After outfitting your home woodworking shop with everything you need, power and hand tools, etc., it’s now time to stock your shop with various types of wood for your projects. A few boards of this and that, pine or walnut or oak, or maybe an exotic wood, and you’re all set to begin working on that new dining room table you’ve always wanted to build.
Where to buy wood for woodworking, though? Do you go to one of the big box stores nearby? Is it cheaper to buy the wood at a local lumber yard?
Like most of us, you’re likely to check online first, at least to find a supplier near you, whether it’s one of the big box stores, a local lumberyard, or a mill that will cut your wood to your specs and thickness. The time you spend online doing your due diligence will help you locate those suppliers most handy to you, and their websites will also be able to tell you about the lumber they carry and board foot prices.
We want to offer a few handy tips to help you in stocking your shop.
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Common Lumber Stock
You likely will be looking for common stock items like plywood, 2 x 4s, and basic dimensional lumber in lengths easy to store in your shop or garage. Many home shop projects will call for some or all of these items, whether it be for a coffee table, a dining room table, a desk for your kids, or more intricate projects for the advanced woodworker.
Maybe it’s pine or pressure treated for outdoor projects or oak for a flooring job in your home. These are common stocks and can be found at virtually any lumber yard and certainly at every big box store. Your various dimensional needs can be found at any of these sources, and some will even cut them for you to approximate size for convenience in bringing them home or for storing in your shop.
But what if you need something out of the ordinary or need to source a particular hardwood for a project. Most hardwood lumber dealers will carry furniture-grade wood, including maple, walnut, and cherry, with a good selection of dimensions and lengths to choose from.
It’s not a bad idea to become friendly with your local lumberyard, too, if you will be sourcing lumber in the future for your projects. Regulars get recognized, and a good lumberyard will nurture a good relationship with their regulars. Just as in the big box stores, local lumberyards will let you select the individual pieces you want to purchase to make sure the stock is straight and true with minimal mars.
Where to Buy Exotic Wood
Neither local lumber yards nor big box stores will likely carry a wide variety of exotic woods because of their expense and a reduced market for them. However, a good local lumberyard will be able to source exotic woods for you on request and special order.
However, you can also purchase exotic woods online, as you might expect. There are some excellent online resources for such exotic woods such as:
- Red oak
- Tropical walnut
- Black walnut
- Bamboo boards
- White ash
- Canary wood
Online exotic and specialty wood sources can not only sell you the wood; they can sell it in specialized cuts in order to give you precisely what you need and nothing extra. It isn’t as convenient as driving to the lumberyard and driving home with the stock, but it is easy to source almost any kind of exotic wood you might want.
How To Get Cheap Wood For Woodworking
When it comes to price, we’re all looking for bargains. Finding wood cheap is one example. There are options here for you, too, and with a bit of ingenuity and effort, great bargains can be found. Here are a few.
If you have a joiner and a planer, a local sawmill is a great place to find lumber at a reduced price, especially if it also has a kiln. If there is one handy, make friends with the owner. You’ll be treated to custom lumber at whatever board foot your project calls for. And, with live edge board in style today for so many uses (kitchen shelves or dining room tables, for instance), a local sawmill can fix you up with as much as you might want.
Old furniture is a staple of yard sales and junk stores, and once in a while, you can find a real treasure of maple or cherry that somebody doesn’t want anymore. Deconstruct the furniture, strip it, plane and sand it, and suddenly you have some fantastic stock to use in your project.
Perhaps a neighbor is adding a new addition or ripping up an old oak floor, or a nearby barn is coming down, and there will be a demolition job you can volunteer to help with some weekend. Turn the demo into deconstruction and let some of the wood be your compensation. True, it’s not entirely free, as your sweat will be the price you pay. But, you’re only out your sweat and time, not actual cash.
Most construction sites will have a dumpster for ends and other waste, and it’s only going to the dump. Or maybe it’s simply in a burn pile, waiting for you to rescue it and put it to better use. It’s a great source of truly free wood.
We know an artist who scours stump dumps for trunk pieces to use in his woodworking studio to produce works of art. A band saw, and a lathe are the tools of his trade, and the pieces are stunningly beautiful. The wood is free, and after a bit of dump-picking, his studio stock is replenished.
If you check out YouTube, you will find a seemingly endless list of videos for pallet projects. They are usually discarded after use, and it’s easy to find them free of charge. Furniture, both indoor and outdoor, platform frames, and more are uses to which pallets are put, and with a little disassembly and sanding, you have what could be an endless supply of cheap wood, depending on where you live.
Craigslist has a section for “Material,” and wood is a common listing. The wood might be a little warped or knotty, or it may have mars that the owner didn’t want to work around. Pallets are often listed, too. In many instances, you only have to pick it up yourself, as the owner may simply want to get rid of it. A few minutes of your time can help you stock your woodworking shop with some good bargains.
All of these suggestions could help you score either free or inexpensive wood for your shop projects. A little imagination, a little effort, a little time and research, can pay off for you.
Whether it’s standard stock, exotic woods, or cheap/free stuff, it’s not difficult to keep your shop well stocked for any project you might want to undertake. Look around, be aware of all these resources, and fill the shelves to help you stay busy and productive.