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Crossing the Border With Your Lumber Purchases:

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Forum topic by poopiekat posted 1340 days ago 4382 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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poopiekat

3553 posts in 2330 days


1340 days ago

In central Canada good lumber is scarce, and there are proportionally fewer woodworkers per-capita in this city of 700,000. Without going into chicken-and-egg hypotheses, the fact remains that it’s almost impossible to get lumber worthy of heirloom projects around here without driving for 12-15 hours, or paying huge shipping charges. For those of us who live in proximity of the US/Canada border, there is a lot of cross-border shopping, and there is a whole bunch of restrictions on how much you can bring across and other regulations.
Anyway, I’m considering a buying trip in the US, I need to find some nice Tiger Maple for an upcoming project, and other hardwoods for my empty lumber racks. I will be bringing a rental trailer to make the trip worthwhile, just perhaps capable of hauling 600 to 800 BF of lumber. My question is, have you ever hauled lumber across the border into Canada? Are there any compliance issues that I should anticipate, above and beyond the usual declarations and levies? For that matter, is it okay to pull a U-Haul rental across the border?
Interested in hearing about your personal experiences only, please.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!


20 replies so far

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Gator

376 posts in 2272 days


#1 posted 1340 days ago

I have not tried to bring wood back, but have not had the need as I can get supplies close by.
I would call Canada Customs at the crossing you use and they will tell you exactly what you can bring back, and what species, and volumes would be acceptable, taxable, etc.
We do 90% of our shopping in Michigan as I live right on the Michigan / Ontario border. We cross 3 to 5 times a month, and have rarely been sent in to pay anything on purchases ranging from $100.00 to $600.00 – but have never brought back forestry products.
My wife and I just got back an hour ago from our second shopping trip this week into Michigan. This trip was to Rockler in Royal Oak Michigan and I brought back a bunch of supplies, but no wood. We never paid anything at the border on $275.00 worth of stuff. It is always at the discretion of the officer at the border, but I would make the call them just to ensure your 700 bd ft of curly maple or some other exotic wood does not get confiscated or end up costing you double. As far as taking a trailer across, they don’t care as long as you are bringing it back with you. I used to race a drag car at Ubly Michigan and crossed every weekend with a race car in a trailer and all my gear.. never had an issue. They are only concerned that you are not leaving anything in the US, and that you do not have any produce, vegetables, etc. with you. If you take an apple or an orange for a snack, they will pull you in and confiscate it.. even if it is a Florida sunkist..seriously.
I also would ensure you have the information on what wood you are considering bringing back and it’s origin, as only products from United States and Mexico are part of the free trade agreement. Purple heart, from South America may be a different story, and some species may require a special permit or forms.

Good luck.. I Hope this helps a little.

Gator

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

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canadianchips

1831 posts in 1593 days


#2 posted 1340 days ago

You want to check with customs before you buy. Even province to province has “bans” on bringing any wood into another area. Good luck. !

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

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Gator

376 posts in 2272 days


#3 posted 1340 days ago

Canadianchips.. I think we may be almost neighbors..?

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

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poopiekat

3553 posts in 2330 days


#4 posted 1340 days ago

Thanks, Gator! I figured you were a Florida resident, with that handle! Yes, we’ve shopped across the border several times, tools, jewelry, snow tires groceries etc, and the Customs officers really are a good bunch of people. We usually go to Grand Forks, Fargo or Bemidji. I’m well familiar with the gc.ca website, but there are sometimes things that pop up, like the two women who brought their kids with them to Grand Forks to shop for school clothes, only to be held and ultimately turned around because they lacked documents from their husbands consenting to the trip, something about non-custodial parent kidnapping documentation… so ya never know. Though I’d like to bring home some tropical woods sometime, these days the tiger maple is my holy grail. And I want to be there in person to select my boards, otherwise yeah, I’d just have it sent by common carrier. Michigan does seem like the best choice for a lumber-buying trip! Unless you know of a sawmill/lumberyard in your neck of the woods! Thanks for responding!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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Gator

376 posts in 2272 days


#5 posted 1340 days ago

Selecting your own boards is a plus .. I spent 2 hours last week sorting through a pile of cherry.. but I came home with some nice boards..

Good luck with your adventure..

Gator .. it is a part of my last name.. I have had that handle for 40 of my 50 years now.. kids growing up could not say.. Gatecliff.. it was Gatorcliff.. then just Gator .. no everglades in Ontario…LOL

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

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TopamaxSurvivor

14584 posts in 2272 days


#6 posted 1340 days ago

Come on down, take all you want back up there. WA mill workers complaining about cheap Canadian lumber causing the mills to shut down :-)) That was back when we were using lumber. Nobody may be cutting now :-((

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View jusfine's profile

jusfine

2280 posts in 1522 days


#7 posted 1340 days ago

I have made a few trips bringing back lumber from the West Coast.

Hauled horses (in my own trailer) down for show and sale, then who would come back without filling the trailer back up?

That’s how I got the 2000 lbs of purpleheart shorts (7’ long), paduak, and other exotics. Perfect to fit in a trailer.

Last time I came home, I had spent much more than I had made on the sales of the horses…
But once here, I can put the word out, sell some reasonably, and get my material for next to nothing.

