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Forum topic by Dark_Lightning posted 10-23-2013 02:56 AM 1601 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3165 posts in 3138 days

10-23-2013 02:56 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood crazy prices

OK, I realize I live near a major metropolitan area, but the price of wood is starting to concern me. I was in a wood “boutique” (I’m not going to name the enterprise, I’m sure they are all about the same) today buying some wood, and looked at the fancy wood rack. Can anyone explain to my why a 1/8” by 3” by 24” piece of curly mahogany is $18.99? I DID buy a 1/4” by 1-1/2” by 24” Bolivian Rosewood stick for $7.99, and a 1/8” by 3” by 24” Curly Bubinga for $16.99, because I wanted them and they were gorgeous (cue Young Ted singing ”...sweet women behind every door, cost more than you got…”. They’re going to be used to make a box that will be $16+ just for wood that will be big enough to hold a pair of spectacles!

That mahogany was a nice looking stick, I must say. I almost bought it anyway, just because it was so purdy. But man, I just couldn’t pay that freight.

So, where do you all buy the really nice stuff for a better price? I’m willing to re-saw and mill/sand to thickness (say, 1/4” or so from larger stock) for boxes to save a Krugerrand or two when buying enough wood for something like a pencil box.

BTW, wood isn’t the only pricey substance. My wife quilts, and some of that cloth costs more than $300 a cubic foot! That strikes me as just nuts for boll weevil chow. I must be stuck in the ‘80s ‘60s? or something for prices.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

17 replies so far

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3507 days

#1 posted 10-23-2013 03:03 AM

I don’t have first hand knowledge but most of what I read tells me everything in CA cost alot.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Joshua Oehler's profile

Joshua Oehler

169 posts in 1720 days

#2 posted 10-23-2013 03:16 AM

I really can’t help you out here either. I don’t know of any place that sells specialty wood or any kind of exotics anywhere near me. I finally found a place that I can at least get domestic hardwoods. A couple prices I got recently were $7.55 bd ft for 5/4 walnut. $2.55 bd ft for 3/4 cedar, $5.65 bd ft 4/4 maple, $8.26 bd ft. 4/4 cherry and $16.38 bd ft for 4/4 Mahogany. I’m not sure how that stacks up to what it is in your area but thats the price for standard hardwoods in SW FL.

-- - "But old news can change, as memories float downstream. So don't judge me by my failures, only by my dreams"

View jmartel's profile


7959 posts in 2179 days

#3 posted 10-23-2013 03:34 AM

I’m going to assume you are talking about Rockler or Woodcraft. Regardless, they are both way overpriced. You need to find a 3rd party hardwood lumber dealer. Those usually have better deals. Even better when you can buy it rough and size it yourself.

I have a place here in Seattle that is like 1/2-2/3 the price of Rockler. And it is even cheaper on Craigslist, still.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile


542 posts in 1893 days

#4 posted 10-23-2013 03:53 AM

What jmartel said.

Unfortunately, I live in L.A. right now. It took a few months, but I found a local lumber yard that sells Black Walnut for $3.75 a BF. The place is in a terrible part of town, but it’s been there 100 years. Not sure where you are, but I would encourage you to do some leg work, ask around and don’t pay boutique prices…it only encourages them.

Good luck, i’m sure you’ll find a better source soon enough.

-- “If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses.” ― Lenny Bruce

View jkress's profile


14 posts in 3073 days

#5 posted 10-23-2013 04:29 AM

Working for a hardwood lumber dealer I have been asked this question before. A lot also has to do with your location and the availability of the lumber to that location. If lumber has to be shipped in to the area the trucking will be part of the board foot cost. A lot of exotic are this way. As for the thinner material like you mentioned above you are probably paying for someone else to machine the wood plus the cost of the wood. To compare prices from above I am paying $6.23 bd ft for 5/4 walnut. $2.45 bd ft for 4/4 cedar, $2.25 bd ft 4/4 Hard maple, $3.18 bd ft. 4/4 cherry and $13.40 bd ft for 4/4 Mahogany. I have to agree with jmartel a hardwood lumber dealer or mill will be the best value.

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 1917 days

#6 posted 10-23-2013 04:46 AM

I’ve had success with the online dealer Bell Forest products. I’ve ordered from them a few times now and they have reasonable prices / shipping costs. You can get a 10% off coupon at the wood whisperer’s site:

I also shop at my local hardwood dealer – prices are way better vs. big chains.

Lastly, try Craigslist. Local small sawyers advertise lumber at extremely low prices per BF. Although I’m not sure what the quality would be like.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View jmartel's profile


7959 posts in 2179 days

#7 posted 10-23-2013 03:13 PM

I wish I could get black walnut for $3.75. Seattle has many trees, but they are all pine and cedar. Just about everything needs to be trucked in, basically. Walnut is $6.75 for 4/4. I managed to find a guy on craigslist selling off his stash for $4.75 so I bought $300 worth, and I wish I could have bought more.

As far as sawyers from craigslist go, in my experience the cost is super low, but you also have to be prepared for a lot more waste. Boards cup, bow, twist, and have more defects than those at the lumber yards. If done right, you can get away cheaper than a lumber yard, but it’s something you have to deal with. I bought some 8/4 cherry slabs 12”+ wide and 8ft long for $2.50/boardfoot last year in CT, but they ended up needing a lot of flattening work.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 2433 days

#8 posted 10-24-2013 01:39 AM

I can only afford off cuts, usually a mixed box of exotics. Some places have better quality than others. I bought a bundle of 20 cocobolo fingerboard stock, all rough, for $80. That has been my biggest lumber buy ever (on a limited income). Since cocobolo went CITES the price has jumped. The same rough stock is now around $15 per. The way I look at it, the price of wood will never go down, so I try to squirrel away a 15lb box of off cuts every now and then.I realize most folks would need 50 to 100 bd ft for projects, but I’m happy to have a stash of Ebony,Pink Ivory, Snakewood, Brazilian Rosewood, Koa and many more varieties. I can make small items or use them for accents on projects with less interesting wood.I can make my own sawn veneer.But mainly I’m just happy to still have access to some of these legendary and rare woods. If you’re looking for pencil box material, then there’s a place in Carlsbad (I know it’s a drive) called Tropical Exotic Hardwoods of Latin America that has a mixed box of exotics all S4S for $190 (10 to 12 bdft). They also have exotics cutoffs for $1.50 a lb. ($75 minimum order)- excellent variety for inlay, small turnings, netsuke and such. Eisenbrand is another Socal place (Torrence)...Good luck ,I hope you can find a decently priced source.

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3138 days

#9 posted 10-24-2013 01:44 AM

Thanks folks, I appreciate the feedback. I’ll check into some of the recommended places. The flip side of finding wood cheap is the expense of driving there or the shipping. I bought some 6/4 black walnut for a little project. It was $60 for a 5’ board. And it was curved and twisted (though with some really nice curl, which is why I bought it). At least I got the project out of it. Now that I have access to a decent camera, I’m going to post some non-fuzzy pix of some projects.


-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#10 posted 10-24-2013 02:51 AM

Bohnhoff is my preferred hardwood source in Los Angeles,
but they don’t deal in real exotics… mostly domestic hardwoods
and mahogany. The wood is mostly sold rough or skip-planed
and the prices are the lowest I have found.

If you want exotics, go down to the place in Carlsbad. Eisenbrand
in Torrance has a lot of exotics too.

View oldnovice's profile


6904 posts in 3396 days

#11 posted 10-24-2013 03:08 AM

I I’ve in San Jose California and am lucky to have the ”lumber store of your dreams” available to me in Southern Lumber.

If this store doesn’t have the species desired it either doesn’t exist or they are out of stock. You can order almost anything special too. I don’t have any other store to compare but it is cheaper than mail order when you include shipping.

My other source called Northwest Hardwoods deals in rough cut large pieces but I have never bought anything there so I can’t compare the two in my area.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3138 days

#12 posted 10-25-2013 12:54 AM

Hi Loren, I guess I should slide by Eisenbrand again. It’s right up the street from the Torrance Rockler, which is close to my workplace…but far from home.

I’ll look into the “Carslbad Connection”. I know someone in the area who I can visit and justify a side trip.

I used to use McBeaths (sp?) in Oakland when I was in the Navy, stationed there. Man, that was a long time ago- mid-’70s.

Ordering wood and getting the figure I want seems a little risky on satisfaction. I have to have it in my hand and run my eyes over it. That piece of mahogany I referred to in the OP was like a miniature piece of waterfall bubinga, but I still couldn’t fork over $19 for .005 BF…even though I paid $2 less for the bubinga piece the same volume. Hmmm, that’s over $3000/BF. I’m in the wrong business.

Then again, if you were making a small box, it wouldn’t drive the finished product’s price that far out of line.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View rg33's profile


83 posts in 2030 days

#13 posted 10-25-2013 01:15 AM

another so-cal amateur woodworker here looking for reasonable wood prices…
UncannyValley, is the place you refer to in a bad part of town Bonhoff? Ive heard good things about them but their hours are a killer, 8am-3pm Monday to friday, with work I can never go to this place unless I took a half day.

View mahdee's profile


3898 posts in 1796 days

#14 posted 10-25-2013 01:36 AM

I would suggest using native wood from your area. Exotic wood cost a lot of money no matter where you live; but you can also get wood from south America for less, being in CA. CA has a bunch of nice native wood; orang, tropical and so on. take a ride to the Sierras and talk with the forestry folks and see if you can harvest some dead trees.


View mahdee's profile


3898 posts in 1796 days

#15 posted 10-25-2013 01:41 AM

Jmartel, I can deliver you black walnut for $3/ BF if you buy a 1000 at a time.


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