Drunken Woodworker

Buying Wood Online

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Has anybody bought lumber online? If so, who do you suggest and who do you not suggest?

We have a good hardwood dealer here in Toledo with some exotics but I'm just looking to stretch my horizons. We also have a good plywood dealer here also but I'm wondering if there are cheaper options out there?

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Hi DW - there are some reputable online lumber sellers. I believe Marc used Bell Forest products for one of his Guild builds and he was pleased. I haven't purchased any online - yet.....

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Marc uses Bell Forest for every Guild Build, except the one sheet plywood bookcase. If you are a Guildie, check the discounts page. Bell Forest Products and KJP Select Hardwoods (Canada) offer discounts to us.

If you're not a Guildie, please use the link below when ordering from Bell Forest. This will help Marc pay for the server costs and maintenance of this forum.

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Another thumbs up for Bell Forest. I've used them several times for relatively small orders and have always been pleased. It's also nice getting that follow up email from Corey.

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I recently bought 20 bf of Mahogany from Bell. Some was beautiful, some not so much. I also have bought Birdseye Maple and could not have been more pleased. As with all lumber, buying on line is a pig in a poke.

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I just ordered wood online for the 1st time a couple of days ago, im not sure it would be good for you since im on the east coast, but I just bought 7 spanish cedar boards at $30 a piece s4s, which is the cheapest I have seen anywhere else, customer service is great and they have some specials with free shipping...I paid $42 in shipping from maryland to NJ...the website is www.hardwoodtogo.com Check it out, you might find a nice deal theyre running.

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I usually use Boulter Plywood (I mostly deal with marine grade plywoods and teak / mahogany) but they also carry most domestics as well as the most popular exotics. If you live on the east coast I'd give Boutler a look. Anytime you have to ship oversized the closer the better :). I've worked with them for years and have never been disappointed.

But, I am looking at placing an order with Bell within the next month or so for some personal stock for christmas gifts as they are somewhat close to me (about 4 hours away).. If I get some time it would be cool to take a road trip and check them out!

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+1 on Boulter Plywood. They are only a few miles from me, so I buy most of my ply (especially bending ply) there. In general, buying online makes sense if you don't have a local dealer or sawyer, or if you're using a lot of exotics or the stock can be "commodity grade". But when I'm selecting lumber, I'm typically looking it over for a number of different characteristics that I just couldn't do online. Like how much rift versus flatsawn grain will I get, and how could I source my components out of it? Or could I work around a defect, or get away with resawing and slipmatching a board versus edge joining two? I rarely go to the yard with a shopping list rather than a finished product in mind. I also try to support local sawyers whenever possible. You can usually get air dried lumber in much wider and thicker sections, and you can often get flitch or sequential boards, which can be key for matching stock across a project. Not to say you can't get good stock online, but for projects that will require multiple boards where grain and color matching is critical, it may not be your best bet. But for smaller projects or where you need specialty exotics (I've bought rare sinker mahogany online) it may be your best or only bet. Just my 2 cents....

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I just bought four Cherry boards from Hardwood To Go http://hardwoodtogo.com/, which is the lumber supplier where Shannon Rogers of the Renaissance Woodworker is the Marketing Director. The boards I got arrived in really good shape, are flitch boards and have some really nice figure to them. I don't have a specific project in mind, but just wanted to see how well they would ship, as my local sawyer doesn't carry exotics. The pricing is very good. I usually have to drive to Portland, OR, which is about 4 hours away when I want to get anything exotic. My purchase was a total of 29 board feet and I paid $259 with shipping for a price of $8.93/bd ft. Now, I can get Cherry from my local sawyer and have, but not anything yet with figure. I also tend to buy thicker stock. The stock available for these was 1 1/8". I usually buy at least 2" thickness and right about 12"-13" in width, even if I drive to Portland. I find the price jumps significantly after that width. I also tend to like the idea of working with thicker stock and resawing. Until I let these acclimate, I won't know if I can get more than standard stock thickness of 3/4" out of them. I'm hoping so. I can usually get two boards that are between 3/4" and 7/8" from a 2" board purchased from my local guy. His stock is stickered and air dried for several years before he puts them up for sale. All things considered, I think the price was worth it and I believe Shannon picks the boards that go online, so if you have a special need, I'm sure you could contact him and work something out.

The boards I got will be beautiful when fully dimensioned. I'm going to keep an eye out for thicker exotics from his site in the future.

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Thanks Vic, I'm glad you like the Cherry. Yes I do handle everything that goes on the site and I also pull all the custom orders. There is an RFQ form on the site if anyone is looking for something specific and it isn't listed on the ecommerce site. Basically we operate like a factory outlet store. I buy overstock from wholesalers at great costs and can sell material generally .50-$1 less per board foot. The limitation is that we don't get a lot of crazy exotics as we buy from wholesalers who deal in commercially viable species. I do get all the figured pieces as these are generally listed as "defects". Right now Hardwood to Go is a side business to my full time job of marketing director for J. Gibson McIlvain who is a wholesaler. Hardwood to Go is a separate incorporated entity under different owners and I am the only person working there. In other words, I pick up the phone, answer the emails, update the website, pull the orders, and ship the orders.

I think you will find that shipping isn't nearly as bad as most people think once you factor in the cost of driving to a lumber yard and picking through material.

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Hey Shannon, your next podcast should be a lesson on manipulating the space-time continuum and explaining to us how you seem to cram a week's worth of work into any given day. I mean, do you sleep, man? Because, wow, you get a lot done. For every hour I spend in the shop, half of that time is automatically eaten up by wandering around aimlessly and scratching my butt. Wish I had your focus and drive.

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I'm thinking about picking up one of the exotic cutoff packages from Bell to work with some of the exotics on a small scale - glad to see you had good luck with it.

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I have had good luck with www.trestlewood.com . BUT.. I used to live near their Utah facility and have visited them on quite a few occasions. I developed a good relationship with a couple of their sales people. They know me and my needs and take good care of me.

Their selection of reclaimed timber is really quite unique.

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I mean, do you sleep, man? Because, wow, you get a lot done. For every hour I spend in the shop, half of that time is automatically eaten up by wandering around aimlessly and scratching my butt. Wish I had your focus and drive.

Eric, not lately, no. I really should get more sleep. Honestly so much of it is because I don't have kids yet. It allows me to come home from work and go back to work. Loving everything I do plays a pretty major role.

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