Buying wood from Rockler

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Forum topic by Marcus posted 01-03-2013 12:52 PM 3895 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2934 days

01-03-2013 12:52 PM

So for about the first time ever I went to buy some wood from Rockler. They have ambrosia maple on sale for $4/bd ft, so thought I would pick up a bit to play around with. I went into the store, it was surfaced on both faces down to about 3/4. They still charged as if it was 4/4 though, saying that it was 4/4 so they charge at that rate, but as a courtesy, they sell it surfaced already.

So my first question was where can I buy the wood unsurfaced? I’m sure I would end closed to the 7/8 than there 3/4, so that would be great. Of course I was not surprised when they said that was not available.

I usually buy from small and local lumber guys, and when something is advertised as 4/4, its full thickness. On rare occasions if/when I buy surfaced, they’ll let me know that they had to surface the boards down to 15/16, and charge accordingly. It seems to be that Rockler is trying to justify over charging by 33%. I dont know, maybe this is customary and I just have really great lumberyards around me. I’ll be hard pressed to buy wood from Rockler though.

10 replies so far

View Woodmaster1's profile


1562 posts in 3501 days

#1 posted 01-03-2013 01:00 PM

No, this is normal for most mills. They sell it 4/4 unsurfaced or 3/4 surfaced the bdft. is still calculated on 4/4 lumber. Usually they charge a mill fee to surface the lumber.”

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2934 days

#2 posted 01-03-2013 01:07 PM

Very interesting. I guess I’ll consider myself very lucky and stick w/ my local guys…probably good business to do that anyways.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3973 days

#3 posted 01-03-2013 01:12 PM

My experience is the same as Woodmaster1. Usually, the wood is more expensive when it has already been surfaced, but for 4/4 lumber, the standard is that 4/4 is actually 4/4 in an unsurfaced form. It is still considered to be 4/4 when surfaced it nets out at 3/4 or greater thickness. Usually, the price is based on unsurfaced and then it is increased if the wood has already been surfaced. Also, I don’t think the price is based solely on the volumn of wood (4/4 vs 3/4 thickness for example). 4/4 lumber will usually have a little bit of different cost per bd/ft for example than 6/4, 8/4 or 12/4. This is because, it is more difficult to get the thicker lumber. The trees have to be larger and therefore are a bit more rare. The thicker lumber usually will be a little bit more expensiver per bd/ft than the thinner pieces. Naturally, also, various figures (ambrosia for example) will be more expensive than common grain. The most expensive way to buy lumber is almost always S4S Clear with the exception of some rare, highly figured woods.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2934 days

#4 posted 01-03-2013 01:32 PM

I just went and measured the rough sawn maple I just bought as 4/4 from my usual guy. Its at about 1.2”. So I suppose I’m definitely a lucky guy when it comes to lumber.

View bondogaposis's profile


5889 posts in 3266 days

#5 posted 01-03-2013 01:42 PM

The standard for surfaced 4/4 hardwood lumber is 13/16” thickness. The big box stores plane it down to 3/4, so it matches softwood dimensions. Not sure about Rockler, but I would think that they would follow the hardwood convention.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3390 days

#6 posted 01-04-2013 05:03 AM

4/4 Hardwood lumber is usually cut rough at 1 1/8” thick (1.125”). That way it is easy to get a 3/4” finished thickness. Planing the lumber is a value added step and increases the price. You don’t get something for nothing. The way Rockler is doing it is the way the industry works, so they are not shorting you.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3925 days

#7 posted 01-04-2013 05:56 AM

3/4 is generally charged as 4/4, whether it’s 1-1/16” rough, 15/16”, 7/8”, etc. The wood at Rockler is usually truly S2S. They really plane/sand it nice and have nicer boards (hence the higher prices). That’s why it ends up around 3/4”. The same wood S2S or skip planed at the hardwood dealer usually doesn’t look as good, though it might be 7/8” or 15/16”.

I personally don’t buy wood at Rockler as it’s a little overpriced for my taste, but the boards are usually pretty nice.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2934 days

#8 posted 01-04-2013 12:44 PM

Interesting to know, and thanks for the feedback everyone. I guess I am so used to dealing w/ my local guys (and them dealing with me) that the whole price tag on a measured piece of lumber just seemed odd.

View Brad's profile


1147 posts in 3654 days

#9 posted 01-06-2013 03:59 PM

As a point of comparison, I bought a nice ambrosia board from Woodcraft yesterday. It was marked as 4/4 at $4.99/bf. It’s nominal thickness is 1 and 3/16”. It looks to have been skip planed and both edges are rough. I’m hoping to resaw the material to get a 4-corner match on a box and end up with 3/8” thick sides.

The ambrosia is pretty, giving the wood a nice rustic look.

I don’t usually go to the major woodworking stores for lumber but the the 3bf of this board at $15.00 total was too good to pass up. Moreover, they were having a sale on other exotic woods I’ve never worked before so I picked up a couple of red cumaru boards. After sitting in my freezing shop overnight one of the cumaru boards developed a wicked twist.

This picture does not do justice to the grain.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Zinderin's profile


94 posts in 3047 days

#10 posted 01-08-2013 05:19 PM

Rockler and Woodcraft’s wood prices are way over the top in my opinion.

I love Charles Neil, Norm Abrams, Marc Spagnuolo, David Marks, even Tommy Mac! How could you not, they have taught us all a great deal about this hobby we all love (profession for some).

But they are business men, they are promoters (of themselves and their sponsors) and they are Sponsored. Just because they tell you to buy it at Woodcraft or Rockler doesn’t mean you should!

There are things you SHOULD buy at the box stores, and there are thing you should not. Rockler and Woodcraft are no different. And IMO, wood is one of those items you should not.

Guess I better stop waiting for that sponsorship huh?

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