PROEJCT WOOD COST? - West Coast (California) - How much should you pay for wood?

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Forum topic by MRod posted 05-22-2008 09:06 PM 5749 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MRod's profile


74 posts in 4232 days

05-22-2008 09:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lumber pricing wood pricing

Hi folks from the West Coast,

OK, I am sick of not knowing what wood costs. Therefore THE PROJECT begins.

This is a forum topic that I am going to post for each region of the US. But first I am going to let it run with the West Coast (California) for a little while and work out the bugs. I hope you don’t mind.

Next I’ll facilitate the same for NorthWest/Canada, Mid-west, Rock Mtn Regions, etc…
———————————————————————————— How much do you/should others pay for wood in your region?

  • At the end I will put all of this information together in a spreadsheet and post it, then we can all be a little more knowledgable and informed.

Let’s keep it simple, and stick to the basics, respond with one or more entries, whatever data ya got!
Cost by a board foot for
- FAS or better,
- rough thickness of 4/4 lumber

Westcoast List*
Alder cost per BF = / date cost aquired :
Alder cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired : _
Beech cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired : _
Cherry cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired :
Maple, SOFT cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired :
Maple, HARD cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired :
Poplar cost per BF =
_/ date cost aquired :
Red Oak cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired :
White Oak cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired :
Walnut cost per BF =
/ date cost aquired : __

I am keeping this to broadly available woods, I don’t think I should include exotics, but that might make sense for a phase 2 of this project.

AM I CRAZY for trying to capture this data across the US – you BET!


-- MRod, Henderson, Colorado by way of Brooklyn!

23 replies so far

View SplinterDave's profile


15 posts in 3862 days

#1 posted 05-22-2008 09:20 PM

I fail to see your point. I do wood working for the fun of it and usually give away all my stuff so that I have room to make more. If I started worrying about cost I’d quit and use my shop for something else. It is like fishing or golf. I spend a whole lot of money on these hobbies for the pleasure of doint it. Now if I had to think about how much a BF of oak was going to cost me to build the next cabinet the fun would go out of it. Sorry, I have no idea on cost. If I see wood I like I buy it.

View Marcel T's profile

Marcel T

146 posts in 3896 days

#2 posted 05-22-2008 09:31 PM

Well some people do have to keep cost in mind, and I think this could be a very useful project.
Just an idea, most lumber stores probably have a price list. Maybe just get a few of those, and average it out? I’m sure they will be happy to e-mail you a copy, mine did.

View mjlauro's profile


244 posts in 3930 days

#3 posted 05-22-2008 09:48 PM

I do see your point, however I agree with splinter. I pay what it costs to continue to have a hobby.

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3861 days

#4 posted 05-22-2008 09:54 PM

hi to give you an idea i just payed £60 for french oak 25mm x 250mm x 4000mm thats with 20%discount and no vat other wize it would of cost me nearly £80 so like splinterdave i dont think of cost when i want to make something its a hobby not a business

but saying that it will be interesting for me to see what you guys pay for the same sort of timber

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4109 days

#5 posted 05-22-2008 09:58 PM

I too am not a professional, but I also do not want to be gouged because of ignorance. I purchased some walnut about 5 months ago for just under a dollar a foot. It was not top quality, but for about $150 I got 170 feet of lumber, most of it is good. It was rough sawn, but the time it took to mill it was worth the $5 to $6 more I’d have paid at Rockler. The same goes for the cherry I bought at $.75 a foot. Again, I saved a bundle for a little extra work. Buying retail I could have got 20 feet, buying rough, I got 125 for approximately the same price. That cost difference allows me to do a whole lot more. I like more.

So, a comparison would be quite useful and allow me to maximize my enjoyment. (I paid those prices in Michigan, so they’re not necessarily applicable to the West Coast.)

-- Working at Woodworking

View MRod's profile


74 posts in 4232 days

#6 posted 05-22-2008 11:09 PM

Yes- I love it when you guys get passionate and respond with such vigor!!

Hi SplinterDave, I respect your view indeed. It is NOT a business for me yet either, but I also can’t afford the retail price for wood here in Colorado. It’s too expensive.

It might be cheaper for you in Texas and I’d like to know just that, which is the reason for this PROJECT.

My main reason for launching this was because I just bought wood off of eBay and really didn’t understand if I what I was paying was cheap or a ripoff.

I think being armed with information will allow both myself and others to have an idea of what we should be paying for wood.


-- MRod, Henderson, Colorado by way of Brooklyn!

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4294 days

#7 posted 05-22-2008 11:54 PM

I can’t give you a price for your specs, because that’s not the way I buy… I am, however, in northern California. Petaluma, in southern Sonoma county, about 45 minutes north of San Francisco.

