Rough Lumber vs BORG Lumber

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Forum topic by Padriac Riley posted 01-02-2015 10:51 PM 5893 views 0 times favorited 62 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Padriac Riley

40 posts in 2188 days

01-02-2015 10:51 PM

I have been doing carpentry/woodworking ever since I was a kid but there are some areas where what I was taught a responsible home owner needed to know has left some amazing gaps in woodworking knowledge. One such gap I have recently discovered is in rough lumber vs BORG lumber. I cannot wrap my head around how it can possibly be cheaper to buy rough cut lumber in larger quantities despite nearly infinite testimonials to this fact on the web. Sure you can get species the BORGS don’t carry but once you go even to 5/4 thickness the price difference seems to become negligible. I’ve bought some pieces of rough Mahogany at Woodcraft for a few small projects and there also seems to be a huge amount of waste that will add to the cost of using rough lumber. Can anyone explain? A for instance would be white oak I am currently trying to source for a couple of dressers and a crib.

I am feeling very stupid about this whole rough lumber thing at this point and throw myself at the mercy of random strangers on the internet for help.

62 replies so far

View Rob's profile


320 posts in 3902 days

#1 posted 01-02-2015 11:34 PM

The reason you aren’t seeing much of a price difference is because you are buying retail finished boards from the BORGS and Retail rough cut from a Woodcraft store. If you buy your rough cut directly from a local mill there is a huge savings. You aren’t paying a retail price at a mill. A 1” X 6” Maple board at Home Depot (which is really 3/4” x 5 1/2”) currently is selling for $3.98 a linear foot. So an 8’ board will be about $32. For $32 at my local mill, I can buy two 5/4 12’ long 7”-8” wide rough cut Maple boards. Of course, prices for rough cut vary by location so you may find prices that are better or worse in your location.

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2804 days

#2 posted 01-02-2015 11:39 PM

I assume by BORG lumber you mean Lowes/Home Depot. If you look at the cost by board feet, the BORG S4S hardwood lumber is pretty expensive.

Lowes 1”x6”x96” poplar board = $20.09
That’s 4 board feet
So $5.02 per board foot

Rough poplar at a saw mill near me is $1.50 – $2.00 depending on grade.

Woodcraft/rockler are pretty expensive too, but not that expensive.

Edit – Rob beat me to it

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 3202 days

#3 posted 01-03-2015 12:41 AM

I found a custom millwork place near me that sells hardwoods to anybody. I was in one of their storage warehouses and they have thousands and thousands of board feet of lumber. I bought cherry and maple for less than the price of pine at the Borg. They have white maple and brown maple, different color grades of cherry, walnut, oak (red and white) and lots of others. They usually have some thicker timbers in different species as well. They had some absolutely gorgeous 8/4 cherry and some even thicker maple and walnut and oak. All kiln dried. Not air dried.

Their stuff is all skip-planed. They plane it just enough to see exactly what they have, but it’s still considered rough. So I run it through the planer and make whatever I need.

And endgrainy’s example above is exactly why I’ll go for rough cut any time. I started doing the math. It really just doesn’t take that long to run the boards through the planer myself.

View ChipByrd's profile


160 posts in 2843 days

#4 posted 01-03-2015 12:56 AM

Maybe if you share where you are from, someone could give you some leads on local lumber yards. Here’s a the prices from a guy I recently purchased about 80 bf from.

BTW, no affiliation with the guy, but I bought some 5/4 QSWO that is beautiful.

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3603 days

#5 posted 01-03-2015 01:19 AM

When I bought S4S poplar from HD to do an entertainment center, after the fact I added it up and it came out to almost $8.00 a BF. For POPLAR. S2S at the lumber yard near me is $1.80 BF and S4S is $2.40.

BORG sells convenience, not price.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3606 days

#6 posted 01-03-2015 01:39 AM

Buying rough cut lumber from a mill will pay for a planer and jointer in materiel cost savings in a very short time.

Woodcraft lumber prices are out of sight!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View pintodeluxe's profile


6231 posts in 3729 days

#7 posted 01-03-2015 02:06 AM

The other factor to consider is quality. A warped 3/4” board does me no good. Once it is already planed to thickness, I can’t fix the defects. Rough lumber is milled in your shop, so you know it is straight and square. It is so nice to use straight, stable lumber when building furniture.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Padriac Riley's profile

Padriac Riley

40 posts in 2188 days

#8 posted 01-03-2015 03:25 PM

I’m in Chicopee, MA. There are very few places near me that matter. By that I mean I drive an hour to and from work in Middlefield, MA which means if a place isn’t open on a Saturday it might as well not exist. I can’t afford to loose $150.00 by not going to work one day during the week so I can go spend $150.00 on lumber. That move would probably also get me divorced.

There is a place on Route 20 in Chester, MA Bannish Lumber and I am told by the retired locals that gather for coffee hour where I work (there’s a community center attached to the place) that Bannish is pretty decent but they are closed on the weekend and most of the holidays I have off. There’s a few places that show up as “lumber dealers” in the immediate area and one in Ludlow (15 minutes) that carries rough but the prices are precious little better than the BORG’s finished lumber and there is a “special order” charge on everything including the basic domestic stuff. They seem to be retail masquerading as wholesale.

