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Knowing where to buy wood is an important part of any woodworking project, which makes sense as you cannot build anything without it. You will be pleasantly surprised with how many options are readily available when it comes to buying wood for woodworking. While we cannot give you the name and address of every home improvement store or lumberyard in the country, we can provide you with expert advice on where to buy wood. Read on below for everything you need to know!
Table of Contents
- 1 Types of Wood
- 2 Where to Buy Wood
- 3 Online Wood Suppliers
- 4 In-Person Wood Suppliers
- 5 DIY Wood Sources
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
Types of Wood
Before you can begin with a project, it is important to know what type of wood you will be working with. This should be considered in the planning phase of the project as different types of wood are suitable for different applications.
For instance, you will not use a softwood such as pine for building a countertop and you will not use a hardwood such as oak to build a window frame.
Hardwood and Softwood
Hardwoods are angiosperm trees that propagate using a flowering plant. A hardwood’s layout is constantly more intricate than that seen in a softwood. They develop much slower than softwood trees and can take as much as 150 years to mature, resulting in lumber that is thicker, heavier, and hard-wearing.
Softwoods are emanated from gymnosperm plants like conifer trees. Softwoods grow quicker than hardwoods and typically take roughly 40 years to mature. Because of their rapid growth, they are less dense compared to hardwoods.
Both types of wood have specific uses and hold different advantages and disadvantages when compared to one another.
Hardwood and Softwood Characteristics
Hardwoods and softwoods are differentiated by the tree from which they are derived. This also results in a series of different characteristics that will determine the use of the wood. Below are the main characteristics of wood and how the different types vary from one another.
Hardwoods are generally stronger and significantly more durable than softwoods. This is due to its slower growth rate and more complicated, compact structure, resulting in higher harvested wood density. Higher density means more significant strength and durability. Nevertheless, there are a few notable exceptions, as with any rule. This is where hard softwoods and soft hardwoods are introduced with species such as Yew, which is technically a softwood, yet yields a higher dry density than American Cherry.
It is also important to check when buying hardwoods that you are getting the heartwood which comes from the core of the tree, instead of the softer sapwood which may be classified as hardwood in term of its species, but will have a less tightly packed grain structure.
Hardwoods often perform more effectively when subjected to the weather and have improved fire resistance due to their more complex, packed structure. Softwoods that are meant to withstand the weather are typically ‘tanalized’ to improve their external performance, or pressure treated with chemicals to deter insect infestations.
Softwoods are cheaper than hardwoods since they have a quicker growth rate. They are also easier to get and hence are more common.
The cost of any specific hardwood or softwood, on the other hand, is fully dependent on the product as well as the species selected, and the quantity desired.
As such, some highly desirable softwoods may potentially demand higher prices than their hardwood counterparts.
Hardwoods are more challenging and time-consuming to process and deal with. They also do not normally accept paints, finishes, or additional treatments as well as softwoods. Working with greater-density woods necessitates the usage of more refined tools which can be expensive.
Hardwood and Softwood Projects and Uses
There is no “one size fits all” when wood is concerned and before you decide on where to buy lumber, it is crucial to know exactly what you will be using the wood for. Below are some of the most common uses for hardwoods and softwoods.
Hardwoods are preferred for any high-impact building, surface, or construction project that has to last for an extended period of time. Hardwoods are preferred for high-end furniture because of their more ornamental, grainy look and durability. Other uses include:
Softwoods are typically utilized for temporary, low-impact construction when time or money is limited. When used outdoors, treated softwoods perform exactly as well as hardwoods. Below are some of the most common uses of softwoods:
- Wood carving
- Inner wall structures
- Picture frames
Where to Buy Wood
If you are new to carpentry, figuring out where to buy wood for woodworking can be challenging. Fortunately, we have provided you with all of the information needed to make an educated decision on where to buy hardwood or softwood.
Different Options for Buying Wood
We live in a day and age where you can buy almost anything from anywhere and this applies to wood too. Most would argue that it is best to buy wood in person as you will be able to evaluate the quality of the wood.
However, when buying online, you can have the lumber delivered to your doorstep or backyard.
Ultimately, it depends on you, but there are plenty of options on where you can buy wood, but each option comes with its own pros and cons.
Many big timber retail stores are available online, and if you do not need the wood that day, this might be a more cost-effective option to purchase the precise amount and quality of wood you want. However, shopping online should always be accompanied by a word of caution. Not every vendor can be trusted, which is why we recommend a handful of organizations that we believe will deliver wood to your door at great pricing and with excellent customer service.
This has been the tried and tested way of buying wood for decades if not centuries. Hardware and woodcraft stores are popular choices when buying wood. However, more people are now opting for lumber yards to save some money. You can also check out secondhand stores for old furniture that can be repurposed or for old wood. The most popular option is to head to a home improvement store such as Lowe’s or The Home Depot.
Tips for Finding Quality Wood
While it is important to find out where to buy lumber for your project, the quality of the wood should also be taken into account. Fortunately, it is very easy to find good quality wood if you know what you are looking for. Below, we have provided more information on finding the best wood for your project.
Inspect the Boards
Check the flatness and straightness of a board by peering down its edge. You are unlikely to find ideal boards, simply better and worse. For larger/longer project sections, choose the finest boards. Make smaller components out of less-perfect boards. The faults in these boards will become less noticeable as you cut them into shorter lengths.
