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Forum topic by InstantSiv posted 01-14-2014 04:46 PM 1109 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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262 posts in 1623 days

01-14-2014 04:46 PM


I got into woodworking as a hobby a little over a year ago and it’s kind of turned into a business. I was using big box stores to buy lumber but if I’m going to make any money I figure I should stop buying at retail prices. I’ve been to 2 different lumber yards and I always leave not liking the experience. Yard A always had horrific customer service. I remember being laughed at when I asked to see the lumber and that I needed to pay first. The last time I went the price of the plywood I always get jumped nearly 40%. I asked why and the answer I get is yup the price went up with no explanation . The second place I went to quoted lower prices over the phone and had higher prices when I went to purchase some ply. I only visited once. What gives? Is this how all lumber yards are?

Is there something I should be doing or saying… maybe utter a secret phrase or something to get some service?

6 replies so far

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2276 days

#1 posted 01-14-2014 05:27 PM

When I think lumber yard, I think construction materials and linear foot pricing – not hardwoods and board foot pricing. Are you using construction materials (pine, construction grade ply 2 by x studs, etc)?

If not look for a hardwood outlet or a lumber mill.

A lumber yard doesn’t have a single board of interest to me.


View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1623 days

#2 posted 01-14-2014 06:30 PM

Thanks for the reply Joe. My name is Joe too, our parents chose wisely.

I should of been clearer. The first place was geared towards construction materials and the second place was geared more to hardwoods.

I’m using import birch plywood and fir strips right now. I make cornhole boards and build the frames out of the plywood. The edge in contact with the ground gets a piece of fir stripping to keep the plywood from being in contact with the ground and wicking up the moisture. I also give it a coat of poly. My concern is that long term exposure to the ground could cause delamination. So far I have sold about 100 of them within the past year and haven’t heard any complaints but it’s always in the back of my mind.

If I’m going to set up a business and sell them like that it could be a serious quality issue so I’m wondering if using solid wood is going to be too expensive or not.

Do lumber mills dress up the wood or do they only sell it in rough form?

View MrFid's profile


876 posts in 1932 days

#3 posted 01-14-2014 07:28 PM

Agree with lumberjoe. That first place you mentioned… never go there again unless you’re building a house (or a new shop!). Even then probably not. I can’t stand places that won’t let you in the yard until you know what you need. Those are generally geared more towards contractors, where they will be going through a lot of stock and be big return customers. Skip that place. You want a place that will let you browse the boards before you buy. If you post the general area of the country (or world) you’re in, someone will be able to help you with specific recommendations for quality places.

The secret phrase is: “I like your curly cherry. I have some crotch wood that would go great with that.” If they look at you sideways, or slap you across your face, leave and do not go back.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2066 days

#4 posted 01-14-2014 07:38 PM

There are lumberyards that cater to the construction trade, and there are lumberyards that only sell to businesses, and there are lumberyards that sell to anyone with the $$. If their focus is other businesses then they sell hundreds or thousands of bf or 50 sheets of plywood at a time to people who call in their order ahead of time. You walking in off the street and asking to cherry pick a few board feet or a couple of sheets of plywood are just a nuisance to them.

In Tucson there is a McEwen lumber. They are part of Hood Distribution and are a nationwide company. They are just as nice to me when I buy one board as they are when I buy a pickup full. Your profile doesn’t say where you are, but you might try looking them up and seeing if they have a local store.
If you’ve got a truck/trailer and aren’t in a tree-free zone like southern AZ, then you could try finding a sawmill too. That will get you even cheaper boards but you might have to pile it up and wait a while for it to dry.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1623 days

#5 posted 01-15-2014 05:49 PM

Thanks for the reply guys. I’m in the NE Atlanta area.

MrFid I want lumber not a trip to see how well hospitals are run these says ;)

JustJoe Hey another Joe!, The funny thing about it was I chose the place because of the big sign out front that said it was open to the public. I guess the employees didn’t get the memo.

I checked out McEwen lumber but they’re not in my area. Thanks for the tip with the sawmills. I have a question about drying if you know. Do saw mills dry wood at all or do they send it to some one else? How does the drying process usually take place.

View JayT's profile


5679 posts in 2239 days

#6 posted 01-15-2014 06:10 PM

The last time I went the price of the plywood I always get jumped nearly 40%. I asked why and the answer I get is yup the price went up with no explanation

Try being a dealer. When those price jumps went through last year, we had pretty much the same conversation with our wholesalers.

Now, that doesn’t excuse being rude to any customer, regardless of who you are or how much you want to buy. As others have mentioned, pay first is common practice in lumber dealers that cater to contractors. The contractors want to send in their list, have the bill ready to sign and load up in the least amount of time possible. It doesn’t mean that some of those places won’t let you sort through the stack after you have paid.

The second one with prices changing raises some red flags for me. Don’t give up, however, there really are places that will deal with your fairly, even if you have to pay a little more. Having enough employees and even more, enough good employees to really take care of customers costs money and that will be reflected in the prices, within reason. For me, paying 5-10% more at a quality dealer is totally worth it if they have what I need and are good and fair to deal with.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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