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my find - should I share it?

2178 Views 23 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  croessler
I'll be honest, I am really tempted to keep this a secret because I don't want competition for lumber, but I'll share anyway with the knowledge that:
1) I know some of you already know about this
2) its better for me to try and share my limited knowledge with those that might not be aware rather than horde it for my self. (I know many on here give a lot more than me, I'm just trying my best not to fall too far behind)

I went to Home Depot the other day to buy a plumbing part. As I always do when my wife isn't with me, I went to browse the lumber section in vain again (or so I thought). I've never found much of interest in the 5 yrs I've been looking except one quartersawn red oak 1×6 that has some nice ray fleck. when heading to the hardwoods, I noticed some 1×4's in the pine section that were differently colored than the boards around it. Before I got close enough to ID the wood by its appearance, I saw a "1×4 maple" sticker.

I thought it was odd since they NEVER carry maple, but hey, lets go find out what it costs (no priceing stickers on the shelves). The guy at the register didn't know the price and it wasn't in the system so he sent me to the wood cutting station. I talked to a cool guy named Doug about some lumber he had collected over the years, but he couldn't help either, however he got a mgr on the phone. After about an hr trying to get a price on a single board they made up a sku number for me and marked it at $2.10 per linear foot. Nothing to brag about I know, especially for a thin stick like this, but it was S4S and here is the kicker. a couple boards had some some cool spalting.

Nope, I didn't buy those spalted ones. I didn't talk it over with my wife first so I wanted to keep the purcahse under $20 because I've got an ugly habit of collecting lumber and not building NEARLY as fast as I buy. She is very understanding of my problem, but the truth is, she is right on this one. I settled on one 7 ft board. Tiger Maple. I'll post pictures if you'd like later depending on peoples interest.

I doubt that I got a killer price at about $6/bd foot, but I think it was pretty darn good. I left two other comparable boards behind (again didn't want to go over $20) and plenty of nice clear maple. I also learned that you can special order maple through HD if you wanted to. I don't know if this will help the people that; insist that there are no sawyers nearby (maybe true) or that need surfaced material, or that want to stay in their HD comfort zone, but I thought I'd share. Again, let me know if you'd like to see a picture and I'll post it this weekend if you are interested. I'd also LOVE to know your thoughts on the price of $6/bdft 4" wide curly maple. the only place I seem to be able to get this is online and those prices ussually run quite high, even before shipping.
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I think you got taken I get that suff here for $3.50 to $4.00
thanks gman. is that kiln dried and surfaced? Is it easily accessible at a retail location or is it in the boonies? I know I could probably find some local sawyers who have it (my local lumber yard carries great birdseye stock at $15/bdft but they dont' have any curly maple), but I'm trying to make sure I compare apples to apples. I know I wouldn't want to try and build an heirloom piece of furniture from this stock, but how bad can you really get ripped off for a total cost of about $15. I figured it is worth the cost for a learning experience.

I'll agree though that I RARELY by lumber at a homecenter due to their prices.
good find
Lumber is a very regional thing through HD. What state are you in? Maple is one of the woods that are always stocked at my HD in Los Angeles. It's there in 1×2 up to about 1×8. We have Tulip Poplar, Birch, Maple, and Red Oak. There was one week where they had a stash of European Beech, but never again since. I always push my way through the stacks of maple and poplar, because I've found some pretty neat things hidden in there. Birch, for some reason, has fallen off my radar a bit. They often have wonderfully figured heartwood, if you cut your way around the sapwood edges or end pieces. I'm curious what woods you get there.
Gary, I live about an hour and a half north of you and our HD has never had birch but does have a small amount of the rest you mentioned. HD stores each have their own buyers/order folks and each does pretty much their own thing and so far its not based on the wants of the woodworker but it is the amount of what they sell to the home handyman. $2.10 LF sounds pretty good for up here.
Kindlingmaker (and everyone else!) - I carry a pocket voice recorder with me everywhere, and in mid/late January this year, I used it to speak all the 1x lumber prices so I could later add them to this table. That's what we have in the half-aisle of hardwoods at the HD in LA on Jefferson, near Lincoln (Culver City/Marina Del Rey area).

I would love to see what's carried at the HDs across America, as I know they've sort of taken over. It's really difficult or impossible to search regional things through them online.
Thanks for the responses everyone. I'm in central virginia.

All we've got is standard framing timber (i assume its loblolly pine or SYP), whiteboard (some other type of pine), poplar, red oak, and cedar. not to offend anyone, but so far I've been unthrilled about working with oak. I can see why some people like it, but for me it just seems like the grain hits me over the head. as such, i prefer the more closed pore woods. the poplar is very pricy and I'm not sure if cedar is ussally used for furniture construction (aside from aromatic used in custom closets and blanket chests).

Do you find figured maple in the piles regularly? i should add, apparenlty you can get special orders of woods if you want. thats how the maple showed up. someone ordered it and then claimed it wasn't what they wanted. maybe they didn't want the figure/spalting. i can understand that if someone were making cabinets. Also, why do you say you need to cut away the sapwood on birch? Is it just a color preference thing or is there a structural reason?
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HD around here (Boston, MA) always carries Maple 1×4. 1×6, 1×8, 2×6 at that price… to be honest - not bad looking pieces… and S4S.

when I built my doughters bed, I thought that I'd be better off buying at a local lumberyard - which Is where I got the maple boards from - it was also S4s as I did not have milling capabilities at the time - but I ended up paying ~$4 lf …. I still feel like a sucker… but I learnt my lesson.
sounds like maple isn't that rare at HD. It's just regional. I wonder if anyone ever finds anything less common like walnut, cherry, cocobolo. lol. i figured the northern states might find maple in stock more easily.
regular stock here is pine, maple, poplar, and oak, all ranging between 1×4 - 1×8, 2×6, varying lengths all S4S.
Hokie - I don't find figured maple regularly. It's all quite pretty, but it's also all quite uniform. That's one nice thing about their maple stock - I can count on it to match up pretty perfectly with each new shipment. It's always pale and simple. I did just find a heavily birdseyed 1×3 or 1×4, and cut off the regular half of the plank. It's not much, but I'm curious to try resawing it and planing it into 1/4" thick planks, and then cutting out panels that I can bookmatch for filling some small frame and panel doors.

