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Horrendous first trip to lumberyard

by Iggles88
posted 05-31-2012 05:28 PM

37 replies so far

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 2648 days

#1 posted 05-31-2012 05:38 PM

Sorry to hear about your rough trip…the guy sounds like he knows nothing about what his profession is…what a shame. Sounds like he won’t be doing business for long.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2982 days

#2 posted 05-31-2012 05:38 PM

Where are you located? Usually there are a lot of people around here that know of little holes in the wall that you would likely never find on your own. I know I have found a few places here in central NY that seemingly didn’t exist when I first started looking two years ago. It is possible that there is someone closer to you than you think.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Mike67's profile


97 posts in 3334 days

#3 posted 05-31-2012 05:42 PM

You’ll want to check the phone book for hardwood dealers, not lumber yards. Lumber yards generally cater to home builders, not woodworkers. There are some great places near Philly including Hearne Hardwoods (suggest you google it and take a ride out to see it). There’s also a new woodworking place in Conchohocken (is that spelling correct?) that may be able to point you in the right direction. I don’t know the name but there was an article about it not long ago in the Inquirer. Good luck.
Now, can you send me some scrapple?

View Mosquito's profile


9304 posts in 2290 days

#4 posted 05-31-2012 05:46 PM

It could be that they’re not interested unless you’re a production shop or contractor looking to purchase in the thousands of bf range, similar to what Mike suggested

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#5 posted 05-31-2012 05:48 PM

Yea hearne is the next closest one. I’ve heard great things about it so it wouldn’t be all that bad to take a trip out there but I dont want to have to do it regularly. I’m located in northeast Philadelphia 19136 hearnes Is 1 hour 27 minutes according to gps. Other then that I haven’t been able to find anything but I’ll search for hardwood dealers and see what I can find.

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 3064 days

#6 posted 05-31-2012 05:52 PM

Sometimes when any business is the only game in town and there is a thriving community to support them businesses exeriences like the one you detailed above happen and somehow survive. Put them in a market with competitors and they find themselves out of business fairly fast. That being said I have had that exact experience at one or two lumber yards in my area but choose not to frequent them any more and I am fortunate enough to live in an area where you cant go 5 miles without tripping over a lumberyard. He clearly doesnt want to listen to his customers or know what he is talking about to boot. I found his “no one sells rough lumber” the most amusing as I could probably name 5 that do within 20 miles of my house. I have even started buying rough sawn wood in 100+ bf quantities from a guy who runs a small lumber mill on his own property, kiln dried even! This might be worth a try in your area possibly? If not I hope the further yards have better service and respect for their customers, dispite the much longer drive.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#7 posted 05-31-2012 05:57 PM

I’ve checked Craigslist and found a few people selling out of their homes and I’m going to try to buy from them. I just found one place called heacock lumber which is 45 minutes away a bit closer then hearne so if I don’t have any luck buying from these few guys I’ll head up to this place. I wasnt looking to buy 1000s of board feet but I was going to buy 200 so I wasnt in there to buy a board or two. And someone mentioned he might not have wanted my business because it wasn’t a huge purchase but I don’t think that’s it because the guy would almost not let me leave he wanted so badly to convince me that he was right.

View jmos's profile


827 posts in 2367 days

#8 posted 05-31-2012 05:57 PM

The only rough lumber the hardwood dealer around me carries is red oak. That’s it. Otherwise it’s all S2S or S4S. I’m sure you can find rough in some places, but it seems to be hard to come by in metro Philly. What bites about that is the surfaced lumber I get is no where near straight and true. There’s no way I could use it as is, without jointing and planing. To add insult to injury, when I buy 4/4 S2S, which is 3/4”, I end up taking at least another 1/16” to an 1/8” off the thickness of it to get it flat and parallel. If I want to yield a true 3/4” part I have to start with 5/4 stock. I usually end up just using slightly less than 3/4” stock.

From what I’ve seen I can’t imagine a cabinet shop using stock straight from one of these dealers. I’m sure the order from the same mills as the dealers and get what they need, rough or properly finished so they can use it off the truck. I’d be curious to hear from some pro’s on how they work it.

I wouldn’t write off the place you visited just because the guy is a jerk. Did they have a good selection? Good prices? Is it worth going way out of your way to get rough? You’re not buying their advice, but their lumber.

The guy at my place thought I was mental for building a real workbench. Nice guy, but made it perfectly clear I was wasting my time and money. His opinion; it didn’t hurt me. They have a decent selection and deliver to my place for free, so I use them and deal with the parts I don’t like. If I had a truck to transport my own, and space to store a large load, I’d drive further for more selection and better pricing. Sometimes you have to pick you poison.

