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Forum topic by diversity210 posted 06-01-2019 02:49 PM 863 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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diversity210

16 posts in 1628 days


06-01-2019 02:49 PM

Is it just me or has anyone else seen how limited a selection and expensive hardwoods are here in California? Ive been wood working for some time now and consider myself experienced but far from a master. The one begging question I have is if hardwood lumber is as expensive in other parts of the country like say the east coast or in the south. I understand hardwood is pricey in general but is it more pricey here on the west coast. For example I did something the other day that I rarely do and walked into home depot to buy a piece of maple I needed. I purchase a 5ft 1×4 piece of maple and it cost 30 bucks. Thats almost 5 bucks a board foot for a 1×4. I could order lumber online but the shipping costs more than the lumber. I spent 1500 bucks on maple just building the top for my work bench. One thing that always amazes me is when I get online and see people using these large gorgeous hardwood boards for testing. I could never do such a thing because hardwood is so expensive. Also when I see people in their shop and they have racks of different hardwood boards to pick from just sitting there. You are talking about 1000’s of dollars worth of hardwood just sitting on some guys wall in his garage for him to casually choose form. I think as I type I have 2 boards of red oak in my shop.

Selection of hardwood lumber and quality hardwood plywood is quite limited here as well even in lumber yards. For the most part I am always limited to 3/4 stock hardwoods even at lumber yards. I can get 6/4 stock hardwood lumber but its so expensive and always takes a couple of weeks to get. Baltic birch is almost impossible to find and when you do expect to pay a premo price for a sheet. After years spent searching I finally found a lumber yard about an hour drive from me that could order me full sheets of baltic birch. It costs about 140 bucks per sheet. So even though I have built this shop with 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I am thinking about giving up woodworking, because the selection is so limited and prices for hardwood are so freaking high its killing my pockets


19 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

3167 posts in 3223 days


#1 posted 06-01-2019 03:06 PM

A 5ft 1×4 Is approx. 1 2/3 bf which makes the price a little over $15 a bf which is a little high for a Home Depot but not much. Your big box stores don’t carry a lot of hardwoods and most of it is S4S. which adds to the price. You need to find a local lumberyard that stocks and sells hardwoods. I’m in Boise and the local hardwood dealer here sells Maple skip planed in the $5 bf range. I’m paying $40 to $75 a sheet (5’x5’) for Baltic birch from them and Woodcraft here is in the same range for BB. When you start looking at imported hardwoods you can go from $10 to sky is the limit depending on species.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2954 posts in 3185 days


#2 posted 06-01-2019 04:06 PM

If enter your zip code may find alternative sources close to you or at least witin reasonable driving distance if price is right.

http://www.woodfinder.com/

This site may have something in “Product Directory under Lumber might to really search though.

http://woodweb.com/

-- Bill

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SMP

3770 posts in 956 days


#3 posted 06-01-2019 04:14 PM

Where do you live in NorCal? Big box stores usually ream you on price compared to a lumber yard because they sell it per linear foot.

View Rich's profile

Rich

6768 posts in 1640 days


#4 posted 06-01-2019 04:14 PM

Did CA put a Prop 65 warning on wood too? LOL.

Woodworker’s Source does a huge mail order business. I’m fortunate to have a store locally, but I can see on their web site that reviews come from all over the country. I’d think that if their shipping rates were prohibitive, there wouldn’t be so many of those.

They have a good selection, decent prices and offer cutting service to save money on shipping for sheet goods and lumber.

Like I said, I shop locally, so I have no idea what the rates are. They might be higher than you want to pay, but since we’re next door to you in AZ maybe they’re reasonable.

Worth a look.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2346 posts in 3843 days


#5 posted 06-01-2019 05:24 PM

You could move east of the Mississippi River where hardwood is cheaper and winters are longer, giving you more shop time for less money!!!

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4324 posts in 2544 days


#6 posted 06-02-2019 01:58 AM

I feel your pain. The simple issue is shipping costs. Lumber is cheapest when you buy it where it grows. :)
Next big issue is finding a wholesale source, and avoiding retail mark up.

Comical to me that you say wood in CA is expensive. I vacation in CA at least once a year, and often bring home lumber as it’s cheaper than here in Arizona? Especially for any exotic woods imported from Asia or South America, if you visit the importer directly. Tropical Exotic Hardwoods in Carlsbad is 30% less than local source for certain woods. Can get Claro walnut in LA for ~1/2 what it cost locally. Bohnhoff Lumber in LA has really decent prices that are below what I pay locally for most any wood.

Finding inexpensive lumber can be half battle to wood working, so don’t give up.
Have you searched LJ threads for sources?
https://www.lumberjocks.com/search_results?q=california+lumber

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

7456 posts in 1624 days


#7 posted 06-02-2019 01:22 PM



You could move east of the Mississippi River where hardwood is cheaper and winters are longer, giving you more shop time for less money!!!

- ibewjon

I like that answer the best


I feel your pain. The simple issue is shipping costs. Lumber is cheapest when you buy it where it grows. :)
Next big issue is finding a wholesale source, and avoiding retail mark up.

