sourcing figured woods and burls

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by woodpig posted 02-28-2020 02:08 AM 351 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View woodpig's profile


3 posts in 41 days

02-28-2020 02:08 AM

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I am relatively new to the Lumberjock forums, and very glad to be here.

I am in the process of starting to make custom landing nets for fly fishing. I would like to use some hardwoods with a nice figured grain, as I find that nets made from these woods are quite desirable and command higher prices.

What I haven’t found—yet—is the best place to source these materials. I know they can be purchased from retailers online, but that route gets quite pricey. I’m wondering if there are sources known to some of the veteran woodworkers here that maybe don’t pop up in your standard Google search, and that might offer better prices?

Up until now, I’ve only used domestic woods that are readily available at places like Woodcraft, or big-box stores; that’s why I’m a bit in the dark on where to find some of the more visually interesting woods.

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated!


11 replies so far

View kroginold's profile


46 posts in 1729 days

#1 posted 02-28-2020 09:30 AM

Would help if you listed general location information

View woodpig's profile


3 posts in 41 days

#2 posted 02-28-2020 01:54 PM

You’re quite right, sorry about that omission. I live in Holland, MI—on Lake Michigan shoreline, about 2 hours north of the Indiana border.

View bondogaposis's profile


5684 posts in 3032 days

#3 posted 02-28-2020 02:11 PM

Find a local sawyer, develop a relationship with him. Tell him what you want and hopefully he’ll let you know he gets some interesting figured woods. Show up with money, when he does. Be prepared to wait a couple of years while he wood dries out.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View ramair02's profile


41 posts in 57 days

#4 posted 02-28-2020 02:19 PM

I’ve had good luck finding local people that source and milk wood on Facebook Marketplace. Might sound like an odd place to look, but a lot of these guys post up some of their more expensive slabs, but they have tons of other stuff too. I ended up getting to know a few people that way and then landed on one person with whom I’ve developed a good relationship with. He’s my go-to now.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2701 posts in 2175 days

#5 posted 02-28-2020 02:28 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks!

+1 put your location in profile so we can help with local suggestions.

Chasing affordable figured woods is constant challenge.
Finding Burl figure wood is harder as they tend to be small part of lumber harvested.
But most hardwood lumber suppliers have figured woods.

Just like buying any hardwood lumber, the best prices are found at sawmill. Highest prices are found in retail outlets like Rockler, or Woodcraft. Shipping wood is expensive, so locally sourced woods are usually cheapest solution.

Best way is to find LOCAL wood sources is:

1) Contact local wood working or turning club.
Local members will know the better local sources.

2) Ask Google.
Little know fact: You can ask google maps for ‘sawmill near me’
‘hardwood near my_city’

3) Woodmizer hosts a find a sawyer page.

4) Search LJ for hardwood suppliers in your city and/or state.
There are many existing threads on LJ with lists of local wood sources. Have seen lists for AZ, CA, TX, IL, plus others.

There are many figure lumber suppliers online, but most are not inexpensive.
Here is random list of online folks that I know carry figured woods:
CR Muterspaw:
Maple Leaf Hardwood:
Cook Woods:
Hearne Hardwoods:
Tropical Exotic Hardwoods:
Wood Worker’s Source: (local for me)

Hope this helps.
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 ibewjon's profile


1387 posts in 3474 days

#6 posted 02-28-2020 04:10 PM

If you make it to Chicago, look up Owl Hardwood Lumber. Just south of Midway airport. Standards like tiger maple. I have never seen burl there. There are also some mills in northern Indiana, around Amish country. I have my grandfather’s tools for bamboo flyrods. If I get that accomplished, I may look to you for a net.

View Kazooman's profile


1448 posts in 2633 days

#7 posted 02-28-2020 05:09 PM

The Woodcraft store in Grand Rapids often has a selection of figured wood. Won’t be cheap, and you never know what they will have to offer on any given day.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


1156 posts in 228 days

#8 posted 02-28-2020 05:40 PM

Like mentioned above, I get all my olivewood slabs at a local firewood supplier, who also has a sawmill. I bring the guy chocolate and whiskey for xmas, and he sells me slabs by weight and no silly sales taxes, rather than by the estimated value of the slab at market with the silly taxes inclusive.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: If you tell the truth, you dont have to remember anything (S. Clemens) Edit: Now where is that darn pencil/ tape measure!

View Phil32's profile


990 posts in 584 days

#9 posted 02-28-2020 06:10 PM

You should also consider the suitability of the figured or burl wood for the process you use in making the fly fishing landing nets. If the frame is steam bent, you may need to limit the special wood to highlights on the handle.

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View therealSteveN's profile


5200 posts in 1255 days

#10 posted 02-28-2020 06:32 PM

I’ve had really good success buying smalls, yet very figured woods through that famous online auction site. I’ve checked prices for online, and I can only price check CR Muterspaw, but he gets more $$$$ online than at his door. He’s about 30 miles from me. The same woods at Flea Bay are priced lower to start with.

The thing I find about buying online from a “wood seller” is they tend to charge shipping, and of course it’s reality is it’s based on weight. So if it doesn’t fit into a USPS box, it can get pricey quick, and if you want a bit of something in lengths, your only recourse could be truck freight, which can get really pricey. Alternately Flea Bay sellers often offer free shipping, so if the price starts lower, and at no cost to get it to you….....

If you are looking at really high prices, and shipping charges, how far away is Chicago? Dad once told me a lot of years ago, you could buy most anything on Earth in New Yark, and Chicago. Now I would add Lost Angeles, maybe Dallas, you get the idea, but they are all a much longer drive. Near North mid Indiana you will be closest to Chicago, and I would bet wood sellers are going to be out near the fringes of town, rather than right downtown, so East of Chicago best to you.

But you live where trees grow, so I think maybe you haven’t really exhausted the resources closer to home. Hardware stores, Barber shops, places where guys go, and sometimes talk. Ask specifically for “hardwood lumber” and then to make sure they understand, add… not 2×4’s and building stuff, but wood for woodworkers, furniture makers…...... I bet you could find sources not 20 miles away.

-- Think safe, be safe

View woodpig's profile


3 posts in 41 days

#11 posted 02-29-2020 02:17 AM

Thanks so much for the helpful replies, gentlemen! Some very good advice here, and very much appreciated.
Special thanks to CaptainKlutz for the Google tips—I did not know about those search tools, and will be trying them out.
Phil32, you’re quite right about the suitability of figured woods for the net frames. I’m primarily looking at the figured woods for handles.
Thanks again everyone!


Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics