Inspect 4×4 Lumber Before Buying:
If you need 4x4s or other large posts, inspect them first. Why? Many of them, especially 8-ft. posts, come from logs used for veneer, which is peeled from the logs like paper towels from a roll, leaving only the very center of the log. The center “pith” is the least stable part of the log and is very prone to twisting, splitting and bowing. This is particularly true of treated 4x4s because the treatment exaggerates the warping. Learn about wood movement 101.
Examine the stack of posts at the home center and reject the posts with end grain that looks like a bulls-eye. Choose the straightest posts you can find, with the least amount of center pith.
How to Get the Best of the Pile:
Look for posts without a “bulls-eye” and growth rings from edge to edge. Perfect is rare. Find the best you can. Plus, check out how to find the best home center lumber for your DIY projects.