Finding Wood

I want to do a project in cherry and it seems like the local prices I am getting are very high. They are asking for $7.40 bf, rough, 4/4 FAS for cherry.
woodweb.com seems to say that 4/4 cherry would be $4.05 to $4.65 for 1,000 bf and 200 bf respectively for the Eastern US (I am in Florida).
I did a RFQ on woodweb.com and got a couple of quotes that are in $4.25 - $4.95 range but they are clear across the country! Of course shipping costs from these locations will put me right back up in the big dollar range per bf.
Seems that locally prices for hardwood are outragious. I assume that cabinet shops would not pay this much but I do not know.
I am considering starting a part time woodworking business (I just registered fine-woodworks.com) but if these are the kind of prices I am going to have to pay for wood I could never make a go of it!
It does not seem to just be cherry that is a problem. An common wood like 4/4 red oak is $3,85 where as woodweb.com list it at $2.10 for 200 bf. That is $1.75 extra. Quarter sawn white oak is $9.30 for 8/4 and $6.50 for 4/4.
A rule of thumb says my costs should be about 25% for materials, 50% for labor and 25% profit. It seems if I have to pay these kind of prices I can not make any money at it.
What am I doing wrong. How does one buy wood at a resonable cost? Are my price expectations out of line? Are the local dealers screwing me? Do I have to buy wood by the truck load to make money? What do other do?
BTW, I have a friend that works in a cabinet show and he asked his boss what he could get some cherry for. He came back with a price of $6.94 4/4 FAS rough.
One final question. woodweb.com seems to state that #1 common is what is used for most furnature and when building cabinets. It also shows that it should be $2.00 bf, rough, 4/4, #1 common for 200bf of cherry. Seems that this is what would be "common" yet everyone only has FAS! Even clear across the country they only have FAS in stock and #1 common would take a week or more!
What gives?
Dave
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do what I did: approach a salesman at a local lumber outfit, and ask them to give you better pricing. I got a decent price break at a local well known San Jose lumberyard by explaining that while they were cheaper than the high priced spread ( Southern Lumber), they were still way out of line with prices that I had decided were reasonable by asking around the Wreck. Now I get prices that are in line with expectations, considering I'm in CA.
BTW, I told them I was just getting into cabinet making, and while I couldn't buy whole units, I would be buying all my sheet stock and hardwoods from them if they gave me good pricing. It worked.
dave
Dave Armbrust wrote:

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That explains quite a bit. Not a lot of cherry trees in Florida AFAIK. It's definitely cheaper in the areas where it grows native. I'll bet poplar and sycamore are kinda steep for you, too. Around here (Indianapolis), they're about two bucks a board foot.

Yeowch! That's pretty salty from where I sit.

You might need to move to the midwest. Really. There just isn't that much hardwood lumber growing in Florida, not by comparison with what grows in other parts of the U.S.

Lots of people don't want #1 common. To make effective use of it, you really almost have to have a bandsaw, jointer, planer, and table saw; folks lacking those tools (which is the majority of people on the planet) will want FAS S4S. The lumber yards supply what most of their customers want.
Heck, I have a *good* hardwood dealer just five minutes from home, and I *still* wind up buying more than half of my stuff out of town. Why? Because most of their stuff is S2S-ed to 13/16" with a planer, *not* a jointer. If I want flat boards, I either spend all morning picking through their stock, or I drive an hour north to a place where I can buy it in the rough, and joint it myself.
The place an hour north of Indy sells a lot of wood to guys like me. The place five minutes from home sells a lot of wood to guys that don't have all the gear that I do.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Save the baby humans - stop partial-birth abortion NOW
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What's the place an hour north of Indy. I drive up to Fort Wayne a couple of times a year (from St. Louis). I might stop in to see what they have, maybe buy a little if the prices are right.
-- Tim -------- See my page @ http://www.wood-workers.com/users/timv/ (seriously needs updating)
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Actually, since you're in northern Fla, more or less, you're not in too bad a shape. Cherry does grow in N Fla, and there are small sawyers scattered around, from Ocala up thru the Perry area, who you can search out.
Gary G, who occasionally posts here, has located quite a number in the Gainesville area, and occasionally acts as a middleman; search back in Google and see if you can find any posts from him which give pointers. He's sold cherry to me at $2/bf (rough, log run), so it can be had for less than that :-)
Alternatively, you can order from someone like Steve Wall. His price will be around $4.50/bf, and shipping to Fla will be around $60/100bf. (www.walllumber.com, not affiliated, just a customer. etc).
Buying from a retailer anywhere in Fla will be expensive, because they have to cover both shipping and the relatively high "storefront" costs.

Craftsmen, which is what most hobbiests aspire to, are willing to pay extra for large, clear planks. Commercial makers are more willing to edge join narrower pieces to make up a wide piece. So retailers aimed at the hobby trade tend to feature FAS, those aimed at the commercial market (which buys in the 1000's of bf range) offer #1 common.
Note that if you buy direct from a sawyer, the wood likely won't be graded, it'll be "log run" just as it came off the saw. Particularly in Fla, where the trees apparently don't get as big, you're not likely to get much which would grade as FAS.
It pays to consider the nature of your project, too. If it's a table, you pretty much need FAS for the broad wide expanse of the top. If it's a cabinet, most of the pieces will be small and can be gotten out of #1 common, maybe springing for one FAS board for the cabinet top.
John
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advantagelumber.com is an alternative. somewhat cheaper on cherry but they're a bit further north from FL so the shipping might be a tad higher. do the comparison.
Renata
On Fri, 1 Aug 2003 15:33:47 +0000 (UTC), John McCoy

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