3 Girls & A Woodworker #3: Project Budgets - Is it about your wallet or your location

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Blog entry by John_G posted 03-24-2011 05:11 PM 1840 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Shed Doors Part 3 of 3 Girls & A Woodworker series Part 4: My very first Wood Gloat »

I’ve been a LJ now for awhile, and even before i joined i was constantly on the site looking at projects. There were always things that i admired about every project, beginner or advanced. – quality of work, even the beginner has areas of great skill – the creativity of the projects, especialy art boxes, simply mazing – the different species of wood being used

As i get into woodworking more and more and want to experiment with different species i began noticing the cost of some exotics. Then i began to think back…. didn’t i see an entire workbench made of this, or a router table, or something large made from an exotic. I started to wonder if some LJ out there were just independently wealthy. I have a hard time coming up with 100.00 for a project, and i was looking at projects in the 1000.00’s and they were bench’s for the workshop. Could it be true that in some areas of the US and world that some lumber is not as expensive as others? I’m very curious (without prying to much) on how my fellow LJ’s go about purchasing there lumber, is it online, local mills, yourown backyard. What are you paying for your wood, do you have a budget for projects. Even those making cutting boards, 4 or 5 of them with exotics can put you in the hundreds…..
Just curious, don’t mean to pry into personal finances of anyone…...

Keep up the great work everyone, Pine or Padauk it’s all wood…. :)

-- John Gray

17 comments so far

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2717 days

#1 posted 03-24-2011 05:20 PM

I’ve wondered the same thing. I’ve got a pretty respectable hobby budget but some of the projects I see here are far beyond. A big veneer project, I can understand; but a lot of these guys are building large pieces with solid exotics. I had great exotic availability in LA, some in TN, and none in WV. I’m now building out of stuff that grows on the hills here. If you figure it out, let me know!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3291 days

#2 posted 03-24-2011 05:33 PM

ive wondered the same thing

after spending what i think is quite a large sum of money on the tools i need for this hobby i really dont have the budget to by the wood i would like to get for certain projects. ive never actually bought hardwood lumber from a supplier other the home depot. ive never been able to afford too!

for instance right now im trying to figure out how to come up with extra cash to make some adirondack chairs. i just plan on using treated lumber but still its going to be about $60 for 2 chairs. to me thats a lot!

if id known how much this hobby costs i probably would have thought against starting it lol

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2717 days

#3 posted 03-24-2011 05:38 PM

I think it probably has more to do with location. In Louisiana, I could get cypress for $1 a board foot because it was so abundant. I see CL offers all the time here in WV for walnut trees (you move it, you keep it kind of thing). I think the guys with huge stashes have an in on a mill. Some others just spend a lot of money on wood, I suppose. I’ve ordered online before & was happy with the product; but it wasn’t cheap.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3332 days

#4 posted 03-24-2011 05:41 PM

I get lumber from numerous sources…craigslist, local lumberyards, online purchases from lumberyards, local individuals with a mill and just asking around and scavenging. A while back I went to a gagage sale and a lady was selling lumber that her husband had stored for years in the garage. I bought over 100 bd. ft. of walnut for $80. Great deals are always out there…you just always have to be on the lookout.

View wilterbeast's profile


44 posts in 2673 days

#5 posted 03-24-2011 06:31 PM

I found her in ohio craigs list has got some deals, i bought 300 bdft of figured walnut for 300$! It so pretty im scared to use it. But it is all 8/4. Oak from the mill i go to is pretty standard at 3$ a bdft. ( i hate oak though) it not suprising to me that different regions have better prices than others with the cost of shipping. And i would never dream of going to a box store to buy lumber for my projects, their prices are crazy! I like to think that i got into woodworking cause i could build a better quality piece of furniture for less than i can buy one from the store, not saying that its gonna be cheap but for around the same money i can build it better than i can buy it.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2717 days

#6 posted 03-24-2011 06:38 PM

You’ve got several good points there, Wilterbeast. I just scoured my local CL & found 200bf of cherry for $650.00. Sure, that’s a good chunk of change but that’s a lot of lumber! When I look at a handcrafted piece in the store & the price is astronomical, I tend to think it’s worth it. I don’t mind spending the money for quality lumber. I just feel like I’m missing some great source. I hate Oak too :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View bubbyboy's profile


137 posts in 2717 days

#7 posted 03-24-2011 06:40 PM

I live in southern calif, and all exotics seem to be way over priced but the thing to always remember is that alot of us on this site are retired. We are no longer making house payments, paying for the kids, many activites, schooling etc. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have made some extra money here and there that allows us to afford these materials. I have friends who complain of the very same thing,that they cannot afford to buy certain materials but yet they stop at the expensive coffee houses everyday some of them smoke and at $5.00 or $6.00 a pack! yet they say they cannot live without it. They like to fish, hunt, go camping etc, and with numerous hobbies comes many different costs. When I was younger and wanted to buy materials for projects I always had a can in the shop that I would throw any spare change in. If I did not buy lunch or go to dinner whatever, I would throw a few bucks in the can, that way it always seemed like I had the money to buy what I needed without taking from the family budget. There are always things we can live without in order to afford our hobbies if we want it bad enough. I am myself retired and find that I still walk by that can in the shop and always put some change in it, just in case I want something extra, it has always worked well for me. I remember taking the wife on a picnic to the park so I could keep the $50.00 we would have spent going out, just so I could buy a new sander and trust me she enjoyed that alot more than a dinner and movie. You score points with your better half for being “romantic” for a few hours in the park and a new tool to boot, doesn’t get much better than that. It’s tough in these times to spend extra money but as long as you don’t use plastic to do your hooby you will always enjoy the end project much more.