Comical to me that you say wood in CA is expensive. I vacation in CA at least once a year, and often bring home lumber as it s cheaper than here in Arizona? Especially for any exotic woods imported from Asia or South America, if you visit the importer directly. Tropical Exotic Hardwoods in Carlsbad is 30% less than local source for certain woods. Can get Claro walnut in LA for ~1/2 what it cost locally. Bohnhoff Lumber in LA has really decent prices that are below what I pay locally for most any wood.

Finding inexpensive lumber can be half battle to wood working, so don t give up.
Have you searched LJ threads for sources?
https://www.lumberjocks.com/search_results?q=california+lumber

Best Luck.

- CaptainKlutz

Capn, when I click that link I get a blank page… Are you seeing something on that search?

Diversity. You might try peeking at the Lumber for sale listings at Woodweb

Most of them will be back here, East of the Mississippi, but occasionally you will be some burls, maybe stolen from National and State parks in the dead of night, maybe not. Sometimes those who control the Claro Walnut, and source the big leaf Maples out there will allow some of their gold to fall into your hands. I generally know when something is overpriced, and when I can buy Claro cheaper in Ohio, than you can out there something stinks.

ibewjon is making more sense all the time. :-)

-- Think safe, be safe

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

4961 posts in 2272 days


#8 posted 06-02-2019 02:35 PM

Expand your Google fu to “architectural building products” as often these are the places that sell the popular hardwoods to builders but don’t necessarily advertise as lumber dealers. In my area there are limited sources as well, but the prices are far superior to the big box stores and selection is good. Note that at most of these places you get 10% off at 100bf. Find a local woodworking club and ask there. There are plenty of people in your area facing the same issues and probably have found a solution.

Scavenging is great if your need fit. Cabinet shops sometimes will sell off piles of offcuts for cheap.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5972 posts in 3401 days


#9 posted 06-02-2019 06:00 PM

What you are seeing online with racks of hardwood lumber are people that find deals. It helps if you live in the midwest where hardwoods grow. But deals can be had any where, what you have to look for is Craigslist and facebook marketplace for small sawmills and dealers. Sometimes estate sales where a old timer has left a hoard behind. When ever you find something be prepared to drop some cash, because deals won’t last long.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4324 posts in 2544 days


#10 posted 06-02-2019 06:21 PM



Have you searched LJ threads for sources?
https://www.lumberjocks.com/search_results?q=california+lumber

Best Luck.
- CaptainKlutz

Capn, when I click that link I get a blank page… Are you seeing something on that search?

- therealSteveN

Sorry, you have hit the search button once page opens.
It will generate many posts on this topic.

When I copy a full search link from my browser, it copies my account ID number as source, along with bunch of other carp, and see no reason to repeat that information in search link. :)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View WoodES's profile

WoodES

188 posts in 2741 days


#11 posted 06-03-2019 02:43 AM

D-210,
What city are you in or located near? If near Sacramento try Hughes or Aura in Rancho Cordova, last time I looked flat-sawn 2s maple was about $4 bd/ft at Hughes. Stockton has Macbeath, unsure of prices there. These companies have other locations around California so a little google work may be fruitful.

Local lumber yards may have hardwoods at a slightly higher price and big boxes may have some hardwoods too. Rockler & Woodcraft have limited supplies at higher prices.

Millers Milling is a local retailer of resawn woods, taken from trees in the area surrounding Sacramento, maybe farther. The retailer store is located in Dixon. Unsure of prices be there seems to be a good variety of woods. You can view their Facebook page for details.

Good luck and let us know what you find out.

Always looking for a good source

View diversity210's profile

diversity210

16 posts in 1628 days


#12 posted 06-04-2019 01:10 AM

Sorry for the late reply to everyone. Thanks for all the input


D-210,
What city are you in or located near? If near Sacramento try Hughes or Aura in Rancho Cordova, last time I looked flat-sawn 2s maple was about $4 bd/ft at Hughes. Stockton has Macbeath, unsure of prices there. These companies have other locations around California so a little google work may be fruitful.

Local lumber yards may have hardwoods at a slightly higher price and big boxes may have some hardwoods too. Rockler & Woodcraft have limited supplies at higher prices.

Millers Milling is a local retailer of resawn woods, taken from trees in the area surrounding Sacramento, maybe farther. The retailer store is located in Dixon. Unsure of prices be there seems to be a good variety of woods. You can view their Facebook page for details.

Good luck and let us know what you find out.

Always looking for a good source

- WoodES

Im about 45 minutes from sacramento. Im always heading that way for woodcraft store and rockler in rocklin. I thought I had called all the lumber yards I could find in sacramento. The ones I did contact their prices are no different from what Ive been getting and the others had to limited a selection which often seems to be the case. I will try the ones you mentioned

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4324 posts in 2544 days


#13 posted 06-04-2019 02:26 AM

One tip not mentioned: Use the woodmizer ‘find a saw mill’ search page:
https://woodmizer.com/us/Services/Find-a-Local-Sawyer

Woodmizer has office in Sheridan, east of Yuba City, which is 50 minutes NE of Sacramento:
https://woodmizer.com/us/Contact-Us/California
There has to be a concentration of band saw mills in area. Might call them or visit if you are close and see if they have unadvertised local sources of hardwood hiding nearby?

