Lumber is rated by grade from highest to lowest: Firsts, Seconds, Select and No 1 Common are the ones you are most likely to come across.
Often firsts and seconds will be joined into one grade and will be labeled FAS.
The grade is determined by the amount of usable wood on the worst face of a board (except for select when it is the best face). For example if there are numerous knots a board will be a lesser grade than one with a clear face.
If you only need short pieces you may be able to save yourself some money by getting common stock and cutting around the knots and other defects. On the other hand, you may instead save yourself lots of time by getting FAS instead.
Usually when buying wood you will be using board feet (bf) or linear feet (lf) as the measure of the lumber's dimension. One board foot is one square foot (1” x 12” x 12” or its equivalent).
A linear foot means that an individual board is sold by length rather than board foot. To find the price simple multiply the price/lf by the length of the board.
Check out this link for more about linear and board feet.
If the lumberyard doesn’t offer surfaced wood you can often pay for it to be milled at a certain price/linear foot.
Whatever type of wood you decide to buy, make sure and pick it out carefully.
For more information check out these links:lumber dimensions All about lumber sizing.
buying lumber How to judge a piece of wood.
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