How Did This Get So Expensive

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by Jon Edmonds posted 08-19-2010 06:45 PM 3656 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jon Edmonds's profile

Jon Edmonds

43 posts in 3175 days

08-19-2010 06:45 PM

Hey All,
I hope this doesn’t come off as whining but I am really struggling with this and hope someone out there can help.
After a many year sabatical (20years) from woodworking I just started again. Initally I was really enjoying things, collecting the tools, setting up the shop, doing a few projects in pine. I decided it was time to move to hardwoods and man am I struggling with the cost. I can’t believe how expensive things are and how low the quality is for the price. I remember when 5 bucks a board foot was considered crazy expensive and was researved for the high end exotic woods. Now 10 board feet of 4 quarter cherry is over $100 bucks.

I remember this hobby being inexpensive (except for tools) and lots of fun. Now I feel like if I can’t screw this piece of wood up because it cost too much.

What happened to building it yourself being cheaper than buying it.

I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places or what. I’m in San Diego County, California, specifically in a town called Poway. If anyone in the area knows of a local source of wood that is reasonable please let me know.
Jon In San Diego

PS – Yes I know this came off as whining, sorry about that.

-- Jon In Sunny California

19 replies so far

View b2rtch's profile


4868 posts in 3282 days

#1 posted 08-19-2010 06:58 PM

It seems that everything , not only wood , is expensive except may be tools became these ones last a long time.

-- Bert

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4108 days

#2 posted 08-19-2010 06:59 PM

$10 a BF sounds pretty high, even for cherry. Woodworking businesses buy from suppliers at wholesale costs. You might try making friends with a small local custom cabinetry company and see if they will include your wood orders with theirs.

-- -- --

View ChuckV's profile


3183 posts in 3761 days

#3 posted 08-19-2010 07:14 PM

I know that things like CraigsList are hit and miss, but I got very lucky. I found a local man who harvests trees on his property and mills them with a bandsaw mill. This is his hobby. His is a great guy and his prices are $2/bf for most hardwoods, except $4/bf for cherry.

It might be worth giving CL a try in your area.

Good luck.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4452 days

#4 posted 08-19-2010 08:05 PM

Steve Wall Lumber will ship 20 bf of 4/4 cherry to your door for $119 total. Good quality, too.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View PawPawTex's profile


78 posts in 3227 days

#5 posted 08-19-2010 08:09 PM

To find your local hardwood suppliers try Woodfinder. Just enter your zip code and select what you’re looking for and it’ll find the closest sources in your area.

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3466 days

#6 posted 08-19-2010 08:29 PM

You are getting raked over the financial coals at those prices. I would think it probably has something to do with your location.

Take a look at online lumber sellers that can ship to you, or even local-ish lumber mills. Not sure if Cherry grows much around you, but I know there is a mess of it that comes from Northern Cali and Oregon…

Around here, a fellow with a chain saw and an alaskan mill can make lumber for nearly free if you watch the Craigslist posts. Another option is to turn firewood into smaller pieces of lumber with a band saw and a resawing sled.

And last but not least, you can always recycle discarded pieces of furniture into newly usable lumber. I find that a LOT of oak went into Waterbeds, and people are tossing old waterbeds out at an alarming rate these days…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Edziu's profile


151 posts in 3284 days

#7 posted 08-19-2010 08:35 PM

I know people are going to have alot to say about this, but check out Rockler Woodworking. There are six in California, and one specifically in San Diego. They’re quite nice to buy just a few boards from.

In fact, I was at the local store (East coast) looking for cherry, and they had some very nice, 7’ boards for like $5 a board foot. The salesman told me that I should wait until Saturday to buy it because it would be $2.99/BF. I told him that I wouldn’t be available to go shopping on Saturday, and he leaned over and whispered and told me to pick out my boards and he would ring me out for them at $2.99/BF. I bought extra since he was so nice to do that; he doesn’t have to do that after all.

Bottom line, go check out Rockler.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3244 days

#8 posted 08-19-2010 09:09 PM

Jon, totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m in the same boat. Spent the last year or two tooling up and setting up shop. Now when it’s time to build larger projects out of nicer hardwoods, the cost is staggering…much more than I anticipated. Surprisingly, I had the support of the SWMBO in setting up shop, but she’s quite peeved at the cost of the lumber, even if most of the projects would benefit her.

