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View Jeremymcon's profile

Tactics for buying lumber

by Jeremymcon
posted 08-05-2016 05:29 PM

21 replies so far

View ScottM's profile


748 posts in 2996 days

#1 posted 08-05-2016 05:59 PM

You’ll soon find out that EVERYONE here is a wood hoarder!! For me, when I see something I like I get it whether I have an immediate use or plan for it or not. Something will come along. Until then it goes in the stack.

Unlike you, and many others, I’m in an area where we just don’t have “local sawyers” or mills where I can get a variety of woods so I have to pick it up when I come across it.

View jmartel's profile


9048 posts in 3000 days

#2 posted 08-05-2016 06:09 PM

I live in Seattle. There’s not really much native wood here that’s good for furniture apart from Maple. So, I have to cruise craigslist and find people getting rid of their stashes when I can. I typically buy whatever I can afford and hoard it all until it’s needed.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Jon689's profile


1 post in 2823 days

#3 posted 08-05-2016 06:15 PM

Before I owned a sawmill, I used to buy larger quantities of lumber if the price was right. A local mill, long gone out of business, used to sell mill-run cherry for $2/bf and butternut for $1/bf off the stacks. The only rule was that you had to buy from the top down (so if you wanted the boards on the bottom row you had to buy the whole pile!). I found another mill later on that had curly maple for $2/bf, rough and green, but you could buy any boards you wanted. Those stacks usually got picked through pretty quickly, but I always bought 100-200 board feet at a pop. I still have a lot of it.

My opinion is that, if you have the room for it, and the price is unbeatable, buy as much as you can afford, and as much as you can store. I’m not sure just how much I have stashed away for future projects, but I’m guessing it’s over 10,000 board feet of lumber. I can say for certain that I don’t have $10,000 cost in it either.

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3286 days

#4 posted 08-05-2016 06:36 PM

My wife refers to my favorite hardwood store as The Crack House.

Heck, I go there to get something for a particular project and end up buying that plus two or three other species just because I like the looks of them.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View KelleyCrafts's profile


4325 posts in 1589 days

#5 posted 08-05-2016 06:44 PM

So what these guys are saying is, that personal stuff also stored in the basement needs to go.

-- Dave - - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View splintergroup's profile


3985 posts in 2072 days

#6 posted 08-05-2016 07:54 PM

True dat ki7hy!

I’m also in an area with limited access (actually only one HW lumber warehouse within 150 mile radius).
Typically I’ll have a project in mind and If I don’t have enough wood on hand, I’ll plan a trip and pick up a few 100 bf. of various woods that I will save for the future. My storage is mostly maxed out, but eventually I’ll make more space and fill it up.

Some call it hoarding, but I think of it more as investing since rarely does the price go down.

View Ocelot's profile


2578 posts in 3488 days

#7 posted 08-05-2016 08:30 PM

Around here, mid-summer on a rainy year is the best time to buy. Farmers are wanting to put up hay, and finally say “let’s get rid of that stack of lumber that your uncle stashed in the barn”. I bought one time what they claimed was 1400bf of “mostly cherry” (there was a little walnut) for $850 delivered. Now, about 1/3 of it is pretty poor, but stil…


-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View ClammyBallz's profile


449 posts in 1986 days

#8 posted 08-05-2016 08:59 PM

I’m a wood hoarder, I lost count at 5000 board feet. If it’s cheap & good, I’ll buy it when I can. When I’m busy in the winter, I don’t have time to track down wood somewhere.

On a side note, you may want to think twice about storing fresh cut or air dried wood in the basement. Unless it’s kiln dried, there’s a chance the wood might have powder post beetles in it and that’s the last thing you want in your house. Not trying to scare you, but I had three stacks of lumber form three different guys that had PBB in the wood which fortunately I found out when it was in the barn air drying. Unless the wood is already kiln dried, I use my cargo trailer as a solar kiln and cook off any of the bugs before the wood goes in my shop.

View Robert's profile


3941 posts in 2331 days

#9 posted 08-06-2016 11:41 AM

I usually develop a cutlist for a project and go 20% over. After a few projects you’ll see what happens.

That being said, if the lumber looks really good, I might buy way over 20% extra.

I try not to keep huge amounts of long boards in stock they just seem to eventually become part of the scenery.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3286 days

#10 posted 08-06-2016 02:47 PM

You mean you’re supposed to have a project plan THEN buy the wood!? I guess I need to adjust my strategy.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

419 posts in 3932 days

#11 posted 08-06-2016 08:23 PM

The lumber dealer that I like is about an hour away. I prefer to buy about 50% extra when I am buying for a specific project. This gives me enough buffer to account for selecting pieces with good grain matching. I also try to pick up a few extra boards of various species every time I go there. That way I often have enough pieces laying around for small projects.

