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So where do I get lumber?

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Forum topic by ScrapWoodAddict posted 09-16-2021 01:44 PM 440 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ScrapWoodAddict

20 posts in 69 days


09-16-2021 01:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lumber milling wood pine lumber yard big stores

Good Morning Jocks!

So, I’ve always just gone ahead and purchased my lumber at the big’ol orange store. Of course, that means picking through piles and trying to find something that isn’t too warped. A lot of times I’m just grabbing common pine boards, since I’m really still just in practice mode or making improvements to my shop. But now it’s time to really focus, and I’m not sure where I can go for materials and then what to do with those materials?!

I would like to start building more items that aren’t just woodshop improvements. Without any method to the madness, I’ve randomly decided to focus on making boxes. Why? I don’t know. I’ve made some VERY amateurish ones, but I’ve seen others post some very beautiful ones with intricate joints and amazing finishes. So I figure its one of those “full spectrum” items that anyone of any skill can do while improving their skills.

Where to Buy
I hear people talking about lumber yards, but I’m not sure what to look for or how to go about purchasing. I mean, usually I go and buy one or two boards, but that can’t be very respectful to these guys. So what do I do? How much lumber are people usually buying? Is there a combination of lumber types (perhaps by dimensions?) that I should get? Or does everyone just go and buy based on the project(s) they’re working on that week? Is there a certain dollar threshold where it doesn’t make sense to go to one of these yards for you?

What to do, once I have it
I know, weird question. I’m sure you’re like “start making your project!”, but that’s not really what I’m talking about…

So, if my project requires lumber that is wider than what I have, is joining the boards just as easy as gluing them together? Or using biscuits or some other method for joining them? And what are those other methods, because I don’t have a biscuit joiner.

I’ve been “milling” via my own methods here, because I don’t have a planer or anything, and it always seems like I could continually put off this hobby with the “I would, but I don’t have [insert tool name here]” and I don’t want to do that. So I’ve been buying my common board lumber at a big’ol store and using my table saw to “re-mill” the lumber to what I need. I attribute my pickiness in lumber quality to this being a satisfactory system, but I’m sure there is a more appropriate method, which I’d love to hear about.

In any case: yeah, lots of questions and I was even going to make this a blog post. As you can tell, I’m a little confused on this subject matter so any advice is greatly appreciated.

Cheers!

-- - making a mess...the fun way


19 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4073 posts in 3045 days


#1 posted 09-16-2021 01:55 PM

What state do you live will determine where to get lumber. Or country
When I need wood for a project I visit one of two places. I do keep a good friendly relationship with the guys there.
The reason should be obvious they tally my boards. But you should learn how to tally your boards too.
It’s not that hard. The experience picking boards comes over time unfortunately your probably going to buy some real duds. That’s just paying your dues.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View TxSurveyor's profile

TxSurveyor

86 posts in 138 days


#2 posted 09-16-2021 01:56 PM

Where are you located? I would try and find a company that mills their own lumber. I know of one in Texas that sells a variety of rough cut hardwoods that they cut to rough stock and kiln dry. Prices are good.

Buy what you need, or buy extra if you know you will use it and can get a deal on it. Some places, like the one I mentioned have a 50 board foot minimum. Sometimes the more you buy the better price you get, but it gets expensive, so i would just say do that if you know you will use it.

You can glue up boards along the edges after squaring them up. If you need a stronger joint you can use dowels or route some tongue and groove. Dowels would be easiest with limited tools. Be mindful of grain orientation when gluing them up.

-- Will, TX -- "You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas" - Davy Crockett

View SMP's profile (online now)

SMP

4842 posts in 1152 days


#3 posted 09-16-2021 02:04 PM

I did a google search for “massachusetts hard wood” and came up with this as one option:
http://www.quabbintimber.com/hardwood-lumber/

I know near me there are “retail” hard wood stores that let you pick through boards and you either buy the whol poece or leave at least 6’ length.

Then there are less expensive wholesalers who usually don’t let you pick through boards or cut anything, but they will let you buy a board or two.

