Lumber Sources - Tucson, AZ

Nick Bozovich

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I'm in Phoenix so I do not know the Tucson market well at all but I can give you the perspective of someone who is only 2 hours away from you.

The woodworking scene in AZ is not very good compared to middle America. It's hard to find used tools and very hard to find nice lumber. In Mesa there is a very good hard wood dealer called Timber Hardwoods. They are the best place to get good hard wood around and they know it so their pricing, while not outrageous, is a bit high.

You will find some private mills on Craigslist/Marketplace but most of those are also a bit pricey and they usually only have locally sourced wood. Here in the desert, "locally sourced wood" pretty much means mesquite. Which is an attractive wood but it is all twisted and cross grained and generally hard to work with. You can also find eucalyptus locally sourced too which is down right gorgeous but eucalyptus also suffers from the cross grain/twisted madness.

Long story short, unless you can find a gem in Tuscon you will hard pressed to find a good source of hard wood without paying a premium.

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Welcome to the old Pueblo, Nick! Lumber sources here aren’t the greatest, tbh... But there are a few. Mainly, the following:

1. Woodworkers Source: online retailer that has three (I believe) brick and mortar locations, one of which is in Tucson. Good exotics stock, and not too bad on the domestic either. Prices are high but it helps if you (a) join their Rosewood Club ($25 one time fee if I remember correctly), which gives you maybe 10% or so off all lumber and sheet goods, and/or (b) stock up when they have sales. For example, I picked up about 75 bd ft of 8/4 hard maple two weeks ago at $5.04/bd ft, sale price. Not the best, but cheaper than ordering online at least. They are really great for sheet goods, specifically, Baltic birch. Pretty good quality, usually stays flat enough although I’ll get a wonky sheet every now and again, and the price is pretty good (I believe it’s about $55 per 6x6 sheet for 3/4 if I’m not mistaken). They just got bought out by MacBeath Hardwoods and the quality of stock from what I can tell has stayed the same or in some cases, improved slightly. 

2. Woodcraft: pass, unless you just need a one off and you find a good piece after culling thru their limited stock. Really overpriced. 

3. Hood Distribution: largely a wholesale lumber dealer that sells to the trades, but they’ll also sell to hobbyists. Just don’t go in looking for one or two boards. Need to kind of know what you’re doing. Personally, I try to wait until I need >100 bd ft+, but you might get by with less depending on the salesperson/day/etc. Prices are far, far better than the above options and quality is very good. All in all, Hood is your best option in town if you can swing it. You can find a PDF of their species inventory list on their website.

Other sources in town are sparse. You’ve got King Mesquite, which is a sawmill and dealer of, all things, mesquite lumber. There are one or two small mills that advertise on Craigslist (mostly local species I believe, such as mesquite or acacia) although I’ve never personally visited or bought from any of them. That’s about it for down here... Phoenix has some far better offerings, if you’re up for a 3-4 hour round trip. Feel free to PM me if you have any other Q’s or need anything. 

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THANK YOU all!!  Sorry I haven't responded sooner, but I've been focused on getting the house packed up for the move.

I really appreciate all this information - I was familiar with Timber Hardwoods in Mesa - when I would visit in years past, I always enjoyed going through Timber and seeing what they had, both in lumber and machinery. Hey, if it takes a 3 hr round trip to get what I need, so be it, and if it's a little more expensive, that's the price of being warm and dry year around!  Even now in Pennsylvania, I travel 2 hrs round trip to my lumber supplier.  I did go through King Mesquite the last time I was in Tucson - I was really impressed.  Being an AZ native, I always wanted to work with mesquite, so this will be my opportunity. 

I would have thought up north, out of Flagstaff or Payson there might be a mill or lumber source.  Even though it's a drive, it maybe worth it to pick up a good sized amount for future use.

Thank you all for your kind help - I'll be back with you when we get there and I get set up - shop is going to be a "1/2 garage" (240 sf) shop instead of 1,000 sf in my basement, so I have a lot of work ahead to get that set up.

Rockshox, I'll PM you when I get there and get set up and maybe we can get together and talk woodworking! 

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