth surfaces, all perpendicular to each other, and were straight. That was when they came off the mill, though. Since then, they've been exposed to the elements, shipped to the store, handled, etc and nature has taken its course. Each board is different, which is why they all "acclimate" differently.

There are three main solutions

  1. Run the boards you get through a jointer and planer to straighten them as you would rough-sawn stock. This can be with hand or power tools. Generally not a solution for a beginner woodworker though, at least on the power tool side.
  2. Spend some time at the store picking out the straightest, flattest, best-looking boards they have - going back multiple times or to different stores if necessary. I spent an hour at the big-box store looking for 1x boards for a project, and only wound up buying 10 or so. I looked at every single 1x3 and 1x4 they had, though.
  3. Buy bigger boards than you need, but be less picky, and cut off the parts that are twisted, kinked, not flat, etc. Sometimes the majority of a board is great, but there's a big kink 18 inches from one end - just cut off that 18 inches and you're good to go.

Of course, there is a 4th option, which may or may not be applicable, and that is to buy from a hardwood dealer. Many (most?) will mill for you (for an extra charge, of course; one near me charges an extra 50 cents per bf), so you can buy exactly what you need and get it S4S, ripped in half, whatever. Don't let it sit too long, though, or it will likely wind up just as warped as the stuff at the big-box store.

ETA: A 1x2x8 is about 1.4bf. Walnut at my local hardwood dealer is $5.00 per bf at the most (I don't remember exact prices), so you're looking at a total price of about $8, even with the milling. Compare that to the $25 that HD wants for the same board!

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    +1 for option 4. Buy wood you don't have to fight with. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 18:53
  • I wish I could find a place for #4. I live in Seattle and couldn't find any milling service for a 1 x 2 x 8 board. :(
    – Martin
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 19:46
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    It may take some digging to find a good hardwood dealer. Some don't have websites etc. Do you know any other WW'ers in the area? Ask where they get their lumber. There are also WW'ing websites where you can ask something similar on the forums.
    – Dano0430
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:58
  • Excellent Answer, I think you touched all the important bases. The point within 2 about having to go back multiple times or hitting different stores to get wood you can actually work with is such an important one for newbies.
    – Graphus
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:58
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    There are definitely hardwood dealers in Seattle. I promise. Just gotta keep looking. From a Google search, try Crosscut Hardwoods. Their stock looks promising. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 2:59

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