Working with wood is a practice of trial and error and, depending on your project and needs, the type of wood and the stability of the particular pieces you are using can impact the entire project. All lumber, even the same grade, is not exactly the same.

“All lumber is not the same, even though it may be graded the same. The grade is based on a range of values and characteristics,” Developer Dan Seale, professor in Mississippi State University’s (MSU) Department of Sustainable Bioproducts.

Some DIYers and other builders will be thrilled, then, to hear about a new app created by MSU scientists that will empower users to find out the stiffness and strength of a particular piece of wood – an important factor to consider with certain projects. The app, called “Smart Thumper” is meant to fill the gap between physical and eyeball inspection and what the eye can’t see and hands can’t feel after the lumber has already been given a grade mark. The app uses sound and vibration to determine the overall stiffness of the wood, and therefore, its strength.

We got a chance to test it out, and the reading changes, depending on how hard the person hits the lumber and precisely how far away the phone is from the board.  Here are some tips on how to use the app: 

Learn more about how the app works and how you could use it in your next project.