Buying Hardwood

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Forum topic by Don Newton posted 07-01-2008 05:50 PM 2208 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don Newton

732 posts in 4503 days

07-01-2008 05:50 PM

Fellow woodworkers,

I am always floored, aghast. chagrined and just plain amazed at the prices some woodworkers must be paying for material. A walk thru the lumber racks at the local woodworker supply places leaves me sad and amazed. Sad because these prices are no doubt keeping participants of this obsession we call a hobby from the experience of working with different materials. I have been more fortunate than most in having a good source for material but sympathise with those who don’t. This introduction brings me to my question, and I apologize for being new to the group if this has been covered before.


Does anyone really buy from these high priced retailers? Also being in the MidAtlantic region I am sure there are materials available geographically to some and not to others. Have any members of the list “traded” these materials?
It should be interesting to compile the replys!


-- Don, Pittsburgh

17 replies so far

View Bigbuck's profile


1347 posts in 4548 days

#1 posted 07-01-2008 06:09 PM

I get mine from a local hardwood dealer. They have pretty good prices, especially compared to the big box stores.

-- Glenn, New Mexico

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 4598 days

#2 posted 07-01-2008 06:11 PM

hey don good to have you aboard. i live out side of denver and have acouple of places i buy wood from. it is not cheap because most woods need to be trucked up here( unless your looking for pine). right now i think we are paying 6.50 a bf for 4/4 cherry. it makes this hobby kind of expensive.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View CharlieM1958's profile


16289 posts in 5103 days

#3 posted 07-01-2008 06:15 PM

It’s a fact of life that shipping is a huge part of lumber cost. So the farther away you are from where a particular species grows, the more that particular wood is going to cost you.

Here in the New Orleans area, anything other than yellow pine is very expensive. I get most of my walnut, cherry, and maple from small mom & pop operators on eBay. I’m getting ready to try this outfit though:

Their 20 bf UPS bundles seem relatively reasonable. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has experience with this company.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View lew's profile


13197 posts in 4640 days

#4 posted 07-01-2008 06:20 PM


I get mine from a local saw mill. Prices seem reasonable especially if you get it rough- air dried. If you are in Pittsburgh it mite be worth the 3 hour trip to north western Maryland.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4707 days

#5 posted 07-01-2008 06:46 PM

I get my rough kiln dried lumber from a local sawyier. I pay 2.50 a bf for #1 common cherry and 3.40 for FAS cherry. FAS maple goes for 3.00 a bf. I have to drive about 50 miles to get it but it is worth the drive.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Karson's profile


35227 posts in 5285 days

#6 posted 07-02-2008 12:32 AM

I’ve gotten all 10,000 bd ft of my lumber from a local sawmill. Some in Mo. when I was paying $0.25 per bd ft for cherry and $0.50 for walnut. Oak was also 0.25 I don’t have much of that left. The stuff I got from NJ, was after making a friend of the sawmill owner. Buying the whole log if it looked good and passing when it didn’t. But he wanted a computer and he was selling the sawmill and anything left on the lot on the day of the sale went to the new buyer. Anything sold before that was his.

He traded about 4,000 bd ft of wood, maple, birch, beech oak, ash, walnut for a $2,000 computer and software, and he delivered it to my plasce.

In Delaware I traded some services of building a pulpit and a bedroom set for his daughter for wood, cherry, Holly and popular.

Click for details

So I’ve got enough wood for my lifetime except some specialities that I might need to pick up. Almost all of my projects posted on LJ have come from my NJ sawmill experiences. I moved all of the wood to Delaware when I moved here 3 yrs ago.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 4700 days

#7 posted 07-02-2008 10:14 PM

I got to know a local guy who owns a sawmill. He normally cuts lumber for pallets, crossties, and pads for draglines for the pipelines. But he is also a former trim carpenter and know good lumber. He puts most of his cherry logs to one side and will sell them to a few people. He custom cuts them and usually sells them for around $2-$4 a bf. A hardwood supplier that is within 2 hours of here wholesales to the general public. I will buy exotic and finer hardwoods from them and get pretty good prices. Usually almost half of what some retail stores like woodcraft sell for. right now i have nearly 400 bf of cherry drying in my garage, and paid next to nothing for it.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View mski's profile


442 posts in 4865 days

#8 posted 07-02-2008 10:46 PM

I get mine from local hardwood dealers.
One word of caution!!
Be up on your Board Foot calculations, one of the dealers Lane Stanton Vance, Oxnard CA. 3 times tried to charge me more BF than I bought.
Once I bought 7 BF Purple Heart, said it was 9 BF.
Another time, I think it was 3 BF error.
This would not be a problem if I was buying 200 BF but , on a small order thats alot of money.
When you go to these places do not act clueless, and practice BF calculations in your head.
If your in PA, here is a good supplier.