The cherry price you’re mentioning is definitely on the high end (I’m in norcal), but still, your point stands. It’s kind of irritating to have to “save up” for a meager furniture project in the same way I’ve been saving up for tools. Not to mention the added pressure of not screwing up. There’s a safety issue here as well – because of the cost I often try to get more out of scraps than I should.

Personally I still haven’t decided whether it’s better to buy in bulk (200+ bdft bundles, where at least the bdft price is reasonable and there is the occasional hot special) and freight it in (not like I have the storage for that anyways), or just get boards as I need them at lumberyard prices. I’m hoping to one day score a bunch of wood like I read about others finding, but since I live in the city, demand is a lot higher than supply and I’m not optimistic.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4116 days

#9 posted 08-19-2010 09:23 PM

I know I am on the other coast, but here is the price list from one of my suppliers in Maryland. These guys are not in the boonies either, and they have two locations. A real class act. Cherry shorts of 6 feet are $3.95 if you buy 30bf. Shorts fit better in my shop anyway. Walnut is $4.40 and Maple is $2.99 (shorts). Exotics can really get up there.

We should all probably do more veneering :-}

Good luck, and shop around,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View chrisstef's profile


17796 posts in 3240 days

#10 posted 08-19-2010 10:19 PM

Being a demo contractor i would definately say to give the demo guys a call .. they may hesitate to let you on site without insurance but its always worth a shot. I have been very fortunate not to pay for a piece of lumber yet .. all though pulling the nails, planing, and squaring stock takes an awful long time if you’re into larger scale products. If you can develop a relationship with the aa demo company they would probably put some stuff aside for you just so they dont have to fill up dumpsters.

Try this website .. … there are tons of demo guys on that site .. chum up with em!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 4122 days

#11 posted 08-22-2010 02:39 AM

You might do a google search for sawmills in california. You may also find a dealer for portable saw mills locally who may provide a listing of local sawmills who may be selling hardwoods. I found some on Craigslist using “hardwood lumber”as the search phase, you miight also give this a try for your area. I really found going to these mills interesting and each had their own story and personality.


View Dark_Lightning's profile


3365 posts in 3342 days

#12 posted 08-22-2010 02:53 AM

Another place to find wood is at the charities. Back in my Cub Scout leader days, I went to the Salvation Army looking for throw-away wood, for instance a dresser that someone donated that had a drawer nailed shut. That’s a hard sell. I was going to use the wood for little wood projects. It also saves them crushing it and paying to dispose of it. While I was talking to the guy there (standing next to the crusher), another guy pulled up with a forklift loaded with wood. He asked, “Can you use any of this?”. In that pile was a five foot by five foot structure with slats at a 45 degree angle running along it, like some sort of room divider, made of 105 linear feet of 1 by 4 black walnut. I think I kept my cool, and allowed as how, yeah, we could probably use that. That was 18 years ago, and I still have some left. Also, look at movie sets. If you see one being built in your area, ask if you can pick some of the cutoffs out of the dumpster. One time I did that, and the foreman said, “Take that pile of cutoffs there. In fact, that’s a lot of wood, why don’t you bring your car in, and we’ll help you load it”. This was pine and poplar they were using to make a building that they later set on fire.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3302 days

#13 posted 08-22-2010 04:19 AM

Jon -

Are you buying S4S lumber? If so, you’re paying a pretty price for someone else to mill your stock. If you have a decent planer and joiner, look for rough sawn lumber and mill it yourself. You’ll get more consistent stock ‘cause even the S4S stuff isn’t always the same.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View jsdnnoanybtr's profile


24 posts in 3292 days

#14 posted 08-22-2010 05:48 AM

As James Krenov said to a student who had just chucked a usable scrap in the trash barrel : “Hey don’t throw that away ! Do you think this stuff grows on trees ?

When I got into it it was expensive for the wood I wanted. Purple heart to make my work bench. Bubinga for the dining table. Wood for dining table top alone was $700.00 plus and that was years ago. I don’t know what to tell you except that it seems to get used up faster than it grows, if you haven’t noticed, and there are more and more people using it up all the time.

PS: I know these are endangered. I had my mad fling. I have settled down with the domestics now.
: )

-- jsdnnoanybtr but you can call me jr

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3775 days

#15 posted 08-22-2010 06:22 AM

Definitely give Rob (Socalwood) a call. You’re not too far and he has some incredible stuff

-- Childress Woodworks

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics