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I am pretty new to woodworking and was hoping to get some advice from all of you out there on where you generally purchase your wood from. Local small scale lumber mills? Regional lumber supply chains? Internet suppliers? And what types of wood do you think are acceptable to buy from big box behemoths? Thanks for the help- I don't know of any local lumber mills and don't really know how to find them. (I'm located in the Hudson Valley in New York)

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First, do you have the ability to mill lumber from rough stock? Typically you would need a planer and a jointer, however there are many jigs out there that can do the work of a jointer instead.

Personally, I buy from a local guy whose lumber yard is literally his back yard. He specializes in hardwoods that are rough sawn/hit-miss planed (still rough but fairly flat). If you don't have a local guy, I would look on the internet next. Two of them are http://www.bellforestproducts.com/ and http://www.crlumber.com (actually this is my local guy as well) As for the hardwood sold at big box stores..... Ever since I got my planer, I avoid them. They are about 2-3 times the cost of what I can buy rough planed, the selection is limited, and the quality is poor. About the only wood I buy is dimensional lumber from them.

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I agree with Mike. My sawyer has mostly locally harvested stuff. He buys the little bit of exotic stuff from Crosscut Hardwoods in Portland. So, when I do get to Portland, that's where I shop for that, but I have a ton of beautiful domestics to choose from at his place. He's also VERY good at his job. Reads trees really well.

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Local hardwood dealer, never heard of them until I got the urge to join the woodworker brigade. Looked in the yellow pages and found a gem [in Santa Barbara] hidden away. Even with an address I stuck my head in two wrong doors first, but now I know where he is. He gets his stock from Los Angeles distributors so there are multiple markups. But I get to touch get board I buy and select the type of grain I need for specific project and component. He'll even sell part of a board if the request is not too weird (like the middle of the board or something). When I first started out I didn't have jointer and planer so he'd joint a reference edge for me (I used hand planes after that) for no additional charge.

There was one other hardwood dealer with reasonable stock, but they seem to cater to cabinet makers and remodelers and I don't care for the vibe there. Only use big box for dimensional lumber.

I would expect there to be plenty of resources in your area if you check today's version of yellow pages, but just find a way to talk to other woodworkers (as you just did) and find out where they buy their material. Summertime must mean craft fairs are on our horizon, so if you don't personally know any local woodworkers, check out places they might be and ask. Almost all woodworkers are compulsive mentors and tip sharers.

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Mook..I started at the bigbox stores first. Then I found out I could save money if I bought from a local lumber yard. The price per board foot was a good savings. If you have a jointer and a planer you can buy from your local lumber yard and get the wood you need, it requires some work on your part but the end result will be great. Hope this helps, I'm new also,It's worked for me.

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Also a good way to find a sawyer is to call the tree trimming services and see if any of them have something set up with a local guy. That's how my sawyer works. The closer you can get to the original sawyer the cheaper you can usually obtain the boards. I'm pretty sure this is a compulsive post, Tom ;)

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hi! just wanted to tell u my experience on preparing stock... I am from chile, here lumber dealers don't really have good or trustable machines and operators don't really mind to do their work. So the only thing I ask when buying lumber is to get the two bigger faces milled on a big planer. The edges I do at home with a router a pattern bit and a trustable straight edge. The faces can be finished with a good plane.

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There's a wood whisperer video you may have seen. I think it's called 'A Lumbering Feelin'. One tip from that video that helped me was to search the yellow pages and internet for 'Hardwood'. I was able to find a few local hardwood dealers that have what I need.

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nobody talked about the differences between box and small millers. box store's wood is often kiln dried and i find it to have less moisture and more brittle then air dried. if you do a lot of hand wood working like carving and sanding etc.... it seems to have a smoother more even cleavage(think that the right word) so it comes out more polished. also small millers can supply you with wood that is spalted, unusual colors and grain patterns,can get boards from the crotch of trees, wood blanks for wood turning, you can get depending on area a wider selection of wood like i picked up some rock maple and some boards from a hedge apple tree that no box store would ever carry. also small millers will often let you take their cut offs that just go in burn pile. and most importantly cheaper because if you can dry it at your place you can buy green ruff cut wood and let it cure for a year for a incredible cheep price.

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I've used a lot of box store wood, mostly because I couldn't find the lumber yards. Sure, i knew of one, because I used to ride the bus past it every day to work. Ever try to take lumber on a bus? At best, you can carry a small (maybe 6 foot) plank. At worst, you need to pay extra fares for the seats they take up, or the don't let you on at all.

recently, though, I've discovered three more lumber yards. So I can stop purchasing lumber from the box yard, and get more for my money. The dimensional lumber: 2 by four, by six, I've even started getting from some of these yards. They have a better quality than some of the box yards, and one lumber yard is literally across the tracks from a box yard. I think it has more to do with volume: the lumber yards I've visited deal with builders more than the box yards around me.

I still go to the box yard when I need just a few (less than four) pieces of stock. And the most I usually purchase is 8 foot lengths. I have a sedan, so it's not going to get loaded well. And I will pick up some sheets of plywood from the box, but it's mostly shop-use plywood. I've had bad luck finding decent plywood for projects from them.

But if you are just starting out, I think there's no better place to start than your big box yard. It's giving you examples of what surfaces can be finished to, provides everything in one place to start building your shop, and even gives you that instant "fix" for sawdust and wood smells. Just don't expect to find anything that isn't cookie cutter there. When you're ready to expand your skill set or material usage, you're ready to start hunting out lumber yards/dealers.

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this is what i have done here in nebraska recently after being frustrated with the local hardwood shops/big boxes in my area.

 

try a google search for your state forestry extension office at one of the state universities, in your case it appears to be cornell university... http://www.cce.cornell.edu/Environment/Pages/WildlifeManagementForestry.aspx

 contact them directly or peruse their site to see if they have information on their site about local sawmills in your area, etc.

 

another good resource is to contact your main or regional forestry division office, within which ever state agency its hosted in: http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html  this documnet might help, to be honest i didnt check it thoroughly, but it does appear to have a list of sawmills int eh state by county http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/primary.pdf

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