-- John

View NJWiliam's profile


32 posts in 2565 days

#9 posted 05-31-2012 05:59 PM

Hearne Hardwood is easily worth a 90 minute drive.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#10 posted 05-31-2012 06:00 PM

Jmos. Your exactly right about needing to still joint the 3/4 inch lumber but he didn’t see it that way that’s why he tried telling me wood doesn’t move as much as is said. Also no their prices were not good at all 7.00 for 4/4 cherry. I’ve seen it on other websites for about 4.00. Im not going to be going back there I don’t want to be in the same spot that you just described needing to use stock less then 3/4” that’s why I bought a jointer and a planer to be able to mill my own lumber.

View jmos's profile


827 posts in 2367 days

#11 posted 05-31-2012 06:01 PM

Did you try Willard Brothers in Trenton? I’ve heard they are pretty good (but haven’t been), and should be closer to you than 1.5 hours. Or was that where you went?

-- John

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2633 days

#12 posted 05-31-2012 06:03 PM

I find that any place that sells wood that has more than a tablesaw, jointer and planer, is not making most of their money from woodworkers. Places that have a straight line rip saw and molders make most of their money from cabinetmakers and milling wood for professional construction. Those people aren’t interested in milling their own stock and finding interesting boards. There are plenty places that sell rough lumber, although it may be hard to find.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#13 posted 05-31-2012 06:04 PM

Njwiliam. Your probably right but like I said I don’t want to have to take that drive on a regular basis. I am definitely going to go up there but would really like to have something closer when I’m in a squeeze and need to get the lumber ASAP. I don’t understand why in this area there’s absolutely nothing woodworking. There’s no woodcraft, no rockler, and hardly any lumberyards. I envy the people who have all of those close to them.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#14 posted 05-31-2012 06:07 PM

Jmos I just looked up Willard brothers thats also 45 minutes away. Thanks for the headsup. I don’t want to name where I went because I don’t want to bash them they just didn’t have what I was looking for and the guy shouldn’t have acted that way

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2968 days

#15 posted 05-31-2012 07:43 PM

You might also check for sawmills and/or sawing services in your area.
Some times individuals have a portable mill and only advertise in the yellow pages or not at all.
Might check with tree removal services. Those guys often know sawers.

I just bought 530 BF of cherry from one of these guys for a super good price.
I only wanted 200 ft but the price was so good I had to have it all.
I’m drying it now and plan to sell about half of it for $2.00 to $3.00 per BF, depending on quantity.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3356 days

#16 posted 05-31-2012 08:00 PM

As was mentioned, you should look fro a sawmill or even a tree service and ask where they get their wood sawn. The place you went to seems ridiculous. $7.00 bf for cherry is very high (at least around here in upstate NY). A friend of mine lives in Richboro and tells me he has a couple of sources for rough sawn, unless he wants something exotic. I know he uses a lot of cherry. If you’re anywhere near Richboro, I can ask him fro the name of a source for you.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2769 days

#17 posted 05-31-2012 08:54 PM

I’ve had a similar problem, the 2 closest hardwood dealers to me didn’t want to have anything to do with me because I was a hobbyist. Which is fine, but the hood distribution place treated me very similar to how you where treated as if I was an idiot.

Another option is mail order lumber, I have used CR Muterspaw on a few occasions and have always been pleased with what I get. Chad is a very friendly guy and answered any questions I had without treating me as if I was insignificant.

I know for me CR Muterspaw offers cheaper lumber (even after adding in shipping costs) than the local woodcraft store, which also carries lumber, so if I need a decent amount, usually I just get the 20BF packs from chad.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#18 posted 05-31-2012 09:09 PM

Guys thanks you’ve been giving great responses and have definitely helped. I have considered mail order lumber but shipping charges drive me crazy. I believe bell forest is running a free shipping special right now if I remember right.

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2769 days

#19 posted 05-31-2012 09:30 PM

Bell forrest often rolls their shipping prices into the cost of their lumber, so “free isn’t free.”

For me, my local woodcraft carries Hard Maple for $6.50 board foot.
Last time I looked, shipping was $32 for hard maple and their 20bf pack is $75 so 75 + 32 / 20 = $5.35 a board foot.

With that said, I just checked and now they charge a $50 flat shipping fee, I’m not sure what is up with that I plan on emailing chad, because that brings the price up to $6.25 a board foot, which it may be better to pay the extra quarter to get it now.

Bellforrest and their “free shipping” is $149.95 for 20bf .. which is $7.50 a board foot.

On the otherhand, I’ve found bellforrest to be the cheapest place to get purpleheart .. which comes in about 1.50 a board foot less than anywhere else I could find it.

A lot of it is shopping around and over time you’ll source out some good places to get hardwood.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#20 posted 05-31-2012 09:42 PM

I just looked at bell forest their hard maple is 3.90 bd ft cherry is 4.30 ash 2.85 hickory 3.35 they’re the species I’m looking to buy so that’s what I’m going with

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#21 posted 05-31-2012 09:43 PM

Your looking at the bd ft packs I’m talking about their regular lumber prices is free shipping right now.

