how to buy hardwood?

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Some place in Silver Spring. It was 3-4 years ago, anyway, and so it probably wouldn't be too fair to name them.

Thanks! But I've escaped DC and am now in Wyoming, where I live across the street from a lumber yard. The other day I overheard the manager courteously explaining to a caller what OSB stood for. :-D
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VeryLargeCorp wrote:

Where are you?
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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wrote:

Which issue of which magazine?
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wrote:

I've been cutting up wood for a long time and probably know quite a bit about the stuff. However, the guys at my supplier know more - its their business. Thus, I don't go there to try to act like an expert. I go there to get what I need. Just tell them what you need as an end result and I would assume they will be very helpful. Going there and trying to make it seem as if you know something because you picked up a few tips in here won't do you any good.
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"VeryLargeCorp" wrote in message ...

What follows is more philosophical than a definitive answer, but follow along anyway.

In woodworking, that won't do you much good, other than how much it will cost to walk out the door with your prize, or putz, lumber.

If you do that, you'll likely get plenty of bad along with the good. Which means you may end up buying 8 board feet + to finish the project. Sometimes, however, there is no other way ... at first.
Most woodworkers I know would not frequent a place where they were not allowed to pick and choose their own material, so you must learn to deal with these folks and go out of your way to get them on your side.
And always carry a cutlist and tape measure.

Lumber yards are somehow the same the world around. It almost always starts out that way if you're a new customer ... hell, even you're a seasoned pro and get the new salesman. AAMOF, if there are six 'salesman" in the place, you'll get treated six different ways, no matter how long you've been doing business there ... it's not personal.
But, if you're going to be woodworking, you need to make an effort to cultivate a relationship with at least one of your hardwood supplier's "representatives" as quickly as possible.
Pick out one (get the grey haired old man, if there is one) and keep going back to him ... ask for him everytime, and even wait on him if he's busy with another customer.
It is amazing what an informed salesman/representative can find/suggest, or dig up "out back", after he knows you, and you simply ask for his advice _with a cutlist in hand_.
AAMOF, I did just that yesterday, and ended up with 65 bf of some beautiful 8/4 quarter sawn white oak that I would have otherwise never seen ... and this from a place where I have had both personal and commercial accounts for a few years, and after two previous trips earlier in the week ended up with me finding nothing usuable in the "bins" while _my_ usual guy was busy and I didn't have the time to stick around. (He chastised me for that later, and even let me know that I am _his_ customer!)
In short, always take your cutlist, ask for assistance until you get what you want, do your best to make, if not a friend, at least a friendly source of business, and each time you go back it will get easier.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/29/06
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I'm going to violate all kinds of etiquette rules here by top-posting, and by not snipping anything at all... but it's for a good reason.
Excellent post, Swingman. This is some of the best advice that's been posted here, on any topic, by any poster, in quite a while.

--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

You never got to the good reason?
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wrote:

I really have to agree... my supplier is really a mom&pop shop with a few apprentices.
They let me disassemble the entire pile to get what I want. I say please thankyou as much as possible (suck up bigtime). Not because I have to, but because I want to; it is in my best interest.
Always put the pile back together neater than you found it.
"cherry picking" (pun intended) is a priviledge and I make sure they know that I understand that and appreciate it.
The last project I was working on required 16/4 cherry (4 inches thick)... not something he normally has, but he emailed me when he got it.
-Steve
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C&S wrote:

I agree with Steve - a good, helpful, friendly hardwood dealer is a wonderful thing, even if you have to look around for a while. Mine is about a 45 minute drive, but absolutely worth it to pick my own stuff and get good help/advice. If I just need something small and am not too picky, they deliver into town here maybe once a week, in which case I work around their schedule to meet them. Sounds like you (the OP) need to find a different dealer, or try once more to take a list of exactly what you need, and expect to buy at LEAST 25% more lumber than is really required for your project. Most places will do surfacing (planing/wide-belt sanding) for a fee, and they shouldn't complain about doing a rough crosscut or two so you can fit the long pieces in your car if necessary. Again, if you tell us roughly where you're located, someone here might be able to recommend a good place. Good luck, Andy
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On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 20:35:54 -0400, C&S wrote:

My last hardwood shopping experience was ... well, an experience! I drove over 2.5 hours to a place in south-central PA, to find the perfect piece of 5/4 quilted maple. I didn't have to pick through the pile - the salesman pulled up a forklift, and did it for me. It was a *huge* pile, and it took a couple of hours to find the board I wanted. And they guy seemed happy to work with me the entire time. In the end, my entire purchase (that maple board, and a bunch of other not-as-remarkable wood) came to just around $300. I can't imagine how that pays for the salesman's time.
I'll go back there again, you can bet on it.
--
Art Greenberg
artg at eclipse dot net
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I suspect that, if he had something more important to do than work with a customer, he would have done it.
Folks like us may well spend several thousand dollars in a year on materials. Usually at regular prices. And we talk to our friends.
There's money to be made.
Patriarch
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Art Greenberg wrote:

Art, do you have the name/number/address of the place in south-central PA? I'm always looking for a good place to buy lumber.
Thanks,
Mike
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Fri, Sep 15, 2006, 3:38pm (EDT-1) snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (Swingman) doth wisely proclaimeth: What follows is more philosophical than a definitive answer, but follow along anyway. <snip>
Works equally as well in those "good" auto parts places. The ones where they don't ask what size engine you've got and all that stuff, and the employees drive things like 454 Vega wagons, primed V-8 '30s Chevy pickups with no rear fenders, or Darth Vader black pickups with 4" exhaust pipes.
JOAT I am not paranoid. I do not "think" people are after me. I "know" damn well they're after me.
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Show your wood guy your plans and let him figure out what you need. Most of them are helpfull.
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In addition to the very good information already offered about finding and cultivating knowledgeable and helpful salespersons at your hardwood supplier - I will add: Unlike wood products from your local BORG, hardwood from a real supplier comes in random widths and lengths, and can contain knots and other irregularities. It's up to the consumer (you) to make these pieces into the correct finished dimensions for your project. Understand what a board foot means - basically 12 square inches of rough cut lumber wood that is 1 inch thick. Realize that when a supplier planes the surfaces, and possibly straightline rips a edge, that the piece of wood you're buying will no longer actually be its rough dimensions - 1" thick, or the measured width. And also understand that when a plan or cutting diagram says you need X board foot, you will need to buy more than X - 10-20% more - to have enough to cut out your finished pieces. And maybe even more than that to allow for oopses or pretty grain selection....
--
JeffB
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Wow, what a lot of great information! I appreciate you all taking pity on a guy who's pretty new to this stuff.
I'll mention it here, since it came up, I'm in Los Angeles, so any good sources are welcome. I'm going to go search the archives on this now.
DS
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VeryLargeCorp wrote:

Which file cabinet are you building?
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... make that - a board foot is a 12 inch square by 1 inch thick. That piece could be 12x12 or 6x24 or whatever gets to 144 square inches @ 1 inch thick. Then if it was 2 inches thick, it would be 2 board feet. Or if it was 12x24x1 it would also be 2 board feet. Sorry for the mistype earlier.
--
JeffB
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