Lumber buying - etiquette question

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Forum topic by BinghamtonEd posted 03-18-2014 12:40 PM 2606 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2298 posts in 2363 days

03-18-2014 12:40 PM

So I’m driving out this afternoon to look at some air dried cherry. The guy has about 1800 bd ft, but I only have space for about 75, so he’s pulled off about that much and set it aside for me. It’s been sitting stacked for about 5 years and he’s moving, price is $1 bd ft. I’m not expecting the greatest lumber, but if it’s good enough for shop storage and perhaps a painted project, I’ll snag it. If the lumber is as described and I purchase it, is it bad etiquette to measure it as I put it in my truck to verify how much is there? Or is it rude, and I should just eyeball it?

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

41 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3883 posts in 1761 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 12:46 PM

I would measure a board at home and get a mental image of what the description says. $1 b/f sounds very reasonable. I don’t think it to be rude to measure on site. What are the dimensions?


View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2363 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 12:52 PM

I have 25 bd ft of ash at home and looked at that last night and pictured it doubled and tripled. The dimensions listed in the ad state that the boards are between 4-12” wide, 4-12’ long. I mentioned in my response to him that I was looking for stock 6+” wide rough, by 6-10’ long. There were 2 boards I specifically asked for, I need to get 2 6”x75” pieces out of them. He said he had a few options for those for me to look at and I can take my pick.

Here’s the picture from the ad :

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View ChuckV's profile


3118 posts in 3521 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 12:55 PM

I do not think it would be any more rude than the seller counting the cash that you pay with. If you feel uncomfortable pulling out the measuring tape, you should get an idea of what 75 bf will look like in your truck.

This sounds like a good deal.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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Mainiac Matt

8029 posts in 2322 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 12:59 PM

I find the best guidance for these situations is to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, so keep in mind that they guys time is worth something and don’t make him stand there and watch you measure each and every board.

I like the recommendation to make sure you know what 75 BF should look like before hand.

I find that living life on a two way street is best, and personally, I don’t have much patience for one way (my way every time) type people…... so if you do measure, make sure you’re prepared to pay him for the actual qty if it tallies up to more than 75 BF :^)

I suspect you’ll find that you’re getting a good deal if you just pay the man and say thank you.

Since the price is good and the lumber sure looks good, I’d feel best driving away from the deal knowing that I paid him a little more than the exact three digit decimal amount owed.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View ChuckC's profile


828 posts in 2929 days

#5 posted 03-18-2014 01:03 PM

If his price is measured in BF doesn’t someone have to take out the tape? How will you/he know how much to charge?

Aside from that, I don’t think it’s rude at all. If it makes it easier you can just say you have a project in mind which requires 75 bf and you want to make sure you buy enough.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2363 days

#6 posted 03-18-2014 01:06 PM

That’s kind of what I was thinking, Matt. I do have an idea of what 50 and 75 bd ft should look like. Even if I am a horrible judge, if I walk out with 50 bd feet for $75, I still paid $1.50/bd ft. If I show up and it looks really off, I’ll start measuring. Thanks for the advice, everyone.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1745 days

#7 posted 03-18-2014 01:09 PM

Remember, rough lumber dimensions are nominal at best. For $1.00/ft I would not argue too much.

It is certainly fair to measure a couple of typical boards to get an idea of how wide they were cut, and the overall length of the stock. Once you have done that you have an idea of how much you are picking out of the pile. At that price you would do well to buy as much as you can afford/store if the quality is reasonable.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2363 days

#8 posted 03-18-2014 01:16 PM

Yeah, unfortunately I work out of a 2-car garage and between the bench, tools, and all the other crap in our garage, there’s just not room for any more, on top of the 30-35bdft in there already. A good chunk of this is going to get used pretty quickly, I have a bed (think small, simple, very low, twin for 2 year old) to build. After that I’ll be starting a bookcase, and at that point if he still has it, I may go snag some more.

It pains me to paint a bed made of cherry, however that’s what is needed, and this is about 1/2-1/3 the price of poplar, the original wood of choice. Maybe in 5 years I can reclaim it, or donate it to friends with kids.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View JB Brackett's profile

JB Brackett

12 posts in 1524 days

#9 posted 03-18-2014 01:35 PM

Honestly you wouldn’t be breaching ANY code or etiquette by pulling a tape out on materials you are pulling your wallet out on. Like it was said one of you has to do it. That wouldn’t be offensive in the least if I were selling someone lumber and if I were buying it and they took offense I’d leave it with them. It sounds like a great deal but it’s not great enough to skip a quick measure/calc.

-- “If you can visualize it, if you can dream it, there’s some way to do it.” —Walt Disney

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29216 posts in 2332 days

#10 posted 03-18-2014 01:44 PM

For $1 a board foot, I would probably try to decide if the pile is worth what he’s charging. I would also try to buy it all. It’s always better to have more wood on hand.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2440 days

#11 posted 03-18-2014 02:03 PM

Ed ,The guy has about 1800 bd ft,with all likelihood he’ll give you slightly more than 75 bd ft than less,the only thing I would be concern about is the quality of the wood,eyeball the whole pile if it’s fine, pay .that’s what I would do,in fact, if I like what I see I’ll get some more,maybe 100bd ft?l

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2363 days

#12 posted 03-18-2014 02:13 PM

Agreed with everything that’s been said here, thanks! Monte, if you tell me how to cram 1800 bd ft of wood into a small 2-car garage and still be able to work, I’m all ears!

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View RHaynes's profile


112 posts in 1614 days

#13 posted 03-18-2014 02:20 PM

+1 to Matt’s suggestion. If it were closer to market (around here cherry goes for $8/bf for 4/4 up to $8/bf for thicker pieces. My hardwood dealer can also get 16/4 cherry that goes for $16/bf. If I’m paying market or close to market, it’s best for me and the dealer to make sure we measure. But at $1/bf, I doubt I would measure. I’d probably take a tape, get a rough estimate of total width, total length, and total thickness and do one calculation to make sure we’re in the ballpark. You can always tell the guy “it looks like plenty, I just want to check real quick to make sure I’m not getting more than I’m paying you for—I want to pay you for the difference.” Then tell him it’s a little over and slip an extra $10 in there.

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2363 days

#14 posted 03-18-2014 03:26 PM

At my local hardwood place, the nice clear straight cherry goes for $6.50. Many times I’ve been there, theres a pallet of the less clear, more warped boards for $3.50. I usually grab those for cutting boards and small pieces.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View shipwright's profile


7979 posts in 2792 days

#15 posted 03-18-2014 03:27 PM

What it all boils down to is: Is this pile of wood worth $75 to me?
FBM price is a way to put the price into words so it can be advertised but when you are there, looking at the pile it is almost irrelevant.
I would look at the quality and the amount in the pile and simply make a decision in my mind if it was worth the price to me. Just like I would buying anything else.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

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