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We specialize in Highly Figured Black Walnut Boards & Spalted Maple Flitches, Live Edge Lumber Slabs, Bookmatched Table Top Sets, Wood Log Slices, Taxidermy Mounts, and Custom Live Edge Slab Furniture. As well as many other lumber species such as, Oak, Elm, Knotty Pine, Red Flame Boxelder, Sycamore, and Red Cedar!

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General Interest

Lumber and Craftwood

 Our Lumber comes from the sought after Central Iowa timbers, as well as salvaged trees, locally harvested by our tree service crew.  

All of our Lumber here at The Lumber Shack is never steamed to keep that eye popping contrast in colors we know you love.  Our lumber is usually kiln dried and handled carefully from the moment we cut the tree down.  We offer our lumber in various sizes to help fill your needs.  If you are purchasing a Table Top Set or any other specialty Live Edge "Center Piece" Slab from us, be sure to add the surrounding Lumber from our collection to get as close to  color-matched pieces as you can.  Walnut looks different from all over the country and you can be sure our Midwest Walnut is second to none!

Black Walnut is a very heavy, strong wood defined by its rich deep browns and beautiful figure.  The lumber has natural color variation ranging from dark to lighter browns with white sapwood.  Walnut has beautiful grain structure, and are much sought after.  We offer our Walnut Lumber with sapwood as well as sapfree. 

Here at, we like to think we offer one of, if not the largest on-line selection of Black Walnut and Spalted Maple Buy-it-Now Live Edge Slabs and Lumber offered in the United States.  We offer Live Edge Bookmatched Slabs for many different furniture building projects, such as Coffee & End Tables, Dining Room Tables, Cabinetry, and more. 


About Lumber

Lumber, or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper products.  Lumber is supplied either rough or finished.  Besides pulpwood, rough lumber is the raw material for furniture-making and other items requiring additional cutting and shaping.  It is available in many species, usually hardwoods.  Finished lumber is supplied in standard sizes, mostly for construction industry, primarily softwood from coniferous speicies including pine, fir, and spruce, cedar, and hemlock, but also some hardwood, for high-grade flooring.

Dimensional Lumber is a term used for lumber that is finished/planed and cut to standardized width and depth specified in inches.  Examples of common sizes are 2x4, 2x6, and 4x4.  The length of a board is usually specified separately from the width and depth.  It is thus possible to find 2x4s that are four, eight, or twelve feet in length.  In the United States and Canada the standard lengths of lumber are 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 feet.  For wall framing, "stud", or "precut" sizes are available, and commonly used.  For an eight, nine, or ten foot ceiling height, studs are available in 92 5/8 inches, 104 5/8 inches and 116 5/8 inches.  (Because the term "stud" is used inconsistently when referring to length, care should be taken to always specify the exact, actual length required.)

Solid dimensional lumber typically is only available up to lengths of 24 ft. Engineered wood products, manufactured by binding the strands, particles, fibers, or veneers of wood, together with adhesives, to form composite materials, offer more flexibility and greater structural strength than typical wood building materials.

Pre-cut studs save a framer a lot of time as they are pre-cut by the manufacturer to be used in 8 ft, 9 ft & 10 ft ceiling applications, which means they have removed a few inches of the piece to allow for the sill plate and the double top plate with no additional sizing necessary.

In the Americas, two-bys (2×4s, 2×6s, 2×8s, 2×10s, and 2×12s), along with the 4×4, are common lumber sizes used in modern construction. They are the basic building block for such common structures as balloon-frame or platform-frame housing. Dimensional lumber made from softwood is typically used for construction, while hardwood boards are more commonly used for making cabinets or furniture.

Lumber's nominal dimensions are given in terms of green (not dried), rough (unfinished) dimensions. The finished size is smaller, as a result of drying (which shrinks the wood), and planing to smooth the wood. However, the difference between "nominal" and "finished" lumber size can vary. So various standards have specified the difference between nominal size, and finished size, of lumber.

Early standards called for green rough lumber to be of full nominal dimension when dry, but the requirements have changed over time. For example, in 1910, a typical finished 1-inch- (25 mm) board was 13⁄16 in (21 mm). In 1928, that was reduced by 4%, and yet again by 4% in 1956. In 1961, at a meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Committee on Grade Simplification and Standardization agreed to what is now the current U.S. standard: in part, the dressed size of a 1 inch (nominal) board was fixed at 3⁄4 inch; while the dressed size of 2 inch (nominal) lumber was reduced from 1 5⁄8 inch to the now standard 1 1⁄2 inch.

Individual pieces of lumber exhibit a wide range in quality and appearance with respect to knots, slope of grain, shakes and other natural characteristics. Therefore, they vary considerably in strength, utility and value.

The move to set national standards for lumber in the United States began with publication of the American Lumber Standard in 1924, which set specifications for lumber dimensions, grade, and moisture content; it also developed inspection and accreditation programs. These standards have changed over the years to meet the changing needs of manufacturers and distributors, with the goal of keeping lumber competitive with other construction products. Current standards are set by the American Lumber Standard Committee, appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.

