FREE SHIPPING ON U.S. ORDERS

Lumber Dimensions Guide

I (this is Allisa here) grew up in our family of construction workers, farmers, and builders. And yet, when I tried making my first shelf I was shocked to learn that the trusty 2x4 piece of lumber doesn't actually measure, well, 2" by 4."  I mean, why are we even calling it that?! 

Guide to Lumber Dimensions

Seth informed me that the nominal sizes (what it's called at the local hardware store) is the size of the board before it's been smoothed and planed.  The actual size refers to the final dimensions. So a common 2"x4" is really about 1.5" x 3.5". Gotcha. 

I'm a visual person. Here are a few charts I always keep on hand:

Lumber Dimensions: Nominal and Actual Sizes

Standard Lumber: 1 by board

NOMINAL SIZE (INCHES)

ACTUAL SIZE (INCHES)

1 x 2

3/4 x 1 1/2

1 x 3

3/4 x 2 1/2

1 x 4

3/4 x 3 1/2

1 x 6

3/4 x 5 1/2

1 x 8

3/4 x 7 1/4

1 x 10

3/4 x 9 1/4

1 x 12

3/4 x 11 1/4

 

Standard Lumber: 2 by board

 

NOMINAL SIZE (INCHES)

ACTUAL SIZE (INCHES)

2 x 2

1 1/2 x 1 1/2

2 x 3

1 1/2 x 2 1/2

2 x 4

1 1/2 x 3 1/2

2 x 6

1 1/2 x 5 1/2

2 x 8

1 1/2 x 7 1/4

2 x 10

1 1/2 x 9 1/4

2 x 12

1 1/2 x 11 1/4

 

Why do we care? Well, when you're creating your shelf it's important to know the actual board depth. Our shelf brackets are labeled by their actual size. An 11.25" deep shelf board (which is the depth of a standard 2" x 12"), works with our 11.25" shelf bracket.  

metal shelf bracket

Another important note: reclaimed or custom boards often measure their stated size - a crucial distinction to keep in mind. 

Looking for reclaimed wood? We'll be offering salvaged oak shelf kits soon, but here's a few of our favorite places:

Salvage Works Portland

Antique Lumber Company

Aurora Mills