FWIW: If you can’t tell by now, am frugal when it comes to wood buying, and have learned some tricks?

Your post me curious and started looking with my ‘Google Fu’ to see what was around area.
Very puzzling results. Tons of sawmills in area, BUT:
Sierra Pacific has half a dozen mills scattered north and south of Sacramento valley. Sites only show softwood, cedar, and redwood produced. Only found a couple hardwood mills, and web pages I found show extortionists with expensive Walnut slabs (near Chico). :)
When I look for hardwood distribution into area, I keep finding the same 2 monster corporations (Collins & Timber Products) listing all the local lumber yards in Northern CA as outlets. But the local Collins and Timber Products mills north of Sacramento, don’t list any hardwood products produced? Due the large corporate presence, guessing hardwood sold at local lumber yards will likely be from east coast mills of those corporate giants (and fairly expensive)?

Hate to say this, may live in a mini black hole for finding hardwood mfg sources, like us here in AZ desert?
All we have are urban tree mills, desert mesquite, and 95% softwoods from mountains north on Phoenix.

IMHO – Trying to find the smaller mills would be best focus. More I look at sourcing big picture, stronger I suggest a trip to Woodmizer office in Sheridan to learn ‘who’ sources ‘what ‘directly from those selling tools into the local wood milling industries is really good idea. They MUST know the local lumber cutting market (or would get fired). Approach it professionally, act like you MIGHT (never) buy a sawmill if needed, and you should get some leads on smaller local mills.
PS – Woodmizer retail sites with a demonstration yard, often sell rough sawn lumber cheap from demo day events to cover cost of logs and transportation?

Hardwood lumber? Easy to find, follow the trees and the folks that sell tools to process forests!!!! :p)

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View WoodES's profile

WoodES

188 posts in 2741 days


#14 posted 06-04-2019 03:52 AM

D-210

Both Aura & Hughes are about 5 miles east of Woodcraft. So you’ll be in the hood…

http://www.aurahardwoods.com/

It appears that Hughes’ website was hacked so here is the address/ phone #.
11441 Sunrise Gold Cir, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742 (916) 638-8658

View WoodES's profile

WoodES

188 posts in 2741 days


#15 posted 06-04-2019 03:56 AM



One tip not mentioned: Use the woodmizer find a saw mill search page:
https://woodmizer.com/us/Services/Find-a-Local-Sawyer

Woodmizer has office in Sheridan, east of Yuba City, which is 50 minutes NE of Sacramento:
https://woodmizer.com/us/Contact-Us/California
There has to be a concentration of band saw mills in area. Might call them or visit if you are close and see if they have unadvertised local sources of hardwood hiding nearby?

FWIW: If you can t tell by now, am frugal when it comes to wood buying, and have learned some tricks?

Your post me curious and started looking with my Google Fu to see what was around area.
Very puzzling results. Tons of sawmills in area, BUT:
Sierra Pacific has half a dozen mills scattered north and south of Sacramento valley. Sites only show softwood, cedar, and redwood produced. Only found a couple hardwood mills, and web pages I found show extortionists with expensive Walnut slabs (near Chico). :)
When I look for hardwood distribution into area, I keep finding the same 2 monster corporations (Collins & Timber Products) listing all the local lumber yards in Northern CA as outlets. But the local Collins and Timber Products mills north of Sacramento, don t list any hardwood products produced? Due the large corporate presence, guessing hardwood sold at local lumber yards will likely be from east coast mills of those corporate giants (and fairly expensive)?

Hate to say this, may live in a mini black hole for finding hardwood mfg sources, like us here in AZ desert?
All we have are urban tree mills, desert mesquite, and 95% softwoods from mountains north on Phoenix.

IMHO – Trying to find the smaller mills would be best focus. More I look at sourcing big picture, stronger I suggest a trip to Woodmizer office in Sheridan to learn who sources what directly from those selling tools into the local wood milling industries is really good idea. They MUST know the local lumber cutting market (or would get fired). Approach it professionally, act like you MIGHT (never) buy a sawmill if needed, and you should get some leads on smaller local mills.
PS – Woodmizer retail sites with a demonstration yard, often sell rough sawn lumber cheap from demo day events to cover cost of logs and transportation?

Hardwood lumber? Easy to find, follow the trees and the folks that sell tools to process forests!!!! :p)

Best Luck.

- CaptainKlutz

Captain,
I don’t believe there is a lot of hardwood in the Sierra’s I think most of the hardwood comes from eastern Oregon or Washington. The Millers Milling does a lot of urban reclamation from the local tree removal companies and has a variety of woods.

However, I haven’t researched this beyond the trip to the local hardwood suppliers.

W

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