Design values for most species and grades of visually graded structural products are determined in accordance with ASTM standards, which consider the effect of strength reducing characteristics, load duration, safety and other influencing factors. The applicable standards are based on results of tests conducted in cooperation with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. Design Values for Wood Construction, which is a supplement to the ANSI/AF&PA National Design Specification® for Wood Construction, provides these lumber design values, which are recognized by the model building codes. A summary of the six published design values—including bending (Fb), shear parallel to grain (Fv), compression perpendicular to grain (Fc-perp), compression parallel to grain (Fc), tension parallel to grain (Ft), and modulus of elasticity (E and Emin) can be found in Structural Properties and Performance[5] published by WoodWorks.

Canada has grading rules that maintain a standard among mills manufacturing similar woods to assure customers of uniform quality. Grades standardize the quality of lumber at different levels and are based on moisture content, size and manufacture at the time of grading, shipping and unloading by the buyer. The National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA)[6] is responsible for writing, interpreting and maintaining Canadian lumber grading rules and standards. The Canadian Lumber Standards Accreditation Board (CLSAB) monitors the quality of Canada's lumber grading and identification system.

Attempts to maintain lumber quality over time have been challenged by historical changes in the timber resources of the United States—from the slow-growing virgin forests common over a century ago to the fast-growing plantations now common in today's commercial forests. Resulting declines in lumber quality have been of concern to both the lumber industry and consumers and have caused increased use of alternative construction products.

Machine stress-rated and machine-evaluated lumber is readily available for end-uses where high strength is critical, such as truss rafters, laminating stock, I-beams and web joints. Machine grading measures a characteristic such as stiffness or density that correlates with the structural properties of interest, such as bending strength. The result is a more precise understanding of the strength of each piece of lumber than is possible with visually graded lumber, which allows designers to use full-design strength and avoid overbuilding.

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In North America, sizes for dimensional lumber made from hardwoods varies from the sizes for softwoods. Boards are usually supplied in random widths and lengths of a specified thickness, and sold by the board-foot (144 cubic inches or 2,360 cubic centimetres, 1⁄12th of 1 cubic foot or 0.028 cubic metres. This does not apply in all countries, for example in Australia many boards are sold to timber yards in packs with a common profile (dimensions) but not necessarily consisting of the same length boards. Hardwoods cut for furniture are cut in the fall and winter, after the sap has stopped running in the trees. If hardwoods are cut in the spring or summer the sap ruins the natural color of the timber and decreases the value of the timber for furniture.

Also in North America, hardwood lumber is commonly sold in a "quarter" system when referring to thickness. 4/4 (four quarters) refers to a 1-inch-thick (25 mm) board, 8/4 (eight quarters) is a 2-inch-thick (51 mm) board, etc. This system is not usually used for softwood lumber, although softwood decking is sometimes sold as 5/4 (actually one inch thick).

Defects occurring in timber are grouped into the following five divisions:

During the process of converting timber to commercial form, the following defects may occur:

1.  Chip mark: this defect is indicated by the marks or signs placed by chips on the finished surface of timber
2.  Diagonal grain: improper sawing of timber
3.  Torn grain: when a small depression is made on the finished surface due to falling of some tool
4.  Wane: presence of original rounded surface on the finished surface Defects due to fungi

Fungi attack timber when these conditions are all present:

1.  The timber moisture content is above 25% on a dry-weight basis
2.  The environment is warm enough
3.  Air is present

Wood with less than 25% moisture (dry weight basis) can remain free of decay for centuries. Similarly, wood submerged in water may not be attacked by fungi if the amount of oxygen is inadequate.

Following are the insects which are usually responsible for the decay of timber:

2.Marine borers (Barnea similis)
4.Carpenter ants

Natural forces

There are two main natural forces responsible for causing defects in timber: abnormal growth and rupture of tissues...


Defects due to seasoning are the number one cause for splinters and slivers.

Durability and service life

Under proper conditions, wood provides excellent, lasting performance. However, it also faces several potential threats to service life, including fungal activity and insect damage—which can be avoided in numerous ways. Section 2304.11 of the International Building Code (IBC) addresses protection against decay and termites. This section provides requirements for non-residential construction applications, such as wood used above ground (e.g., for framing, decks, stairs, etc.), as well as other applications.

There are four recommended methods to protect wood-frame structures against durability hazards and thus provide maximum service life for the building. All require proper design and construction:

1. Control moisture using design techniques to avoid decay.
2. Provide effective control of termites and other insects.
3. Use durable materials such as pressure treated or naturally durable species of wood where appropriate.
4. Provide quality assurance during design and construction and throughout the building’s service life using appropriate maintenance practices.

Moisture control

Wood is a hygroscopic material, which means it naturally absorbs and releases water to balance its internal moisture content with the surrounding environment. The moisture content of wood is measured by the weight of water as a percentage of the oven-dry weight of the wood fiber. The key to controlling decay is to control moisture. Once decay fungi are established, the minimum moisture content for decay to propagate is 22 to 24 percent, so building experts recommend 19 percent as the maximum safe moisture content for untreated wood in service. Water by itself does not harm the wood, but rather, wood with consistently high moisture content enables fungal organisms to grow.

The primary objective when addressing moisture loads is to keep water from entering the building envelope in the first place, and to balance the moisture content within the building itself. Moisture control by means of accepted design and construction details is a simple and practical method of protecting a wood-frame building against decay. Finally, for applications with a high risk of staying wet, designers should specify durable materials such as naturally decay-resistant species or wood that’s been treated with preservatives. Cladding, shingles, sill plates and exposed timbers or glulam beams are examples of potential applications for treated wood.

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