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Forum topic by robertsj22 posted 06-07-2021 05:21 PM 509 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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robertsj22

13 posts in 197 days


06-07-2021 05:21 PM

very green to woodworking and want to pick up some wood to start a few projects. i know i could go to lowes and get some pine. i am looking into gettig some ruff cut boards in oak and cherry. How do i know what im getting and whats a fair price. I know theres probably a huge learning curve but i at least wanna know what they are talking about when i contact some sellers


19 replies so far

View DevinT's profile (online now)

DevinT

2155 posts in 258 days


#1 posted 06-07-2021 05:30 PM

Well, the first thing to learn is how wood is priced. It can be priced differently and you have to ask how the seller is pricing it. There’s “board feet”, “by the pound”, and other considerations. The place I buy my wood, they offer it both by the pound and by the board-foot. Do-note that a board-foot is not the same as a linear foot. That’s because a linear-foot of measurement does not take into consideration width or depth (thickness of the wood), whereas a board-foot does. When you buy wood by the board-foot, they have to calculate the cost based on the width and thickness of the wood. Now, if the wood you are buying is 1 inch thick and 1 inch wide, then board-feet is equal to linear-feet. However, not many people are looking for wood that is 1” square by some arbitrary length (except maybe dowel makers).

Here is a good primer on how to calculate board-feet which explains the process, not just providing you with a calculator like most other sites do.

So, what’s good for Oak and cherry?

I mostly work with exotics when I buy board-feet, so can’t speak to cost of those by the board-foot. I can estimate though. I would pay about $5-15/b.f. for Oak/Cherry. Some of the exotics I buy are as much as $45/b.f., though I tend to stay in the $20-35/b.f. range for things I build.

However, I can tell you about oak/cherry from the rough-cutoff “by the pound” perspective, because I have to sift through those all the time when trying to get to what I want in the cut-off bins at my local MacBeath…

Oak I would pay $5/lb for some cutoffs for.
Cherry, I would pay $10/lb for some cutoffs.

The MacBeath Hardwood store by my house has a $5/lb bin where I can find Oak, Walnut, and other similar domestics and $10/lb bin where I can find Cherry and the exotics, including Wenge, Sapele, Bacote, etc.

When you are new to buying wood, you can make it easy on yourself by asking them where the by-the-pound stuff is and asking to see their cut-off bin. If the place does any kind of cutting of lumber for customers on-site, then they will almost always have a cut-off bin. Just ask how they price the cut-offs if not clearly labeled already.

-- Devin, SF, CA

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Phil32

1613 posts in 1195 days


#2 posted 06-07-2021 05:54 PM

Price is only one factor in choosing wood for your next project(s). If you are building fine furniture, you might choose figured hardwood. For cabinetry, you want panels of nice plywood. If your next project is whittling little gnomes, some suitable carving wood is best. All of these choices assume you have the tools (machine or hand) to process the material.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

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LittleShaver

778 posts in 1911 days


#3 posted 06-07-2021 06:07 PM

When I started, I used the cheapest wood I could find. Often construction grade lumber from a big box store. Once I gained some confidence, I moved up to hardwoods. I seem to recall a lot of cherry and white oak back then. They were common in my area and fairly inexpensive.
I you want to jump right into hardwoods, I would suggest poplar. It’s reasonably priced and widely available, easy on tools, and can be stained or painted easily. On the downside, poplar is fairly soft and dents easily, so not really suitable for high use items like dining tables, but would be fine for a decorative table.
While I don’t use exotics (I’m still suffering from male pattern cheapness), I currently am working my way through a pallet each of black walnut and white oak I picked up from a custom cabinet shop. They occasionally sell off their cutoffs and I probably paid about $2/bd ft for the lot.
Just build stuff, the more you build, the better you’ll get and the more you will learn about which woods work best for what.

-- Sawdust Maker

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brtech

1173 posts in 4214 days


#4 posted 06-07-2021 06:51 PM

Huh, never saw hardwood sold by the lb. It’s all board-feet around here.

You said “rough cut”. Do you have at least a planer, or better, a jointer and a planer? If not, are you decently skilled with a plane? If the answers to both are “no”, then you don’t want rough cut, you want S4S.

I would find a local hardwood store, not a CL or FB source, and go to the store, ask questions, and let them guide you. My local store has a “pick a board” section, but I find I’m usually better off telling them what I’m looking for, and let them go get a couple boards out of their back stock. YMMV: some stores have all their stock out to pick through.

