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(34,147 posts)
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 12:31 AM Jun 2017

Home Depot, Menards face lawsuits over lumber size description

Home Depot, Menards face lawsuits over lumber size description
USA Today Network Rick Romell , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published 12:17 p.m. ET June 21, 2017 | Updated 7:46 a.m. ET June 22, 2017

MILWAUKEE — Two home improvements stores are accused of deceiving the buyers of four-by-four boards, the big brother to the ubiquitous two-by-four.

The alleged deception: Menards and Home Depot (HD) market and sell the hefty lumber as four-by-fours without specifying that the boards actually measure 3½ inches by 3½ inches.

The lawsuits against the retailers would-be class actions, filed within five days of each other in federal court for the Northern District of Illinois. Attorneys from the same Chicago law firm represent the plaintiffs in both cases. Each suit seeks more than $5 million.

“Defendant has received significant profits from its false marketing and sale of its dimensional lumber products,” the action against Menards contends.

More: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2017/06/21/home-depot-menards-lumber-size-lawsuit/415874001/

I've known since I was ten years old that dimensional lumber was not the stated size - and I knew WHY! The lumber is rough cut to the stated size then planed to make smooth sides. While rough cut lumber can be purchased for some things - like fence boards - you would not want it for most home projects.

At ten I planed and constructed a shelf-desk for a summer project. I had to educate myself about the actual sizes of the boards to make the project fit in the corner of the room where it was to be placed. That meant learning that 1x6" boards were really 3/4" x 5-1/2" so I could make everything the size I needed.

Besides, Home Depot gives the actual dimensions for 4x4s" on their site as actual dimensions: 3.56 in. x 3.56 in.

I wonder what profits Menards makes from the sawdust and shavings left over from planing the lumber to it's final sizes?

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(35,598 posts)
1. I don't remember when a 2x4 was ever actualy 2" x 4" at any
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 12:40 AM
Jun 2017

lumber store. I don't think this case will go anywhere.


(34,147 posts)
3. Yeah, me either
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 12:52 AM
Jun 2017

When we built our barn a friend had a contract to cut cypress off some property and we did get rough cut 2x4s to use in our barn - those are the only rough cut 2x4s I've ever seen.. We also got rough cut 1" and 2" lumber out of the logs to use for the siding.

When we were putting a new floor in, I used leftover tongue and groove to build cabinets, which caused a whole new level of planning. The 1x6" were much less on the faces so when you glued three boards together you got a panel that was just about 15" once you squared the edges off.

For another project I wanted a full 1" planed board. Rather than buying rough cut lumber I found that boards for stair treads are 5/4" rough cut so when they are planed and finished they are 1" usually with a nice rounded edge. I have a small table made from some leftover stair tread parts that has a top about 22"square. we glued up two pieces to make the panel for the top and my husband did a nice job with a router to match the original bull nose edge.

If you are going to build you need to know your materials and not make assumptions.


(9,808 posts)
2. It's not just the rough cut, it's cut before kiln drying, I thought.
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 12:46 AM
Jun 2017

Because if planing is costing a half inch of dimension, that's really inefficient cutting.

The retailers aren't doing the cut and finish. They get everything in bundles from the mills, so they're not making profit on the sawdust, alas. (At retail level, that's a waste product, even from the dust collection machines. I go pick up a few pounds for free every time I need to make a new tailor's bench, tailor's ham or sleeve roll. They're happy to give it to me -- it saves them a little on hauling it away. At the industrial level, dust becomes particle board and pellets for pellet stoves and kitty litter.)

But yeah, nominal vs dimensional is just a thing. This is why shop classes (and home ec) were required of every child in my middle school.


(34,147 posts)
4. Around here the lumberyards are using the scraps and sawdust to heat the kilns
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 12:58 AM
Jun 2017

To dry the lumber. We used to be able to drive up to Metcalf and get sawdust for free to use for bedding in our barn. Now they utilize every bit of it and we have to buy bagged shavings.

Yes, you are right - there is likely some shrinkage when the lumber is dried.

I learned in summer Arts & Crafts. Girls weren't allowed to take shop and even in the summer program girls were not allowed to use the power tools. But I did all the planning and when I turned over my plan to the teacher to cut my pieces there were no mistakes and a minimal amount of wastage. I got a blue ribbon on the desk-shelf and still use it 55 years later.


(9,808 posts)
7. And now, no child gets shop or home ec, because budgets. Sigh.
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 01:09 AM
Jun 2017

I'm from the next generation, I think, so all kids got all of the basics. Our classes were single gender, because those blocks alternated with PE, but I think that was in (at least the girls') best interest. At 13, in a mixed group, the boys were likely to dominate the power tools and prevent us from using them. (Also, Tim the Toolman was a thing, and I'm pretty sure some of us would have committed murder by screwdriver and tablesaw if we had to listen to 15 13YO boys grunt for an hour for two semesters.)

It's a good thing I got that basic grounding. I married a person with proprioception issues. Power tools + Spouse = trip to Urgent Care. The garage work bench is *mine*.


(7,143 posts)
6. How ridiculous.
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 01:06 AM
Jun 2017

If they were truly seeking relief, they'd sue over framing lumber greater than 4-bys. A 2X6, for example, can range from 5 1/8" to 5 1/2". That inconsistency requires that, for example, combination ceiling / floor joists all be ripped to the narrowest dimension. It's a waste of time and material.

And, of course, that's the fault of the mill - not the retailer.

Historic NY

(37,497 posts)
8. Have to go to a mill to get deminsional lumber....
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 01:16 AM
Jun 2017

I never use these retail sell all places, for historic projects.


(1,213 posts)
11. Menard's and Home Depot
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 04:07 AM
Jun 2017

don't manufacture the lumber, they only sell it. They buy it from various lumber companies, who cut it to industry standards.


(1,214 posts)
13. This is about as silly as
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 07:56 AM
Jun 2017

Suing a camera maker because a particular lens with a stated focal length of 50mm is actually 51.3mm.


(18,496 posts)
14. Let me reduce this to the mathematical
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 07:59 AM
Jun 2017

stupid + greed > common sense

I hope the plaintiffs lose.
I hope the "attorneys" and their clients are assessed a large fine by the court.
I believe they just took a shot at the defendants hoping for a short fast out court payment.


(6,843 posts)
15. It's called Nominal Numbers and is the industry standard
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 08:41 AM
Jun 2017

A two by four has NEVER been two inches by four inches. They taught us this in sixth grade shop class.

People are Stoopid.


(7,143 posts)
17. Although irrelevant in this case, that's not actually true.
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 09:35 AM
Jun 2017

Our 19th-century home, like all with which I'm familiar, has all true dimensional framing and boards. No nominal nothing back then.

Makes it a bit of a challenge for restoration.


(13,218 posts)
16. This is well documented in the lumber business
Mon Jun 26, 2017, 08:55 AM
Jun 2017

Known as the "nominal" size: i.e. what we "call" it, not what it "is".

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