Woodworking is fun when everything is going well. But unfortunately, like any business, the prices of raw materials can easily erode your profit margins.
This is especially true if you don’t know where to buy wood for woodworking. High store prices plus transportation and wood preparation costs can eat up the better part of your profits.
To this end, you should think carefully about your sourcing strategies early. Below, we explore several ways to purchase wood for woodworking and provide crucial tips to help you keep sourcing costs down without compromising on wood quality.
What’s the Best Place to Buy Wood for Woodworking?
- A good local sawmill
- A reliable lumberyard
- Local retail store
- Your local hardwood store
- Hoe depot store
Before You Go Buying Wood for Woodworking
You need to understand a couple of things before you go shopping for wood for your woodworking project.
Understand Wood Grades
Different organizations grade timber differently. For instance, softwood lumber grades are often different from hardwood timber grades.
Additionally, you may also separately identify construction-grade wood versus furniture-grade wood and many other categories. It’s important to understand the different grades to choose the perfect lumber for your project.
Generally, softwood lumber is graded in two main ways, i.e., by stress factor stress versus non-stress grading) and by appearance.
Meanwhile, hardwoods are often graded as Firsts and Seconds (FAS), Selects, Number One Commons (No.1C), and Number 2A Common. Firsts are the best wood options, with seconds a close second.
Then selects come third before various Common categories. Take some time to understand the different grades, so you don’t end up with the wrong wood for your project.
Understand Types of Wood Cuts
How the wood is cut has a big impact on the quality of the final product. Therefore, you should also closely examine the cuts before paying for wood. The three main types of woodcuts are;
- Plain-sawn: Plain-sawn wood is the most common type of timber. The wood pieces are characterized by growth rings running less than 30 degrees against the face of the board. This usually leaves the face grain looking circular and wavy. Plain-sawn lumber is often rough-sawn and the cheapest of all lumber types.
- Rift-sawn: Rift–sawn boards have growth rings that meet 30-60 degrees against the face of the board. This often leaves a straight face grain pattern. Rift-sawn wood pieces are more stable and expensive than plain-sawn lumber.
- Quarter-sawn: Finally, quarter-sawn boards have growth rings not less than 60 degrees from the face of the boards, leaving a straight grain pattern with a ribbon-like figure. It’s the highest quality of sawn lumber.
Learn About Wood Defects
Most wood pieces have knots, splits, cracks, or cracks. Even First draws sometimes have a few checks. The fewer the defects, the costlier the lumber. So, you most likely will have to accept a few surface defects.
However, beware that too many knots, cracks, and splits weaken the wood and the wood products. So, it’s wise to avoid timber with too many defects.
Similarly, avoid boards with warps, twists, and bows, as flattening such boards takes a lot of time. Or you may be unable to straighten it after all.
Learn How to Size Up Wood
Finally, you need to understand how to size up wood. Wood is sized in two main ways, dimensionally and by the board foot.
- Dimensional wood: Dimensional wood is smooth on all four sides and is cut to precise widths and thicknesses. The pieces are then sold per foot.
- Board-foot sizing: Wood sold by board foot is rarely smooth on all four sides. Additionally, only one edge may be square. One board foot is 12 inches wide x1-inch thick x1-foot long.
17 Best Places to Buy Wood for Woodworking
You’re ready to go on a shopping trip once you understand wood grades, woodcuts, defects, and how to size up wood. The following are seventeen places to begin your search.
1. Good Local Sawmill
When buying wood for woodworking, the first place to consider is a good local sawmill. The main reason is that sawmills sell the best wood. They are also cheaper than big box stores.
Moreover, the miller will prepare the wood sufficiently as you wish to suit the intended use perfectly.
The only downside is that not everyone can purchase wood directly from a sawmill, even if you have a sawmill in your local area. You may need to join clubs and associations or pool resources with other woodworkers for “group purchases.”
Owing to the sawmill restrictions, most woodworkers purchase woodworking wood from local lumberyards. The main advantage of buying your stock from a lumberyard is that most lumber yards don’t have minimum requirements.
So you can buy as much or as little as you wish. However, lumber yards can be the most confusing place to get your lumber.
