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Tips when buying lumber to know rough prices

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Forum topic by Texan_Carpenter posted 12-18-2016 03:49 PM 663 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Texan_Carpenter

8 posts in 375 days


12-18-2016 03:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip lumber wood

Hi all,

I am doing some coasters for Xmas presents and I needed walnut and maple. So yesterday I made my way to a lumber yard for the first time and I was a bit nervous about it. Very different from HD hardware store. But loved it so many wood selection. It was Clark Wood Lumber by the way if anyone is interested.

How do you guys know how much the cost will be before arriving there. I’d like to know a rough estimate of what I’m going to buy for a project. I know they sell by volume and whether is milled with an S code ie S4S but not knowing how much I will spend prior makes it a bit harder. Do you guys usually get price lists from them and calculate at home? Or what do you recommend?

Thanks in advance!

Texan

-- Everything is dustier in the South!


9 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4478 posts in 2188 days


#1 posted 12-18-2016 04:00 PM

Yes, get a price list. Then figure out the board foot requirement of your project. Calculate board feet by computing (width x length x thickness) in inches then divide by 144. Always round up and then add 15 – 20% for waste, mistakes, etc. Then you have a ball park cost for your project.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View martyoc's profile

martyoc

40 posts in 754 days


#2 posted 12-18-2016 04:04 PM

Look at the on-line price lists for lumber yards such as Exotic or Hearnes. They will give you an idea of what you will pay.

-- Marty O'C

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2640 posts in 2009 days


#3 posted 12-18-2016 04:33 PM

Call them ahead of time. I do that with my hardwood supplier. They have recommended a substitue type several times when the original lumber was way more than I could afford or wanted to pay ie (teak, and rosewood). Price lists can give you a general idea if they print one. Hardwood prices especially exotics are very volatile and a lot of yards don’t print price list for that reason.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View EricTwice's profile

EricTwice

228 posts in 370 days


#4 posted 12-18-2016 04:53 PM

Your “S code” S4S = surfaced 4 sides, S2S = surfaced 2 sides and so on. Your material cost is pretty much all over the place and will depend on the type of business you get it from and how much work went into it.

I hope this answers the question

I live in Virginia. If I buy 1000bf (board feet) of F1F (first 1 face) red oak from a large supplier. It will cost me 1.89 a board foot. 1.95 if I only buy 500bf. (White oak will be just a little more.) He will send it S2S or S3S for about 50cents more.

If I get it from a local saw mill I an get 200bf of F1F for 1.10 and he doesn’t care if it’s red or white. He will sell me #1 common for 65cents per bf. (I know of a couple of one man operations that will sell me air dried ungraded slabs for about 1$ a bf if I want live edge. That’s the price on oak.)

It doesn’t help that the prices of wood change on the commodities market, so the price today may go up or come down tomorrow and there’s nothing we can do about it. This is why we don’t guarantee a price to our costumers. The price can change until we get the down payment and can buy the wood.

Yes it is very confusing especially if you’ve had little experience buying lumber.

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View becikeja's profile

becikeja

823 posts in 2650 days


#5 posted 12-18-2016 05:46 PM

If you need a small amount, for something like coasters, look for scrap bins at the lumber yard. I was in one the other day in Columbus Ohio that charged by the pound regardless of species. They had everything from Walnut to purple heart.

I have also noticed the price of lumber in Dallas is much different than in Memphis which is much different than Chicago. All depends on the species, the location, and the number of suppliers. ALso really depends on how much you buy.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View Texan_Carpenter's profile

Texan_Carpenter

8 posts in 375 days


#6 posted 12-18-2016 08:07 PM

Thanks for all the tips. I’m fine with prices fluctuations, just would like to roughly budget for a project in advance. The coasters was relatively small but I was asking mainly for future projects.

The scrap bin is a nice idea will look for it next time around.

-- Everything is dustier in the South!

View EricTwice's profile

EricTwice

228 posts in 370 days


#7 posted 12-18-2016 08:59 PM

Sorry, my wife needed to use the computer.

If they will let you pick out your own boards (most wholesale suppliers will not) go and look through their pile and pick the ones that are best suited for your project and budget. Sometimes it’s difficult because they only have 12’ stock and you need 8’ so you end up with to much waste. The other way round is worse though.

Figuring how much it will cost when you have differing lengths and widths can be a problem. figure how much of what sizes you need and give yourself a buffer (usually 15%) call around and see who has the best price and go take a look and see if you can use it.

If you are doing small projects (like coasters) See if you can find a shop in your area that will let you go through their cut off heap. We do this often, especially this time of year. we heat with wood so we have two piles. 1) ends cuts and usable scraps 2)to be burned. (one is cheap the other is free.)

-- nice recovery, They should pay extra for that mistake, Eric E.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7658 posts in 2751 days


#8 posted 12-18-2016 09:26 PM

+ 10 on ALL of the above!

In other words, it all depends on your local market. I cannot overstate that part of it.

My local lumber/supply, tended to have a limited attention span (in other words… I called and ASKED about prices for 1-3 prices of chosen lumber, AND NOT MORE). They tended to stop/hang-up after “3-quotes” or so. Just remember, they are usually selling to volume buyers, aka. a full pallet at a time or so.

Good luck! Just remember to try to minimize your induced “stress” on the lumberyard staff, and it will pay off in the long run… FWIW, I have found the need to purchase ~$200 or more lumber at a time, or I get shuffled/ignored out the door. Just a thought…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Texan_Carpenter's profile

Texan_Carpenter

8 posts in 375 days


#9 posted 12-19-2016 04:38 PM



+ 10 on ALL of the above!

In other words, it all depends on your local market. I cannot overstate that part of it.

My local lumber/supply, tended to have a limited attention span (in other words… I called and ASKED about prices for 1-3 prices of chosen lumber, AND NOT MORE). They tended to stop/hang-up after “3-quotes” or so. Just remember, they are usually selling to volume buyers, aka. a full pallet at a time or so.

Good luck! Just remember to try to minimize your induced “stress” on the lumberyard staff, and it will pay off in the long run… FWIW, I have found the need to purchase ~$200 or more lumber at a time, or I get shuffled/ignored out the door. Just a thought…

- HorizontalMike

The staff was very good for being my first time. Next time I will just go straight and grab what I need since they let you roam around in all their buildings. But I see your point and thus why I want to figure it the price in advance to prevent wasting their time.

-- Everything is dustier in the South!

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