-- I just don't understand. I have cut it 3 times and it is still to short.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2717 days

#8 posted 03-24-2011 06:46 PM

I like the way bubbyboy thinks! I’m guilty of buying a tractor I didn’t need, then complaining about the price of wood. I also think we get a very biased account of projects here (and that’s a good thing). I’m not going to “wood gloat” over walnut that I paid $12/bf for (and I have). I’m also not going to post a project I made out of big box 2×4’s. I suspect a lot of the projects here are very dear to the owner, as they should be.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View skippyland's profile


158 posts in 2715 days

#9 posted 03-24-2011 06:55 PM

Hey, John. I see that you’re from around Rochester, NY. I believe there’s a dealer in Hilton (no personal experience with); Attica Lumber, a great guy in Warsaw; another in Victor; and then there’s always Pittsford Lumber. Skip in batavia

-- Skip from Batavia, purveyor of fine and exotic sawdust & chips.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3358 days

#10 posted 03-24-2011 09:04 PM

I always feel that your skills will dictate to a large degree how much you are willing to pay for lumber. There is no point in paying a very high price for wood to build a project that might not be worthy of it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3310 days

#11 posted 03-25-2011 12:15 AM

I guess I’m just in the right place at the right time. Or maybe it’s because I have owned a commercial raised panel door company for years, so I get a lot of nice wood left over from jobs we do. Right now I’m almost finished with about 60 boxes, many of them from exotics. I have not bought a piece of material yet. A customer brought us bubinga for a door project several years ago. We had several full pieces left over, like 12” x 10’ . I called him to pick it up. His response—-don’t worry about it, just keep it. If all this makes you jealous, I could spend days telling you all the crap we deal with constantly too, but at least there some very positive benefits to the job. I sometimes have guys bring me wood they have laying around because they know I will do something with it. Got a lot of mesquite this week.

If I didn’t have that advantage, I’m sure I would be struggling to buy nice wood like everyone else.


View MinnesotaMike's profile


28 posts in 2664 days

#12 posted 03-25-2011 12:40 AM

John -
I’m really not wondering about it. Good wood (both native and exotic) costs alot of money. Even more if you have it milled 4square and faced. Doesn’t make any difference if you buy it that way or do it yourself; by the time you buy jointers, plainers, etc – even by hand with planes which takes a whale of alot of time. I guess there is no getting around it. BUT, one doesn’t need to do that. Woodworking is woodworking and there are several relatively low cost alternatives to expensive wood. For example, keep the projects small, use big box store boards and develope finishing skills, develope creative ideas for “found” wood, pick-up used furniture at garage sales and refurbish it with a few low-cost enhancements and good re-finishing. Look through all of the fine projects being posted here for many, many ideas. My idea of woodworing is from a minamulist’s perspective. I’ll never drive an Escalade, but I can get to the same places just as fast and likely enjoy the trip just as much, if not more. Enjoy the “trip”. Best wishes and good luck to you.

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2699 days

#13 posted 03-25-2011 06:50 AM

You know the old saying “Time is Money”.... well wood is like money and it don’t grow on trees!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View emart's profile


445 posts in 2652 days

#14 posted 06-30-2011 08:50 PM

I have that same problem more than likely because i live in washington so there arent very many hardwoods out here unless it was in someone’s yard and fell down from a storm. most of the hardwoods have to be brought in so the prices are astronomical ($60 for a 1”x12”x 6 ft piece of oak!) one of the reasons why so many of my projects are pine is because of this since i cant justify paying as much to build something as to buy it. even cedar is expensive here it would have cost me $70 for all the wood i needed to make the seat on the bench project i have posted and that was for very poor quality pieces of 1×2 cedar.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2907 days

#15 posted 06-30-2011 09:20 PM

I allow myself a pretty generous budget for wood and tools, but it is really amazing how quick the prices add up. My router cabinet, which is nothing more than some 3/4 birch ply and some poplar for the drawers was about $250, not including the cheap top I bought. Making large projects out of anything “exotic” ie. not pine or SPF dimensional lumber gets expensive really quick. I envy all the LJ’s that post about $2/bf walnut/cherry/maple as prices for me average $7-8/bf for those woods.

For some though that have the extra funds, I guess it is just a matter of personal choice. I saw a guy here that had built a workbench and drill press stand out of zebrawood and I think purpleheart. Must have cost him in the thousands. Looks great, but even if I had that kind of money I don’t think I’d spend it like that.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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