Horrendous first trip to lumberyard

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Forum topic by Iggles88 posted 05-31-2012 05:28 PM 3921 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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247 posts in 3609 days

05-31-2012 05:28 PM

Just got back from my first trip to a lumberyard and it couldn’t have gone any worse. A few days ago I found a lumberyard not too far from me (btw its the only lumberyard within an hour and a half) so I emailed them about their lumber and prices etc. I never received an email back so I had the day off today so I took a ride over. I walk in the place and the guy is a complete ass, and very disinterested. So I am walking around and I notice there is no rough lumber at all. Now I ask the guy where or if they even have any rough lumber. The guy laughs at me and says that no lumberyards sell rough lumber. He says maybe 8/4 lumber but other then that I wont find it. Then he asks if I’ve ever done any woodworking I say yes but explain to him that this is the first time to a lumberyard for me. As soon as he heard that he started talking down on me, I won’t get into the entire conversation but just want to bring up a few things that he told me. 1) like I said no one sells rough lumber 2) jointers are obsolete 3) wood doesn’t move as much as people claim that it does 4) cabinetmakers only use presurfaced lumber. Now that last one I’m not too sure about but all the others are absolutely false. Needless to say ill never go back to that yard. It’s a shame cause like I mentioned now I’ll have a very nice drive to get to the next nearest lumberyard. Have any of you guys experienced anything like this with people who work in lumberyards? Ive heard people tell stories like mine and am trying to understand why the owners or workers of lumberyards act this way. Do they just not want to be bothered?

37 replies so far

View zindel's profile


257 posts in 3898 days

#1 posted 05-31-2012 05:38 PM

Sorry to hear about your rough trip…the guy sounds like he knows nothing about what his profession is…what a shame. Sounds like he won’t be doing business for long.

-- If you can't fix it with a hammer, You've got an electrical problem.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4233 days

#2 posted 05-31-2012 05:38 PM

Where are you located? Usually there are a lot of people around here that know of little holes in the wall that you would likely never find on your own. I know I have found a few places here in central NY that seemingly didn’t exist when I first started looking two years ago. It is possible that there is someone closer to you than you think.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Mike67's profile


97 posts in 4584 days

#3 posted 05-31-2012 05:42 PM

You’ll want to check the phone book for hardwood dealers, not lumber yards. Lumber yards generally cater to home builders, not woodworkers. There are some great places near Philly including Hearne Hardwoods (suggest you google it and take a ride out to see it). There’s also a new woodworking place in Conchohocken (is that spelling correct?) that may be able to point you in the right direction. I don’t know the name but there was an article about it not long ago in the Inquirer. Good luck.
Now, can you send me some scrapple?

View Mosquito's profile


11291 posts in 3540 days

#4 posted 05-31-2012 05:46 PM

It could be that they’re not interested unless you’re a production shop or contractor looking to purchase in the thousands of bf range, similar to what Mike suggested

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 3609 days

#5 posted 05-31-2012 05:48 PM

Yea hearne is the next closest one. I’ve heard great things about it so it wouldn’t be all that bad to take a trip out there but I dont want to have to do it regularly. I’m located in northeast Philadelphia 19136 hearnes Is 1 hour 27 minutes according to gps. Other then that I haven’t been able to find anything but I’ll search for hardwood dealers and see what I can find.

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 4315 days

#6 posted 05-31-2012 05:52 PM

Sometimes when any business is the only game in town and there is a thriving community to support them businesses exeriences like the one you detailed above happen and somehow survive. Put them in a market with competitors and they find themselves out of business fairly fast. That being said I have had that exact experience at one or two lumber yards in my area but choose not to frequent them any more and I am fortunate enough to live in an area where you cant go 5 miles without tripping over a lumberyard. He clearly doesnt want to listen to his customers or know what he is talking about to boot. I found his “no one sells rough lumber” the most amusing as I could probably name 5 that do within 20 miles of my house. I have even started buying rough sawn wood in 100+ bf quantities from a guy who runs a small lumber mill on his own property, kiln dried even! This might be worth a try in your area possibly? If not I hope the further yards have better service and respect for their customers, dispite the much longer drive.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 3609 days

#7 posted 05-31-2012 05:57 PM

I’ve checked Craigslist and found a few people selling out of their homes and I’m going to try to buy from them. I just found one place called heacock lumber which is 45 minutes away a bit closer then hearne so if I don’t have any luck buying from these few guys I’ll head up to this place. I wasnt looking to buy 1000s of board feet but I was going to buy 200 so I wasnt in there to buy a board or two. And someone mentioned he might not have wanted my business because it wasn’t a huge purchase but I don’t think that’s it because the guy would almost not let me leave he wanted so badly to convince me that he was right.

