how do you "stumble upon" lumber

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Forum topic by parttimer posted 09-20-2011 10:38 AM 2142 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2716 days

09-20-2011 10:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I haven’t been working wood for a long time, but it seems like I’m always hearing about how people just happen to find a great stash of aged hardwood. I’m working on a tight budget and I have a lot of projects in mind, but I just don’t have the cash to buy good hard wood. So – where do you guys recover it from? The dump? Craigslist? Other places? Any and all feedback is appreciated.

By the way – I love this community!

16 replies so far

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3088 days

#1 posted 09-20-2011 01:28 PM

For me there are two main sources. Most of what I find is on Craigslist. I look often, and sometimes there are amazing deals from people who are moving, getting out of woodworking entirely, etc. The other is through my personal network of friends, coworkers, etc. When you let people know that you are into woodworking, they keep you in mind when they come across lumber. Lots of times these leads turn out to be lousy quality, but occasionally it is a score.

Through CL I have found a couple of individuals with small sawmills, and I have found those guys to consistently be the best quality and best deal. In my area they normally sell for $1-3/bf depending on species. I keep in touch with a couple of those guys and when they have premium stock (wide, long, FAS) I pay them more than they are asking and then they start calling me first when they get a good log in. Most of this is green, so requires some air drying. I don’t mind buying green, as it saves money and I know I can dry it properly if I do it myself. I hesitate to buy air dried unless I know that the person knows what they are doing and cares, because it can be done wrong and make the lumber more trouble than it is worth.

I also recenty bought a huge unit of hard maple from a liquidator who bought it from an insurance company. It was FAS quality, kiln dried, planed on both sides, and straight line ripped for $1.50/bf.

-- PaulMayer,

View joey bealis's profile

joey bealis

177 posts in 2529 days

#2 posted 09-20-2011 01:42 PM

AS pmayer said find some people with small sawmills. I am blessed to live in lumber country. We have our own saw mill and we have a friend who also has one. Neither are used to make a profit we cut for friends and family and we can use what we want for ourselves.


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3097 days

#3 posted 09-20-2011 02:33 PM

Keep an eye on Craig’s list. I was once able to buy the stash of a woodworker who had passed away. His children were selling virtually everything in the shop. I bought, virtually, all of the walnut and cherry available (probably about 150 bf). They had no idea what it was worth and were glad to accept the $100 I offered them.

Interesting that some of the boards were already glued up for a project that never got done.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ShaneA's profile


6954 posts in 2621 days

#4 posted 09-20-2011 04:15 PM

I am a CL believer as well. Like guys mentioned, you eventually we be able to find someone with a small mill, when my local guy puts out an ad, I try to get as much as I can afford. It is about 70% cheaper than my local retailer. Plus the wood is usually thicker. Close to true measurements, unlike the retailers who sell 4/4 that is 25/32.

View bandit571's profile


20212 posts in 2706 days

#5 posted 09-20-2011 05:13 PM

Last few places I have “found” a stash in, is a couple ofold barns that were torn down. When one sees 2×6 OAK rafters sitting in a pile….

I usually don’t mind a little work to get these “cleaned up”, as it saves them from the landfills. Go about and about on weekends, look for any old barns/sheds that are falling down, or have been torn down. If youask the owner, you might save him the cost of a tear-down, or stop him from a bonfire. One or two of those old rafters turned out to be curly maple, in a 2×6x12’ package.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3074 days

#6 posted 09-21-2011 02:08 AM

I agree with Craig’s List, but the biggest scores I have made were from I got 350 bd/ft fas cherry, and 97 bd/ft of qswo for $800. I had to drive to NC to get it but it is hot stuff. My other score was 100 bd/ft of sapele in Griffin, Ga. for $200.

In both cases I had to do a bunch of driving and pay a 10% buyer’s fee (included in the price I quoted), and a $10 loading fee, but I still saved a ton of money, got a lot of PREMIUM lumber that I just couldn’t have gotten any other way. My stash room runneth over, verily.

If you go this route, read the information on the item you’re interested in. Some auctions require the bidder to load themselves and furnish the auction co. with a certificate of insurance, the cost of which as a one time policy would make the purchase prohibitive. The ones on which I bid loaded either for free or for a minimal charge. It was worth it, but as with any auction, you have to be prudent. I have seen guys get in a war and pay up to three times HIGH retail for a pile of lumber. It happens more often than you think. I try to set a limit of 1/3 what I normally would pay and it has worked out.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View parttimer's profile


10 posts in 2716 days

#7 posted 09-22-2011 01:53 AM

thanks for all the suggestions. incidentally I found a guy today on CL that gave me a broken teak patio table. I broke it down and hopefully it’ll turn into something special soon.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2713 days

#8 posted 09-22-2011 03:48 AM

parttimer – teak no less! and you’re asking for advice? sounds like you’ve got it figured out. Keep scrounging CL and check out the pallets at Lumber Liquidators [sometimes there are some real treasures].

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View JL7's profile


8667 posts in 2988 days

#9 posted 09-23-2011 03:35 AM

Here is a blog about my experience....

The good stuff is out there. Be patient and it will come!


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3181 days

#10 posted 09-23-2011 04:55 AM

Okay, Jeff, that’s just down right unfair!

-- jay,

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2590 days

#11 posted 09-23-2011 02:04 PM

I second the “Okay, Jeff, that’s just down right unfair!”
Here is another way I've found.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2450 days

#12 posted 10-08-2011 07:12 AM

Craigslist is my first choice, type in free lumber or free wood. You have to be quick off the mark to get the really good stuff. But it seems to come on endlessly, so be patient and selective, remember it is not really free. Your truck, your gas, your time, you haul it down the stairs, it all adds up. The best part is that most of it is very well seasoned, lumber out of old furniture is my favourite.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View volpeveneers's profile


21 posts in 3496 days

#13 posted 10-11-2011 02:13 AM

I found that local estate auctions are a great source for lumber. Most of my lumber belonged to someone.

-- "Trees are evil they must be punished." R. Underhill

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3266 days

#14 posted 10-11-2011 11:54 PM

Check with local cabinet shops. They will give you all the scraps and cutoffs for free. Usually it goes into the dumpster.

View bandit571's profile


20212 posts in 2706 days

#15 posted 10-12-2011 12:19 AM

barn wood before any clean up

and after. Seem to be white Oak and Ash. Used to be old rafters.

These came from a tree ON the pole barn”s owner’s property. He knows a sawyer in the area. Seems to be a walnut..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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