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Woodpeckah

Where do you get your wood?

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Woodpeckah -
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Hi everyone, I am not sure if I am doing this right or not so please bear with me. This has always been a challenge for me is finding decent wood that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is of decent quality. Right now I go to big blue because I don’t have a truck yet and they will cut it down to 4’ boards and I get 10% off for military. But all I can realistically afford is softwood which will do the job but isn’t as pretty. Anyone have experience with / recommendations for either online or what it’s like buying wood from a mill. Thank you.

 

Semper Fi,

Joe

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Hey Joe,

 

It would help a good deal to know where you hail from. Local wood yards aren't that plentiful, at least in my area, but I have several good ones within an hours drive and it's worth every mile. But access to a truck/van would be a be help. If not in your future maybe look at buying some in volume which can save you in the long run as well. Or buddying up with someone in your area to buy your wood. But first lets see what's in your near area if we can.

 

-Steve

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If you can find a mill closeby, that's a good option. But, as Steve said, a van or truck will likely be necessary. And, you'll need some way to smooth the rough sawn lumber. A friend with a planer?  

Some very nice pieces can be made with Big Box pine. But you'll need to select the best boards from the stacks. 

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Durrr da durr... my bad, had a brain fart there. I live just outside San Antonio in Boerne, Texas. There’s some hidden mill online a few miles away but I don’t think it’s in business anymore because I went by there and either they have decided to camouflage themselves as a strip mall or I’m looking in the wrong place. There’s another one in Boerne that has good reviews but their website is garbage...

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I have a 6” jointer but no planer and I just got a decent size table saw. Could I use those in place of the planer with a straight edge jig? Or is it the actual size reface area that comes rough?

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My experience has been that buying from the saw mill is always less expensive that the Borgs. Some mills will cut down pieces and even mill them for you. The one where I buy my wood will skip plane for free or prepare all 4 sides for a modest price. 

 

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i buy from mills usually in 250 bd ft at a time and get it for 1.25 to 2.25 a bdft. It is not perfect lumber but at that price you can cut around the bad spots. Also Look for air dried as it will be cheaper but may have more flaws and cheaper.

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That Boerne mesquite sawmill, that Lew linked, looks interesting. Mesquite is fun to work and is beautiful wood. 

I get mine rough and, crooked. I break it down by cross cutting first then trim an edge with a guided Skil Saw. From there it goes to the table saw. With the right blade in the circular saw and a good home made guide, no jointer is needed. With slabs or boards wider than my planer, I use a router planer sled to smooth it out. Lots of You Tube videos about that process. It's easy to do. 

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12 hours ago, Woodpeckah said:

but their website is garbage...

Don't let that scare ya, if it did. When you have a mom and pop outfit they rarely do well on their marketing and web presence, most of the mom and pop websites are horrible actually.

12 hours ago, Woodpeckah said:

Could I use those in place of the planer with a straight edge jig?

Most certainly, for edge planing and face planing boards no wider than 6"

12 hours ago, Woodpeckah said:

Or is it the actual size reface area that comes rough?

That depends. If you go to a hardwood retailer you can expect S3S (one edge planed, two faces planed, one edge rough). Really you are limiting your woodworking if you go with S3S or S4S not too mention the lumber is more costly. The reason it's costly is the processing time to get that lumber looking good for you the consumer. If you rely on S3S or better then eventually you'll have a house full of furniture that you made, and or crafts, that all look the same dimension, flat, 3/4" etc.

With a mill, you can get much wider boards, and thicker so you can plane to your desired thickness, and the boards could have on average much more character then what you'd get at the storefront hardwood dealer.

 

You have options for flattening the face of the boards (if the mill doesn't) since you don't have a planer.

  • Router planer sled, see this Search Query on YouTube
  • Rip the boards down to 6" manageable widths and face plane on your jointer, then glue back together, this actually works very well, often you can't even tell the boards were ripped and glued back together if you do so with care to keep the grain together, and you also end up with a more stable board.
  • And the old fashioned way, the hand plane. There are a ton of resources on flattening a board with a hand plane(s). If I could start my woodworking over from day one, knowing what I know now, I would have forced myself to learn the basics of flattening a board with hand planes. If you need help in that area we can help you here.

Great questions Woodpeckah!

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Oh ya, you asked where do we get our lumber from, I forgot to tell ya, after all that rambling about wood from a local mill, and the benefits of it, I get mine mainly from two sources, our local hardwood retailer, and this wonderful Mom and Pop outfit you can find at this link.

WWW.CURLYMAPLE.COM

 

My lumber source linked above though may not be what you are after at this point, the lumber those folks sell reflect what I am doing in my shop now, there are more cost effective locations to get your lumber than by mail order specialty sellers like the one I linked.

 

My local mill stopped selling to the public a few years ago, I used to love visiting their location in the hills and purchasing lumber, but they mill mainly for their own use now, thus forcing me back into the retail market such as my local hardwood supplier.