View jmos's profile


918 posts in 3617 days

#8 posted 05-31-2012 05:57 PM

The only rough lumber the hardwood dealer around me carries is red oak. That’s it. Otherwise it’s all S2S or S4S. I’m sure you can find rough in some places, but it seems to be hard to come by in metro Philly. What bites about that is the surfaced lumber I get is no where near straight and true. There’s no way I could use it as is, without jointing and planing. To add insult to injury, when I buy 4/4 S2S, which is 3/4”, I end up taking at least another 1/16” to an 1/8” off the thickness of it to get it flat and parallel. If I want to yield a true 3/4” part I have to start with 5/4 stock. I usually end up just using slightly less than 3/4” stock.

From what I’ve seen I can’t imagine a cabinet shop using stock straight from one of these dealers. I’m sure the order from the same mills as the dealers and get what they need, rough or properly finished so they can use it off the truck. I’d be curious to hear from some pro’s on how they work it.

I wouldn’t write off the place you visited just because the guy is a jerk. Did they have a good selection? Good prices? Is it worth going way out of your way to get rough? You’re not buying their advice, but their lumber.

The guy at my place thought I was mental for building a real workbench. Nice guy, but made it perfectly clear I was wasting my time and money. His opinion; it didn’t hurt me. They have a decent selection and deliver to my place for free, so I use them and deal with the parts I don’t like. If I had a truck to transport my own, and space to store a large load, I’d drive further for more selection and better pricing. Sometimes you have to pick you poison.

-- John

View NJWiliam's profile


32 posts in 3815 days

#9 posted 05-31-2012 05:59 PM

Hearne Hardwood is easily worth a 90 minute drive.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 3609 days

#10 posted 05-31-2012 06:00 PM

Jmos. Your exactly right about needing to still joint the 3/4 inch lumber but he didn’t see it that way that’s why he tried telling me wood doesn’t move as much as is said. Also no their prices were not good at all 7.00 for 4/4 cherry. I’ve seen it on other websites for about 4.00. Im not going to be going back there I don’t want to be in the same spot that you just described needing to use stock less then 3/4” that’s why I bought a jointer and a planer to be able to mill my own lumber.

View jmos's profile


918 posts in 3617 days

#11 posted 05-31-2012 06:01 PM

Did you try Willard Brothers in Trenton? I’ve heard they are pretty good (but haven’t been), and should be closer to you than 1.5 hours. Or was that where you went?

-- John

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3884 days

#12 posted 05-31-2012 06:03 PM

I find that any place that sells wood that has more than a tablesaw, jointer and planer, is not making most of their money from woodworkers. Places that have a straight line rip saw and molders make most of their money from cabinetmakers and milling wood for professional construction. Those people aren’t interested in milling their own stock and finding interesting boards. There are plenty places that sell rough lumber, although it may be hard to find.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 3609 days

#13 posted 05-31-2012 06:04 PM

Njwiliam. Your probably right but like I said I don’t want to have to take that drive on a regular basis. I am definitely going to go up there but would really like to have something closer when I’m in a squeeze and need to get the lumber ASAP. I don’t understand why in this area there’s absolutely nothing woodworking. There’s no woodcraft, no rockler, and hardly any lumberyards. I envy the people who have all of those close to them.

View Iggles88's profile


247 posts in 3609 days

#14 posted 05-31-2012 06:07 PM

Jmos I just looked up Willard brothers thats also 45 minutes away. Thanks for the headsup. I don’t want to name where I went because I don’t want to bash them they just didn’t have what I was looking for and the guy shouldn’t have acted that way

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4219 days

#15 posted 05-31-2012 07:43 PM

You might also check for sawmills and/or sawing services in your area.
Some times individuals have a portable mill and only advertise in the yellow pages or not at all.
Might check with tree removal services. Those guys often know sawers.

I just bought 530 BF of cherry from one of these guys for a super good price.
I only wanted 200 ft but the price was so good I had to have it all.
I’m drying it now and plan to sell about half of it for $2.00 to $3.00 per BF, depending on quantity.

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