View ScrapWoodAddict's profile

ScrapWoodAddict

20 posts in 69 days


#4 posted 09-16-2021 02:10 PM



What state do you live will determine where to get lumber. Or country
When I need wood for a project I visit one of two places. I do keep a good friendly relationship with the guys there.
The reason should be obvious they tally my boards. But you should learn how to tally your boards too.
It’s not that hard. The experience picking boards comes over time unfortunately your probably going to buy some real duds. That’s just paying your dues.
Good Luck

- Aj2

I live on Cape Cod (MA).

One thing I’ve always been good at is asking questions and my time on construction sites has leant me the knowledge of knowing what characteristics to look for, but it’s all been theory and no practice, you know what I mean?

I’m okay with getting some duds and going through the experience for sure.

-- - making a mess...the fun way

View ScrapWoodAddict's profile

ScrapWoodAddict

20 posts in 69 days


#5 posted 09-16-2021 02:13 PM



Where are you located? I would try and find a company that mills their own lumber. I know of one in Texas that sells a variety of rough cut hardwoods that they cut to rough stock and kiln dry. Prices are good.

Buy what you need, or buy extra if you know you will use it and can get a deal on it. Some places, like the one I mentioned have a 50 board foot minimum. Sometimes the more you buy the better price you get, but it gets expensive, so i would just say do that if you know you will use it.

You can glue up boards along the edges after squaring them up. If you need a stronger joint you can use dowels or route some tongue and groove. Dowels would be easiest with limited tools. Be mindful of grain orientation when gluing them up.

- TxSurveyor

Thanks.

I can imagine it gets pricey.

Boy, my compact router is really going to get a workout, huh? I thought I was saving money by going the “compact” route, but it looks like it may have resulted in my owning two routers instead of just one.

-- - making a mess...the fun way

View TechTeacher04's profile

TechTeacher04

476 posts in 2778 days


#6 posted 09-16-2021 02:16 PM

Contact Rugby ABP depending on the size of your projects. https://www.rugbyabp.com/locations I have ordered material from them for my school for the past 15+ years.

View Steve's profile

Steve

2631 posts in 1829 days


#7 posted 09-16-2021 02:19 PM

You might also see if there is a Woodcraft or a Rockler store not too far from you. They sell wood that would be ready for your projects.

View Sgoldsmith90's profile

Sgoldsmith90

10 posts in 76 days


#8 posted 09-16-2021 03:17 PM

If you’re up for a little drive, my Father lives up in Maine, a few hours north of Boston and has lumber for sale out of his shop. He buys lumber in about 500BF quantities at a big discount and will sell boards. I worked out of his shop for about a year after I got out of the Navy and can say the quality of lumber is extremely high. I think right now in stock he has cherry, ash, poplar, pine, and Peruvian walnut. All in 4/4 and some in 6/4 and cherry in 8/4.
If you’re new into it, need some lessons on rough lumber, milling, and maybe even want some of the lumber dimensioned for a project like boxes, or edge jointed for glue ups, he has at least 40 years experience and a full shop and can help you out (not for free of course, machines eat up a lot of electricity after all). I’m not really sure on many New England lumber places out there for buying a few boards, he has guys come all the way from CT to buy lumber.
Here’s a recent pic of his stockpile.

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2652 posts in 4040 days


#9 posted 09-16-2021 03:45 PM

Two routers instead of one? No one only has one router. I think I have 6. One stays in the router table, one is compact, one is an old Craftsman 1/4”, the other 2 are 1/2.. If I take out a bit, I need to put it in again, so I got the second 1/2”. I know this was not about wood, but your future.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

8900 posts in 1821 days


#10 posted 09-16-2021 04:14 PM

Going away from conventional wisdom, but near a coast, if there are docks, especially where larger boats, ships are coming in, they use very large wood, often from distant lands as dunnage. Other not near the coasts still see truckers, same deal. Often it’s a use and get rid of it, as it takes up a lot of room to just store it. Cost could be variable, but it is wood, often prime hardwoods, you just would have to whittle out the parts you needed. Or probably a more sensible approach would be to swap the big pieces for smaller easily worked pieces. Lumber is currency of a sort.

-- Think safe, be safe

View gdaveg's profile

gdaveg

366 posts in 449 days


#11 posted 09-16-2021 04:18 PM

Being and engineer that can draw you can use that skill to help your lumber purchasing so that you do not get “way” too much.

