Tips & Tricks: Buying Lumber

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Forum topic by MsDebbieP posted 988 days ago 1830 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2761 days

988 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: tips tricks

What are your tips re: buying lumber?
- How is it sold? What do you ask for? Where can I find lumber?

(also add links to helpful blogs etc that are related to the topic)

Gateway to all Tips & Tricks Topics

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

15 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


10413 posts in 1607 days

#1 posted 988 days ago

Bring a calculator to measure board feet.
Bring a tape measure.
Shop the places that will let you “pick the pile”.
Always spend more than you anticipated.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Bertha's profile


12951 posts in 1294 days

#2 posted 988 days ago

Enter “lumber” into your local Craigslist search field. Meet new and interesting hillbillies;) I live in WV after all.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2580 days

#3 posted 988 days ago

Well, if you’re married and have your shop in the basement, buy short boards, so you can sneak them in past the wife.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View patron's profile


12961 posts in 1942 days

#4 posted 988 days ago

go thru the pile
go thru your wallet

buy everything you can afford
(kind of like a new date)

go home broke

but happy !

with a dream
in your heart

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View kayakdude's profile


90 posts in 1377 days

#5 posted 988 days ago

it’s never ez finding good lumber or good sources but over time i have fond them in my area here is some one use use and the wood is stored on racks and layed flat that is inportant here the web site and dose explain thing about wood real well. he’s inbranford ct and everthing is inside look for saw mill’s that have ruff sawn lumber and plan it down thats the saving right there ,good luck

-- kayakdude

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 1584 days

#6 posted 988 days ago

I have been blessed with the gift of free wood so buying lumber isn’t a frequent occurrence for me. When I need sheet goods or a particular species of lumber I go to the local lumber yard. They sell their lumber there by the board foot.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View ShaneA's profile


5255 posts in 1199 days

#7 posted 988 days ago

Keep searching CL frequently. When the good deals are posted, they go quickly. When an opportunity presents itself to buy at a value price, get all you can carry or afford. A use will come for it, and you will be glad you have extra.

View Bill Burr's profile

Bill Burr

12 posts in 1033 days

#8 posted 988 days ago

to begin with what are the projects you would like to build. If you are building small shelfs or small boxes than shop for short lumber. What is the size of your work-shop. If it is only 12’ long then a 14’ board is useless. What speices or apperance of wood do you like. If you like oak then you need to find a lumber yard that handles hardwood. If you want pine then a box/home improvement store is your best source. When buying hardwood lumber from a saw-mill it is usualy sold by the BOARD FOOT. 1 BDFT is 144 square inches of surface area 1” thick. Width X length divided by 144 = BDFT. Also hardwood is often sold random width random length at saw-mills. If you are in north centeral Indiana I have hardwood lumber for sale.

-- Just another beautiful day in paradise.

View EPJartisan's profile


1048 posts in 1726 days

#9 posted 985 days ago

I get most of my rough stock from driving around after storms and when people chop down trees.
MY recycled stock from trash yards and discarded furniture, old porches, rehab sites, and cut offs from local carpenters. Veneers from Certainly wood in New York. Exotics from Owl Lumber and WoodWorld here in Chicago, or from my friends traveling. And thick cut domestics I get from a lumber yards ~ Cherry from Rockford, ILL, Maple and walnut from Kenosha, WI. The rest I pull out of forests in the UP Michigan or walking down the street. All my clients and patrons watch for wood or old furniture and contact me immediately union discovery. I keep everything and find beauty in the tiniest pieces and branches.

I always carry a making pencil and tape measurer and my pocketjack, and I have a rack on my VW and LOTS of strap downs. Always ready for a moment’s grab. And I carry pocket guides to identify trees and wood, which I need less and less. :)

Pine, cedar, fir, and and plywood I purchase anywhere, but I inspect it carefully. 2×4 etc… get smelled for moisture content, Checked for defects (cracks and knots) and where the pith is located to the board cut. And future warping can be sorted out at the retail store. When it comes to wood product I am careful.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2761 days

#10 posted 985 days ago

how can you tell if a board has the potential of warping? (For all of us beginners)
and what does a moisture-laden board smell like?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View WDHLT15's profile


1072 posts in 1077 days

#11 posted 985 days ago

Find a guy like me on Craigslist that has a sawmill and that cuts, dries, and sells hardwood lumber. I have walnut, cherry, red oak, white oak, sycamore, maple, sweetgum, redcedar, hickory, pecan, mulberry, persimmon, yellow poplar, and oasge orange. Oh, and some pine, too.

A local sawyer can have a large variety and some very interesting boards, planks, slabs, etc. The price will be about half what you would pay at a retail hardwood lumber store, but the stock is air-dried and rough (not planed). Most woodworkers, me included, only want to buy rough lumber so that they can prepare it themselves for each project. Lumber that has already been planed might not stay straight over time as it reacts with changes in the environment (humidity and heat).

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

View will delaney's profile

will delaney

320 posts in 1236 days

#12 posted 984 days ago

Buying wood is probably the most addictive thing a LJ can do. I Think quitting smoking was easier. Is there a Wood Buyers Anomalous organisation?

View StumpyNubs's profile


6116 posts in 1401 days

#13 posted 984 days ago

I find that the best way to buy lumber is with cash. Somebody else’s cash works even better. A check is ok, but only old ladies use them to buy things anymore. Credit cards are fine, but refer back to the cash suggestion when the time comes to pay them off. Of course, you could pay the mill with a credit card, use a check to pay off the credit card, and deposit some cash to cover that check. The real trouble is finding that darn cash…

Wait… you mean that isn’t what you were talking about?... Yes, I’m a moron…

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at:

View Roz's profile


1658 posts in 2387 days

#14 posted 962 days ago

Hand pick it and take the time to look at each piece or buy from a local miller and buy all you can when the price is right. Rack it, dry it and be patient.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View KenBee's profile


108 posts in 1236 days

#15 posted 926 days ago

I have started buying my wood off Ebay and so far have been very well satisfied with my purchases. Price wise it may be a bit expensive but no more so than the local lumber dealers and the selection is more varied on Ebay. There are 2 dealers I buy from that will honor requests for planing or re-sawing to a requested size with no extra charges and the boards are just as described and/or pictured and in some cases better. I also try to buy from dealers that offer free shipping so that helps. There are no sawmills near me and Craigslist is worthless in this area for exotic woods. Every so often you can find a piece of furniture made of solid wood like oak, cherry, etc that is cheap enough to buy and re-cycle the wood into small to medium size projects. I bought a tiger figured maple board that was 48” long, 9” wide, 1-5/8” thick and had it re-sawed 2 times down to approximately 1/2 inch thick each board as requested for a total of $31.00 and free shipping off Ebay last week. Not bad for 3 boards that are 48” x 9” x 1/2”.

-- If it won't fit get a BIGGER hammer.

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