What should I expect when selling my extra lumber?

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Forum topic by Adam D posted 06-26-2012 01:59 AM 3043 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adam D

103 posts in 2511 days

06-26-2012 01:59 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lumber selling supplies material

I got into woodworking sort of accidentally. I was on craigslist looking for a table-saw, and ended up finding a gentleman’s entire delta tool collection, and with it, about 1000 board feet of red oak, black cherry, and black walnut. Anyway, 2 years later, I’m loving it, but I’ve decided I need to make a little room in my garage.

I’ve decided that I don’t have any plans in the near future for the red oak, and so I threw it on craigslist. The local lumberyard here was asking $3.33/board foot of 4/4, so I suggested $2.50 from an individual for air-dried stuff…

When buyers show up, should I expect them to measure each board and calculate exactly how much each board costs, or is the general etiquette to just measure an “average” one and assume that the rest are about the same, or should I just expect to haggle and be haggled?

I guess I’m just looking for stories and experiences! I feel like I’m parting with my unborn children, and I’m a bit nervous D:

-- Adam, Rochester NY

12 replies so far

View thedude50's profile


3607 posts in 2715 days

#1 posted 06-26-2012 02:11 AM

I will buy what you have and can pay y9ou in a couple of days I will need it packeaged up and shipped to me here in california and i will of coarse pay the freight I can do this at the price you quoted and will have top trust your calculations I hope the idea works for you I can pay you by paypal and give you several days to package the wood into manageable bundles that fed ex will bring or ups if you prefer

-- Please check out my new stores and

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2713 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 02:13 AM

I have a sawmill, cut hardwood lumber, and sell it on Craigslist. I measure every board and calculate the number of board feet in every board. I do not haggle. My price is $1.50/BF for #2 grade, $2.00/BF for #1 grade, and $2.50/BF for select grade. I grade every board, and I am conservative in the customer’s favor.

You can pre-measure the boards that you want to sell and mark the number of BF on each board with chalk, and you can even mark the price of each board. That would speed up the process and take any ambiguity out of the value of each board.

99.9999% of my customers from Craigslist have been great.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3367 posts in 3346 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 02:18 AM

dude, you crack me up…and that’s exactly what Adam can expect. That, and a bunch of sob stories.

Now, personally, if this stuff was a dollar a BF and shipping was free, you’d be my hero, Adam! =D

As the Romans used to say, “illegitimi non carborundom”.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2814 days

#4 posted 06-26-2012 02:21 AM

Solid advice above, plus it’s sold if you like, can’t beat that.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3223 days

#5 posted 06-26-2012 02:21 AM

I buy lumber from CL and it is very similar to Wood-Mizer’s ways. I have sold via CL as well and will admit that I average it out (in the customer’s favour). Though the lumber I have sold was by linear feet rather than BF.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Adam D's profile

Adam D

103 posts in 2511 days

#6 posted 06-26-2012 02:23 AM

@thedude50: All jokes aside, I couldn’t believe that someone quoted my Indian friend only $500 to ship his motorcycle. TO INDIA. Incredible!

@WDHLT15: I’ve never purchased wood from a dealer: what can I look for to determine grade? Some of it’s wormy—that can be a good thing, right? Is it considered a defect or a premium?

-- Adam, Rochester NY

View thedude50's profile


3607 posts in 2715 days

#7 posted 06-26-2012 02:30 AM

adam do you know how many board feet you have ? I will pay your price I cant get oak under 6 buck a board foot here so the shipping is normal i buy tons of wood on ebay so to offer to buy your load is nothing new to me I know what it costs to have wood shipped I pay it every time i buy wormy chestnut

-- Please check out my new stores and

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2873 days

#8 posted 06-26-2012 03:20 AM

Whenever I buy wood from CL its nice when they have the calculated amount on each board. Otherwise if they are all the same length, you can lay them out side by side and measure their total width and only do one calculation.