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2254 days

#22 posted 05-31-2012 11:31 PM

I checked and found the following: A to Z Exotic Hardwoods Philadelphia PA (9 miles) Exotic Woods Company Sicklerville NJ (20 miles) Willard Brothers Lumber Trenton NJ (21 miles) DOMEX HARDWOODS Philadelphia area PA (26 miles) Log Power, Inc. Allentown NJ (26 miles) Specialty Woods (a division of Wehrung’s Lumber) Ottsville PA (29 miles) Woodcraft – Downingtown, PA Downingtown PA (37 miles) AGINCOURT Hillsborough NJ (37 miles) Hosensack Custom Sawmilling Zionsville PA (39 miles) Shady Lane Tree Farm Emmaus PA (41 miles)


-- Art

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#23 posted 05-31-2012 11:41 PM

I wouldn’t let that discourage you, if the prices are right I’d go back. Who cares if the guy has an attitude. Some of these guys are a bit gruff, price is what matters and if they carry the wood you want go back.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2262 days

#24 posted 06-01-2012 12:40 AM

Hey, I can’t help you locally, but I understand what you went through. I approached a few lumber processing yards (where the logs go first to be cut up) about running some logs for me (I have a few thousand board feet of logs to process) and almost every one of them was either completely rude about doing it or acted completely disinterested.

It’s not like I demanded anything; I just asked if they could and they talked down at me. The ones that were at least somewhat pleasant just said I didn’t have enough to interest them. That’s fine and nothing is wrong with that. I just don’t know why some were rude about it. Who knows? I could have a 100 loads sitting on my land that I need processed. I don’t know what it is about most lumber processing yards, but I feel those guys are in that position because there is no way they could actually interface with real customers.

As for lumber yards, I’ve been to one or two where they don’t express any interest in selling wood unless you’re buying thousands of board feet (that’s fine), but my newest one has helped me every single step of the way with my fence. He’s ordered samples (small orders of 10 boards) and run them through the surfacing machines to give me an idea of the finishes they can produce…. no charge. Can’t really argue with that kind of service. You’ll find one you like eventually.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Loren's profile


10385 posts in 3645 days

#25 posted 06-01-2012 12:50 AM

Some of what he said is true. Pros think about and work
wood differently and with a larger allowance for
waste. Yards that deal in rough stock may be harder to find,
but it may be worth it to you.

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2996 days

#26 posted 06-01-2012 12:52 AM

Delaware County Supply in Aston, PA has a good selection of lumber(rough and surfaced). They have always treated me well even though I only purchase small amounts.

-- Drew, Delaware

View jdon88's profile


19 posts in 2650 days

#27 posted 06-01-2012 03:52 AM

I’ve never been there but have heard good things about theses guys, about 30 miles from NE Philly:

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#28 posted 06-01-2012 01:47 PM

We manufacture moulding so we are in a similar business. We get our lumber in rough and turn most of it into moulding (literally hundreds of profiles) but a lot of it goes into s4s lumber. However, if someone wants some rough lumber we’ll sell it that way too. I’m sorry that you were treated that way. There’s no call for it whatsoever. We’ll sell one stick of moulding to anyone off the street or a whole truckload. We’ve grown our business entirely on word of mouth and if we treated people like that guy treated you we simply wouldn’t be in business.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View mikema's profile


180 posts in 2583 days

#29 posted 06-01-2012 02:35 PM

Definite +1 for Muterspaw ( I am very fortunate enough to live 20 minutes from his location, and he does sell a great product, and most definitely caters to the the hobbyist! Chad is there when you need him, but also lets you take all the time you need to go through and hand select the boards you want to purchase.

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2246 days

#30 posted 06-01-2012 03:11 PM

As others have said, go to a mill. Lumber yards generally deal in construction lumber – dimensional 2×4 and the like. This guy obviously has no idea what he is talking about in regard to rough cut hardwoods. Early on I had similar experiences in sourcing good quality hardwoods. A lumber mill will likely only have rough sawn hardwoods and softwoods.


View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3955 days

#31 posted 06-01-2012 03:12 PM

That sounds about right for a lumber yard. They cater to builders, not woodworkers. The hardwood dealer I go to is a little pricey, but he has a huge selection of domestic and exotic hardwood in all different thicknesses. Most of it is planed on one side so you can see the grain, but not planed to a finished size. Most of the boards have a ripped edge on them decent enough to put against a table saw fence, but they will joint it for you if you don’t have the capability. They also carry a huge selection of plywood, and if they don’t have it they can get it. The guys there all know me (I am there practically every Saturday morning) and we shoot the shit about projects and stuff..they show me cool stuff they are building for customers..we have a great vendor/customer relationship…they even give me cut offs to burn in my fire pit! When I recently built my shed I had to deal with lumberyard people…and that was more like your experience. Once they realized I wasn’t a contractor, they were condescending, uninterested in helping guy was scolding me and getting angry because I was picking through the pile of 2×6’s looking for decent ones without wane and knots..He started lecturing me about how real builders don’t care about lumber defects..they are skilled enough to work around them..I looked at him and said how do you work around knotty lumber that the building inspector will tag?


