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Forum topic by WoodsmanWoodworker posted 11-02-2010 01:37 AM 1604 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View WoodsmanWoodworker's profile


146 posts in 2846 days

11-02-2010 01:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: idea lumber

Hi all, I just wanted to know if you have any places where you get free or cheap lumber. Most of my current and future projects are just going to be practice and learning oriented so i didn’t want to spend to much on wood. As i get better than of course i’ll get quality stuff, but now i go to the home depot and usually get pine or if it’s a small project i’ll get a branch from the woods. I heard you can get some free lumber from construction sites, and if i see any i’ll try that, and also i keep an eye out on craigslist, it’s no biggy, i was just wondering if you have any ideas for me. Thank you

-- We must protect the forests for those who can't speak, for the trees and animals. ~THE WOODSMAN~

13 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#1 posted 11-02-2010 01:48 AM

There are places you can get free pallets or if you buy poplar from a wholesale source it’s cheaper than pine from a box store.

You might check out

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3083 days

#2 posted 11-02-2010 01:49 AM

Check with businesses near where you live that receive or send shipments on pallets. They may give away old pallets (especially if they get broken) There is a business not far from where I live that periodically will give away pallets. It is some work to get it ready to use, but it is also excellent practice in preparing rough lumber for work. Most of it will be junk that is barely good enough for firewood, but on occasion, you might find something of interest. Not too long ago, I found a board that was spalted beech in a pallet. It really had some very interesting grain to it and it turned beautifully on the lathe. Also check the free stuff section or the materials section on Craig’s list. Last, check with local construction projects to see if they will give away their scraps and throw aways.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3785 days

#3 posted 11-02-2010 01:51 AM

You haven’t said where you are located.

Check to see if there any WoodMizer bandsaw type sawmill guys in your area. Look in the yellow pages, Craig’s list, even WoodMizer can let you know who might be close by. There are always “cutoffs” that are discarded when squaring up a log. The sawyer would be glad to get rid of them. This would also give you good practice with your hand planes.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3811 days

#4 posted 11-02-2010 02:35 AM

For dimensioned lumber:

Around here, the construction companies have to pay for all the scrap that gets hauled off to the dump. They are more than happy for someone to reduce their scrap pile. That said, its best to ask and get permission so you don’t get charged with stealing from a construction site.

Stacks of pallets behind a store may be a sign that they are willing to part with some for free. However, I have found the best places were businesses that installed heavier equipment (like air conditioners, boilers, etc). The shipping pallets are usually larger (more fastener -free wood) and some are of better quality (heavy items sometimes need the strength of oak instead of pine). Managed to get some nice oak pallets from a business that installed commercial air conditioning. Farm Equipment places would be another suggestion.

Anyplace that receives shipments from overseas, or by boat, etc, may have crates that are sometimes made of teak or Philippine mahogany., as well as other woods we consider exotic, but the country of origin consider them their natural box making stuff.

Your profile says you were inspired by Roy Underhill. That said, keep your eye open after any storms. Storm-felled trees are always a good source for raw in-the-bark wood. Takes some serious sawing, but its a lot easier and more productive when the tree is still green than after it has dried, split and gotten bug ridden. Two exceptions to that are Black Walnut and Red Cedar. Both may be really bug infested on the sap wood, but may still have a lot of really nice wood in the heart, even several years after they are down.

As for the guys with the wood-mizers, etc, many are one-man operations. A day spent helping pull off the slabs and stacking them may garner you some fine wood, as well as a pile of stickers to let you air dry them.


