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I live in a part of Wisconsin where it's real hard to get wood that isn't pine or red oak. I'd like to get a hold of some nice figured maple or some zebrawood, and really the only way I'm getting that around here is by ordering online. Does anyone have any experience with buying lumber online? I'm seeing a few websites that post pictures of the specific boards you'd be buying, which is nice. But I'm worried about wood movement, like, I can order S4S but what are the odds of it cupping, bowing, or twisting and needing to be resurfaced again by the time it gets to me? Which I can't do, I don't have a jointer or planer yet. Plus, shipping damages could be a whole different problem.

Anyone have any experiences to share? Thanks!

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What part of Wisconsin? I see yards all over the state with decent prices. Search for cherry or walnut in the materials section of Craig's list and you should find retailers they may not have zebra wood though. You may have to drive but it'll be far cheaper than online ordering.

Otherwise bell forest is a good resource and they are located in the UP. They list any issues on the board and have good service if something is amiss. Damage in shipping is highly unlikely. It bought curly maple from bell forest and everything came perfect. It's all s3s thought do you'll need at least s table saw.

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I'm in southwest Wisconsin, and the biggest problem is that there are a lot of lumber yards around here, but they all are only open for business 8-4 M-F, at best, which means I'd have to take time off of work to get lumber, which effectively makes that lumber a lot more expensive. Outside of those, I see some hits that are 2'ish hours away that I could get to on the weekend. But then the cost of gas plus the time investment of going 2 hours there and 2 hours back, all that wood gets mighty expensive, too. So paying for shipping may inflate the cost, but at least I can have more time to invest in making that extra cost back.

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Personally, if buying lumber online, I'd rather have rough lumber. There's a good chance there'll be warping if the wood came from elsewhere, so it's going to need some re-milling anyway

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If you want to save money plan ahead and buy large quantities 100+BF a lot of the local yards deliver. Might be able to get them to drop material in your driveway. For curly and exotic go bell forest. To address drzarius if material is surfaced and comes warped call customer service they work with people of that warping is during shipping.

 

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Depending on what you need from a size / bd ft perspective I have had really good luck with Bell Forrest in the UP. Most of my curly/quilted/exotics in the last 5 years have come from them. I also picked up over 150 bd ft qtr sawn white oak from them a couple years back. The oak i picked up on a trip back from my daughters the rest was mail order. They are great to work with! They also have sales and specials often get on there email mailing list

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All good advice, above. 

One more thing to accept - wood ain't as cheap as we'd like it to be. But in the end, it is still usually the least expensive component of your project, especially if you place value on your time.

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1 hour ago, wtnhighlander said:

All good advice, above. 

One more thing to accept - wood ain't as cheap as we'd like it to be. But in the end, it is still usually the least expensive component of your project, especially if you place value on your time.

Very true! ...and hardware man don't even get me started on what quality hardware costs! Having said that good wood and quality hardware can make all the difference in the outcome of the work.

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Sorry to interrupt half way....
If you may allowed me to ask a few questions as i am new into the wood industry

Normally, who would be the potential buyer for wood lumber / slabs??

Some people told me construction company. And some people mentioned carpenters
Thanks. And will appreciate any pointers from any kind souls...

 

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@Gary Wood there are normally different types of wood products used in the construction industry, as compared to the cabinet or furniture industry. Here in North America, softwoods are commonly used for building construction, so building supply stores have mostly softwood products. Hardwood products that are used by furniture builders will normally come from a sawmill of lumber supplier that specializes in such products. They are also the most likely to have 'slabs' for sale, as there is little use for such a product in home construction.

Beware that slabs require special treatment. They are often not thoroughly dried, and frequently become warped because of moisture loss and the grain pattern across the slab.

The current slab table fad seems to have originatec with George Nakashima, but every example I've seen of his work uses a fairly thin piece of wood, with the bark edge on just one side. He typically used two such 'slabs' and joined the using bowtie keys, with a gap between. This process allowed him to produce wide, flat, and stable panels that exhibited the natiral beauty of the tree.

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Traditional ship and boat builders buy flitches that are more or less slabs. I think a lot of that may be custom orders though. 

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44 minutes ago, pkinneb said:

No disrespect but I for one hope this slap craze ends soon and we can get back to regular milled lumber for wood working projects. 

I think the slab craze was long in the tooth a few years ago. Now it's just getting ridiculous.

Next trend is MCM furniture. I've been seeing it a lot more places the last few years.

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There is some beautiful slab furniture out there, but it has been almost completely overshadowed by an avalanche of slab-crap that is badly executed and utterly ugly. It's a shame because it has spoiled the style for so many of us.

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2 hours ago, drzaius said:

There is some beautiful slab furniture out there, but it has been almost completely overshadowed by an avalanche of slab-crap that is badly executed and utterly ugly. It's a shame because it has spoiled the style for so many of us.

Not to derail the thread but I agree I think some of it is simply amazing. My issue is it is making finding lumber harder and harder and I don't blame lumber folks I mean make 12 cuts and sell them for $2/3K a piece or spend time cutting 4/4 lumber...it simply doesn't make sense but I for  one want my small 4/4 suppliers back :) 

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10 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I think the slab craze was long in the tooth a few years ago. Now it's just getting ridiculous.

Next trend is MCM furniture. I've been seeing it a lot more places the last few years.

You know, MCM is getting long of tooth. Might as well start calling it MCML so folks know which century its from the middle of! 

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47 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

You know, MCM is getting long of tooth. Might as well start calling it MCML so folks know which century its from the middle of! 

100 years later and we're doing it again!

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Thanks so much for the feedback, everyone !
Probably will need some time to "digest" a few new terms as i am not aware of the downward trends for slabs, and new upcoming MCML (will find out what that means too). Amazing forum

What about fresh cut Ponderosa pine - How's trend for that?

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2 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

You know, MCM is getting long of tooth. Might as well start calling it MCML so folks know which century its from the middle of! 

Ok, I admit it I had to look it up: MCML = 1950. 

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