View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2199 days

#32 posted 06-01-2012 03:17 PM

You should also try to join a local woodworking club, get to know some guys and do a volume purchase sometimes. Having to drive a hour and a half I myself would be looking into mailorder and shipping vs the time and wear and tear on my vehicle.

I own a Moulding co and when I get a lot of shorts, 2-3 ft material I just stock pile it and in a matter of a few days it is gone. Check craigslist as well maybe. Find a local cabinet builder and see if you can buy from them as well or local furniture makers ect ect….. I deal with 4 different lumber yards around the Denver area and I have to say some of the sales guys are real high on themselves for some reason but I am just a small guy only buying from 500 to 10,000 bf at a time and they treat me like trash sometimes.

One place I bought 9,000 bf of cherry and I pay as I go not on credit and I had a problem with a ton of sap and huge holes in FAS material and they guy brushed me off….. Last time their salesman was at the shop talked to him about it he was also short with me on it, then while he was there I ordered 16,000 bf of poplar from a differnet company and his jaw dropped. paybacks are hell…. I also do not care if a person wishes to purchase 1ft or 10,000 ft I treat them with respect and be as helpfull as I can. Sad to say there are bad companys and buyers out there so do not let it get you down find someone who will stand behind what they sell and eventually you will have a lot of different resources to pull from.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2512 days

#33 posted 06-01-2012 03:38 PM

One thing I am finding out is the hardwood suppliers for the cabinet people are starting to have to carry exotics to pull them through these tough times.
I have a place close to me here in SE Tennessee that advertises itself as a hardwood store, and shows all the typical woods on their website you might find in any home that would be hardwood. Maybe 20 species.
When I went there for the first time, they also are carrying about 12-15 species of exotics, including woods such as purpleheart, zebrawood, flame maple, african mahogany, wenge, ambrosia maple and others. They were also renting out their sawmill to people who could bring in any tree at least 6 ft. long, and 12 in diameter. They had just planked up a cherry tree for some guy. And their pricing was outstanding considering what you might pay in a place like Woodcraft. About half or less. They had 4/4 red oak, finished all sides, as clear a grain as I have ever seen, for $2.00 a bd. ft. Knot free.
I also agree with looking up people who do this small-time. Prices of portable sawmills have come way down, and if you lost your job it would not be too hard to buy one of these, hook it to the back of a pickup, and start planking trees which are always around. Have a way to stick it for drying, even with tarps, and you can make some real coin, usually cash by simply using Craigslist as an ad forum.
I once filled my Surburban to the top with 5/4 planked cherry, as many planks as I could cram in, and paid the guy $125 for the whole load. I figured I easy had over 100 bd.ft. in the truck. He had it on a lot behind his house with a tarp over it, stickered on a pallet. Made a lot of neat stuff from that wood.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2774 days

#34 posted 06-01-2012 04:03 PM

I have a place about 20 minutes from me that acted this way and I have never looked back. I go twice the distance, spend more and pick up what I want.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 2358 days

#35 posted 06-01-2012 04:31 PM

Right now I’m looking at a few mail order places specifically bell forest and cr lumber and as long as shipping isn’t through the roof which would basically bring up the cost per bd ft I’m going to go with whoever gets back to me first. It was a two dollar difference on what I want to order so the prices don’t really factor into my decision. And I have to agree with the people who said they wouldn’t go back. For the few people who said to go back despite his attitude I don’t really understand. If they don’t respect their customers enough to speak to them like equals then I am not going to give them a dime of my hard earned money.

View BreeStephany's profile


62 posts in 2183 days

#36 posted 06-01-2012 05:49 PM

I’ve never been able to find rough cut lumber at the local lumberyards where I live, but we have a ton of small family owned mills and the company I work for owns a wood products plant that re manufactures old lumber and often has a ton of rough cut lumber. There are also a couple of hardwood plants around that generally have a lot of extra inventory.

Your best bet to find rough cut lumber would to look for a small family owned mill or for someone with a small personal mill to run lumber. I also known that quite a few Mennonite and Hutterite communities also have mills and sell rough cut lumber at a reasonable price to the general public, just a few ideas.

-- Just a girl with way too many tools.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4133 posts in 2306 days

#37 posted 06-01-2012 06:05 PM

Post this lumber yards email address and we can educate him.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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