There are some good deals to be had!

No customs trouble at all, just paid the 5% duty, GST and on my way.

All the Best in your quest!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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Lochlainn1066

138 posts in 1373 days


#8 posted 1340 days ago

I think bans on transports of lumber are for unmilled only, to prevent the movement of things like the Emerald Ash Borer and Walnut Thousand Canker blight. At least down here in the middle states that’s the only bans. Once it’s been kilned those are killed off and there shouldn’t be a problem.

Definitely contact Customs, and your UHaul renter should be able to advise you on crossing borders.

-- Nate, thegaragestudio.etsy.com

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poopiekat

3553 posts in 2330 days


#9 posted 1339 days ago

Topa:,As I understand it, most of the border wars over lumber are about the softwood lumber industry, that which feeds the housing construction business. How’s the Pacific northwest as a source of cabinet-grade hardwoods? Should I consider heading to Washington state or Oregon for shopping of local hardwoods? Lochlainn66: Yes, I think you’ve hit upon the great unknown, the fear of tree diseases and pests being imported into Canada. Heck, in Canada I cannot even take elm firewood from one campground to another, and I wouldn’t want to get caught sneaking ANY firewood into Alberta, I’d be asking for trouble for sure! Suffice to say there is a lot of well-reasoned caution about moving tree products across borders. I’d hate to have to give up my load of nice hardwood lumber due to an oversight on my part. Oh, and I actually DO have a cross-border U-Haul story…I told the local rep in New England I wanted to do a one-way to Canada, he put the nice 5’ X 10’ back and gave me the crappiest ancient 4’X 10’ on the lot, bent axle, dry-rotted tires and all, and I had to tow that POS 1900 miles…Jeez!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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poopiekat

3553 posts in 2330 days


#10 posted 1339 days ago

Thanks, jusfine, yeah, I’d be doing this with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit for sure…hard to get good lumber, red oak flatsawn for example, for less than $8 a b/f. There’s only about 3 trees around here with a girth of 12 inches or more, and they are all alder, boxwood, or some other overgrown weed.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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jusfine

2280 posts in 1522 days


#11 posted 1339 days ago

I have those same weeds in our pastures, they are called poplar… :)

Send me a PM with what you need, I can certainly check it in Edmonton with our wholesalers if you like.

Otherwise, I would recommend Crosscuts in Portland if you are going to make that trip.

On my first experience there, I looked at my friend and asked if the drool was apparent… unbelievable amount of stock – more than I have ever seen anywhere else.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

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dbhost

5377 posts in 1828 days


#12 posted 1339 days ago

I am unsure about the border between the U.S. and Canada…. But I have brought back lumber, tile, and other construction materials from Mexico in to the U.S. in the past. The process is somewhat painful, and the government paperwork / tarriffs to be paid were not nice… But I got it through. Now mind you this was long ago prior to NAFTA, so no telling what the deal is today…

My best piece of advice… Check with both the U.S. Immigration and Customs service about any requirements going in to the U.S., and with the Canadian counterpart whatever that may be about what ever requirements may be going in to Canada…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

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Manitario

2254 posts in 1479 days


#13 posted 1339 days ago

you’ll have to post how it works out for you. I’m just down the road in Thunder Bay (I grew up in Wpg) and have the same problem with getting anything other than pine for a reasonable price. I know that Windsor Plywood in Wpg will order wood in for you, but you don’t get the benefit of picking through the wood. You may want to take a visit to Canadian Woodworker on Portage Ave. and ask them where they see people getting their wood from in Wpg.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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TopamaxSurvivor

14584 posts in 2272 days


#14 posted 1339 days ago

Alder, walnut, cherry and maple (big leaf) pop into my head. Weyerhaeuser takes alder in their mill at Galvin near Centralia, WA. One of my neighbors told me our maples were worth more of shade than lumber right now because of the current market and the closest mill is at Elma, about 80 one way, too far to haul. We are having a lot of maples dying in the shadow of Mt St Helens. They think it has something to do with the composition of the soil that was changed by the ash fall out from the volcano 30 yrs ago.

Oops, forgot yew, madrona, Not sure that helps much, a long way for you to haul ;-))

BTW, lumber wars were about soft wood. What we need is a natural resources export ban to put Americans back to work!

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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poopiekat

3553 posts in 2330 days


#15 posted 1338 days ago

jusfine, thanks for your thoughtful offer to help, i’d have to say I’m mostly interested in Tiger Maple from a supplier who has it on the rack all the time. Then if there’s any red oak and tulip poplar with green or purple streaks, I’d be happy to fill out a load with it, rough or dressed, I’d be happy. Uh-ohhhh… my 3/4 Ton Ram Van is in storage ‘til spring, and it would have to be incorporated into a camping trip. We’ve camped just outside Edmonton before, near Spruce Grove, rte 16. Yes, that’s how I could pull this off…Edmonton was a most impressive city, kinda felt like home almost…I’ve held onto my gutter-mount lumber racks for years, even having no vehicle to put them on, LOL. But now with the Big Dodge we can load our gear and still have lots of room for lumber! Hmmm…the gears are turning!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

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