Question about buying lumber

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Forum topic by waterskier posted 08-24-2010 06:52 PM 2090 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2254 days

08-24-2010 06:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: maple question tip

I wanted to buy some maple hardwood, but needed it finished as I haven’t saved up the money for a table saw and planer yet.
I must not know how to calculate the actual board footage of what I would have to pay for to get the amount I really need, because I calculated what the finished board footage would be for the actual dimensions of wood that I needed, but when I went to a hardwood store, the board footage they quoted me was more than double. The actual finished board footage I needed was about 5 of one thickness and 6 of another thickness, and they quoted me about 15 board feet of one and about 12 of the other.

The actual finished pieces I needed were 2 – 6’ x 4” x 1 1/4” and 8 – 6’ x 2” x 3/4” which would be 5 and 6 bdft. Even figuring the rough pieces would have to be 1 1/2” x 5” and 1” x 3” to finish down to the required dimensions it would only be 7.5 and 12 bdft., and that would be if you had to rip the 2” wide pieces out of 8-3” wide pieces, this board footage would be less than 12 if you could get 4 – 2” wide pieces out of one slightly larger than 8” wide piece.

I just felt like I was being ripped off big time since the price I had in my head (granted for the finished product and I knew that) was about 85-90 bucks and the lady comes at me with a quote of about 230 bucks for what I would actually have to buy…

Not to mention this was to make a small wine rack the same dimensions as hardwood wine racks I have seen on the internet for 69 bucks…I won’t lie…I looked at the lady like she was on crack cocaine.

18 replies so far

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 2476 days

#1 posted 08-24-2010 07:15 PM

I would go back to her and tell her what you have figured. If it still doesn’t match up, ask her to explain exactly what it is you are doing wrong and exactly what it is she is doing.

It doesn’t seem to add up, in my head either, so, I would go back and see if maybe there is some communication issues or if the way they have to do things is different from what you were thinking.

--, Making design and application one. †

View Eric_S's profile


1551 posts in 2617 days

#2 posted 08-24-2010 07:16 PM

What kind of wood were you looking to buy? Unless its a really exotic wood, 230 seems really high. She may have been smoking crack. Thicker woods are also more expensive as well for the same board footage. Check out these online prices for an average price of wood. It varies by location and type, but it should at least give you a rough estimate of how much she is trying to rip you off.

Edit: I just realized that you said you couldn’t surface it or cut it, they usually add .anywhere from $0.25 to a $1.50 bd/ft to surface 4 sides. I’m not sure about cut prices but even with adding the surfacing price on the high end of 1.50 bd/ft to a $6 bd/ft lumber for 12 bd feet it would still only equal $90.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2377 days

#3 posted 08-24-2010 07:25 PM

It seems to me that you aren’t accounting for the shop time charge to dimension the stock like you wanted. Furthermore, your board footage calculations are based on finding boards that are close to exactly what you need and don’t account for wasted wood due to checking and/or bad knots.

View waterskier's profile


14 posts in 2254 days

#4 posted 08-24-2010 07:44 PM

No, I had already gotten their prices over the phone. I can’t remember exactly, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $5.16/bdft (rough) for 6/4” and $6.64/bdft for them to dimension it to what I would need, and about the same cost difference for the 3/4”.

I did try to get her to explain better while I was there. It seemed what she was doing was taking the dimensions I needed ~ 5/4” x 4” and figuring a 6/4” x 5” rough board to get that finished board and then adding 20% for waste, which I still couldn’t understand because I would think using the 6/4” x 5” is accounting for the waste.

The wood was maple…so not an exotic expensive wood. It just seemed crazy to me that to get 6 bd ft of finished wood you would have to waste more than twice that amount?

I was pretty blown away, especially after seeing hardwood wine racks of the same dimensions for $70, and they have to be making a profit. Granted the man hours they have to do to make them are minimized due to having processes in place to throw out the finished product easier, but I can’t see how a company that mass produces them could get $230 worth of wood (even wholesale/bulk) for less than $50 to be able to profit off selling them for $70.

Do the bd. ft. prices above possibly look high for maple?

View waterskier's profile


14 posts in 2254 days

#5 posted 08-24-2010 07:48 PM

If it is due to bad knots, and I would be paying $230 for $80 worth of wood…it seems they would “knot” use the knotty wood to cut my “arm and a leg” wood out of. Simply use a different piece that doesn’t have the knots.

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14 posts in 2254 days

#6 posted 08-24-2010 07:56 PM

Also, it is a lumber store…I doubt the closest wood they have to cut a 2” board from is exactly 4” where you wouldn’t be able to cut 2 – 2” boards from it, which would lower the bd. ft. not raise it. If they have a 5” wide, that would be 2 – 2” wide and would also lower the bd. ft. from using a separate 3” wide for each 2”. If they have one exactly 6” that would be 2 – 2” and would be the same as using a 3” for each 2” which would be the same bd ft as I used to calculate. If they used a 7” wide that should be enough to get 3 – 2” boards from, if there are knots that make it so they can only get 2 – 2” boards, they should use another board and save that for someone who needs different dimensioned wood instead of charging me for 3” extra wood that they can then keep and probably sell “again” to someone else.

