Here are the common sizes of lumber, and their actual sizes. What is dimensional lumber? Dimensional lumber is cut and finished lumber (planed on all four sides) that comes in standardized sizes. If you are using rough-sawn, or "true dimension" timbers, however, 4 inches means 4 inches. Lumber Dimensions. Lumber measurements in width and thickness normally 0.25 inches (6 millimeters) – 0.75 in (19 mm) smaller than nominal sizes. For example: a 2-by-4 actually measures 1 1/2 inches thick and 3 1/2 inches wide. Lumber for construction purposes available in variety of different sizes. When the board is first rough sawn from the log, it is a true 2x4, but the drying process and planing of the board reduce it to the finished 1.5x3.5 size. Nominal dimensions which identify certain board, beam or post do not represent its actual parameters. Lumber dimensions in widths and thickness are 1/2-inch less than the size. A four-by-six post measures 3 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches. 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