Hot Spots for Cool Lumber

Photo courtesy Todd Damon, Wood Werks Supply.

In a recent eZine issue, Rob asked you all to tell him which wood species is your favorite. Not surprisingly, and to our delight, the emails poured in. He was downright cyber buried! If you didn’t happen to read his editorial, click here to catch up.

So, now that we know which woods are good as gold to you, I want to ask the logical extension to his question: Where do you get the wood you love most?

I’m lucky enough to live about 20 minutes away from one of my favorite sources—Wood Werks Supply, here in Columbus, Ohio. But, I’ve ordered plenty of it from out of state for certain projects, too. West Penn Hardwoods once shipped me some beautiful quartersawn white oak for a big commissioned Arts & Crafts piece. The rays and flakes were unbelievable. I purchased some lovely Port Orford Cedar from Northwest Timber years back for another story, and I’ve driven a long distances for it, too. Thankfully, here in central Ohio, lumber suppliers aren’t that hard to come buy. A good deal of what I can find around here is actually harvested only a state or two away—Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Kentucky—or it’s felled right here in Ohio.

I know that for many of you, wood comes from less commercial venues as well. Some of you cut and dry it from your own land. Others own portable mills and make good use of what nature drops after a big storm. “Backyard” lumber, for lack of a better term, offers great savings if you have the means to process it. I once bought a pile of black walnut from my mailman, of all people. He took a different route entirely to get it. The city sold the log to him after they removed the huge tree from a boulevard location. It would have been turned to mulch had he not taken action to save it. He had it sawn into boards by a local Amish mill, then he stickered and dried it out out back of his house for a couple years. I bought it for $1.50 a board foot. While most of it wasn’t primo quality, I sure made some nice things from it. I also appreciated knowing exactly where it came from. A few of the boards were clear and 18 in. wide!

But enough rambling from me. How about you? Where are your “hot spots” for great lumber? Tell us about the sources you trust for quality material or excellent service. Maybe you know just where to go for extraordinary fiddleback maple or 10/4 clear cherry. If, like my mailman, you’re the really resourceful sort, fill us in on how we might find lumber from unlikely sources close to home. We all know it’s not getting any cheaper. So, where do you spend your board bucks?

Hope you’ll offer up some good sources and even some smart tips!

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

8 thoughts on “Hot Spots for Cool Lumber

  1. I purchase my lumber from Frank Miller Lumber in Union City, Indiana. (on the central Ohio border) Great selection and service. Just had 500′ of QS white oak delivered and 50 ft of Walnut. Both are exceptional.
    Jack

  2. In the Mid-Michigan area my choice is Heritier Sawmill near Pinconning Mi. Lee and Diane Heritier take great care of their customers and after you load up the quality oak, maple or whatever, take a stroll through the gift shop “Reflections of the Wild” for some unique items”.

  3. If I may . . . there’s an applaudable group of friendly, savvy, and talented woodworkers who find their wood at Woodworkers Source in Arizona. :)

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  5. I find a LOT of great lumber on craigslist, it is amazing what you can find for a great price. I have bought Oak, Maple, Walnut, Mahogany and even old growth pine (18″ wide board), in most cases I pay 60-70% less than most commercial locations.

  6. I don’t buy much of my wood either. I’ve been lucky to have found my wood ranging from my own property to friends. One thing I actually do that pays off is re use skids. There are many places in my area that discard skids after shipment is delivered to them. I just pick them up, put them in my truck and bring them home to dismantle them. I have acquired a lot of nice lumber for small projects. It’s a lot of work to get the twist nails out but its worth it. You may lose a board or two but what you can get makes it worth it.

  7. 50% of my wood comes from the road side, whats being throw away by others. Then 45 % come from home builders after I ask if I can go through there wood scraps. 5% comes from Lowes or Home depot. Because of the above I have $25,000.oo worth of wood working equipment. I am retired now and for the most part I give my the things away that I make, to what seems to be very happy people.
    Just a smile is worth a lot to me.

  8. Targo woods in Bellingham Washington. Very nice and very helpful. Wide variety of wonderful wood.

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