Friday, December 2, 2011


I made my first purchase of lumber in Norway, buying it from Obs! Bygg, the equivalent of Home Depot. There were new things to figure out, for sure. I asked a fellow shopper to explain the system to me, and then it was pretty straightforward.

First, there's some sizing to get used to. In the U.S. the most common size is a 2x4, which measures 1.5" x 3.5". I've always that was insanely difficult. I guess I've always liked the name "2-by-4" – it's catchy. I just didn't like that the measurements were not 2"x4".

The equivalent here is the 38 x 89, which measures 38 mm x 89 mm. The name matches the measurements, but it's awful all around. Why not make them 40 x 90 and call them "4-by-9s" (4 decimeters x 9 decimeters)?

Well, 38 x 89 happens to be, maybe you guessed it, 1.5" x 3.5". The standard is international, the names are domestic. It's a bit of shame the numbers aren't easier. Metric fail!

Each piece of wood is stamped on the end with its length and quality. Instead of buying 6' or 8' pieces, you pick out the lengths close to what you want, anything from 2.5 meters to 4 or 5 meters long, and then cut only what you need if you like.

I was very impressed with the quality of the wood. Every single piece was straight and strong with clean edges. This was definitely not like sorting through piles of 2x4s in Home Depot, trying to find the straighter and less knotty pieces.

It cost 16 kr per meter, which is a bit less than $7 for an 8 footer. I think I'd normally pay about half that in the U.S., which makes it an okay price. Given the very high quality, it's a purchase I can feel good about.

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