-- Steve

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1752 days

#12 posted 08-07-2016 06:58 AM

I can find moonshine and quality illegal drugs easier than i can find reasonably priced lumber in my area. When i find a good deal on lumber I base my projects off that lumber. So my normal experience is seeing some beautiful walnut slabs for 3 bucks a BF on craigslist, driving an hour to a piss ant sawmill run by a hillbilly who stores his slabs in the weather and doesn’t seal his lumber.

That is the price you pay for not going to a reputable sawmill or lumber dealer I have learned.

View diverlloyd's profile


3986 posts in 2707 days

#13 posted 08-07-2016 02:10 PM

I buy small cut offs from a local furninture manufacturer buy the pallet. I joke I buy by the pound since most of the pallets range from 500-1000lbs. but it all small stuff good for cutting boards and boxes and such for local donations to charity auctions.

View bondogaposis's profile


5840 posts in 3201 days

#14 posted 08-07-2016 06:36 PM

The most important “tactic” is to bring money.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Richard's profile


1940 posts in 3540 days

#15 posted 08-08-2016 04:35 PM

The most important “tactic” is to bring money.

- bondogaposis

Ok , That is why I never buy more than I need at any one time.
In my area San Jose Ca. , Since Sothern Lumber Closed their are only two Hardwood Dealers close by and both of them are only Open during hours that are hard for me to be able to get to them since I work during the hours they are open and have to take time off to get to them. Really wish at least one of them was open more than a couple of hours on Sat. .

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2617 days

#16 posted 08-08-2016 04:53 PM

And the best tactic is to make sure that money is cash.

The most important “tactic” is to bring money.

- bondogaposis


View pintodeluxe's profile


6205 posts in 3663 days

#17 posted 08-08-2016 04:56 PM

I like to buy hardwood lumber in larger volumes. Typically purchasing in 100-500 b.f. quanities will net you a significant discount. I usually buy air dried lumber when it is available. Occassionally I will buy green lumber from the sawyer. This is the cheapest way to buy, but also the slowest because the lumber must be air dried, then kiln dried before use.

If you have the space to store it, I say buy in volume. You would likely spend the same amount at a retail hardwood dealer over time, and get a lot less lumber for your dollar.

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

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

147 posts in 1554 days

#18 posted 08-08-2016 06:08 PM

When I first started, I’d stock up from online sources. Poplar, cherry and maple. Since it was cheaper to buy “project packs” or other larger quantities, I didn’t really tie specific projects to my lumber purchases.

After a while, I started studying under a local pro. I think he loved wheeling-and-dealing lumber as much as he loved making furniture! He was always grabbing large quantities of lumber at great prices. He’d turn around and sell it to his students pretty much at cost. He once bought an entire box car of cherry from a distressed mill out east. Paid $80,000 with a credit card (which was immediately paid off). He had numerous stories about riding around Amish country (Missouri) with $100,000 cash and a pistol under the seat of his truck, visiting Amish mills and negotiating great deals because he could buy large quantities and pay cash on the spot.

Anyway, thanks to him, I started buying lumber when the price was good, whether I had a project planned or not. I’ve also bagged quite a number of nicely figured boards off eBay. I put up a reasonable bid. Sometimes I get lucky and it wins.

I’ve very rarely purchased from a local hardwood dealer (Kansas City area). Although I did buy a beautiful stick of Wenge from the local Woodcraft. It’s still in my cache, unmolested :)

My hoard seems fairly modest compared to some here :) Maybe 150 bf of cherry, 50bf of maple and a dozen or so “special” figured boards waiting to become veneer.

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View Jeremymcon's profile


415 posts in 1530 days

#19 posted 08-08-2016 06:26 PM

Ok. So it sounds like I’m being pretty reasonable compared to some! I think right now I have about 60 bf of cherry, 50 of Sassafras, and maybe another 50 or 60 if white oak. Plus a few boards of walnut for small projects.

View bonesbr549's profile


1588 posts in 3917 days

#20 posted 08-08-2016 07:24 PM

I tend to buy in the minimum of 250-500 bf get the best deals. www.searchtempest is your friend! (and patience)

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View jwmalone's profile


768 posts in 1552 days

#21 posted 08-08-2016 11:58 PM

I just found a local saw mill, the guy is semi retired, mostly cuts firewood. But he sold me a 9 foot red oak for 25 dollars I gave him twenty for sawing it took him 20 minutes. Told me to come back any time. Its green and limited to oak red and white, maple, poplar but for that price I cant say no. The fire wood man can be a great resource.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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