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Article: Lumber Size Chart

Lumber Size Chart

Using dimensional lumber from the hardware store is a great, easy way to make DIY wood shelves. It comes in a variety of wood species, is easy to find, and the store will likely cut it to the desired length (meaning you can make shelves without any power tools!). However, there is a lot of confusion with how the sizing is labeled. We'd like to clear that up for you with our lumber size chart.

shelf size

Nominal Size vs. Actual Size

Nominal sizes are what the various wood lumber board sizes are called at a  hardware store, such a 2" x 4."  This is the size of the board before it's been planed at the mill. 

The actual size refers to the final dimensions after this process. For example, a common 2"x 4" is really about 1.5" x 3.5." This is important since the actual dimensions are needed when choosing shelf brackets and planning a project. 

lumber size chart


Download Lumber Size Chart

To emphasize, his lumber size chart only applies to dimensional, common lumber found at hardware stores or lumber yards.

Custom shelf boards or finished shelves, such as those sold online at West Elm, Amazon, World Market, etc. will display final measurements.  Hopefully this provides some clarity in using dimensional lumber for making shelves!

For more information, check out our How to Choose Shelf Brackets with step by step instructions in choosing the correct brackets for your project. 


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