View Dusty56's profile


11830 posts in 3925 days

#9 posted 06-26-2012 03:34 AM

If you know the formula for figuring board footage , it would be to your advantage to measure and price the boards ahead of time….it will benefit you both if you have an accurate tally.
You also need to decide if you want to sell bits and pieces or the whole lot at one time.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2713 days

#10 posted 06-26-2012 11:59 AM


I am not a dealer. I am a forester and tree farmer and woodworker. I cut hardwood mainly from my property for my own use and as well as sell some to local woodworkers. I have sold some to fellow Lumberjocks.

I taught myself how to grade hardwood lumber. The grade is based on the defects. A FAS or select board has to be 83% clear, #1 grade has to be 66% clear, and #2 has to be 50% clear. You measure between the defects to calculate the % of the board that is clear of defects. The minimum size of the clear cuttings is highest in FAS/select and lowest in #2 grade.

The most common defect is knots. Other defects may be splits or rot or insect damage. However, some defects, like wormy wood (wood with insect holes like from ambrosia beetles) can be unique and can sell for the higher grade price.

If you Google “Grading Hardwood Lumber”, there is a wealth of info out there.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Derakon's profile


89 posts in 2404 days

#11 posted 06-27-2012 10:10 PM

As for measuring board feet, my local lumberyard just measures the board at each end, gets the average, and multiplies by the length of the board (and thickness as appropriate of course). So if you have e.g. a 4/4 board that’s 8 feet long, 7” wide at one end and 6.5” wide at the other, then your average width is 6.75”, giving you (6.75 / 12) * 8 = 4.5 board feet.

The lumberyard actually has a ruler that does the board feet conversion for them, but the math isn’t especially complicated.

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3540 days

#12 posted 06-28-2012 11:40 AM

Get a summary of grading rules. A couple things: beware of the owner that thinks he has a treasure, watch the price – In NW Wisconsin #1 and #2 common gives me small cuttings i use in small project. You will pay premium price for Firsts and Seconds (top grade), Selects, #1 Common, #2 Common. Know what defects are for a species-different for walnut vs SPF (spruce pine fir). I start negotiation with introduction with the wood I want most (not necessarily what he wanted to sell). Get a tally- by your count. Stack the pile tight 4’ across, keep a couple crap boards for the top course I estimate length in feet; average length, round both up and down—alternate when long or short. Separate species. Show the seller your roll of cash (discretely of course). Let the seller set the price. Make sure you can calculate in your head Quote the lumber yard prices for the grades- ie FAS, Select or better, infreuently #1 common. He’ll diddle withe the price it is always too high – you should do that last per board or board feet. Unless the board is really special I won’t buy by the board. You are buy are buying a commodity – stick with grades. By now you have calculated the board feet and grade. (secret). Let the owner talk-his count, his grade, and what makes his special. I needs to look like the price can be low ($ 300/m softwood, $750/m hardwood. Try to make this deal! Money back in pocket. Start walking away. Ask him what else he has to sell – many time very valuable folk are. Be sure the deal is done, handshake and all, money transferred before you start loading in your truck. Load the truck- some juys will jack you with how good the lumber is and tells you the price just went up $50-100/m. Politely decline and bolt for the door.

Usually a good chat with the owner will clue you in to what he’s looking to get. Beware of poorly sawn portable band saw lumber—These mills need to be well maintained-lube, saw sharp, mechanicals in good repair general look—-They all look like a teenagers room. Soft hardwoods butternut, basswood, silver maple and aspen are notorious for bad sawing around knots, with dull saw, setup error. Lots of tricks of the trade—I see many used by the Reality TV series. Only you don’t split the difference—give something. I like to think I want that lumber for about half the Owners first price. Bribe the owner with cool drink and a treat. And a cheap collectable. Keep your animals away, spouse, children and dogs()h! (big distraction).

You will have the advantage if you know the grading rules and use that to reject the board. It is much easier to downgrade the whole stack then argue over each board. Remember: FAS boards must be 6” wide by 8’ long to qualify and contain a certain number of clear cuttings. I’ll leave it here for now. I can answer questions at 715-394-4660. The lumber yards around here tried to measure the wood and got barked off the property by the dog. Estimates are just that—a point where the negotiating begins. Degotiate with extra an extra route. For me recently retired, some available cash and a need to learn more about the timber, rocessing from tree to furniture

Thanks,I hope any of this is helpful Steve Johnsen

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

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