Plan your project. Layout on paper the pieces on 3.5’, 5.5”, 7.25”, etc sorta to scale and figure out what the length of lumber is needed for the most appropriate board width.

Find a lumber store or two and go there and find their rules. Rules: “Must leave 4 or 6 feet, must buy the whole board.”

Gluing two pieces to make a wider board is a valid approach often times.

Go to town on your project

-- Dave, Vancouver, WA & Tucson, AZ

View ScrapWoodAddict's profile

ScrapWoodAddict

20 posts in 69 days


#12 posted 09-16-2021 04:48 PM



If you re up for a little drive, my Father lives up in Maine, a few hours north of Boston and has lumber for sale out of his shop. He buys lumber in about 500BF quantities at a big discount and will sell boards. I worked out of his shop for about a year after I got out of the Navy and can say the quality of lumber is extremely high. I think right now in stock he has cherry, ash, poplar, pine, and Peruvian walnut. All in 4/4 and some in 6/4 and cherry in 8/4.
If you re new into it, need some lessons on rough lumber, milling, and maybe even want some of the lumber dimensioned for a project like boxes, or edge jointed for glue ups, he has at least 40 years experience and a full shop and can help you out (not for free of course, machines eat up a lot of electricity after all). I m not really sure on many New England lumber places out there for buying a few boards, he has guys come all the way from CT to buy lumber.
Here s a recent pic of his stockpile.

- Sgoldsmith90

Hmmm….a bit of a hike to be honest. Even with that awesome shop.

I have a sister who lives in Bethel, ME, maybe when I visit her I’ll check back in and see if it’s not too far away!

-- - making a mess...the fun way

View ScrapWoodAddict's profile

ScrapWoodAddict

20 posts in 69 days


#13 posted 09-16-2021 04:48 PM



Going away from conventional wisdom, but near a coast, if there are docks, especially where larger boats, ships are coming in, they use very large wood, often from distant lands as dunnage. Other not near the coasts still see truckers, same deal. Often it s a use and get rid of it, as it takes up a lot of room to just store it. Cost could be variable, but it is wood, often prime hardwoods, you just would have to whittle out the parts you needed. Or probably a more sensible approach would be to swap the big pieces for smaller easily worked pieces. Lumber is currency of a sort.

- therealSteveN

Not bad…I might actually be able to obtain this type of lumber since I am on the coast and frequently visit marinas via my sailboat.

-- - making a mess...the fun way

View jonah's profile

jonah

2223 posts in 4546 days


#14 posted 09-16-2021 04:50 PM

I don’t know of anywhere on the south shore to get hardwood lumber, but Boulter Plywood in Somerville is fantastic for any kind of plywood, and Andersen McQuaid in Cambridge is good (though pricey) for hardwood.

I’m trying to remember the place I used to go out in the suburbs, but its escaping me at the moment.

If nobody here can come up with any S Shore sources, I’d start by google maps searching for “hardwood lumber”. Eliminate any places that are flooring only, and start calling. Ask them if they deal with retail customers (not just trades pros). That’s important. You want to be able to go by and purchase a single board if that’s all you need for a project. Not every place is into that sort of thing, but lots are.

Given your lack of a planer, you’re going to want a place that can plane boards down for you. There’ll be a small fee for that.

Pricing will always be done in board feet. If anyone tries to price hardwood by the linear foot the way home depot does, walk away. Or run.

View ScrapWoodAddict's profile

ScrapWoodAddict

20 posts in 69 days


#15 posted 09-16-2021 04:50 PM



Two routers instead of one? No one only has one router. I think I have 6. One stays in the router table, one is compact, one is an old Craftsman 1/4”, the other 2 are 1/2.. If I take out a bit, I need to put it in again, so I got the second 1/2”. I know this was not about wood, but your future.

- ibewjon

Ha, I have no doubts that I will have an overabundance of tools. At the moment I’m trying to collect one of each so I can at least get done what I set out to do, but I will certainly think “that’s not bad, but man do I need [insert tool here] to get it to be better.

I also have a sailboat and can only manage having one secret credit card. Any more than that would be the demise of my marriage.

-- - making a mess...the fun way

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