You’ll come across all types of wood, from pressure-treated to untreated and quarter-sawn to rough-sawn wood – with no product guides! So, it helps to do your homework before heading there.
3. Retail Store
A less confusing place to shop for woodworking wood is a big box retail store near you. These stores provide detailed product guides which you can read to make the right choices.
They also rarely hold too many wood types, like lumberyards and sawmills. So, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed by the options.
Unfortunately, the smaller range of options means you may not find the type of wood you’re looking for, especially if you’re interested in exotic hardwoods, such as the Bocote or Bubinga.
4. Hardware Store
You’ll rarely miss domestic woods at your local hardware store. Therefore, it’s another place you want to check. The only downside is that hardware stores rarely stock a wide variety of wood types.
Instead, they focus on popular wood species that move fast, such as maple and cedar. However, the prices are very attractive if you can find the wood types you’re looking for at the store. Moreover, some hardware stores provide transportation services.
5. Home Depots
The home depot is another place you should check as you hunt for wood for your next woodworking project, as the prices can be very good if you shop around.
Home depots also offer periodic discounts that can lower the overall budget; they also offer extra services such as cutting wood for you.
Be warned about a few things, though. For instance, never accept curbside pickup for lumber as you may end up with very poor wood pieces. Instead, take time to choose the pieces yourself.
6. Yellow Pages
Yes, the Yellow Pages still work. Feel free to try it out if you’re in doubt. A quick shows that thousands of wood retailers advertise their products on the platform.
You’ll also find millions of individuals selling lumber peer-to-peer on Yellow Pages. All you need to do is contact the seller and strike a deal.
But, beware that Yellow Pages has recently become a haven for scammers and other criminals. So, don’t trust every seller you find there.
7. Hardwood Stores
A few people are lucky enough to have hardwood stores within their vicinities. These stores strictly stock hardwoods. But, more importantly, they often strive to stock as many hardwood species as possible.
For instance, Hardwoodstore in North Carolina has several exotic hardwoods. The Hardwood Store of PA and Hardwood store in Enon, Ohio, are other places you can check. Most of the stores offer transportation services.
8. Home Improvement Store
Home improvement stores often have a large wood stock, though the species may be limited. Nevertheless, you can be confident of finding pinewood, oakwood, poplar, and other common wood types such as cedar and maple at the store.
The wood is often available in common sizes and lengths of 8-15 feet, depending on the wood type. However, shop around as prices at hardware stores can be a little higher than in other places.
9. Fine Woodworking Store
Fine woodworking stores rarely have as much wood stock as hardware stores and sawmills. However, they have a major advantage over many other wood sources in that they often have species you may not find at your local hardware store.
Therefore, they are a better hunting ground if you’re shopping for exotic hardwood lumber, such as red oak and white oak. Better still, you’ll often find helpful staff from whom you can learn about different wood species.
10. Exotic Wood Store
Another place to consider when shopping for exotic woods is an exotic woods store. These stores strictly carry exotics.
So, don’t even bother going there if you’re shopping for a common wood type like pine, unless you’re looking for rare varieties, such as Pinus Mugo or Joppa.
A major advantage of exotic wood stores is that they can help you find the exact specifications you’re looking for, whether it’s a specific shade of brown or a particular wood texture.
11. Hobby Store
A big chain hobby store often carries some woodworking wood, even if not much. They also only carry selected species, depending on the store. The main advantage is that they are some of the cheapest places to buy woodworking wood.
Moreover, the wood is already milled, which saves time. Common wood types found in these stores are cherry, pine, and maple.
Some hobby stores also carry balsawood, basswood, and other softer woods for craft projects. However, beware that hobby stores rarely carry large wood stocks.
12. Get Woodworking Lumber Online
Online ordering has revolutionized business. It allows us to buy items from another continent and wait for delivery without leaving the sofa.
For instance, you can now order a stock of pine walnut boards from South America and wait for the shipment to arrive within a week or so. Of course, you can also order from local sellers.
We recommend that you begin by checking Google Maps to see if you can find the items nearby. If not, check from other states before going international. Most importantly, only buy wood from sellers you can trust.
13. Woodworking with Pallets
You may have noticed that everyone is making everything from pallets. There are two main reasons why. First, if you can get the pallet for free, why not? It significantly reduces the woodworking budget.
