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I saw this in the news yesterday. What a crock! Hopefully the stores don't cave to the ambulance chasers. 4x4 nominal, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 finished. Been that way forever.
You should try doing up a relatively new house (15yo, made with metric four by twos!) and having to get joists and bearers that match from a recycling yard that has only the old imperial stuff, all nicely shrunk. Not so easy, but a planar helps heaps :). Just been there, done that.

My house brick...real brick, 2ft thick walls first floor, 1 ft thick second. No wood with brick veneer exterior.

Interior walls are 2x4 heart pine, actual dimensions are 2.5 x 4.75.....when men were men and wood was wood!
All timber cut from center of trees, virgin timber 2-300yrs old. Drilling holes for modern wiring was harsh to say the least. Like drilling through steel. But boy releasing that old pine oil sure smelled wonderful.
Built 1885.

I wonder when they actually changed dimensions?
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I saw this in the news yesterday. What a crock! Hopefully the stores don't cave to the ambulance chasers. 4x4 nominal, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 finished. Been that way forever.

Not actually forever. Maybe as far as you can remember.
Sizing of lumber comes from rough cut. Either by 6' diameter or similar saw or large mill band saws.
It wasn't until after the turn of the century (1900) that planing boards really became a thing, and dimensional lumber was born.
With the infusion of steam power, belts and machines, things like tongue and groove flooring came along.
Everything was built with rough cut lumber.
For siding and such it was all done by hand planing, as with hand made furniture.
After WWII when the building industry really took off things like plywood sheeting came into play for roof sheeting, cabinetry and the like.
Dimensional lumber has quite a history, and it would be more confusing to change a finished milled product size than use it's rough cut size.
Even in commercial building the steel studs are of dimensional size, not actual size.
What you also get when you buy dimensional lumber is inspected and certified lumber suitable to build with.
You would NOT get your local building inspector to sign off on rough cut lumber with no stamps on it these days!

My buddy's house I have a lot of my stuff stored in was built in 1871. 2 story farm house. You can easily tell the single floor addition was put on when indoor plumbing came in.
It's built with rough cut oak timber 8" square, no insulation at all, but heats well and stays cool if you don't open the windows in the summer. I'm sure it will be standing for a very long time. The garage is built more like an old time barn structure with lap, dovetail and pegged joints. The roof rafters are all round and lack milling of any kind. I'm sure the house was pegged and dovetailed. It hasn't settled a bit.
Didn't see your post Woody. Would have saved me some time.

I saw this in the news yesterday. What a crock! Hopefully the stores don't cave to the ambulance chasers. 4x4 nominal, 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 finished. Been that way forever.

Well, not forever, but for a heckuva long time (about 100 years). I am making a long and rather boring story a lot shorter. Originally a 2x4 was close to 2 by 4, but that was rough, unseasoned wood. 100 years ago wood was typically produced at local sawmills and used in the same area. Builders knew the people making the lumber and knew what the dimensions were.

After WWI there was a pent up demand for new construction and lumber was now being transported long distances; so standards were needed. So the rough, unseasoned 2x4 got replaced with a standard that requires it have a specific moisture content and be surfaced on at least 2 edges and be within specific tolerances. Yada, yada, yada (this part was too boring to read). So skipping ahead we eventually get to the 2X4 we know and love today that is roughly 1.5 x 3.5 + or - something yada, yada, yada with specific moisture requirements yada, yada, yada.
We moved into a house that was built for us in September. The house we moved out off of was built in the 60's. We lived there for 26 years. When we first moved in my wife and I put a new roof on it. And I mean we did it. Stripped off 2 layers of shingles and tar paper. As expected for a house that old we found some rot underneath the shingles. To my surprise, we didn't find plywood, but rather 1 x 10's. And I mean true 1 x 10's. Went into the attic and saw that the whole roof was made of them, with a gap between the boards. So we tore off the bottom two rows of 1x10's all along the front of the house and had to get 1/2 inch plywood to replace it. Ripped each sheet lengthwise so that it was 2 feet wide and then laid one piece on top of the other to get it 1 inch thick. And that was just the first of our surprises...

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