The only real option is a place I’ve found in Westfield, MA called Oleksak Lumber. They only carry domestics so I’m still hitting Woodcraft for rough exotics or ordering them blind online. They are open Saturday mornings and will plane all four sides for basically pennies but I’m not sure the way the guy was talking about it on the phone if it’s quite them same thing as what I think of when planing and jointing in my workshop. He won’t just plane one face and straight line rip one edge – it’s all four sides or nothing. Also rather quaintly backwards and more than a little inconvenient they only take cash or personal check. I can’t remember the last time I took cash anywhere let alone felt safe walking around with $300.00 in my pocket. I’ll have to see if I still have checks gathering dust somewhere. I do actually know right where the place is though. Oddly enough I’ve driven by it twice a day on may to and from Middlefield for four years now but there’s no sign on the road and it’s set so far back I never noticed the place.

Really missing Doane & Williams right now.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1335 posts in 2851 days

#9 posted 01-03-2015 04:05 PM

For me it isn’t about price, it is about quality and selection. First, nearly all of the BORG lumber is warped or cupped or bowed or something. So, it isn’t really any good for fine woodworking anyway unless you mill it again. Second, I like to venture outside of poplar, SYP, and red oak. In my area, to do that you have to go to a real hardwood supplier and buy rough.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View CharlesA's profile


3458 posts in 2713 days

#10 posted 01-03-2015 04:33 PM

While HD/Lowe’s are can bring a lot of things to you cheap, lumber is a different animal. I have one sawmill within 15 miles, and 2 more in the 45 mile range. They’re out there milling logs to rough lumber with very little in transportation costs. The boards are traveling just a few miles, and then dried, etc. I go to them, buy in quantity and come home.

If I buy rough cut from two woodworking stores in town (one a Woodcraft), the prices start to converge.

The last time I checked, red oak from HD worked out to $7/bf, it is $2.25 at my sawmill. But it is rough—you can’t deal with it without some combination of jointer, planer, table saw, good, sharp hand planes. I made a number of pieces with BORG red oak. It was quick and easy. I’ve used poplar in painted pieces where I bout it cut to width as well. But rough is way cheaper.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3403 days

#11 posted 01-03-2015 05:34 PM

What about:

Great Brook Lumber
20 Industrial Road
Southwick, MA 01077

30 minutes from you.
In Stoughton, MA or Milford CT. hour and 30 minutes and an hour respectively. Open Saturdays and through the week.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Crank50's profile


173 posts in 2492 days

#12 posted 01-03-2015 05:47 PM

Considered mail order?
Might not save much money but I hear the quality can be great.

View grub32's profile


215 posts in 3964 days

#13 posted 01-03-2015 05:55 PM

How about craigslist?

I buy lots of mine from there.

Good luck!

-- Educator by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View Padriac Riley's profile

Padriac Riley

40 posts in 2188 days

#14 posted 01-03-2015 05:57 PM

For dimensioning I have a 13” 3 knife Dewalt lunch box planer and a Delta 36-725 table saw. I also have a Delta benchtop jointer I got a two years ago on clearance gathering dust that I will likely put on a craigslist at some point, it may prove useful to a hobbyist model maker but it is not to me.

When money becomes available I will be investing a good Rikon or Laguna bandsaw long before I plunk down the cash on a floor model jointer – much more use to me. I know someone is likely to get up in arms over a jointer being a must but we never had the floor space growing up and found other ways. A good jointer to me is a luxury right up there with a sliding table saw – surely a nice toy to have but unnecessary and for my budget and space there are more useful purchases to come first.

I also don’t really see hand planes as a viable alternative – there’s just no way they can do better or more accurate job than a properly set up machine. That’s the whole point of the machine…plus I’d like to get this done before my sister has her kid.

After reading the responses here and talking with the guy at OlekSak in Westfield this morning rough 4/4 Red Oak 6” wide at his best grade is $2.50 a boardfoot. He charges $0.25 a face per boardfoot per face to plane if I want that done. That would still only make it $3.50 a boardfoot for his best grade. If I have this right a 4/4×6” x 8’ gives me 4 boardfeet. At his rough price that would make that board $10.00 if he planed all four sides that board would still only be $14.00. Depot right now is selling that board for $22.80 which also comes pre-warped.

I am going to figure that the 6” rough board is going to give me at best 5” when done which will let me rip 2 – 2 1/4” wide boards out of it Perfect for much of this project. That is of course what it would ideally let me do. I am going to assume a lot of waste however for my guesstimate (plans won’t be finished until tonight or tomorrow sometime) I need about 100 boardfeet which works out to about 25 of those boards. Buying rough that comes to roughly $62.50 or $87.50 if I have Oleksak plane all four sides. That’s for his best grade. At Depot those 25 boards would be $570.00. I could still be mistaken but I did the math five times just now to make sure but that is an astonishing price difference.

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1029 posts in 2491 days

#15 posted 01-03-2015 06:16 PM

the woodcraft type of store is a second or third tier outlet and borg’s(never heard that before what does it mean) are 3rd or forth tier, meaning the mill being 1st tier they log it or have logs brought to them;so they sell the cheapest.the woodcraft’s of the world buy maybe from the mill,most likely buy from a distributor,that has bought from the mill so there is a mark-up from the distributor then woodcraft has to mark-up. the home depots by from a distributor.So the more handling involved the higher the price.

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