What (and where) lumber to buy during my RV Trip

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Forum topic by AlmostRetired posted 03-29-2018 08:40 AM 2563 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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220 posts in 1318 days

03-29-2018 08:40 AM

Okay LJs, I’m taking an RV trip this summer and am looking for recommendations as to what type of lumber is local to the areas I’m driving through and if there is anywhere that I should stop for it. I am traveling with my loving wife, her grandmother (who is a doll), and three teenagers for about two weeks. I would like to stay close to the main roads as possible as the RV is 30 feet long. My trip map is attached.

The end game here is two fold…or should I say two projects. The first will be a group of picture frames, each one made from one wood type from each area that will be filled with pictures of the group of us in that area. The second will be using the rest for another conversation piece in the house. Maybe a small table for the front door or who knows. That means need a good chunk from each area.

Please send me your thoughts.

18 replies so far

View laterthanuthink's profile


44 posts in 734 days

#1 posted 03-29-2018 10:37 AM

Hey Roger, what a fun trip you have planned. Kettle Moraine Hardwoods is an awesome destination just south of Milwaukee, but it’s a little out of your way. They have a great selection of locally sourced hardwoods as well as full service onsite milling capabilities to break it down just the way you want it while you wait. Most amazing to me was their Go Fast resaw machine, an industrial horizontal bandsaw that makes quick work of any resawing you may need.

Good luck, have fun, send pictures!

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


4349 posts in 2593 days

#2 posted 03-29-2018 11:09 AM

Owl Hardwood in Chicago is a fun place to visit with a HUGE selection of domestic and exotic wood.

Your trip thru Michigan and Indiana has a lot of sources of hardwood. Lower Michigan has good winerys. I go to that area for hardwood and we have to stop to get some wine for my wife.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3118 days

#3 posted 03-29-2018 11:37 AM

Don’t miss Mimms Lumber on Nolansville Pike in Nashville. They let you cherry pick, cut to length for your vehicle for free, and Nolansville Pike is actually Highway 41A, which should handle your RV with no problems. Huge selections…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2216 posts in 2098 days

#4 posted 03-29-2018 12:28 PM

Looks like fun.
Have attempted many similar wood collecting activities when I vacation long distances. Do not have any specific suggestions, but will share some tips:

#1 – Your trip drives thru Canada? Sure hope this leg is on early portion of trip.
Wood is considered a plant material by Customs folks at border. Due efforts to stop migration of wood infesting insects, there are severe import/export restrictions on wood crossing border. Check with Canadian customs site for current regulations. Last I checked, dragging a trailer of wood across the border requires source inspection permits by someone certified by CFIA and/or USDA. It is not hard, but it does require proper paperwork.

#2 – Many states have limitations on transportation of firewood, or any wood with live edge on it. They are trying to stop spread of things like emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, or the tiny spores of oak wilt fungus. If you plan to buy any live edge woods, you might need to get certificate from sawmill that it was kiln dried and inspected to be free of bugs. Without this, any visits to a state park might be turned away, or worse you find your wood stash confiscated and burned.

#3 – Your path thru Missouri misses the highest concentration of sawyers located in south east side of state near I44. One of them , Shaller Hardwood has a St. Louis retail location. It has been 10+ years since I made any wood runs to that state, but there used to be a couple of small mills ~30 miles south of I70 near Jeffersonville and Hermann.
Illinios may be difficult to get hardwood without driving well off your route? The northern path thru Illinois is 99% farmland, with minimal standing forest. Majority of sawyers are located in central portions of Illinois near I57 or I85, several hours from your route.

#4 – Wood inventory is ever changing. While you can try to find places to visit months before your trip, you should call them the week before you leave if you want something specific. Have missed out on several bundles of cheap walnut/cherry in past due time between my shopping phone calls, and when I arrived several weeks later.

#5 – Beyond LJ, there are some excellent online resources for finding wood in other states. Woodbarter site can useful place to look for deals. The sawmill mfg (Woodmizer, TimberKing) also maintain online directory of customers that are interested in selling wood from their mills. Have also had good luck using mapquest looking for “Sawmill” and state of interest. :)

Good luck on your adventure.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View MKH's profile


53 posts in 731 days

#5 posted 03-29-2018 12:31 PM

Wow, you even mapped out all of the Stop signs on your route. How cool is that?

I like your idea of collecting wood as a memento of your trip and to frame the pictures.

-- Marshall --------------------------- In with 10. Out with 10.

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1380 days

#6 posted 03-29-2018 12:57 PM

These two objectives don’t seem very compatible to me (family trip / hunting for wood). Unless your family likes watching you drive around buying lumber.

Where are you stopping in CT?

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4365 days

#7 posted 03-29-2018 02:09 PM

I like to avoid Interstate 80 at all possible, terrible truck drivers by the thousands. Instead, go up the Canadian Lake Huron side, then swing West and enter Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula at Sault St. Marie. You can then take M 28 West to Ishpeming, and stop at Bell Forest Products ( ). Great selection of domestic, local, and exotic imported woods, very nice people, (typical of the U.P.) and purchasing small quantities is no problem. You could even stop and see me at “the Workshop in the Woods”.

Interstate 80, Detroit, Chicago, ugh.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View tomsteve's profile (online now)


987 posts in 1823 days

#8 posted 03-29-2018 03:39 PM

detroit= armstrong millworks. a wee bit pricey, but their barns are enjoyable to go through.

also in ann arbor:

it looks like Johnsons workbench indiana store may be close to your route

View Andre's profile


3002 posts in 2410 days

#9 posted 03-29-2018 04:27 PM

Only time I have had trouble at the border is when I make a point to declare it!
Small amounts and no bark! Live edge is tricky, just brought some back from Mexico
made sure no bark or holes plus they sprayed on a sealer!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Ocelot's profile


2375 posts in 3242 days

#10 posted 03-29-2018 04:56 PM

In Tennessee, there are lots of local sawmills. Check out Nashville craigslist. One place I’ve been meaning to go is Grant Cedar Mill, near Lebanon.. for the smell if nothing else.

View Ocelot's profile


2375 posts in 3242 days

#11 posted 03-29-2018 05:02 PM

If you’re not towing a car behind the RV, you should tow a trailer and really stock up! ;-)

View GR8HUNTER's profile (online now)


6812 posts in 1316 days

#12 posted 03-29-2018 09:04 PM

seeing that map reminds me of national lampoons vacation LOL :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View tomsteve's profile (online now)


987 posts in 1823 days

#13 posted 03-30-2018 01:08 PM

If you re not towing a car behind the RV, you should tow a trailer and really stock up! ;-)

- Ocelot

tow a pickup and trailer!

View AlmostRetired's profile


220 posts in 1318 days

#14 posted 03-31-2018 06:10 PM

Thanks everyone for all the info and recommendations. I’ll revisit this again when I get closer to my trip.

Gargy, stopping in East Windsor, where I grew up before I joined the Navy.


View firefighterontheside's profile


20744 posts in 2461 days

#15 posted 03-31-2018 06:39 PM

Around StLouis, I recommend my friends at Doug White Hardwoods, but that’s not exactly on the main road in Illinois. I have a mill and would be happy to contribute some lumber your little project. I live about 30miles south of STL.

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

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