There is a whole lot to think about: knots in the surface, checks in the end, etc, etc, but mostly, it’s thickness, width and length. Hardwood doesn’t come in standardized length and width, but at least thickness is specified in quarters (quarter of an inch, so 4/4 is 1”, 5/4 is 1 1/4”). Surfaces are rough unless specified, so S4S is smooth (planed) surfaces on all 4 sides, and S2S is two sides flat and reasonably parallel, while the other two sides are rough. You can often deal with S2S if you have a decent table saw or track saw and can fiddle a bit. S4S is just easier. Rough needs a way to get flat sides and parallel faces, and that needs the jointer, planer and/or hand plane.

Pricing here is usually species, thickness, surface and board feet. So I might ask for cherry, 5/4, rough, and tell them what kind of width I can deal with and how many board feet. They might then pull out several boards for me to choose from that will make up my order. I will look the boards over for knots and other surface defects, grain, checking at the ends, and color and make my selections. They then calculate board feet by multiplying width times length times thickness, and multiply times the price per board foot, using the species, thickness and surface I asked for.

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robertsj22

13 posts in 197 days


#5 posted 06-07-2021 07:00 PM

to answer your one question i do have a planer and a jointer. I was blessed to walk into a complete shop for free


Huh, never saw hardwood sold by the lb. It s all board-feet around here.

You said “rough cut”. Do you have at least a planer, or better, a jointer and a planer? If not, are you decently skilled with a plane? If the answers to both are “no”, then you don t want rough cut, you want S4S.

I would find a local hardwood store, not a CL or FB source, and go to the store, ask questions, and let them guide you. My local store has a “pick a board” section, but I find I m usually better off telling them what I m looking for, and let them go get a couple boards out of their back stock. YMMV: some stores have all their stock out to pick through.

There is a whole lot to think about: knots in the surface, checks in the end, etc, etc, but mostly, it s thickness, width and length. Hardwood doesn t come in standardized length and width, but at least thickness is specified in quarters (quarter of an inch, so 4/4 is 1”, 5/4 is 1 1/4”). Surfaces are rough unless specified, so S4S is smooth (planed) surfaces on all 4 sides, and S2S is two sides flat and reasonably parallel, while the other two sides are rough. You can often deal with S2S if you have a decent table saw or track saw and can fiddle a bit. S4S is just easier. Rough needs a way to get flat sides and parallel faces, and that needs the jointer, planer and/or hand plane.

Pricing here is usually species, thickness, surface and board feet. So I might ask for cherry, 5/4, rough, and tell them what kind of width I can deal with and how many board feet. They might then pull out several boards for me to choose from that will make up my order. I will look the boards over for knots and other surface defects, grain, checking at the ends, and color and make my selections. They then calculate board feet by multiplying width times length times thickness, and multiply times the price per board foot, using the species, thickness and surface I asked for.

- brtech


View SMP's profile

SMP

4988 posts in 1197 days


#6 posted 06-07-2021 07:09 PM

Kind of hard to give advice without knowing all of the tools you have and what you plan on doing and how you want to work. Otherwise we are just giving random advice from our own perspectives

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CaptainKlutz

5033 posts in 2786 days


#7 posted 06-07-2021 07:26 PM

IMHO – too much typing required to answer all the questions. :-)

Try this FAQ from Wood Worker's Source, which was bought by MacBeath Hardwood a few years ago to offer online sales. The help pages, blog, and videos; are made by wood workers for wood workers.
They are decent shop, with great quality; and above average prices.

BTW – Lumber pricing is quagmire.

Prices vary depending on: quality of lumber, where you buy lumber, and how far away you are located from where tress were harvested (shipping wood is expensive).

IMHO – The cheapest source is usually the local sawmill. Next least expensive is saw mill with cheapest shipping to your location. Next least expensive is usually a wholesale lumber yard. Then you enter the expensive lumber world and buy from retail outlets. Local big box stores are some of the most expensive sources in market. Primarily as they sell s4s lumber, that is supposed to be ready for use without thickness planing or edge jointing.

Most lumberyards offer volume discounts. So wood is cheaper when you buy several hundred board feet at time, .vs. buying 1-2 boards. When first starting out, don’t need giant lumber stash; so will pay more for projects until you learn to anticipate your lumber needs.

Example here in Arizona: Regardless of source; east coast domestic lumber cost $2-3 bdft more than if bought in east coast. At same time, west coast alder or maple is cheaper than Midwest harvested poplar or even southern yellow pine; all because of costs of trucking lumber to desert SW.

