Two By Four


Note: AmericanCulturalAssumption. In lumber measurements this denotes a rather thick and heavy board, 2" by 4" (2 inches x 4 inches) (also 2x4) commonly used in construction as a wall stud or support member. Also the tool of choice in some humorous tales of getting a mule's attention.

In a house built in 1908, I discovered, beneath the lath and plaster, boards which were actually (dry and rough) 2 inches by 4 inches and made of oak. When you tried to pull a nail from it, you didn't, it stayed!

Note: It's also a standard term in the UK. Perhaps we need an AngloAmericanCulturalAssumption? page or an AmericanCulturalAssumptionAssumption? page :)

Note: Note: The standard term in the UK is FourByTwo?, though they'd probably know what you meant. (Although some snarky US Americans would think the UK term should probably be a 10.16 by 5.08 )

Note: In Australia this would be TwoByFour, though often pronounced more like "2 B 4"

Note: In New Zealand this would be HundredByFifty (at least if you call it the same thing that carpenters do).

Perhaps it would just be AngloCulturalAssumption? as it is likely (due to the fact that timber has been around since before America was visited by Europe) to be derived from English history.

Nope. AFAIK, this is the sawing and notation used everywhere today. Is there any other typical measure in use? In Japan?


Perhaps it would be more appropriate to remove the reference to AngloAmericanCulturalAssumption? in favour of just pointing out that we're dealing with the ImperialMeasurementsAssumption? or some such?
Note 2: The actual dimensions of a 2x4 are 1-3/4 x 3-1/2 (approximately)

Ahh, yes. I was rather hoping someone wouldn't point out the "after final planing and finishing" dimensions. Rather takes the wind out of it when you have to say "one and three fourths by three and a half" instead of "two by four." Oh well.

Actually these dimensions are after drying. 2 x 4 refers to the dimensions when the wood is first sawn.

Note 3: While this may be true, I have had the occasion to repair old wooden structures built out of 2x4s, replacing rotten members with righteous ones of the same size, and there was a significant difference in both dimensions. The modern boards were thinner and skinnier by about 3/16 inches. I believe that the current practice of "measure before curing" is a dishonesty on par with hard drive sizes.

I cant resist pointing out that it makes a great insult too; dense, thick and heavy all rolled into an easy to say package... Brilliant

Dense? Doesn't wood float?

Everything is dense relative to something which is less dense.

Actually, these days, a 2x4 is less than 2"x4" even when the wood is first sawn. Before 1970, wood started out sawn to 2" x 4" (minus the width of the kerf) but since some lumber was wetter than other lumber, that led to different sized 2x4s when the wood dried. Thus, standard 20-70 was adopted, which specifies dimensions of the dried and planed lumber. Today's 2x4s are actually smaller than you got from even the wettest wood before, because they didn't want to have anyone stuck with dimensional lumber he couldn't sell, and hey, if we can get more lumber out of these trees, it'll be a little cheaper. It's been a LONG time since they've had 38c studs for sale at Carter Cashway, and sticker shock WAS a factor.

Oh, and you don't lay a 2x4 upside a teenager's head as punishment. That'd be cruel. You do it to get his attention. Kids are always eager to do what they're told to do - as long as you have their attention.

A reference to SpaceOdyssey's CosmicTwoByFour?
"You can get more with a kind word and a two-by-four than you can with just a kind word." -- Marcus Cole, Babylon Five [Yeah, those Rangers -- what kidders!]
Parallel: ParkingLotTherapy, SignificantEmotionalEvent
CategoryIdiom

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