Secondly, many woodworkers and DIYers are excited to work with reclaimed wood, such as pallets. However, make sure to get the right pallets.
For instance, some pallets are sprayed with chemicals to repel pests and insects. Therefore, such wood might not be safe for making furniture. Secondly, make sure the pallets aren’t stolen. Otherwise, you’re in trouble.
13. Retail Store Shipping Crates
Like pallets, retail store shipping crates are an affordable source of reclaimed timber. Stores often sell the crates at a throwaway price or dispose of them once the crakes become weak.
So, this can be a big opportunity to acquire supplies if your project requires construction-grade wood or plywood. Ask to speak to the store manager and see whether they intend to dispose of a few pieces imminently.
Alternatively, find out if they can sell you a few pieces for your next project. You can make it a regular thing once you form a relationship with the store.
14. The Scrap Bin at the Hardware Store
The scrap bin at the local hardware store can also be a reliable source of raw materials for small woodworking projects. This is especially true for hardware stores that mill their own pieces.
These stores often have a scrap section where you can find small quantities of wood pieces for small projects. Sometimes the wood is free. However, other times you may need to pay about 10 cents per wood piece, which is a good price.
The main advantage here is that you occasionally come across exotic wood pieces that you may never find otherwise – and the prices are very low.
16. Cutoffs from Wood-Dependent Factories
Many factories and businesses use wood to make various items. For instance, retail stores often use wood to make and replace shelves.
Some organizations also use wood to make desks in-store to cut costs. Always look out for cutoffs from these companies or even ask for scraps if you want. You may be lucky to get massive piles of usable wood pieces.
One of the best places to consider is a local furniture-making company. You’ll regularly find tons of free wood from their scraps.
17. Harvest more Wood from Second-Hand Store Pieces
Finally, you’ve likely come across a second-hand store selling old furniture. These stores can be a reliable source of low-priced wood.
Older furniture, in particular, is often made from durable hardwoods than can prove incredibly valuable. So, look for lee-known second-hand furniture shops in your area and find a few old items to take to your store.
Then, repurpose the furniture or harvest the wood for other projects. Often, you’ll need to pay a small amount for the furniture. However, that’s okay because you can make significant profits from the reclaimed wood.
Related: Best wood for wood burning
Where is the Best Place to Buy Hardwood Lumber?
The best place to buy hardwood lumber is a woodworking retail store. Woodworking retail stores stock all types of lumber, softwoods, and hardwoods and are easily accessible and affordable. Above all, you can be sure that you’re getting top-notch wood.
How do you Source Wood for Woodworking?
The best places to source wood for woodworking are large home improvement stores, local hardware stores, and fine woodworking stores (high-end tool stores). However, you can also check with your local lumber yard and exotic hardwood stores.
What Wood is Best for Woodworking?
The best wood for woodworking is pine. At least, that’s what most woodworkers will tell you. The main reason is that pine is soft, readily available, easy to work with, and very affordable. Cedar (another popular softwood) and redwood (a hardwood) come second and third in that order.
How do you Buy Wood for a Project?
There are a couple of tips you need to follow when buying wood for a woodworking project. For instance, when buying rough sawn lumber, plan to lose thickness when surfacing. Additionally, always get longer wood slabs than you think you need. Finally, always buy more lumber than you think you need.
Where do Woodworkers Buy Wood?
Most woodworkers buy wood from large home improvement stores and local hardware stores. However, you can also purchase lumber online or buy, fell, and saw mature trees yourself. Make sure to get a permit to fell trees yourself.
What is the Cheapest State to Buy Lumber?
Generally, wood is the cheapest in the southern states because all the big forests and tree plantations are in the south. For instance, Alabama in the southeast is often mentioned as one of the best states to buy lumber. However, remember that transportation costs can significantly eat into your budget if you purchase lumber too far away.
Still Asking-Where to Buy Wood for Woodworking?
There are endless places where you can buy good wood for woodworking. Indeed, you can even buy live trees, fell them, and saw the timber yourself (if you have a permit).
However, sawmills, lumberyards, and local hardware stores are some of the best places to begin your search.