2 by 4 measurements – not what you think!

May 6, 2024 | Thoughts From the Executive Director

2x4 size

WHAAT!!? How Can a 2-by-4 Not Measure 2 Inches by 4 Inches?

Who knew that today a 2-by-4 four piece of lumber is not 2” x 4” but actually 1.5” x 3.5”? If even lumber measurements have changed, who or what can be trusted?

My husband loves Home Depot and was headed out the door to purchase lumber for new shelving in our bathroom. He asked how wide I wanted the shelves. I said 12 inches. He replied, “To purchase enough wood and have it custom cut to 12 inches would be too expensive and wasteful because lumber does not come in 12 inch planks. A 1” x 12” plank of precut wood is no longer standard. A standard 1-by-12 is really only ¾ inches thick by 111/4 wide.”

I couldn’t believe it! My Grandpa was a gifted builder and had taught me a thing or two about lumber and measurements. And, that included “measure twice, cut once” among other common sense declarations.

Well, my husband carefully explained that the world of lumber had changed. He told me what apparently all the people at Home Depot and Lowe’s and even all the sophisticated, authentic Lumber Yards know. They call it 1-by-12 or 2-by-4 as the name because that is what it used to be.

“That’s not right,” I protested. “In fact that’s cheating! How could a 2-by-4 board not be two inches by four inches? When is an inch not an inch? Who can be trusted?”

According to Google, in the world of lumber, now there are ACTUAL measurements and NOMINAL measurements. I think that’s like saying there are facts which are not the same as ultimate, universal truths. (I wonder if the doctor would accept a NOMINAL weight or waist measurement?)

After mulling it over, I realize I cannot correct the inaccuracies in lumber or other injustices that do not make good sense.

But there are steps I CAN take. There are trusted relationships I can intentionally build. Experience has taught me that local people with whom I can meet in person, with whom I can have coffee, go fishing, attend events together and really get to know are real, accurate and dependable.

We were created to live in a community where people trust and help each other. We are fortunate to live where VillagesOKC connects trusted individuals, businesses and organizations. These are real people who value trusted relationships more than transactions. These are authentic people who are willing to help when they can with what they have. That is a working definition of community.