Ideas of most popular places to get good quality wood

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Forum topic by kat posted 12-05-2006 10:15 PM 6534 views 4 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View kat's profile


18 posts in 4156 days

12-05-2006 10:15 PM

I just started woodworking projects about a year ago. I would appreciate some ideas on who offers the best and cheapest wood. I have ordered oak and exotics from Arizona and it is good quality wood but I am open to some other ideas.

-- Kathy, Kersey Colorado,

28 replies so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4279 days

#1 posted 12-06-2006 01:43 AM

Good question. I get most of my wood from a commercial supplier but I usually order 200 plus board feet. They do not usually carry exotic woods. Some commercial suppliers will let you buy wood at their yard. All the local lumber yards in my area that use to carry real woods have been put out of bussiness by Lowe and Home Depot and their lumber is very expensive. I can get exotics at Woodcrafters but that is a 200 mile trip for me. Anyone near a big city should have local supplier who has specialty woods. When I ran a cabinet shop I would often have people who just wanted scraps for hobbies and I was happy to get rid of lots of left overs some times I’d just give them away.

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4171 days

#2 posted 12-06-2006 02:41 AM

Hi Kat,
I’m not sure what your looking for as to size, etc. In the winter time here in NH I will often go to various woodworking shows and many of them will have outside working exhibits were lumber mills are being shown. While much of the log is sold by the bf, it still remains that those first cuts are not what any are wanting to buy. Works great for me as these are placed on the scrap pile as take all you want, course I am always talking and keeping up a relationship with the guys who run these. And at the end of a show, for a few dollars I can usually get some good finished pieces since they are not excited about taking anything home.

Ha, the funny part is there is always the ongoing give and take with the woodturners there also, who are busy going through the pile. As I do rustic, I have gotten a lot of live edge slab, which I ues for table tops and benches. The woodturners love it because they can do multi glue ups of many species and colors.

Through this I have been able to get walnut, cherry, oak, rock and curly maple and butternut, plus good pine slabs. I also used to get some leftover exotics from friends, till upon explaining how I used what they were throwing away, I noticed they were not throughing away any longer.

Local sawmills in the area have been a great help also along with loggers, but I don’t know if you can convert from rough to finish?

One of the best ways to find wood is by paying attention to yard, barn and estate sales in your area. Find someone who is doing estate sales and develop a relationship with them so that they know who you are and what you are looking for. I have entered many cellars where all the woodworkers were busy going through the tools and cabinets, only to walk over behind the furnace and such and discover 3’’ and 4’’ slabs of hard wood.

Barns are a constant source of wood for me and while out driving I have developed the act of stopping and talking with barn owners, while admiring their barns as we wonder about inside. This is a great source for developing friends and also helps me find wood and barn hardware. Helps if you spend some time learning about barns also.

Well, I don’t know if I’ve helped you or confused you, but if you will keep your eyes open, there is wood all around you.

Nice talking with you and keep up the woodworking projects.

-- --frank, NH,

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4264 days

#3 posted 12-06-2006 01:58 PM

Try this site, you can browse through it, & see who can fulfill your needs. I think shipping costs are a big factor.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4292 days

#4 posted 12-07-2006 05:59 AM

My father-in-law moonlights as an arborist, (primarily for the free-firewood) but I get to poke through the pile. I try to notice any interesting pieces before it’s cut up too small. Have some nice cherry, and plenty of oak that way.

I’ve also lucked out and was able to clean out a co-workers basement (after her husband passed) mostly plywood and dimensional pine, but some natural edge slabs, and other gems hidden in the mix.

Most recently my grandfather gave me a call, a tall (and surprisingly straight) cherry tree came down in his yard (and asked If I wanted it – Silly question) So now I’ve got some 4-5’ sections and a 20’ section with my name on it… (only about 6 inches in diameter, but just fine for the lathe… what am I going to do with it? No idea, yet….

Sorry, If this doesn’t exactly help with where to find wood… I don’t really have contacts in that regard outside of family… but so far It’s been enough for me. I’d advise anyone to “remind” people (friends, uncles, cousins, whatever,...) every now and then that you’re always on the lookout for some lumber, if they ever happen across anything – Old furniture, barn, storm damaged tree/fence, etc…

Amazing what a co-worker or neighbor will let you have just for a little sweat equity!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Gary's profile


1281 posts in 4289 days

#5 posted 12-14-2006 02:37 PM

The information posted to date is all good and useful. I’ll add some ideas I use that I don’t specifically see above. Of course, what type of wood you need is dependent on what you’re building, what tools you have, and what level of effort you’re willing to put in.
What I mean is that a turner can use lots of stuff a furniture maker probably wouldn’t and if you’re looking to build something quickly, you might save time buying lumber already milled S4S as opposed to milling rough lumber. Furthermore, sometimes paying more yields a better final value [lower cost] when the time involved working around defects is accounted for. There are many variables that fit into the equation, and it’s different for each of us in some respects based on time, energy, experience, et al.
With that said:
1. Check the local yellow pages for sawmills. If there are any, go visit them. Learn what they do and what they can provide you with. If there aren’t any, search the web for local sawmills. Many of the preloaded search links on your computer will have a form for finding
businesses of a certain type in a location or zip code and, optionally, within a certain distance of said location or zip code.
2. After you exhaust the sawmills, check out the local tree surgeons in the same manner as above. You’ll be amazed at what you can find.
3. Check with your local cabinet shops. Many of them have proven to be friendly to us, and it’s not unusual for them to allow someone to buy from them or even piggy back on their order(s).
4. Check other online forums.,, and others all have classifieds and Trade/Sale areas wherein people offer good values.