-- Go

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2880 days

#5 posted 11-02-2010 02:49 AM

i was able to get white oak from a granite counter top place from their pallets but you will need a jointer and a planer to dimension them

-- Tampa-FL

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3022 days

#6 posted 11-02-2010 02:55 AM

Dumpsters behind cabinet shops, companies that receive large items that are crated (exercise equipment, office furniture—anyplace that deals with BIG stuff)

Keep an eye open for remodeling more than new construction.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View WoodsmanWoodworker's profile


146 posts in 2846 days

#7 posted 11-02-2010 05:11 AM

Thank you all, i never thouht of pallets, i’ll check in on that, and as for the wood-mizers i’ll have to do some searching on that to i guess. Most tree are delt with by local tree company and woodchippped, but occasionally i see one in my woods. I think i’d need a froe for that. Hopfully i’ll get some new tools and post them on here. I think i would like to try out some oak and walnut especially so any additional thoughts on those would be great. Thanks again, you guys and gals here are always very helpful.

-- We must protect the forests for those who can't speak, for the trees and animals. ~THE WOODSMAN~

View Alexander's profile


193 posts in 3135 days

#8 posted 11-02-2010 05:20 AM

Check the FREE list on craiglist. Sometimes people are giving away old tables, book cases, desk , just to name a few that can be cut to fit a project or two.

-- John at Sugarloft Mountain........Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

View WoodsmanWoodworker's profile


146 posts in 2846 days

#9 posted 11-02-2010 05:24 AM

OH!!!! i never thought of using old wood furniture, i was looking for actual lumber. GENUIS! Thank you

-- We must protect the forests for those who can't speak, for the trees and animals. ~THE WOODSMAN~

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3022 days

#10 posted 11-02-2010 08:23 AM

One more thing… You don’t have to go out and get it all at once but make some goals for what you are going to need and pick it up a little at a time.

You will have two things to look for. Dry and ready to use wood and then green wood to be putting away and stockpiling for later projects. A froe is useful on some woods that work well by splitting but you will also probably want to think about building a frame saw to dimension some.

Make yourself known to people who do tree trimming. Look for places that they are clearing wood for construction. Watch the weather channel and hope for strong winds. :) You will also want some equipment to work larger pieces of tree. Hand winches, poles/levers. Peavey or cant hook. Sledge hammer, axe, splitting wedges. Rope and chain. Much can be improvised.

Pick up some safety glasses, steel toed boots, and a hard hat that will make you welcome on a construction site. That will be the biggest thing to make it easier to access some places. They will have a fear of strange people that might be a hazard on a work site. Being prepared and professional goes a long way to opening doors.

You also might consider breaking some of your desire for straight hand tools by getting a chainsaw and one of the little lumber making blade attachments. Many of the places that you could get urban lumber may not allow the time to wait for you to break down lumber into usable pieces by hand.

You also should set yourself up to carry bigger pieces of lumber. If you don’t have access to vehicle that can carry, it can be a problem. At least make friends with people that have pick-up trucks and trailers.

Pallet wood can be good but also can be really hard to work with. The staples that they use are almost impossible to take out and the metal will eat your tools.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View helluvawreck's profile


31363 posts in 2890 days

#11 posted 11-02-2010 11:42 AM

Get you up a list of the cabinet shops, furniture plants, and mill work suppliers in your area. They all throw away material every now and then. Drop will overcome any woodworking business if they don’t keep it thinned down. We rented out a 12000 sq ft building out back to a company that built kitchen cabinets and one time they set out several pallets of cabinet plywood that was around 18×20. There was nothing wrong with it. Another time they set out some raised panels of different kinds of wood that had a few cracks or small flaws in them. For someone like you it was all usable. Check it out, you’d be surprised what people throw out.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View WoodsmanWoodworker's profile


146 posts in 2846 days

#12 posted 11-03-2010 06:19 AM

All good thoughts, i will keep these in mind, thank you

-- We must protect the forests for those who can't speak, for the trees and animals. ~THE WOODSMAN~

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3021 days

#13 posted 11-03-2010 10:34 AM

Offer to clean out peoples garages. You will be surprised what some people have stored away. In the last week I have filled my 1/2 ton truck TWICE. ! I pickup old furniture with real wood.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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