View rwyoung's profile


385 posts in 2894 days

#7 posted 08-24-2010 08:18 PM

The 20% waste figure is about right. To get a good 8 ft length, no checks in the ends, you might need as much as a 10 ft length. To get the width you need, clear and no defects, that 4” wide board might start out as 6”, etc. Plus kerf losses from cutting.

6’ @ 4” and 6/4 = 3 board feet, add in the 20% and we get 3.6 board feet.

6’ @ 2” and 4/4 = 1 board foot, add in the 20% and we get 1.2 board feet.

2×3.6 b.f. = 7.2 b.f. x $6.64/b.f. = $47.80
8×1.2 b.f. = 9.6 b.f. x $4.45/b.f.= $42.72 (I got the $4.45 by scaling the cost you quoted for 6/4 material)

So all in that is $90.52 plus tax, etc. Call it an even $100 for the materials budget.

I’d say they are way off base or she just can’t do math. Or both.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View waterskier's profile


14 posts in 2254 days

#8 posted 08-24-2010 09:47 PM

That’s what I was thinking rw, thanks. I guess my question is, if the 6’ board had to start as an 8’ board, do you use the 8’ board and then figure in 20% waste, because I think that is what she was doing and it seemed to me like that would be figuring the waste twice. The 8’ starter to get 6’ is the 20% waste figure am I right?
She was taking the 6’ x 4” x 1 1/4” that I needed and quoting me a little over 6’ long x 5” x 6/4” rough board to get that and then adding 20% waste on top of that (I think is what she was doing).

After the $230 quote and 30 minutes of her sticking to it, I got a little exhausted and left. On the way home is when I thought she may have been double calculating the waste so possibly she just slipped. I’m not sure.

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but to calculate what my actual cost would be from their prices, would I take the dimensions of what I actually need finished/in my hand and multiply that bdft. by 20% waste and then the price?

or would I have to take the dimensions of what I actually need finished, ie…the 6’ x 4” x 5/4” and up this to the “estimated” rough cut of 8’ x 6” x 6/4” and then multiply 20% on top of that?

View waterskier's profile


14 posts in 2254 days

#9 posted 08-24-2010 09:52 PM

On a positive note…I was wanting to get into woodworking a little bit, and wanted to make this wine rack as my first piece for my friends wedding. After she showed me that price, though, I was a bit scared that I wouldn’t even be able to afford to build a bird house…(just kidding….a little). From what you all are saying, that price is a little ridiculous for that amount of wood?

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 2566 days

#10 posted 08-24-2010 10:51 PM

Depending on where you live maybe one of us could help you find a more reliable supplier or help you dimension the lumber.

View waterskier's profile


14 posts in 2254 days

#11 posted 08-24-2010 11:16 PM

That would be awesome. Live in Martinsburg, WV area. 25405 zip.

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 2822 days

#12 posted 08-25-2010 05:39 PM

Waterskier, I’m not far from you, I live in Kearneysville near the Jeff-Berk county line. Hardwood dealers around are not plentiful, there was one about 5 mintues away but they have closed up due to the economy. After searching woodfinder, here are the 10 closest, I use Woodcraft for supplies but for wood I have been going to Hardwoods Inc. Their prices are a bit more that average but they are the closest, I know the others are not that much further but I dread driving towards DC. Where were you buying from if you don’t mind me asking?

Woodcraft – Leesburg, VA Leesburg VA (23 miles)
Hardwoods, Inc. Frederick MD (32 miles)
Dunlap Woodcrafts Chantilly VA (41 miles)
WILHIDES SAWMILL Keymar MD (41 miles)
Exotic Lumber Inc – Gaithersburg Gaithersburg MD (42 miles)
Northland Forest Products, Inc. Manassas VA (47 miles)
Vienna Hardwoods Vienna VA (48 miles)
Woodcraft – Rockville, MD Rockville MD (48 miles)
Woodcraft – Springfield, VA/Washington DC Springfield VA (57 miles)
C. P. Johnson Lumber Elkwood VA (61 miles)

View waterskier's profile


14 posts in 2254 days

#13 posted 08-25-2010 06:39 PM

It was Miller Lumber Company, in Williamsport, MD

View wysong's profile


17 posts in 2244 days

#14 posted 09-06-2010 04:27 PM

maybe what your forgetting is the price is per board foot , even though
your quoted a price for 6/4 , a board foot still remains 1” thick by 12’ wide by 12” long
so for 6/4 the price is 1 and 1/2 times that quoted price per bf

-- Hutch

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 2613 days

#15 posted 09-06-2010 04:56 PM

You got ripped off. When I buy my hard wood they always given an itemized recite.

Maple here only runs for 2.00 a board foot. Birds eye runs 5-6 bucks I think. In any

case there was a math mistake, or the the person did not know how to calculate BF.

I would go back or phone the owner, a reputable business will make good on the


-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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