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Header Sizes

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Ok, I have been working at a small structural company for about 8 months now, since I graduated last December. I am not doing layouts, calcs and drafting projects, which mostly consist of large wood framed custom homes.
 
Typically when specifying headers they tell me that they like to use 4x4-4x8 for all the headers. Many times I do the calcs, just to see how much stress is placed on the headers and many times a 4x4 is way too conservative. To me this sounds wastefull, when 2-2x6's or 8s could be used, with blocking or shims.
 
What are some of your thoughts?