Some of us who have been working wood for decades have learned patience can be key to saving money on lumber. Am always looking for the $1-$2 stack of hardwood someone wants to sell. Many lumberyards have stacks of shorts (< 7ft long), that sell for half regular price when warehouse has too much wood. I rarely pay more than $2 bdft for domestic white woods, and $3-4 bdft for walnut/cherry; unless I need something special for project, like curly maple, or some exotic species. Having inexpensive wood stashed comes in handy, when retail current price on walnut is $8-$14 bdft. :-) If you choose to make wood working your full time hobby, expect you will collect a wood stash too. :-)

Best Luck.

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

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therealSteveN

9273 posts in 1866 days


#8 posted 06-07-2021 08:27 PM



Kind of hard to give advice without knowing all of the tools you have and what you plan on doing and how you want to work. Otherwise we are just giving random advice from our own perspectives

- SMP

I agree here too, wood isn’t as important as what ya wanna do, and what ya got to do it with. PLUS

Post something of a location in your bio. Currently you are just somewhere on this Earth. No need for street address, but closest big city, or like mine I say SW Ohio, general info to give other members who may have a board or 2 of something you could break your chops on, hopefully cheap or free.

-- Think safe, be safe

View DevinT's profile (online now)

DevinT

2155 posts in 258 days


#9 posted 06-07-2021 09:20 PM

Last I checked, the astronauts have Internet, so they not necessarily be somewhere on this Earth. IJS

-- Devin, SF, CA

View LeeRoyMan's profile (online now)

LeeRoyMan

2279 posts in 1018 days


#10 posted 06-07-2021 09:38 PM


Now, if the wood you are buying is 1 inch thick and 1 inch wide, then board-feet is equal to linear-feet.
However, not many people are looking for wood that is 1” square by some arbitrary length
(except maybe dowel makers).

- DevinT


For bd ft to equal lineal ft, it would have to be 12” wide and 1” thick.
144 cubic inches in a bdft.
.
.

robertsj22, Thickness can be read differently by different lumber yards.
for example most places,
rough 4/4 is 1” thick
surfaced 4/4 is usually 13/16” thick.
and they charge different prices for each.

Wood prices vary everywhere and the methods for measuring it do also.
Some will measure each board, some will push them all together and measure them all at once.
You just have to find the lumber company you are comfortable with and learn their procedures.

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splintergroup

6058 posts in 2514 days


#11 posted 06-07-2021 09:57 PM

I try to avoid the lumber yards that measure each pieces width, then round up to the next inch. When buying 100 board feet, it can add up to loses of 10% compared to what I get by calculating actual dimensions. Of course I understand that the yard may also buy their suppliers stock using the same method. Sometimes I find the “right” guy who will just lay all the boards on the forklift tines and do a “stacked together” measurement.

Price breaks occur at intervals of 100 board feet (10% @ 100bf)

There is also a near by “exotic” wood place that sells all the “nice” stuff and they do actual board feet (no rounding up) and also sell cutoffs by the pound. They will cut a longer board down to the size/amount you want to buy.

Find these various sources and you can make a better financial decision on what you need to get started.

View DevinT's profile (online now)

DevinT

2155 posts in 258 days


#12 posted 06-07-2021 10:10 PM


For bd ft to equal lineal ft, it would have to be 12” wide and 1” thick.
144 cubic inches in a bdft.

Learn something new every day. Thanks.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View robertsj22's profile

robertsj22

13 posts in 197 days


#13 posted 06-07-2021 11:00 PM

I’m in western md. And I’m looking to build some tables and end tables and benches. Tools I have a good set up I inherited. Most shop tools you can think of I have. It’s not equipment I lack it’s knowledge. So I appreciate any help here. Where I’m at there’s plenty of local saw Mills just want to know how to make a deal

Kind of hard to give advice without knowing all of the tools you have and what you plan on doing and how you want to work. Otherwise we are just giving random advice from our own perspectives

- SMP

I agree here too, wood isn t as important as what ya wanna do, and what ya got to do it with. PLUS

Post something of a location in your bio. Currently you are just somewhere on this Earth. No need for street address, but closest big city, or like mine I say SW Ohio, general info to give other members who may have a board or 2 of something you could break your chops on, hopefully cheap or free.

- therealSteveN


View SMP's profile

SMP

4988 posts in 1197 days


#14 posted 06-07-2021 11:11 PM


For bd ft to equal lineal ft, it would have to be 12” wide and 1” thick.
144 cubic inches in a bdft.

Learn something new every day. Thanks.

- DevinT

The other thing to note on this measurement is its pre-planed. So even if you measure it as 3/4” with a tape measure, it came from 4/4 rough stock so is charged as 1” thick , whether its 7/8, 13/16, or 3/4 nominal.

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DevinT

2155 posts in 258 days


#15 posted 06-08-2021 12:08 AM

Ouch!

-- Devin, SF, CA

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