Support your local wood monger

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I bought a piece of lumber yesterday that was a piece of junk, and I couldn’t be happier.

I needed some 1-1/4” oak for a project – it had to be solid, though, not laminated to that thickness from thinner pieces. Naturally, the big-box home centers were out so I headed to that local wood source I’ve mentioned once or twice before. It’s not really a lumber dealer, but a very large cabinet/millwork place. However, they order lumber by the ton and they’re more than happy to sell some of it you ask. I’ve developed a good relationship with one of the managers there, and rather than be annoyed by my occasional visit to buy a single board, he seems delighted to be able to take a break and chat woodworking. Further, he’s only too happy to fire up a forklift to move a 10’ stack to get a nice board off the bottom of the pile (where they always seem to be).

That was the case yesterday. We looked through his many stacks and found a nice candidate for my needs, buried a mere 5’ or 6’ down in a stack. He forked off the stuff on top and we took a look at it, a nice piece of high-grade 8/4 red oak, 12” wide and a bit over 10’ long – 20 bf of good hardwood.

However, there was some sporadic surface checking on one side running most of the length, about 4” from one edge. I did some mental measuring and, yeah, it would still work for the components I needed so I started to pull out my wallet. Before I could start peeling off bills, though, because of the defect in the board he offered to charge me for an 8”-wide piece instead of 12”, making it 13.3 bf instead of 20. Sweet.

Now, keep in mind that this guy always gives me a good deal on lumber, so even priced as an 8”-wide piece of 8/4 oak, I still paid less than you might expect for 13.3 bf of red oak. You won’t get a deal like that at the home center.

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against the big-box stores. In fact, on my way home with my prize I stopped at the blue one to get some other supplies I needed. The folks there are nice enough and plenty efficient, but let’s face it: They’re not working there because they love wood.

But my lumber guy at the cabinet shop does, and it makes all the difference.
Till next time,

A.J.

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