Fleet Farm and Lowes is a no choice. I went there on opening day and
Lowes is a bi-lingual store, so I told the mgr. that since I am not
bi-lingual, good-bye. Their prices weren't that good anyway.
Menards was a so-so store until HD came to town, then Lowes and now they
are much much better with their stocking procedure, quality, service.
I feel here in Springfield, IL Lowe's has the best construction lumber.
Menard's requires a lot of picking through to find a good 2X4. A lot of it
is junk wood. However, I find that Menard's has the best cabinet plywood
( Baltic birch, birch, oak, and maple). When you buy birch ply there you
have to make sure you get the best grade. They have 2 grades of 3/4 birch,
1 for around 20 bucks ( which has voids in it and looks ok from the outside)
is crappy, the other sells for 30 dollars or more is OK. I haven't seen much
cabinet grade at Lowe's, They don't have much of a selection for
woodworkers. If they do have it, it's a lot higher than Menard's. Their
tools there at Lowe's are fine. We don't have a Home Depot here.
furniture building and I get my red oak from a local wood provider at
about 40% of the cost. My last buy was red oak for $2.25 bf, and all
good stuff. When I do want construction I will hit HD first, then Menards.
Every body has good and bad wood. I once bought some 2x4x96 boards at
Lowes down the street. By the time I got them home some of the perfect
boards I bought had a 90 degree twist in them. Must have been the change
in temperature/humidity. ;^)
Generally they are bigger in size than Lowes or HD, carry more
hardwoods (shrink wrapped even). Have a broader selection of price
levels than the other two.
That seems to be the case here in Southern Illinois.
Where I live, there's not a Menards. When my wife and I visit her
parents in Cedar Rapids, Iowa I somehow manage to always get myself
volunteered for some type of project. That typically breaks down to
about 10 trips to Menards, 5 to Home Depot, 1 or 2 to Lowe's, and
another 1 or 2 to Acme Tools. A lot of the trips to Menards are just
because it's the closest, but also because they have more selection.
In particular I like that Mendards carries hardwood moldings and
have a selection of S4S hardwoods as well. It is odd though
buying hardwood boards that are shrink wrapped. But these are things
that neither Home Depot or Lowes ever carries.
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