Process of Buying Wood for Projects

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Forum topic by todd4390 posted 08-27-2014 10:27 PM 1220 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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136 posts in 1430 days

08-27-2014 10:27 PM

I have a project that I’m contemplating trying to build and am wondering how experienced woodworkers go about buying wood for their projects. Decisions such as widths, lengths and thickness of boards. Picking the particular boards that are best suited for project. How much extra to buy, etc., etc.

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995 posts in 2780 days

#1 posted 08-27-2014 10:55 PM

Popular woodworking has a free guide to wood buying. I’ve not read it myself but it’s available at:

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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2654 posts in 1819 days

#2 posted 08-27-2014 11:02 PM

I would start at a local sawmill, you can get good info and prices there. I only buy lumber at wood craft when absolutely necessary. I also have place that sales cut off from there family’s wood working business by the pallet. Sometimes it is ok stuff and sometimes it is great stuff. One of the pallets I just looked at was hard white maple 5”x10”x1” on a pallet stacked 4’ high so I would guess about 600lbs ish.

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373 posts in 2567 days

#3 posted 08-28-2014 12:54 AM

Depends on the type of project you are doing. If all you are doing is making small boxes and cuttingboards. Well you can buy your wood anywhere and its not going to matter much because you won’t be buying much of it and you need pretty small pieces.

As soon as you start building large pieces of furniture then it really matters where you buy your wood. You will need to see it, make sure its the right size, make sure it doesn’t have too many knots, make sure its not being eaten by bugs, and make sure its relatively straight and flat and that its as cheap as you can get it.

Moisture content matters as well of course. If dealing with a professional hardwood dealer it should all be kiln dried.

Basically what I have found is that after laying out my project I need to make a list of every board I need and the dimensions. Then go to the lumbar yard and find out that I can’t buy that exact wood but instead need to buy stuff a few inches wider or a few feet longer etc then what I really wanted. This is normal. Also buy a bit more then you think you need so when you discover that the board you thought was perfect actually has a soft knot in the middle you can replace it with another without much fuss.

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3160 posts in 3193 days

#4 posted 08-28-2014 01:07 AM

I buy hardwood from a local lumber yard. They have been in business for a long time. They carry just about anything you might want. I hand pick my boards. They are friendly and very helpful. They will cut the pieces into manageable sizes. I usually have them cut full sheets at least once so I can handle it better once I get it home.

Today, I bought 4 sheets of prefinished 3/4 inch birch plywood and 2 sheets of 1/2 inch prefinished. And four knotty alder 6 inch wide x 10 feet long boards and a handfull of poplar “shorts” (cut offs less that 48 inches long) from the discount bin. I had them cut all four of the 3/4 inch pieces.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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17925 posts in 1819 days

#5 posted 08-28-2014 02:51 AM

I usually make a pretty good cut plan for my plywood and know how much to buy. Just draw a piece of,plywood on paper and then draw the pieces you need from it. I’ll do it a few times to be most efficient. For solid wood, I’m not so particular. I have an idea how big/wide my stock needs to be and then I try to buy about 25% more than I need. If I have extra, I’ll use it eventually.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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