Best way to transport a TON of lumber and tools across country?

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Forum topic by ADHDan posted 04-29-2014 02:17 PM 1744 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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800 posts in 2136 days

04-29-2014 02:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

My parents have a family friend in North Carolina who is getting out the professional woodworking business, and he offered to donate a bunch of lumber and tools to me. “A bunch” as in (according to my parents) “enough maple, walnut and cherry to fill several trucks.” Currently, we’ve only thought of one way to get the materials from North Carolina to Minnesota (where I live): either I or my parents fly down and rent a truck to haul as much back as we can.

Does anyone have other/better/cost-effective ideas for transporting a substantial amount of lumber and tools?

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

22 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2998 days

#1 posted 04-29-2014 02:35 PM

Truck freight. A whole load will be cheaper than a plane ticket and truck rental for sure. Just call some trucking companies, they will give you the rates. You might have to hire a couple guys to load the truck for you.

View poopiekat's profile


4356 posts in 3762 days

#2 posted 04-29-2014 02:43 PM

I once moved my entire shop about 1500 miles, using a 4 cylinder Ford Ranger and the biggest covered trailer U-Haul would let me hook up to. It was a single-axle 5’ X 8’. I also had a home-built ladder rack made from 3/4” iron pipe and Kee-Clamp fittings. A U-Haul cube van or panel van would have negated any value to the move, fuel-wise. I got about 22-24 MPG with the Ranger, a v8 truck would probably have used 2 or 3 times that amount in gas. I must have had close to 3,000 pounds in that trailer.
Most of my stuff was well under 6 Feet long; lumber hauled through the elements due to length would be another consideration in favor of a box truck. You might consider a trailer from any of the local trailer manufacturer/dealers, you could get a 7 X 14 trailer, used, for about $2500 and easily sell it, once back home, for equally as much. This is, assuming you have a truck to pull it with.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View JayT's profile


5679 posts in 2238 days

#3 posted 04-29-2014 02:49 PM

+1 to crank. The biggest thing is to make sure that stuff is crated, packed and palletized well, because unless you fill the whole trailer, the stuff will have to be transferred and that is where the greatest chance of mishap occurs. The forklift drivers are not always as careful as they should be. Have someone take pictures of everything before/as it is loaded, just in case.

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

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2136 days

#4 posted 04-29-2014 02:54 PM

I’m guessing that he’s not giving away his table saws, etc. and that the vast majority of what we’d be moving is lumber. I priced a 16” truck rental at about $650 (AAA discount) plus another $500 or so in gas, and maybe $150 for food and lodging. I can use frequent flyer miles for a free plane ticket, so with another, say, $100 for incidentals I’d be looking at roughly $1,400 to $1,500. How do you think that would compare to freighting – and would freighting be much cheaper if I ignored the tools and just got the lumber? Thanks so much for the advice.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View helluvawreck's profile


31407 posts in 2894 days

#5 posted 04-29-2014 03:01 PM

We use to go to machinery and plant auctions all over the southeast. We have purchased as many as 10 tractor trailer loads at plants that closed down and we used freight companies always when it was more than a truckload. However, we always took a forklift and did the actual loading ourselves. You have to go there yourself and take care of the actual gathering, packing and loading yourself – nobody else will do it right. Of course if someone is going give you something it will obviously make a big difference. If the trucks are packed properly the freight is reasonable.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1748 days

#6 posted 04-29-2014 03:07 PM

You could also get one of those storage cubes dropped off at your location to allow you to load at your leisure. Then pick it up and take it where you need it. Weight would be a consideration, but you’d be able to load and secure it to your satisfaction and greatly reduce the chance of someone messing your stuff up by transfer.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1276 posts in 1661 days

#7 posted 04-29-2014 03:10 PM

Crank49 is correct. Hauling a whole load might be cheaper than a part of it. BTW You SUCK!!

-- Jeff NJ

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1917 days

#8 posted 04-29-2014 03:25 PM

I just did a cost estimate, if you could find a pickup suitable for the task, depending on the load you’ll be carrying.

With an AVG MPG of 17, at $3.60, it would cost $285 in feel. Now, if you could find a buddy with a trailer suitable (Probably enclosed is the safest assuming the aforementioned amounts of lumber)

Throw in $150 for food and you’re less than $500.

Now, forgive me if my math is wrong, been outa practice a while!

IF all the stock is 4/4 a 14’ trailor should suit 6048 BF of lumber.Clearly, that is a hazard waiting to happen.

I wouldn’t stack it higher than half the box depth. Either way, it’s tough to know how much lumber is there.

Best bet might be to have him figure up the amount of wood, and get an estimate from Estes or the like. That way, they deal with the safety issues. I’ve driven a pickup with 3000lbs of plywood in it, and trust me, trying to stop on a dime is scary. The plywood slammed into the headache rack (thankfully) and smashed the window in.

Don’t take what i say for gospel, just throwing my experience out there. I’m in the shipping industry and while i thankfully haven’t had any accidents myself or known anyone, I’ve heard some terrible stories. It’s not just your life in danger.

View mnguy's profile


193 posts in 3426 days

#9 posted 04-29-2014 03:25 PM

Charles is absolutely correct – the palletizing and tie down and ability to stack the pallets / crates is key to getting the max on a truck. If you have stuff shipped vs. trucking it yourself, don’t forget you need to get it all off the truck. That means a lift gate, which will cost more. And you’ll still need a pallet truck or a fork lift at this end to get stuff off the lift gate.

Also, don’t forget you can sell some of the wood / machinery to cover some of your expenses. There is a healthy market here in the Twin Cities for hardwood and quality machinery.

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2986 days

#10 posted 04-29-2014 03:30 PM

Trains can be relatively inexpensive

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1917 days

#11 posted 04-29-2014 03:32 PM

The unfortunate thing about shipping is they charge you for volume, not just the size of the package. They charge you for the airspace lost, even though they WILL stack shit on your product if it’s possble.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2998 days

#12 posted 04-29-2014 03:56 PM

Depends on how far you are going for that full truck load cost, but I would typically expect to pay around $900 to go cross country with a very standard load. Used to be under $750 but fuel costs are a major factor now.
I just got a load of equipment from California to Tennessee for ~$900.

View danofpaco's profile


118 posts in 1944 days

#13 posted 04-29-2014 04:37 PM

Depending on what’s available, maybe some of us Twin Cities jocks would be willing to throw in some $ – if you’re looking to offset some costs…

-- Dan :: Minnesota

View ChefHDAN's profile


1067 posts in 2877 days

#14 posted 04-29-2014 10:42 PM

Why not get some folks to bid it in an auction?

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3574 days

#15 posted 04-30-2014 02:36 AM

Michael, what truck company do you use. Curious because I like buying equipment out of state some also. Last year I had some shipped from CA to TX.

To OP, we use a trucking company one time in the past, that is the route I would go. It is cost effective and safer.

-- .

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