I hate working with wood, it lies

I hate working with wood. It’s an activity filled with lies, misinformation, and things that run contrary to common sense.

Case in point. When you go to the home improvement store to purchase wood, the dimensions shown on the self under the wood or found on the actual wood do not match reality. The famous two-by-four is so named because it’s two inches by four inches in width. Expect it’s not. A two-by-four is actually 1½ × 3½ inches.

Why even call something by its dimensions if the dimensions are a lie? Because it’s wood, that’s why.

I recently installed some shelving in my home office. It’s made from metal rails and brackets.

As the above photo shows, instead of the cheap particle board these type shelves normally use, I wanted to use real wood. The problem I ran into was buying wood that actually fit the shelving.

The boards I purchased were supposed to measure 1 inch by 10 inches by 8 feet in length. Except they didn’t.

In all actuality, the boards measured 3/4 inch by 9 1/4 inch by 8 feet. This was almost a problem in that the metal shelving brackets I purchased were nine-inch brackets. Because they were made from metal, they were actually nine inches in length. Metal tells the truth, wood does not.

What I’ve discovered with processed wood is this: the length is usually always dead on. It’s the other measurements that are complete fabrications.

I’m not really done with the shelving unit or I would have taken a finished photo and posted it here. I don’t know if there’s anything more I want to do yet. I may paint the shelves white. I may put trim on the front and the ends. I haven’t decided yet.

I also have another project going on in the home office. It’s the table in which our computers sit. I made it out of stainable panels purchased at Lowes. They are 1 inch by 24 inches by 48 inches. Those are the actual measurements. Go figure.

I used three of them to make an “L” shaped desk. They have legs from Ikea in the front. The back of the desk is secured to the wall in studs with 3-inch construction screws. For the cables, I put 1 1/2 holes in the back of the desk’s top. The cables go through the holes and connect to the computers on the floor.

I wanted to fill the cracks between the three panels. I purchased a product at Home Depot called Minwax Wood Putty.

It came in Natural Pine, the color of the panels. I applied the putty yesterday and I allowed it to dry overnight. Or so I thought.

I checked it this morning and it hadn’t dried. It’s in the same state it was when I applied it yesterday. I then read the very tiny print on the small bottle.

Will not harden to a sandable surface? That’s the whole point of wood putty, is it not? This is what it says about wood putty on Wikipedia:

The main problem in using putty is matching the color of the putty to that of the wood. Putties are usually sanded after they dry before applying the finish.

Just my luck, I bought the type of wood putty that does not dry and is not sandable. I was supposed to know this from reading the size 2px font on the back of the tiny jar.

I now have to scrape out this crappy wood putty and use something else, something that dries and is sandable.

When you work with wood, get ready for a lot of lies and half-truths. It’s a dishonest industry. It’s as though just putting the word wood in a product’s title gives it license to lie.

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Rick Rottman

My name is Rick Rottman and I live in Maryland. This is my blog. If you'd like to know more about me, check out my About page.

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