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Wood advice for Newbies like me

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Blog entry by Craftsman on the lake posted 1819 days ago 1747 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve made a few things, a bed, my first raised panel cabinet, and so on with the help of the net, and a select bunch of extremely patient people here. My wood came from the local Home Depot or Lowes. This week I got three orders at once, a furniture quality box for keeping wood pellets for a pellet stove. A small computer desk, and a modern styled wall bookcase for lamps. The first two will be poly’d red oak the third is to be painted so I opted for poplar.

Good wood is expensive. Searching the net I found a couple of lumber suppliers within 40 miles of my place. The first had limited supply and was a really loose operation. The second was a huge warehouse of neatly stacked, and every type of wood I could think of. Planed, unplaned, 1/2” to 16/4. I stood there and looked up 20 feet at the racks of boards sticking out. The place let me pick over stuff and left me alone till I was done. The best thing is that the wood is nearly 1/2 the cost of the big box stores. Most of you know this already.

So, this little message is for those people like me, a relative newbie who discover things over time, slowly.

If you’re just starting out using real wood to make stuff, search the net for a wood supplier. Keep half your money and bring a hanky to catch the drool.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.



13 comments so far

View CreekWoodworker's profile

CreekWoodworker

409 posts in 1893 days


#1 posted 1819 days ago

I’m a newbie, and have bought all my wood from Lowes. My brother-in-law has been woodworking for some 20 plus years and he says the same thing as you. I don’t have a planer or jointer, other than hand tools. I’m getting better at attaining a square edge, but getting a nice flat surface without chip out using hand planes is still a challenge. Does purchasing surfaced 4 sides (S4S) boards increase the cost to the point it’s the same as Lowes?

-- Mike ...Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction

View Russel's profile

Russel

2199 posts in 2534 days


#2 posted 1819 days ago

Good advice that I wish I had earlier. Once I found a sawmill or two I was in heaven. Better wood, better prices and generally nicer people.

And Mike, I’ve yet to see prices as high as Lowes or Home Depot. Plus, you’ll get a bigger selection of species. The box stores a convenient, not competitive.

-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com

View Craftsman on the lake's profile (online now)

Craftsman on the lake

2362 posts in 2033 days


#3 posted 1819 days ago

Creekwoodworker,

No, example… red oak a Lowes 1×6”x2ft (this is one board foot) oh, and it’s really 3/4 inches not 1 inch. This piece of wood at Lowes is $5.96 right now, online.

Rough lumber at the place I just got my stuff is $3.20/bd ft and the planed three sides that I got was 3.85/bd ft.

So 100bdft.. a lot of wood for guys like us would be $385 compared to $596. And this place does 10% for 100bdft so it would have been about $345

Other woods that Lowes carries, maple, poplar, pine (for this area) are similarly priced. And these places have a lot of the woods you see talked about by the guys on here. Stuff I never see in Maine.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View CreekWoodworker's profile

CreekWoodworker

409 posts in 1893 days


#4 posted 1819 days ago

Wow, that’s a big difference, thanks for the advice. Hmm… Muterspaw Lumber is not to far a drive for me. I’ll have to check them out.

-- Mike ...Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction

View Craftsman on the lake's profile (online now)

Craftsman on the lake

2362 posts in 2033 days


#5 posted 1819 days ago

I just looked at their website. Looks like the cost is even better for you there.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 1865 days


#6 posted 1819 days ago

A good wood source is like pure gold to this hobby.

I have found an excellent source of turning/exotics but still am looking for a good source of rough lumber (I will not purchase the dimensional lumber as it costs too much (for all the processing they do) and I still will have to resurface to get rid of the cupping and twisting that happens to wood as it it stored. The big box stores like HD and Lowes buy the cheapest woods and store them in bundles in the weather where they can mildew, warp and cup. Then they charge you premium prices for this claptrap….

before I use any woods in my projects, I will reface and surface them – as I want a good flat surface to lay out on – I have found that dimensional woods used “out of the box” will not square up or be as accurate as wood of my own finishing….you can really tell the difference in your projects – especially in the joints and edges….

One of the other obstacles is the shipping – it costs alot of money to ship as wood is not light and not compact…so finding a good source close by is even more convenient…If that is not the case, as it is in mine…buying a bigger load and storing it is about the only way to save a bit….