Good luck,

-- Gary, Florida

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4370 days

#6 posted 12-15-2006 05:17 PM

Here are some options:

Gilmer Wood
Good Hope Hardwoods (Landenberg, PA) 610-274-8842
I also found some wood through one time, and that worked well.

Let us know what you are looking for, and I am sure that we lumberjocks have fewer than 6-Degrees of Separation to find you some wood in your area. I would be cautious about buying wood from an area that has a different humidity level than your home shop, until it has acclimated in your shop environment for a several weeks.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4365 days

#7 posted 12-16-2006 06:37 AM

Kathy; I’ve had good luck making friends with sawmill owners. I make something and give it to them. They are then more than willing to talk to you. You really need to talk to the local small mill owners.

Someone has said find out what they are sawing. I might say find out what they are not sawing. The local guy Virgil has a customer that takes all of his White Oak and makes moldings. He also cuts railroad ties. But sometimes he gets a log that is not of what he normally uses and its might just be scrap wood and it might end up as railroad ties. Virgil told me about another mill that the guy cut up a log and he had no idea what it was. Virgil asked me about it and I determined that it was Box Elder with Red Streaks going through it. The sawer ended up using it for Palet lumber. I tell them save me anything that is strange. Now Virgil’s brother is the logger so I tell him what I want and when he is in the woods and he sees the trees, He’ll cut it instead of letting it stand, because he would normally just leave it because its not one of the woods that they would cut.

He said that he had a holly tree is the area he was cutting and I ended up with about 200 Bd Ft for 5/4 Holly and some 10/4. I’ve go a fan blowing on it in the barn now and its dropped from 35 percent moisture to 15 percent in about 30 days. and the #1 select popular is now sitting at about 13 percent, in the same time frame.

Contact your local State Forester and they might have names and phone numbers for loggers and sawmills. Also call woodmizer and ask them about local owners of woodmizers because they usually do custom cutting.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4292 days

#8 posted 12-16-2006 07:58 AM

What a great insight Karson… and a great bounty you’ve scored as a result!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View kat's profile


18 posts in 4156 days

#9 posted 12-17-2006 03:58 AM

Thanks Karson,
After the holidays I will check to see if there is a saw mill fairly close. I live in Kersey Colorado. I am about 70 miles from Denver 70 miles from the Wyoming state line and 30 miles from Ft Collins. I think there might be one in La Porte. That is just outside Ft Collins.

-- Kathy, Kersey Colorado,

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4126 days

#10 posted 02-25-2007 08:11 PM

We have a hardwood wholesaler locally, which is who I use for my wood. I am not in the same camp as Dennis ordering 200 Bd ft at a time. I just drive down and pick up what I need for a project. I sometimes find a few other pieces of nice wood that I add, figuring I will do something with it later.

I should probably be buying larger lots and letting it dry out, but space is an issue, as well as the need to get some paying projects.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View markrules's profile


146 posts in 4080 days

#11 posted 03-05-2007 02:20 AM

Don’t laugh at me, but wouldn’t a good place be a pallet mill? They use hardwoods to make pallets and they buy in large quantities. Aside from the nail holes, many pallets have some pretty useful pieces, either for turning or something.

What do y’all think?

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4365 days

#12 posted 03-05-2007 03:08 AM


I went to a pallet plant and their supplier sent them a whole load of walnut for pallets. He put it off to the side to save. But one day he had an order for pallets and his supplier was unable to get him wood in time. So the walnut became pallets. He said to me that was what I bought the wood for and that was what I used it for. SO! But it make you feel for us woodworkers.

I could guess that if it was all the blackest walnut available with no white sap wood it would make us all feel worse.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4292 days

#13 posted 03-05-2007 06:43 AM

I’ve snagged pallets from work. Was a heck of a job busting off usable pieces, most of the grain was really wild. From what I’ve read, most of the lumber destined to become pallets isn’t exactly “A” grade stuff… more like D or F.

Before I’d read that though, I saved a small pile of boards, about 1/2”x3” x 12” (give or take). These were nailed together really well, and with all the splits and breakage, I just took the reciprocating saw to them. I’d set aside some various pieces, and never did much with. I noticed some of it was quartersawn on the short dimension – heck of a lot of glueup though to make some pieces of usable size…. But if you have the time, then the price is right.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4202 days

#14 posted 03-05-2007 02:02 PM

This (the pencil holder) was a pallet to begin with. I made 11 of these and sold them for $15.00 each. The card holder was the frame from a discarded medicine cabinet that was painted white. I cut it into pieces glued it together and ground it at a slight angle, and sold the set for $20.00

And I get my hardwood from a local hardwiid distributor, but I’ve recently been looking here What you might want to do is type into your search engine “Hardwood Distributors” and see what shows up in your area

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4125 days

#15 posted 03-05-2007 02:23 PM

brilliant use of reclaimed wood.. !

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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