I look for reclaimed wood or cast-offs from manufacturing or other processes. I generally pay about $2/bf (give or take, most of the stock I end up getting is a little over 3/4”, so it’s really per 3/4bf, although sometimes it’s finished enough that I don’t have to plane it…). I’ve got a huge load of eastern maple, a large stack of peruvian mahogany, a couple of chairs worth of Ipe (destined for chairs because that stock is thicker, so I can get curves out of it!), some birch, and a bit of massaranduba (aka Brazilian Redwood, but it’s nothing like California redwood). I don’t get to choose my widths, sometimes I get more figured stuff (the maple is a lot of heart/sap interface), I have to plan my projects so I don’t run out in the middle (although the maple and the massaranduba should come around fairly regularly).

The maple comes from a place that makes stamp handles. The mahogany is reclaimed from some box beams. The Ipe and massaranduba came from the seconds bin at a high end deck place. Craigslist and the willingness to store a couple of hundred bucks worth of lumber at a time helps.

But next time I hit Mount Storm or even my local Woodcraft, I’ll try to get some price lists to pass along to you.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View swied's profile


74 posts in 3931 days

#8 posted 05-23-2008 01:01 AM

Here’s the price list for my local hardwood source here in San Diego.

Note: If you are a contractor and/or have a membership with the SD Fine Woodworkers Assoc., then you get significant discounts.

-- Scott, San Diego

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4063 days

#9 posted 05-23-2008 04:25 AM

estimating materials for a renovation/furniture project should be as follows.

Take your guess and double it. Then add another 50%.

Take that sum and multiply it by 1.15

take that sum and triple it….............and if that number doesnt scare you then go for it. I have seen very few projects where the lumber “estimate” came under budget. The dynamics of estimating are directly linked to the possibilities of said craftsmen/client/owner, making a design change half way through the project. Thus why the above formula works for me. I never use the “cheap” price on wood, rather choosing to price things at the “OUCH” level. At least that way I am in for no surprises and if the cost comes in at a comfortable budget then I if I get lucky, I might come across a better price when the project gets under way…...........and I win again.

Personally…......I attend a lot of auctions in the hope I get a good shake for my dollar. I think there is a difference between cheap and frugal. I dislike the word “cheap”, frugal is so much palatable.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gator9t9's profile


331 posts in 3874 days

#10 posted 05-23-2008 08:18 AM

Mrod …
Cost for Alder in Seattle area is
$5 per BF….

That is the only thing i have bought in the last month …

oh yes i got some Bubinga at the Woodworking show …but it was 400.00 dollars an inch …I picked up a thimbles worth of Bubinga dust …

and i do see your point and i love your “lil Project ”....I want to know what every thing costs ….and i will buy wood till the cows come home no matter what the cost …
thanks …keep us posted …

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4331 days

#11 posted 05-23-2008 06:49 PM

The last time I bought wood (April 2008), Red Oak was $3.50 BDFT and Poplar was $2.00 BDFT. Both were here in Central California, and both were 5/4 and approximately 9 inches in width. We have a lhardwood dealer with a warehouse in the area, so I just go down and pick what I need for a project.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View bobdurnell's profile


315 posts in 4067 days

#12 posted 05-24-2008 12:02 AM

Dear MRod, I hope this is what you want. I went to Austin Hardwood today 5-23-08 and checked the woods and thier prices.

Alder cost per bdft=$4.79 Date cost acquired 5-23-08
Beech cost per bdft=$4.73
Cherry cost per bdft=$7.20
Maple soft cost per bdft=$3.37
Maple hard cost per bdft=$5.86
Poplar cost per bdft=$2.09
Red Oak cost per bdft=$3.59
White Oak cost per bdft=$3.82
Walnut cost per bdft=$5.99

These are the Southern California prices for the woods indicated. These prices don’t include tax or the discount a woodworker will get. Hope this helps.

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

View MRod's profile


74 posts in 4232 days

#13 posted 05-24-2008 02:09 AM

Ah Bob, you are DA MAN!

You have not only provided the data, but allowed me to move this project onto the other areas of the USA…then Europe… and the World!!! ok ok…keep it down.

Your point on tax and discount is understood. It’s all negotiating from retail prices, which is what I was after!

Seriously thou, Thanks Bob. Well done.

NOTE: Bill’s cost for Red Oak and Poplar are close to Bob’s

PS: I wonder about this name Austin Hardwoods, is it a chain? there is an Austin Hardwoods in Denver too.

-- MRod, Henderson, Colorado by way of Brooklyn!

View Marcel T's profile

Marcel T

146 posts in 3896 days

#14 posted 05-24-2008 02:13 AM

If you want, I can get you a price list from Canada, unless you wish to finish the USA first.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4175 days

#15 posted 05-24-2008 02:45 AM

Bobdurnell, I’d say here in Alabama/Georgia its about 20% less than you’re paying.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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