This week’s question of the week comes from Skee.
He writes, “In your show dedicated to the lumber store, the nice lady at the counter mentioned some terms you didn’t cover. Specifically, S2S and S4S. Yet another stumbling block for the newbie. Could you demystify these terms as well?”
And here was my reply:
“Hi Skee. I knew someone would nail me with that one. I had plans on including a discussion about that, but didn’t want to make the video any longer than it already was. So, in answer to your question, the S2S designation simply refers to how many sides have been pre-surfaced. So S2S= Surfaced 2 Sides. That means the board has been run through the planer on both sides and the original 1′ board (if you are buying 4/4) will now be 3/4″. Keep in mind, when you purchase this board you will still pay as if you have a full 1″. This is exactly why I like to buy my wood in the roughest form possible. Usually I can get a 1″ board perfectly flat and parallel without going all the way down to 3/4″. So I try to avoid the letting the lumber yard do me any “favors”.
An S4S board is fully surfaced on all 4 sides. This is what you will usually find for sale in the small hardwood section at Home Depot. These boards are really for people who don’t have the equipment or means to plane and surface the materials themselves. And you will pay a very high premium for these boards.
In my experience, most hardwood dealers will sell either S2S or rough lumber. If you walk up and simply order 4/4 alder, you will most likely get S2S. It never hurts to ask for clarification. And if you want the material as rough as possible, be sure to ask if they carry rough stock in the species you are looking for.”