My local supplier is these guys, and they are wonderful.

WWW.REELLUMBER.COM

HARDWOOD LUMBER, PLYWOOD, MOULDINGS, LUMBER SUPPLIER, ACCESSORIES, CUSTOM MILLING,

 

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Joe, perhaps you have mentioned it in other threads - but where is your woodworking interests?  Turning, scrolling, toys, furniture?  Large stuff, small stuff, craft stuff for sale, outdoor projects for your home use?  I kind of do (or have done) all of those things before settling down to "try" and concentrate more on furniture and accessories inside the house.  The point being, I used different sources for each of those projects.  I made a lot of pine furniture before I bought my first stick of oak.  My joiner & planer opened up new worlds, but I still worked a lot of pine.

 

Myself, when I want some nice hardwood I use a local mill.  Guy doesn't even have a website, I learned of him through word of mouth.  But he is a super nice guy, with a portable mill, and stacks of all different kinds of lumber.  And he will sell it however you want it; rough, hit or miss planed, S3S (surfaced 3 sides), S4S, cut to length, whatever you want.

 

Our state agriculture department publishes a weekly paper with "for sale" items.  There are usually several folks with portable mills advertising in it, selling all sorts of locally grown hard and soft lumber.  To find these guys with portable mills, ask at Woodcraft in San Antonio if they know of any.  Ask a few tree service companies in your area if they know of any local mills - they may sell off the better logs they harvest, or they might have a mill themselves.

 

IMHO, there is nothing wrong with honing your skills on big box pine while learning where your interests might lie.

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30 minutes ago, Cal said:

but where is your woodworking interests?

Perfect question for this!

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Transport:  consider getting or making a specialized trailer, something designed to just hold the raw wood you want.  Components:  spine, axle, 2 wheels, channel bed, 3--4 uprights (48" to take plywood).  If you know a decent welder, see what you could make for them to trade for the labor of assembly?  At one time I was going to get rid of the van, keep the Prius, and a trailer was my solution.  In some jurisdictions, if you design the trailer a certain way, it's either simpler (no lights) or escapes license requirements/ depends.  Most commercial designs are capable of a ton or so load.  You're looking at a couple hundred pounds, and that makes a much lighter design, much easier to tow.  WWers don't buy trucks because they really need them!  They like trucks, and took up WW to justify the purchase!

 

Are there any WW clubs in your area?  They've been there before you, probably know all the holes in the baseboard.  Attend a meeting, bring donuts, you'll get all the info you need.

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forJohn Morris,,, you posted a  wood supplier that their business is plum across the country from you..... That area code 570 from your calif. address would make that wonderful wood supplier cost a fortune by the time you received it...wouldn't it be better on Joe's pocket book to find a lumber yard close to Boerne, Tx.

  Joe, until you buy the big sanding machines that has enclosed sanding drums, why not use the cheaper pine wood to better learn woodworking to the point you will want to invest in those expensive time saving machines....I say this because you will find using pine wood with any sanding drums the sand paper will need to be changed real often...as will the small electric and air operated sanders. Slipping a new piece of sand paper on to a hand held sander is quick and easy...but when you ruin sand paper on a drum sander is a whole different world in expense and time it takes to change out the paper...for that reason I only use hard wood and never attempt to run any pine through my sanding machines.....

   Also ordering wood from across the country is not real smart on your pocket book....San Antonio should have many lumber yards and box stores to choose from. I get my hardwood from a lumber yard in Abilene, Tx and they stock 4 different hardwoods and also Baltic Birch plywood which is the only plywood worth using....The lumber yards will be your best bet for their hardwoods will have been dried better that a small wood mill which might not have a kiln. And yes don't even buy wood that has not been dried properly.

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17 minutes ago, Smallpatch said:

wouldn't it be better on Joe's pocket book to find a lumber yard close to Boerne, Tx.

Yes sir, I agree, but he asked me where do I buy my lumber from. So I told him. :cowboy:

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You really do not need a trailer. I have carried 250 bdft in a Ranger and never hauled in a trailer. You can rent a truck to haul anything you want.

  

Jesse I have ordered from Curly Maple some curly maple you will find to be difficult to get anywhere in the states and see pictures of it before you buy . Great people to deal with as they will help you on shipping by telling you what lengths will ship cheaper so you can calciulate what cuts you want them to make.

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There must be at least 2 good sources of information about where to get your desired lumber.  As others have stated, raw lumber is so much cheaper and will give you some opportunity to grow your skills.  First place to check is a local cabinet shop or wood turners club.  They each have their sources of materials.  Second place is from tree trimmers.  Sometimes, they operate their own sawmill and you can purchase what you want.  And, as Gerald stated, you can always rent a truck for a few hours to haul some wood, or tie it to the top of your vehicle.  

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