Why Limited Stock Widths at Big Box Stores?
Issue: Issue 338
Posted Date: 11/5/2013
Why is it that I can only buy wood up to 11-3/4 in. at my local big box store and also at the local lumberyard? - E. Teller
Rob Johnstone: That is a common size for dimension lumber. Big box stores tend to buy lumber as more of a commodity, standard sizes, hardwood wrapped in plastic, limited selection — I find their offerings too limited for a lot of my needs. But with that said, most softwoods are processed into those standard sizes. Hardwood sold through lumberyards that service cabinet shops will have random width stock (and a variety of thicknesses as well) that will exceed the 11-3/4-in. width, and some will more rarely carry random width softwood. One great place to get lumber in unusual widths, thicknesses, etc. is small local mills. Do an Internet search for your area; you might have a good option nearby. Another really useful Internet-based wood finding tool is called Woodfinder, I’ve used it several times with good results.
Chris Marshall: Couldn't agree with Rob more here. Once you find a source for woodworking lumber in random widths and lengths, it will be hard to go to a home center for woodworking lumber again. Generally, I've found specialty lumber suppliers to be affordable, easy to work with and stocking some truly unique, one-of-a-kind material. (I've found cherry and mahogany up to 14 or 16 in. wide at times and some drop-dead-gorgeous quartersawn white oak and figured maple when I needed it.) It also feels great to buy locally when you can from small businesses instead of the national home center chains.