Hardwood Store

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 01-12-2016 02:56 PM 1588 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yesterday I went shopping for hardwood.

In this state I am only aware of two hardwood lumber stores: MacBeath Hardwood and Intermountain Wood Products. At MacBeath’s the customer can walk into the storage area and pick out anything that fits his fancy. It is different at IWP. There you state what you are there to buy, then a fork-lift operator will take your list and will bring out a pallet, one species at a time, so you can select the boards you want. Then he will make another trip if you are buying more than one species of wood. There are pluses and minuses to this method. However, I am never sure if I am seeing their best lumber, or am I just seeing what they want to get rid of first. Their prices are generally less than the other hardwood store and it is just a mile away.

I was shopping for a nice wide black walnut board and an 8/4 cherry so I could make the benchtop for my mini-bench.


After an inventory of the lumber in my shop I knew I would only need one walnut board for the nightstand I would be making fir my daughter Jenny. This would be a companion to the nightstand I made her last year. I wasn’t finding any 4/4 walnut until I saw another customer with some nice boards on his cart. I said: “Is that walnut? Where did you get it?” His answer was kind of reserved. He told to talk with the floor assistant. I did. He told me check with the guy at the register. The price was going to be over $14 a board foot. I told him I only needed one board for my project. He disappeared and returned saying I could buy it. I picked out one that could work as my drawer front, plus sides panels, if needed.

This is an odd way to find walnut, isn’t it? I do not know if this is an issue everywhere like the floor assistant told me, or just a problem with this store’s supplier. Do you guys know what’s going on? Why is good 4/4 walnut so hard to find?


Well, after all of that I found such a nice 8/4 cherry board that I could not walk away without it. It was exactly what I needed for my mini-bench’s benchtop. It was nearly 10 inches wide and just over 10 feet long. Its longer than I needed but I could also make my bench hooks from a short piece of it. The rest I could save for a new cherry end table project. I could get four beautiful tapered legs from this beautiful cherry board.

I also was shopping for 3/4 inch maple plywood, but I did not need a full sheet. Carrying or storing extra sheets of plywood in my shop is one thing I really do not want to do. These extra pieces of sheet goods linger forever. So I asked if they had any half or 60 by 60 sheets. The answer I got was there might be some in their stack of damaged sheets. We would look there. It was then that I realized that for the “show” leg assemblies I already had those pieces of plywood in my shop. What I needed the additional plywood for was for parts of the nightstands that would never be seen. They were shelf partrs for the drawer, etc. I told him he did not need to look further. I knew my local Lowes had maple plywood that would work for me in these unseen parts of the nightstands.

Take a look at the walnut and cherry I came home with… You probably notice a little bit of sap wood, but not much.

This is the rest of my walnut that is in lumber racks that the new board needs to fit in with.


I woke up early in the morning today as usual. I have been up an hour already. One more and I will begin getting my garage woodshop setup for mill the lumber for these three projects:

1) Walnut nightstand,
2) two maple nightstands with cherry drawers and a mirror frame for the dresser I made last year, and finally
3) a mini-bench per Steve Latta’s design for my shop.

I will mill my lumber in two stages; a initial oversized stage where I will let those parts acclimate to my shop. Then I will process those lumber parts a second time when I actually begin to use and size them to final dimensions.

Since I may have use of the mini-bench to build these nightstand and mirror frame, I will build it first. Fun Let’s go. Let’s go. As my son’s football coach would say. Let’s go.

-- --- Happy Howie

6 comments so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3167 posts in 3223 days

#1 posted 01-12-2016 03:52 PM

I have no idea why walnut would be hard to find. I was just at my hardwood supplier about a week ago gettign a bunch of Maple. They had a bunk of straight grin walnut for $9 a bf and another bunk of figured walnut some of it was about 12” wide and about 8’ they wanted $5 a bf for. I am currently trying to find a project that I can get some of that figured walnut for. They looked like they had just restocked all the exotic bunks were full.

You just go in walk around and load up what you want, somebody measures it and figures the bill. The only thing they ask is if you tear the stack apart that you restack it somewhat neatly.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View pintodeluxe's profile


6344 posts in 3864 days

#2 posted 01-12-2016 04:30 PM

For me what has helped is buying in larger volumes. When I buy 100 b.f. or more at a hardwood retailer I usually get a discount. Better still is finding a large volume of lumber available from a homeowner or sawyer. This will drop the purchase price of most hardwoods to $1-2 per board foot in some areas.

I recently bought a stack of 4’ walnut boards. Nice 5/4 stock that had been hit and miss planed. It was $300 for 225 b.f.

Well the last time I bought walnut from a hardwood retailer late last year, it was over $50 for a single stick of 4/4. Unfortunately at that price, most people do exactly what you have done. They get just enough for one project. If you do more than a couple projects a year it may be worth buying in volume. The only down side I have seen, is occasionally I have to finish drying the lumber. Usually the stacks of lumber I get are air dried. In two weeks time the lumber is dry to 6-8%.

In answer to the question why is some hardwood lumber so hard to find… it takes 50-100 years to grow. That about says it. In the future we will all be posting the best ways to build and finish bamboo.
Good luck in your ongoing lumber quest.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View AandCstyle's profile


3296 posts in 3307 days

#3 posted 01-12-2016 10:40 PM

The issue with black walnut is thousand canker disease. It primarily attacks black walnut trees. There is no cure and the only option is to try to minimize spreading it. Therefore, areas where is has been found are quarantined and any walnut milled in those areas can’t be shipped out of them. It is very sad and as Willie suggested, we may all need to learn to love bamboo.

-- Art

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3740 days

#4 posted 01-13-2016 12:53 AM

I think it’s your location. Probably don’t have much black walnut in Utah!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 2137 days

#5 posted 01-13-2016 01:03 AM

Here in Southern New Hampshire, Highland Hardwoods is having a special on Walnut, 5/4 Walnut, Rough, $3.95/bf. Might have to get me some of that

In case you’re curious about prices in this neck of the woods, here’s the rest of the board foot price sheet for it:
4/4 FAS RGH 9.40
4/4 FAS S3S 3/4” 10.05
4/4 FAS 8”+ RGH 11.35
4/4 FAS 8”+ S3S 3/4” 12.00
5/4 FAS RGH 9.55
6/4 FAS RGH 9.75
8/4 FAS RGH 12.40
8/4 FAS S3S 1 3/4” 13.05
10/4 FAS RGH 11.25
12/4 FAS RGH 12.00
16/4 FAS RGH 12.40

-- Learn Relentlessly

View HappyHowie's profile


485 posts in 2995 days

#6 posted 01-13-2016 07:47 AM

“Thousand canker decease” , even the name sounds terrible. I had never heard of it before this. Our forests are in trouble, aren’t they?

I do not recall having trouble finding black walnut before this incident.

Guys, thanks for the information.

-- --- Happy Howie

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