Other than that compared to Home Dumpo, the quality and price is better at suppliers I think


View Dale's profile


31 posts in 4866 days

#9 posted 07-02-2008 10:48 PM

send me an email, I live in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and have recently found a guy in Mercer, PA with an unbelievable stash of wood. I am talking about a barn that is 30×50 and 15’ high stuffed full of lumber! I recently bought 150bf of maple, walnut, cherry, oak and butternut at $1 a bf from him. I am not saying all of his wood is going to be at that price but he has alot of great wood and great prices. Also has alot of machinery for sale. Let me know if you are interested.

-- Dale, Pittsburgh PA -

View RusticElements's profile


167 posts in 4610 days

#10 posted 07-02-2008 10:50 PM

The hardwood dealer near me cuts to order so often there are short pieces left over. When I go there I just head straight to the back room and grab a pile of it. It’s usually too short to do anything substantial but it’s nice stuff, and cheap! Other times I get cut-offs from furniture factories. That’s usually free, but of course it’s even shorter than the hardwood dealer’s pieces.

-- Michael R. Harvey - Brewster, NY - - -

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4692 days

#11 posted 07-02-2008 11:44 PM

regarding mski’s comment I agree. I always bring the following with me to a lumber yard: my sketch pad, a tape and a calculator so that I can calculate board feet and cost before I pay for anything. My local lumberyard is however, expensive and the guys are borderline rude, so I am looking for another source.
I have had good success with buying cut to order lumber from Rockler. It is clear lumber but it is probably the most expensive way to go. They actually messed up once and gave me all maple when I ordered and paid for maple and walnut. I called and they appoligized told me they would get the walnut out immediately and to keep the extra maple for my troubles. They also once sent a 32” Jet drum sander by mistake when I ordered a Jet air filtration system. Since I am the honest type I refused the delivery and called them to make them aware of the issue and unfortunately they asked for that one back:-). Funny thing when I called they had heard from the person who recieved an air filtration system by accident but had no idea where the sander was until I called. Sorry I totally digressed on this reply!

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 4627 days

#12 posted 07-02-2008 11:51 PM

Right now I just get small amounts and woodcraft but there prices are really high. I’m ready to try my local saw mill.

-- Tyler, Illinois

View NY_Rocking_Chairs's profile


528 posts in 4482 days

#13 posted 07-22-2008 12:29 PM

I live in Dairy Farm and logging country in WNY. My neighbor is a logger, another friend of ours has a kiln, another Dairy Farmer friend of ours keeps barns full of wood to sell, which comes from local sources or he special orders. Sunday I paid $3.00 a bd ft for soft curly maple.

I went over Sunday though and he told me about the order of CA Redwood he is getting in, they charged him $2800 just for part of a truck bed from CA to NY. The pile is only 12’x4’ footprint and he could get up to 4000 bd ft in that pile, so the cost for freight for 1000 bd ft or 4000 bd ft was the same. I hate to find out what that $2800 does to the cost of the wood. I think he said he ordered 2000 bd ft, so a little over $1 freight added to the wood cost.

The last walnut I got was a little over $5 for 8/4 black walnut. I compare these prices with the local “lumber mills” and it amazes me this guy can do these prices, but no overhead, no employees, he just does it on the side.

-- Rich, anybody want a peanut?

View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 4527 days

#14 posted 07-23-2008 03:48 PM

I am still in the phases of feeling places out. I have a small supplier in the same town I live in that has reasonable rates( for karson). But they are still kind of expensive for me. They claim all their stuff is graded FAS, but I really cant be sure, and they also claim its S2S, but its not nearly as surfaced as HD stuff is. I have a buddy that is a primitive furniture maker who I am going to work with a bit, but thats going to be cash only, which adds wrinkles to the projects..eheh. Karson told me of another supplier in our area, but I havent checked him out yet. I also keep my eye on craigslist and have gotten some practice lumber from people throwing out bars and bedframes.

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View Boardman's profile


157 posts in 4646 days

#15 posted 07-23-2008 04:37 PM

Part of the learning curve in woodworking, in addition to just the basic skills of working with the wood itself, is finding good sources. Like most I first went to woodworking supply stores like Woodcraft, Rockler, etc., and paid the price for my inexperience. But reading various forums told me that the just HAD to be better sources.

So over time my sources have developed into:

1- A local (minneapolis) REAL lumberyard where as a business I get the wholesale prices. I go there for the run of the mill stuff, like red oak, white oak, etc.

2- Local portable sawmill operations that don’t have to add a huge burden of overhead costs to their prices.
From these sort of places I get things like cherry (UNSTEAMED) walnut, hickory, red elm and so on. These are the best sources I have – good material at a good price.

3- Craigslist in my area. It takes some constant checking but I’ve gotten some real good deals there. In the same category I’d put small local papers in the 50 mile radius of where I live. I’ve gotten some stunning lumber at good prices here also.

Now I live in a fairly good area for locally grown hardwoods. I think there’s better areas than MN, like Indiana, Iowa, PA, and a few nearby states. But people west of the Mississippi – especially as far as CA, don’t have much regional hardwood to pick from. So online sources + shipping are what they’re stuck with. I guess it’s my payoff for living thru frigid, mind-numbing upper midwest winters.

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