As for the birch, I simply meant that if you wanted to work in the more interesting, and darker heartwood of birch, you could cut away the more maple-like, lighter heartwood from the edges of their flatsawn boards, and have pure, rich, dark, swirly heartwood. Structurally, they seem the same, and for some/many projects, it would be desirable to have both. The heartwood almost gets to walnut colors sometimes. It can be quite a contrast. I can see a resawn, bookmatched piece being quite pretty when it's like this. And that's what I meant - a great deal of their birch stock is dark heartwood, streaked, especially on the edges with light heartwood. I thought this board of birch was pretty nice. I never see birch with all these ripples in it, so I picked it up. It's still sitting in my storage shed, waiting for me to get better at this woodworking thing before I use it.
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I found some maple at HD that had some surface mold on it. It was in their discount area. I pd 75 cents a board. Some was birdseye and other was curly. I planed it down to get rid of the mold.
its funny how a planer can get you some great deals. you just need to be extra careful with the DC. I'm sure you know that, but I didn't and learned the hard way when planing some really really old walnut

We each have an almost identical board of birch and I bought it for the exact same reason. The way mine looks, the heartwood makes repeating hourglass figures. This is definitely beyond my skill level, but I was picturing an endtable with some coy fish inlays. the figure would have made it look just like a stream. It would also be cool as a vey basic footstool which is what I will more realistically make with it. I'll try to snag a photo of that as well.
Karson - I wish my HD had a discount area! They sell all boards as though they're matched with each other for quality. This makes simple DF 2×4 purchases hit or miss. If you get there just after they've cut open a new load of them, you can sort through for the straightest, most knot-free examples. In a few instances, however, the current load was almost done, and it was nothing but split pieces, and extremely warped stuff. They wouldn't mark it down for me. They're pretty lazy at the LA HD.

Hokie - I'd love to see the board, if and when you get a chance!

Oh, another one that's probably only around here is one I stumbled into a trip or two back at HD. There was a piece of pine in with the hardwoods, which are usually separated by an aisle or two. It was only a 1×2 or 1×3, but it was really pretty. Super uniform up the whole length, and it had little dark brown lines, like hairs up the whole thing. It kind of reminded me of euro beech, but with longer, thinner hairs, and much lighter wood (weight-wise). No knots, very straight, very light and smooth. It felt like smooth cedar. The sticker said "radiata pine." I found the rest way in the back of the store, in their lightweight, but pretty woods (e.g. cedar, redwood, and the highest grade pines). Most everything back there tops off around 2×2, and even then it's more like 1.25", not even the usual surfaced 1.5". It's actually in metric, but it's small stuff - long, but thin. Radiata is a species that grows in California, and I think it's even native to this area - one of the few things that is.
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I never thought of looking for decent wood at HD. I'm going to have to make a specuial trip this weekend to do so. I wonder if Lowes is the same. I'll have to look there too & report back.

Brian75137 in Denver.
Brian - I've looked up and down all aisles of my LA HD for 'the good stuff,' but it just isn't there. There's the 4 hardwoods I mentioned - red oak, hard maple, tulip poplar, and birch - a bunch of douglas fir 2x, 4x, and 6x stuff, some redwood stuff, mostly for decking, trellises, and the like, some variations of pine (knotty, select, radiata), pressure treated, and then random things like doweling and molding. I wish they had just a little more. Even just the addition of walnut would be fantastic, but alas, it really is built around framing and decking, not benchtop woodworking.

If your HD is different, do tell! I'd love to hear about it.

Oh, and I went to Lowe's for the first time last month to help a friend pick up a very large ladder in my truck. I asked if we could troll the lumber aisles, hoping for some finds. It was mostly the same. They had some nicer pine than I'm used to, and I think one other hardwood, like ash, but other than that, it was pretty much not worth the extra mileage to get there. HD is only a couple miles from me. I had better luck with Anawalt Lumber. They had a few rarer things for me, like beech and walnut, but still not a whole lot. It seemed a lot better as a place for parts, like hinges and knobs, bits, gardening supplies, and lots of around-the-house chemicals. They did have a section outside of larger building lumbers, but there wasn't much I could make out beyond the usual stuff, and it was all poorly labeled. My other option is Anderson Plywood, which has lots of fun stuff in large sizes and long lengths: wenge, zebrawood, alder, walnut, beech, as well as all the usuals, and of course, tons of plywoods in real wood and veneer outer layers. This is also very close by, so mostly I hit up HD and Anderson. We don't have sawyers out here in LA - at least, not within a few hours of driving.
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brian. not sure if you are being sarcastic or not, but i wouldn't make a special trip. i rarely find anything special at all, but I'm just letting people know its possible.
The closest HD is two hours away, so I have to shop at Lowe's. They don't carry much wood other then the standard for studs and decking, but I often get the culled stuff for cheap. Last year bought $1100.00 worth of culled wood for $150. Had to haul it home with two trucks. Built a wall (my first) and 2 decks with it. I don't mind getting the culled stuff as it is great for a novice like me to learn on, if I don't like it just burn it. When I get better then I can start looking at better quality.
ok, pics are up but i did a new thread. i figure that way others can post pictures of their lumber too if they want. Here is the link if you are interested: link
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