Tips for Buying Hardwood Lumber at a Lumber Yard in Franklin County, MA

Are you gearing up to go visit a lumber yard for the first time for your hardwood? It’s a different experience than you’d get by going to a home center, so it’s important you’re a little bit prepared for what you can expect out of the experience.

Today’s lumber yards and wood distribution centers have gone through a transformational process from what they used to be years ago. Today, you’ll find all kinds of thicknesses, wood species, grades and machining options.

With this in mind, here are just a few tips to help you through your first experience at a lumber yard in Franklin County, MA.

Look at board thicknesses

You’re not going to see the boards at a lumber yard marked in inches, at least where hardwoods are concerned. Instead, the measurement will be in quarters. This means a board that measures an inch thick would be marked as 4/4.

Keep in mind that this thickness is taken down before any type of surfacing and drying is done. After the lumber has been sawn and dried, a board that starts out as 4/4 will end up being a little closer to 7/8.


Lumber grades might be a bit confusing if you’re just starting out with purchasing hardwood lumber. Most companies use grades that were put in place by the National Hardwood Lumber Association, and these grades are based on how much usable clear material is in a board. The best grades are going to be FAS and Select, but other grades include #1 Common and #2 Common. The kind of grade you choose for your board really depends on the type of project you’re taking on.

If, for example, you’re looking at making a tabletop or are creating some sort of high-quality furniture, you’re going to want a higher grade. Other projects can use lower grades, including doors for kitchen cabinets, smaller projects and projects in which you don’t mind having a bit of character in the wood.

Board foot

A board foot is a unit of measurement—the volume used to measure hardwoods. Hardwoods are sold in multiple lengths, widths and thicknesses, so board feet accounts for all of these different measurements at once. If you don’t have a tape measure with you to measure out board feet, you can consider the general rule that a 4/4 board that is eight feet long and six inches wide is going to be four board feet.


Lots of lumber yards also offer milling services. Rough lumber is not typically straight or flat. Milling your own lumber allows you to safe some money, but it does take a little bit of extra time and some knowledge of equipment. Ask the lumber yard in your area about the milling services they have on offer.

For more information about what to expect out of your first trip to a lumber yard in Franklin County, MA for hardwood, feel free to contact Forest Products Associates and we will be happy to answer your questions.