Lucky strikes again

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Hardwood lumber from your local Big Box usually isn’t very good. But sometimes, it’s fantastic.

I talked several years ago about getting lucky at one of my local blue-flavored Big Box stores, and finding some beautiful tiger maple in the racks. Big Box stores usually don’t have the best hardwood, much less figured, so it was a lucky find.

Since then, I’ve made it a practice to check out the racks whenever I go to a Big Box store for any reason. Doesn’t matter what I need – a new garden hose, can of bug spray, trash bags – I never leave without checking the wood. I’ve found that figured lumber shows up more frequently than you’d expect. Take a look at what I found last week, wiped with a bit of mineral spirits to highlight the figure.

That’s one of four, count ’em, four nearly identical 8-foot pieces of 1x2 maple – all cut from the same wider board, I’m guessing – then tossed into the batch with the rest, and the same price as regular 1x2s. No idea what I’ll do with it (I’m thinking either picture frames or face frames), but when I need it, I got it.

I’ve not met a woodworker yet who doesn’t complain about Big Box stores for one reason or another. The complaints are frequently valid, and to be honest I’ve experienced many of the same things. Sometimes, though, your friendly neighborhood Big Box is a source of buried treasure.

A.J.

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