Rough-sawn timber has a 50 percent bigger cross-sectional area (for a 2x4), which makes it stronger and stiffer. This is especially important in bending and beam applications, such as joists and rafters. The grain of the wood runs perpendicular to the face of the log for most species. Therefore, it has no tendency to splinter or break off like with smooth-sawn timber.
The overall strength of the wood product is based on how much material there is, not how big it is. For example, a 2x4 piece of wood weighs the same as a 1x6 piece even though the former is thicker. The more wood that makes up a given quantity, therefore, the stronger it will be. With rough-sawn lumber, you get more wood for your money.
Additionally, rough-sawn lumber can be cut into thinner pieces without decreasing its strength. For example, a 2x4 piece can be split down the middle to make two 1x2 beams. Or, it can be sanded away at the edges to produce thin strips for use in furniture making or home decor projects.
Finally, rough-sawn lumber tends to be cheaper than smooth-sawn lumber of equal quality. But remember that price is just one factor when choosing wood for your project.
Spend Less on Rough-Sawn Purchasing rough-sawn lumber and planing your own wood saves money; how much depends on the species and the size of the job. The greater the project, the more money you will save. If you buy pallets for use in making furniture, look for those made of American white oak (Quercus alba) because they are more durable than those made from other species.
You can purchase rough-sawn lumber at any home improvement store or online. Lumber is sold by the board foot and costs about $100 for a 2000 bd ft box of various sizes. You can usually find a good selection at your local home improvement store. It's easy to overlook what size piece of lumber you need until you get it in your hands so have a look at several boards before you choose one.
Rough-sawn lumber has a nice rustic look that may be desirable in some cases but cost may be a factor for others. The great thing about rough-sawn lumber is that you can always take it down to smooth wood with a planer or drum sander. This process would not be possible with manufactured wood since it comes in standard sizes that cannot be changed easily once cut.
Rough-sawn lumber is less expensive than dimensioned lumber but not as cheap as mass-produced products.
If you like woodworking in any capacity, you should consider purchasing rough-sawn timber for your next project. If you need exceptionally thick boards, rough-sawn is the only way to proceed. A lumberyard that specialized in rough-cut lumber will offer a far greater assortment of species than a home store. You can select from the wide variety of pine, oak, maple, and cherry trees available and have no trouble finding something suitable for your project. Rough-sawn lumber is available in all sizes and shapes. It is easy to find stock that is close to what you need already cut into lengths for immediate use.
The advantage of using rough lumber is that it costs less. The reason behind this is that you are not getting perfect boards out of the log; instead, you are getting planks with some surface defects and knots. These are features that add to the charm of the wood and make it more valuable. Also, because the boards are not uniform in thickness, they require more effort to use in construction. However, if you need particularly thick pieces of wood for a project, then rough lumber is the only way to go. The disadvantage of using rougher lumber is that it is hard to get exactly what you want. If you need a board that is a specific length, for example, you may have to settle for one that is too long or short. This is why it's important to check out several different yards before going to purchase your wood.