I am now working on getting about 200bf of some good figured tiger or birds eye maple…but for this I recommend doing some reading up on lumber ratings, grades, sizes…etc. A good knowledge of how lumber is labled/rated, etc….is required….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View noknot's profile

noknot

548 posts in 2037 days


#7 posted 1819 days ago

I found out this past weekend that the suppliers are great I took my daughter to get some wood and those guys spent 2 hours helping her and I find what she needed and then gave her a student disc. She’s woodchick I think she blogged about it she picked up 160.00 worth of mahogony some birch ply and poplar for less than 100.00

-- GO DAWGS!

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1577 posts in 1886 days


#8 posted 1819 days ago

There are no sawmills or sawyers in New Mexico. There are very few native deciduous trees. From the air, the Rio Grande valley looks like the Nile valley of Egypt: mostly dry and brown, with a narrow band of green along the river. This is all cottonwoods. There are evergreens farther north, and in the higher elevations; farther south, there are pecan orchards along the river, but for some reason, they don’t cut their trees into lumber – they’d rather sell the nuts.

There are a couple of hardwood dealers in Albuquerque, and they’re not well stocked – nothing like the picture you show. Plus they’re open M-F from 8 to 5. Great for either the professional woodworker or somebody with no job at all.

-- "Sorry I'm late. Somebody tampered with my brakes." "You should have been early, then."

View doyoulikegumwood's profile

doyoulikegumwood

384 posts in 2587 days


#9 posted 1819 days ago

hers one thing i have figured out over the years place that are called lumber store or supply usally only sell construction grade matrials like 2×4 2×6 things for building a building. places that sell hard woods usally have them in their name like “lake elmo hardwoods” amd then you have another beast the plywood supplier these come in both fashions.

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View Craftsman on the lake's profile (online now)

Craftsman on the lake

2362 posts in 2033 days


#10 posted 1819 days ago

JJohnston, my brother in law lives in Arizona and my daughter worked for awhile at Los Alamos in New Mexico. We visited out there. I know what you mean. Not a whole lot of wood. I don’t know what I’d do in that case. Maybe mail order or if I had a pickup truck or trailer I’d make a road trip north to those places with lots of hardwoods and spend some dollars for a supply that would last me awhile. Tough call.

Doyoulikegumwood, The place I went to is called Highland Hardwoods in NH. I also noted that they have some plywood on shelves that have fewer plies than the big box store and the veneer on the good side is quite thick. The box stores plywood surface is paper thin. And the price isn’t that much different.

They had all wood as FGH (unplaned) but my jointer is 6” and I considered the wear on the jointer and planer knives. The cost difference wasn’t that much. I would have liked to take it down myself. Hey, if you plane your own wood does it end up better than 3/4” if you begin with 4/4?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View TraumaJacques's profile

TraumaJacques

433 posts in 2096 days


#11 posted 1819 days ago

I paid for my jointer and planer within the first month by the savings of purchasing rough lumber. The really neat thing is that i can now have lumber off standard dimensions whic gives it a little more visual intrest.
Thanks for posting.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View IkeandBerry's profile

IkeandBerry

45 posts in 1859 days


#12 posted 1817 days ago

I also recently found a supplier that only deals in reclaimed and recycled lumber. His prices are awesome and he is extremely helpful. He also buys downed trees from people to mill and sell. I can get 100 bd ft of select cherry from him for $250. I have to drive an hour one way to go there, but it is well worth the drive.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

View CreekWoodworker's profile

CreekWoodworker

409 posts in 1893 days


#13 posted 1804 days ago

Craftsman,
I went to Muterspaw Lumber today just to have a look around and get familiar with a lumber mill. It’s a small shop but the owner was willing to work with me and explain how things work. He helped me picked out 9.5 bd ft of 4/4 rough Cherry. He told me it’s basically one pass through the planer. I purchased just a little to see how well I can work with it using hand tools. Great prices and great selection of different woods. I’ll probably be going back to pick up some of that walnut… or quarter sawn white oak… or maple… or … so many choices. Now I see what you mean by bring a hanky to catch the drool. Again thanks for the advice. BTW, the cherry has a great aroma.

-- Mike ...Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction

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