Choose the Outer Edge
The manner in which a board is removed from a piece of wood impacts its stability. Quarter-sawn boards are particularly sturdy; they do not “move” as much with humidity fluctuations.
Quarter-sawn lumber is too costly for home stores to stock, so you will have to visit a lumber yard.
To find quarter-sawn lumber, look at the terminal grain when sifting through the heaps. On the board’s outside borders, you may notice growth rings extending perpendicular to the face. This is basically quarter-sawn wood.
Check for Defects
There are different types of defects that can be found in wood. These can be categorized into five groups, improper seasoning, natural forces, insects, fungi, and conversion.
It is crucial to check for any defects before purchasing as you will not be able to use defective wood.
Online Wood Suppliers
Shopping online has become the standard, and it is undoubtedly the most common method of purchasing items. The internet is a vast marketplace where you may make purchases from the convenience of your own home.
The advantage of purchasing wood from online wood shops is that you may get a wide range of high-quality wood supplies.
These days there are plenty of online wood retailers, and we have provided our top choices below.
Advantage Lumber delivers from the East Coast and carries a broader selection of native and foreign hardwoods. What distinguishes Advantage Lumber? They provide decking such as Cypress and Ipe, which are difficult to acquire locally. This retailer offers a variety of wood products such as wood slabs, pecky wood, turning blanks, wood veneers, and dimensioned lumber.
Arguably one of the best wood retailers around, Woodworkers Source, a step above buying full-size boards from lumberyard stores, ships from Arizona to sites around the United States. Concerned about heavier loads or weight? It is covered under their shipping policies. And even assist you in determining the optimal shipping charges based on the weight of your purchases. So, if you want to know where to buy wood, this would be a great place to start.
You can buy a surprising amount of wood on Amazon, including variety packs of pen blanks, exotic wood scraps, as well as species-specific and diverse wood up to 24 inches in length. You can buy almost anything on Amazon, but we would recommend that you use it as a last resort if you are unsure of where to buy wood for woodworking.
Woodcraft is a well-established supply firm that has been marketing and serving woodworkers for almost 100 years. They offer a shop in most major cities and a high-quality online marketplace for wood orders.
In-Person Wood Suppliers
This is the most common way for most people to buy wood and it is by far the most convenient way of ensuring that you get what you want. There are a variety of hardware and home improvement stores scattered around the country, but you can also head to a lumber yard, even if it is for one piece.
If you are unsure of where to buy wood then hardware stores are a safe bet. Much like home improvement stores, they do not have a wide variety of wood species. The distinction between the two is the fact that hardware stores offer very different and specialized wood products. Hardware stores, for example, might offer a different variety of walnut or pine.
There was a common misconception that lumber yards only cater to construction companies or those that are making bulk purchases; however, they also cater to small-time buyers. Check your local lumber yard for a selection of wood such as construction standard hardwood, weather-treated lumber, or unusual wood pieces. The lumber yard is a great spot to look for these wood pieces.
Home Improvement Stores
Home improvement stores are excellent venues to buy wood as well as additional tools for your woodworking company. These businesses can be found in practically any town, and the most beneficial thing about them is that they are quite close. Since these stores are usually one of many, the pricing is fair and you can find a decent selection of wood, but do not expect too much.
DIY Wood Sources
Not everyone has the budget to buy fresh cuts of wood, but this does not mean that you cannot get away with using alternative wood sources. Each day people throw away or donate perfectly good furniture, so who says that you cannot repurpose them?
Most timber suppliers have sections where off-cuts are sold at reasonable prices.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get your hands on different types of wood, especially if you do not know where to buy hardwood or softwood.
Wood can also be purchased from secondhand retailers. There are several secondhand stores in your neighborhood. Some of them provide reasonably priced used furniture along with pressure-treated wood supplies. You might locate a good offer and buy a lot of wood for a reasonable price for your woodworking enterprise. Salvaged wood is perfect if you are into restoration projects.
Pallets may be acquired in a variety of locations; just make sure you pick the proper sort. Search for wood pallets that have not been treated with pesticides and are not owned by a larger corporation. Pallet theft is unlawful, regardless of what anybody says to you. Pallet wood is great for making furniture and it is currently trending among DIY enthusiasts.
Now that you know where to buy wood and what to look out for, you can get started on any project you desire. Keep in mind that the price of wood will never stay the same, so if you see a good deal, try and snatch it up before it disappears. Good luck with your next project!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Place to Buy Wood?
There are a variety of great options if you are looking for the best place to buy wood. However, we recommend places that will allow you to examine the pieces and check for any imperfections, such as excessive knots, whether it is predominantly sapwood or heartwood, and warping.
What Should I Consider Before Buying Hardwoods?
Before buying hardwoods, it is important to consider your skill level as a woodworker and the tools that you have at your disposal. Hardwoods are notoriously difficult to work with and they can damage your tools if you do not know what you are doing.
Is It Better to Buy Hardwood or Softwood?
This depends on your skill level as a woodworker. Softwood is much more user-friendly and is the best place to start if you are a beginner. Hardwoods are the opposite and they can be a very unforgiving wood for woodworking.