I finally got off my butt and bought some lumber to make my bench.
First on the list were 4x4 posts.
I went to a local builders' lumberyard because the local Home Depot
doesn't stock spruce 4x4. This yard is the kind you pay inside and
drive out in a huge parking lot and someone else loads stuff into your
car. (A policy is that you don't get to pick your own lumber.) Note
that lumber sits outdoors, most with plastic wrap around each
The only 4x4 they had on stock had small black speckles all over the
wood, and I immediately suspected mold. Some surfaces of the wood felt
damp to the touch, as if it were not covered during yesterday's
rainfall. It was a far cry from the nice super-white studs you see in
the local Home Depot that probably spend more of their time indoors than
we people do. To their credit, the guy did look over all 4 sides and
chose the best ones for me. (I asked the rep about the appearance, he
said "it's only spruce" as if its customary not to expect too much of it.)
I suppose my question is: what kind of quality should one be able to
expect from a lumberyard where the goods are stored outdoors? I can't
imagine all stock being as dirty-looking as the stuff I got; these guys
cater to homebuilders and what-not, and the studs in my new home looked
extremely clean in comparison, and I know most of the studs in my home
sat outside in the rain before being finally used in construction.
(Sorry if I sound paranoid.)
HD does not stock what you want yet you say they have better quality?
Yes, its only spruce. Most often used in framing and such where it will be
in the weather until enclosed. Lumberyards don't always give them much
Depends on the lumberyard and what type of lumber you are looking for. My
local place will have the 2 x 10's out in the yard under a tarp. The pine,
cedar, decking, etc, is in a shed out of the weather. Not temperature
controlled, but has a roof. For my bench I bought a mahogany 4 x 4 and it
cost $40 or so but it was in perfect condition and stored in a nice neat
I live in Canada.... you guys don't want our wood so all the good stuff goes
overseas. When I buy lumber, I am honest with the yard people..... for
framing I will accept less than great. If it will be exposed I cull the
pile. What we accept as the best boils down to being the best of what's
The original poster needs to become involved in his/her purchase. If the
product is unacceptable, ask for a refund......
FWIW it is 'just spruce' and considered framing lumber. Since it is
'relatively' cheap and plentiful, there is no reason to consider special
Wood is a wonderful medium to work with. If each and every board were
perfect, the would be no need of planers, sandersor jointers. Since each and
every board has it's own personality, we will continue to learn new skills,
adapt to variations and accept what nature delivers us.
Wood's sawn, graded, dried (or not), finished in some cases and stored based
on expected usage.
A spruce 4x4 is pretty low in the order, as it is most likely a boxed heart,
with knots and lots of wild grain. Anticipated usage is outdoor, not in
framing, I'll guess, where it remains a poor choice for most applications
It's not quite the pig's squeal, but it's not much above sausage material,
Many consumer wood stores in Toronto won't let customers pick and choose
because the average non-professional woodworking customer just isn't
responsible enough. They pull boards out, leave stock all over the place and
don't leave it as they found it. What store did you go to Daniel? My
suggestion is that if you want better stock, better quality wood and better
customer service, then you'll have to visit lumberyards mostly on the
outskirts of Toronto or completely outside of the city. Here's a link to a
few of those yards.
At minimum, I'd expect to be able to pick my stock. If they don't want
me diigging through the pile that's fine... But I get to waste an
employee's time by inspecting each piece they pull and saying yea or
Kevin, None of the hardwood suppliers in our area let you sort
either. We're the exception. If you guys run into this, I have one
suggestion. Tell them you will restack everything you take apart and
leave it the way you found it.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jana) wrote:
I guess i'm spoiled by the yards in our area. They all let you sort and
load. One place doesn't even check your load. You just load the truck
and then go inside and tell them what you loaded. Their prices always
beat HD. The construction grade lumber is stacked outside. The better
grades of lumber are all under a roof. There are a few other goodies.
There is free access to a rebar cutter and a bin for free scrap suitable
The ironic part about it is is that when the customer gets in the
lumber area and starts looking around, they always end up leaving with
more footage and more species than they originally came for. But, on
the line of what I mentioned above, it's nice to have customers who
respect your business and and the work and time it takes to keep
everything sorted and organized. One hint to tell your friend :-)
Don't threaten the lumber yard that you'll just go somewhere else. He
might get what he wants but I can guarantee him, he won't get anything
Absolutely, respect and courtesy goes both ways. If one takes something
off of a stack, it is only common courtesy to restack it. Although, after
my last experience here in Tucson, it would be nice if a place for the
absolutely awful culls could be stacked other than on top of the stack from
which they came. I wound up "settling" for some pieces that I really
should have rejected.
I believe he only used this ploy when he was either told he had to take
what was on top or was going to be subjected to a 20% upcharge for
selecting, at that point he was either going to be allowed to select his
lumber or he was going to go elsewhere -- he wanted the yard supervisor to
know *why* he was taking his business elsewhere. He is a wise businessman
who cares about the quality of his work, but also treats those with whom he
deals with respect, so I know this wasn't his going-in attitude.
Therein lies the rub. Here at Paxtons we have a retail store that
allows the customer to pick through the bins and find the exact piece
that matches their requirements. Unfortunately, our bins can only
hold about 300bf of lumber at a time and if nothing in the bin strikes
their fancy they want to look through the stacks in the warehouse. We
do not allow that because lumber in the warehouse is stacked for ease
of access by forklifts and not for general pickouts. In the event
that a stack came tumbling down on top of a customer, who would get in
trouble? We would. A lot of customers don't understand that we have
their safety at heart. We are not trying to keep the lumber from you.
The only reason we have it is to sell it.
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